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  #1    
Old September 21st, 2013 (10:56 PM).
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What’s your take on human nature?

Are we inherently good – altruistic and cooperative, or evil – selfish and competitive? Is a person’s nature something to be improved, as Confucius would argue, or immutable from its basest form, as the capitalist competitive spirit would assume? How would you explain society – a natural consequence of our social nature, or a rational compromise to protect us from each other?

Bonus questions: is human nature natural? Is it innate and fixed or is it really just an imposition of society’s values? How could you make an argument for the absence or insignificance of human nature?
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Old September 22nd, 2013 (12:28 AM).
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Humans are a social animal since we are weak and slow and our biggest chances to survive come from living with other people. Obviously nowadays we don't have to go hunt in groups but we study in groups, we work in groups and we tend to live in families, that is, surrounded by other people. We live in societies, with leaders, and accept we are a part of them.

As a result, I don't think humans are selfish and competitive, at least not once they have got the basics to survive. If we all were bad people, selfish, greedy and prone to picking fights with everyone, we could hardly manage to live in groups, we'd try to isolate ourselves from each other (less competition, all I can get would be for me alone), which doesn't happen.

Of course, capitalism does reward those who compete better and are more selfish than the others, but only up to a level and following some rules. It's not the wild jungle out there, and the proportion of people who succeed that way is still very small, so you can't really call it "the norm".
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Old September 22nd, 2013 (01:32 AM).
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I think we're a combination of both too be honest. We all have "good" and "evil" traits in us anyway. As Went said; human beings are (as a general rule) naturally social creatures. We live in cooperative family groups and work and learn together in a somewhat supportive environment. This being said though we all want what is best for ourselves whether we care to admit it or not - yes I care about a lot of people, hell I'd even give my life for some of them (I think) but that doesn't change the fact that I want the best I can get for myself in my life, and most people I have met have been more or less the same.

So, yes we are selfish and competitive creatures too an extent (see capitalism) but we are also sociable and altruistic to an extent too (see friends, family, athletic teams and so on). We all possess good and bad traits, no human is inherently good or evil, it is the events in our lives that lead to certain traits being emphasised (even Hitler who we generally regard as pure evil just wanted the best for his country, he was also a sociopath and an antisemitic mass-murder - hence evil).

I think I answered everything in there.
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Old September 22nd, 2013 (08:07 AM).
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I think I answered everything in there.
I'm not going to let you get off so lightly, lol. Of course it's rather difficult to say that we are exclusively one over the other, but don't you ever feel like one of the two happens to be more important than the other? Could you make an argument for one side - and if you feel that they seem equal, does one resonate more in you?

I see that you've mentioned that "no human is inherently good or evil", which might make my questions to you irrelevant. Would you care to expand on that further? It seems to me that you place more emphasis on the social environment in determining one's behaviour rather than human nature, but don't let me take you the wrong way
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Old September 22nd, 2013 (11:56 AM).
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Humans are inherently evil. We've been wiping out a lot of animals to mere extinction such as dodos and Tasmanian tigers since more than a thousand years ago, declare wars against other groups due to their beliefs, enslave others to construct things, invade lands by cutting down trees to make room for our ever-growing population, and pollute our only resources to live, air and water, with our own disposals. There's a reason why extraterrestrial life and other non-human life forms from movies, comics, TV, and video games belittle us and consider us a threat. No matter how nice we are, our violent nature still hasn't been extinguished every generation, unlike wild instincts from dog breeds and pigs.
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Old September 22nd, 2013 (11:42 PM).
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I'm not going to let you get off so lightly, lol. Of course it's rather difficult to say that we are exclusively one over the other, but don't you ever feel like one of the two happens to be more important than the other? Could you make an argument for one side - and if you feel that they seem equal, does one resonate more in you?

I see that you've mentioned that "no human is inherently good or evil", which might make my questions to you irrelevant. Would you care to expand on that further? It seems to me that you place more emphasis on the social environment in determining one's behaviour rather than human nature, but don't let me take you the wrong way
More important? I think that both a persons good and bad qualities should be considered when judging them, otherwise the view you get is very narrow, one-sided and inaccurate. I mean if the one time we met we argued, you'd most probably notice that I'm rather arrogant a lot of the time, I'm stubborn and that I'm argumentative. But if you got to know me you'd also notice I'm a very loyal, respectful and caring person and that those traits are usually more prevalent than the bad ones.

Which brings me to "Does one resonate more in you" - I would put it this way. I have plenty of good and bad qualities, but it is the combination of these qualities that defines who I am. I like to think that my good qualities outnumber the bad, but this doesn't mean this can't change and it doesn't mean that I am inherently a good person. I'm a good person because of the people and events that have influenced me, and whilst it is unlikely, I could just as easily become a horrible person if negative influences start to affect me more.

As for that last bit, you are correct. I most definitely place more of an emphasis on our social environment. From infancy we are bombarded by our parents actions, beliefs and values - and as soon as we pass the more animalistic stage of our development (we're food, water, warmth, health and happiness are all we care about) we start to subconciously absorb these things, we learn our first beliefs and values from observing our parental figures. Then these may change slightly as we become more social and informed as we age and more influences such as friends, teachers and even enemies come into our lives and we gain access to more information. I'm not saying that our views are simply a combination of what we learn from other people, as we grow we develop our own personal beliefs - but this is because we constantly have new information thrown at us that challenges our views. Either we "prove" that our original view is the more accurate one, or we decide that the new information is more accurate and subsequently update our beliefs. This process of continuously discovering new information and using it to adjust our own perceptions is what creates our belief systems - which depending on what we experience throughout our lives could become more "good" or "evil".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinkie-Dawn View Post
Humans are inherently evil. We've been wiping out a lot of animals to mere extinction such as dodos and Tasmanian tigers since more than a thousand years ago, declare wars against other groups due to their beliefs, enslave others to construct things, invade lands by cutting down trees to make room for our ever-growing population, and pollute our only resources to live, air and water, with our own disposals. There's a reason why extraterrestrial life and other non-human life forms from movies, comics, TV, and video games belittle us and consider us a threat. No matter how nice we are, our violent nature still hasn't been extinguished every generation, unlike wild instincts from dog breeds and pigs.
I have to disagree with this. You're describing traits that come from our natural instinct to survive, improve our quality of life and that of the human race in general - even if most of our methods of doing so are misguided they are not evil. We cut down trees to generate resources we need for our various roles within society, and we pollute our air and water for the same reasons in the same way we hunted dodo's to extinction to feed ourselves and our families good-quality food and hunted Tasmanian tigers to (probably) extinction to protect the resources we needed for looking after our families. If we had done these things solely to destroy then that would be inherently evil. Besides, we now know a lot better (see my previous speal on development) and many of us are looking for alternate methods of generating the resources we as a society need, whilst others still seek to remedy the problems we have already caused. Why do we not all do this? Simply because we still need to fulfil the other roles society requires of us, that doesn't make us evil either it just means we have a different role to fulfil.
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Old September 23rd, 2013 (12:18 PM).
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I think we're a combination of both too be honest. We all have "good" and "evil" traits in us anyway. As Went said; human beings are (as a general rule) naturally social creatures. We live in cooperative family groups and work and learn together in a somewhat supportive environment. This being said though we all want what is best for ourselves whether we care to admit it or not - yes I care about a lot of people, hell I'd even give my life for some of them (I think) but that doesn't change the fact that I want the best I can get for myself in my life, and most people I have met have been more or less the same.

So, yes we are selfish and competitive creatures too an extent (see capitalism) but we are also sociable and altruistic to an extent too (see friends, family, athletic teams and so on). We all possess good and bad traits, no human is inherently good or evil, it is the events in our lives that lead to certain traits being emphasised (even Hitler who we generally regard as pure evil just wanted the best for his country, he was also a sociopath and an antisemitic mass-murder - hence evil).

I think I answered everything in there.
I agree with your view. We have some of the "good" and some of the "evil".
Btw why is being competitive under the "Evil" part? I don't see it as a bad thing, only if one get's a little too into it that they simply become greedy with all disregard to everyone and everything else...
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Old September 28th, 2013 (09:44 PM).
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What's interesting to me is how a lot of liberal thinking comes from the assumption of an "evil", self-serving human nature. Especially with respect to political thought and economics, the name of the game is working with our self-interested tendencies - and we call it rational XD (for example, Communism wouldn't be considered rational because there's no self-serving profit incentive). So we associate self-serving with rationality, and make this one of the founding principles of society. Funny, isn't it? It's no wonder that we often look at society and see that there's somehow always less morality and altruism than we'd imagine. Predation and injustice, all in the name of rationality...

Perhaps human nature is not so important as the social environment that shapes us. But it sure does drill into our heads that we have a certain nature, whether it exists or not.

Quote:
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As a result, I don't think humans are selfish and competitive, at least not once they have got the basics to survive. If we all were bad people, selfish, greedy and prone to picking fights with everyone, we could hardly manage to live in groups, we'd try to isolate ourselves from each other (less competition, all I can get would be for me alone), which doesn't happen.
I like this idea. Perhaps all the survival, self-interested instinct is our "animal" nature, and our human nature is all of that cooperative buddy buddy stuff that none of the other animals have?
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Old September 29th, 2013 (09:31 AM).
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See I think that human nature is inherently evil also. I know what you guys are saying about the survival instincts being neutral territory and all but there's a limit.
We began hunting and surviving through any means necessary. Great. Fantastic.
But when we get to a stage where we're clambering all over each other to get the most meat to the most consumers, some of that meat is going to be wasted.
That means you've taken another life for no significant cause.

That's evil to me.
Take what you need to survive within the world you live and leave the rest in peace.
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Old September 30th, 2013 (04:01 PM). Edited September 30th, 2013 by Cassino.
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Humans are inherently pragmatic rather than moral. Morality appears to be a natural adaptation we have unconsciously wrought for ensuring that societies run smoothly to the degree necessary for group survival and the wellbeing of the human condition. Toward this everlasting telos, what we hold to be good or evil is what is dictated by our culture to be advantageous or disadvantageous respectively.

What does human nature entail? Nothing, really. You raise a human among cats and it will think it is a cat, and not a lot of moralistic deliberation can be observed on a cat's part. You raise it among humans and it will think it is a human; which of course it is, but what I really mean by this is that the human will believe in its morality through being taught, perpetuating this phenomenon which has developed within our species. It's much the same as indoctrinating children into any other institution, religion being the most obvious one to list. Most people view certain things as inherently right or wrong as per what their life experience has dictated to them, and of course their life experience has probably dictated that things can necessarily be inherently right or wrong to begin with, as this is the sort of mindset that our present culture encourages, similar to how a religious or spiritual mindset has been encouraged in the Occident prior to mainstream science.
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Old September 30th, 2013 (08:30 PM).
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The unconscious goal of humans is to survive and have their DNA preserved through procreation or assisting those with shared genetic information. Those that don't seem to do this are likely not 'fit'. Meaning, their traits are not conducive with the mentioned goals and will likely not be afforded to any offspring - the genetic traits will end with their death since they didn't have offspring.

Altruism accounts for relatives, children and sexual partners, by which, protecting would increase a part of their genetic similarities for future generations. This often outweighs the still extant altruism for other persons, even complete strangers. This altruistic behavior toward strangers is accounted for by our hunting and gathering instincts. Those humanoids/primates that worked together as a unit survived, others, that didn't possess this genetic trait of cooperation were largely out produced by these congregating organisms, and with them that solitary trait. In a way, both of these 'altruistic' behaviors are actually the reason why the individual is able to survive and preserve their DNA; therefore, it's not entirely altruistic granted the self-investment, ensuring survival and preservation of one's own DNA through reproduction.

Man does have a predisposition to assist others, though, he also has developed aggressive behaviors as well in order to assure his genetic information is passed on; since those who were completely passive would be out foraged for resources and not live to produce offspring even among their own groups, or among competing groups. This often explains why we often "choose sides" - assist the good ones, defeat the bad ones mentality.

Thus, man is a combination of behaviors that make us 'fit' to survive in the environment. These traits may seem 'good' or 'bad'; however, biologically, they have no qualitative value other than being 'fit' or suitable for survival and preservation of ones own genetic information for generations to come. Man, in his most basic essense, is driven like any organism.

Again, this is largely an unconscious process.
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Old October 5th, 2013 (11:53 AM).
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The unconscious goal of humans is to survive and have their DNA preserved through procreation or assisting those with shared genetic information. Those that don't seem to do this are likely not 'fit'. Meaning, their traits are not conducive with the mentioned goals and will likely not be afforded to any offspring - the genetic traits will end with their death since they didn't have offspring.
Is survival and preservation of DNA a goal? Goals require desire and guide behaviour. I don't think humanity as a whole is enough of an "actor" to desire and have a behaviour to be guided. To me, that's an abstract concept that we impose upon humanity to better understand it and illustrate it, but I wouldn't take such a statement literally. Where I come from, we call these concepts "logics" - motivations and drivers - instead of "goals" that need to be embodied by an actor.

But even if it's a genetic predisposition, that would be part of our nature, yes? And we've all seemed to agree that our nature is nowhere near perfect. Would it then be a goal to transcend our human nature, or embrace it? Does it hold us back or is it the key to our potential?
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Old October 5th, 2013 (12:06 PM).
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I don't want to read the entire page =.=;

So I'll give the answer I already came up with:

Good and Evil, Nobility and Corruption, Harmony and Discord, Order and Chaos... These things are all different.

Good normally means "what is right" while Evil normally means "what is wrong". Believing that ethics is situational, and that what is right to some is wrong to others, I do not believe Good and Evil should be counted as absolutes - in any sense.

Nobility, in terms of honor, is an inherent aspect of human nature based on a personal code developed through self-discipline. It is NOT the same as justice, which follows the idea of having a code for every person regardless of the person, and thus nobility is much more in tune with the 'personal right'. Normally, people feel good for following their personal code. On the other hand, corruption - a very selfish (though it's not WRONG to be a bit selfish) and dishonorable part of human nature - comes from BEING corrupted by one's experiences in life and the lack of self-discipline needed to resist that corruption. Generally, corrupt people have no personal code and use justice (the all-encompassing code) for their own agendas, even if those actions go against said justice. The knights of Camelot upheld both nobility and justice. In society today, justice has only harmed due to being manipulated by the corrupt.

Harmony is the perfect union, the proper connection, of all things. Two things exist in harmony with one another by fully understanding one another and living together to aid one another in each other's goals. Discord is the disconnection, which has no structure but also no purpose, and exists solely as disharmony.

Order is the basic balance between opposing natures that allows for the mastery of both those natures. Chaos is what creates those natures or results from their opposition, much like the Id, and should only be sought once order is achieved. Once chaos and order are as one, true balance is attained.

--

Good and Evil
Nobility and Corruption
Harmony and Discord
Order and Chaos

^ All are a part of human nature.
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Old October 9th, 2013 (04:43 PM).
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Human nature is nothing more than inquisitive. It's probably our only true saving grace, actually. However, as to what's "good" or what's "evil," ask ten people and get ten completely different answers. As a species we have developed this thing we call society, and society dictates laws to follow, and those laws can possibly be viewed as definitions of what is "good" or "evil," but ultimately they are invented concepts.

The more we learn, the more we decide unanimously what is truly beneficial or denigrating to the species as a whole, based on several factors, one of which is the trait we call empathy, which many animal species, most of the mammals even, have. Nature selects the stuff that helps a species to ... essentially ... take over the world. With us it did a great job, perhaps too good, but meh. The short answer is:

We make our future, and good or bad, for what little that means, it is our future we must choose.
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Old October 9th, 2013 (04:59 PM).
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I firmly believe that human nature is inherently good. We inherently are wired to be altruistic, and when you factor in emotions; we also are able to focus that altruism to those we care for.

However this makes us a bit of a chaotic force. Emotions comprise a fair percentage of our judgement, this is not a specific percentage and may vary from person to person, so we inherently care for what we care about. Anything else is unfortunately left to the side. We are however capable of reasoning and intelligence; so that's the flip side of the coin. We can choose when and how to prioritize our goals in groups, as a group, and consolidate our efforts so that we can achieve more.

When you add all of it together you still get a net total on the side of good, even if it's a bit chaotic. Most people don't do evil unless it's the only way they know; which boils down to how one grows up.

I've never met any child that wasn't eager to please in their own unique ways. As we grow into our own higher reasoning, we must be guided by parents. If the growing mind isn't taught the difference, they may never understand the difference once they are grown.
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