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 What qualities define human nature?

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Ira
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PostSubject: What qualities define human nature?   Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:47 pm

We often hear the term "human nature" used cynically as a means of referring to humankind's capacity for evil, but how accurate is that assessment? While evil is an integral facet of human nature, it is a hasty generalization to say that humans are evil by nature. So what other qualities are part of our nature? Humans are also characterized by the invention of morals and ethics, which can be partly attributed to religion. This brings up another question: is the belief in a higher power a part of human nature or is it just an anomaly?
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komalram
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PostSubject: Re: What qualities define human nature?   Fri Sep 17, 2010 8:40 pm

I really like this question because people always seem to associate human nature with, in laymen's terms, being an asshole. I mean, yeah, a lot of people have done terrible things that really were just awful or selfish, but there have been lots of people who've done good things too. Mother Teresa for example did nothing but good as far as I know. I definitely think it's a hasty generalization to call humans evil by nature, because that would imply we just automatically do things that are as terrible as possible. Although, on a random note, it seems like that would be really interesting, if someone was automatically evil and they would do the worst thing, what do you think they'd do? but back to this, I think people can be evil by nature, we all know that one guy that everyone hates because they're just such a jerk. But, if all people were evil by nature, would there still be people left on the planet?
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PostSubject: Re: What qualities define human nature?   Fri Sep 17, 2010 9:56 pm

komalram wrote:
I really like this question because people always seem to associate human nature with, in laymen's terms, being an asshole. I mean, yeah, a lot of people have done terrible things that really were just awful or selfish, but there have been lots of people who've done good things too. Mother Teresa for example did nothing but good as far as I know. I definitely think it's a hasty generalization to call humans evil by nature, because that would imply we just automatically do things that are as terrible as possible. Although, on a random note, it seems like that would be really interesting, if someone was automatically evil and they would do the worst thing, what do you think they'd do? but back to this, I think people can be evil by nature, we all know that one guy that everyone hates because they're just such a jerk. But, if all people were evil by nature, would there still be people left on the planet?
When I think human nature, I don't see it as people being naturally evil but rather being greedy and doing whatever is in our best interest. For example: If I was starving out in the middle of nowhere and I was there with one other person and I only had one cookie, human nature would be telling me that that's my cookie and I need it to survive. However because we have grown up in a society where greed is seen as being wrong and that sharing can actually lead to bigger and better things, many of us, if given this situation most of us would actually share the cookie rather than keep it for ourselves because that's what we've been taught to do and not only that, but we've learned it's actually the better way to go because then we'll be able to work together to get out of the middle of nowhere and find more food rather than relying on ourselves and most likely dying. However, in some situations, human nature manages to get passed our self control and we end up doing the greedy thing anyway.... sort of like Sigmund Freud's Psychoanalytic theory, only my version is less extreme and sees men and women to both be equal.
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PostSubject: Re: What qualities define human nature?   Fri Oct 01, 2010 9:53 pm

Since I pretty much agree completely with the comment above, it seems a little silly to contribute any more. But just to second the opinion, I think human nature is the love of self before all things; because what's more important to you than yourself? We are taught that it is morally righteous and socially beneficial to sometimes put others before yourself; but when you are removed from a society and the bonds formed by social conditioning loosen, you generally regress; which is pretty much Lord of the Flies with British schoolkids.
But as an addition, human nature is really a sort of oxymoron, since the "nature" we are referring to is an animalistic need to survive. That's the essence of human nature, this group of learned apes, who read and speak and build worlds they can dominate, but still regress to savages when the need arises.
And sometimes our social motivations are still motivated by selfishness. "if I give this person half my cookie, they will like me and help me and ultimately it will be very beneficial to me and my needs."
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