Morality According to Lady Gaga
by Josh Fults
“I was born this way”, a phrase that continues to drum louder and louder in these postmodern times. Two years ago the infamous Madam Monster, Lady Gaga, wrote a song by the same title. She sings, “Ooh, there ain’t no other way, baby, I was born this way.” This echoes the ideology of our day, that we are somewhat trapped by our biology. That is, you are who you are, and you act the way you act because you were biologically determined to do so. J. Reid writes, “The whole culture is metaphorically awash in genes, which are depicted as pervasive and powerful agents central to understanding both everyday behavior and the secret of life. Foraging through countless specialty periodicals and mass-culture sources, [one uncovers] references to selfish genes, pleasure-seeking genes, violence genes, gay genes, couch-potato genes, celebrity genes, depression genes. Everything but the kitchen sink gene.”
Not too far in the distant past, the field of psychology continually emphasized the idea that we are products of our environment. Our upbringing, social history, tragedies, and trauma was the impetus to our behavior. Yet now, we are locked in by our
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genetics. So which is it? Quite frankly, whichever allows us to eschew personal responsibility for our actions. Society clings to whatever explanation of human behavior that will strip them of their moral culpability.
It is imperative that we keep in mind that our biology is but one facet of our behavior, as is our social environment. There are incredibly diverse networks of factors that contribute to our many complex behaviors. To reduce human behavior to mere biology strains the limits of credulity and reduces man to an animalistic automaton. We are bigger than our biology. Nor can our choices be reduced to respondent conditioning within our social environment. We are able to override our biology when it comes to our decisions and behaviors. Neither does our social past define our future. To argue to the contrary one must be comfortable with the ramifications of such a statement.
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