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Is there such a thing as Human Nature?

Lark

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I dont hear that question asked much anymore and no one speaks of a human nature per se, what do you think?
 

Fluffywolf

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I do believe that human nature is a fact. I also believe that many people abuse the term for various arguements that really doesn't have anything to do with human nature, other than the fact we're hurd animals. Often people talk of human nature when they really mean common taught behaviour. Which still has a bases in human nature when you rationalize that we are all that we are because of our human nature, thus all that we are is our human nature..

Then again, if you think like this, what's the point in defining human nature. Just call it 'human'.

Point of the story is that human nature is much like MBTI a man made concept. A category in which all humans fit, but no other life forms.
 

Shimmy

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Is there any theory at all that says there is no such thing as human nature? Darwinism, All religious believe systems, Existentialism (in all its forms). Nobody ever says that we are a random collection of individuals that just happen to be a lot alike (which in itself would imply some sort of human nature.)
 

MagnifaSnail

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Well there is absolutely a shared biological/instinctual nature for humans to eat and make babies. There's probably an argument that says those things are the cause of everything we've ever done/will do as individuals and as a species but I'm not really interested in finding it or taking the time to come up with my own. :p

This is what I think of immediately when you say "Human Nature". As you can tell there's a heavy emphasis on the "nature" part. But equally invasive of my thoughts is the idea of a vague shared kind of ethos/responsibility/base "morality" that transcends societal/political boundaries. Now, as I said, it's arguable that if such thing exists it can be explained by natural selection.

As to whether or not I myself believe in a common human ethos or that we are purely instinctual or even some combination I couldn't say. These are just ideas that immediately came to me when you mentioned the phrase. Well, I guess I might be leaning towards the biological standpoint as that is the only thing every human has in common no matter what.

But whether one believes our nature is a product of evolution, delegated by something "higher", or a result of something else entirely I don't suppose it really matters. It's the same result no matter what. The present.
 

SolitaryWalker

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The statement that there is no human nature is tantamount to the statement that there are no humans. Accordingly the term human nature is identical in meaning to nature of a human. One way to ask what something is, or how something is defined is to ask what its nature is. Thus, the term human nature denotes the following with respect to items that are human: if something is human, then its nature is such. Thus, human nature can be defined as a list of qualities that all humans necessarily have.

-All humans are innately bipedal.
-All humans have a brain.
-All humans have a certain innate intellectual ability and potential.
-All humans are able to process emotion.
-All humans unconsciously gravitate towards pleasure and shun pain.

You can use my method to discover what the other attributes of human nature are. However, I do believe that I proved that some attributes of human nature exist and eo ipso, there is such a thing as human nature.

I've written this paper over a year ago. May have some interesting insights for you.

http://www.typologycentral.com/forums/philosophy-spirituality/13190-essence-human-nature.html
 

FDG

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Tendentially, Human Nature is everything humans are, thus humans are exclusively human nature, thus if we believe there is no such a thing as human nature, we believe in the non-existence of humanity. Everything we do, every way in which we respond to the outside world is primarly the result of our nature as humans.
 

SolitaryWalker

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Tendentially, Human Nature is everything humans are, thus humans are exclusively human nature, thus if we believe there is no such a thing as human nature, we believe in the non-existence of humanity. Everything we do, every way in which we respond to the outside world is primarly the result of our nature as humans.

Human nature is not everything that humans are. Some qualities that certain humans have are not natural and have been artificially developed. For example, a human who has a fondness for metals or for sky-diving is not following an innate instinct. If we say that his actions are part of human nature, it follows that those who do not have this quality, for example infants or people of different hobbies are less human than he is. In other words, their nature lacks the component of 'human-ness' that he has.

In my previous post, I suggested that we could avoid this problem by defining human nature as a set of qualities that all humans perforce have.
 

FDG

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Human nature is not everything that humans are. Some qualities that certain humans have are not natural and have been artificially developed./QUOTE]

Actually, in this philsophical debate I hold the position "Everything humans do is natural, because they are part of nature". Artificial, in my opinion, is a meaningless word. Humanity is just an extremely low-entropy kind of natural self-organization, it can't be separated from its source.

If we say that his actions are part of human nature, it follows that those who do not have this quality, for example infants or people of different hobbies are less human than he is.

:shock: nobody placed a "necessary" logical qualifier on each human action, it's an on-off switch requiring only pertainance to the species, indipedent from actions. Thus, human nature is everything that humans are, but humans aren't necessarily everything that human nature can be.

Just an opinion, of course. If you disagree with me on the natural-artifical debate, then my position does not hold anymore.
 

MagnifaSnail

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For example, a human who has a fondness for metals or for sky-diving is not following an innate instinct.

Unless I misunderstand this very well could be an innate instinct. True, skydiving itself and the act of studying metals are not things that all human beings participate in but these actions performed by an individual could be an effort to satisfy human nature. The desire to experience physical thrill (rush of endorphins?) can explain skydiving and human inquisitiveness can explain a fondness for metals.

I agree with what you said, that everything we are is not our nature but as I said in my previous post we are the result of our nature. I also agree with FDG in that labeling some human qualities as artificial is meaningless when these qualities have been developed by humans in the context of human nature.
 

SolitaryWalker

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Actually, in this philsophical debate I hold the position "Everything humans do is natural, because they are part of nature". Artificial, in my opinion, is a meaningless word. Humanity is just an extremely low-entropy kind of natural self-organization, it can't be separated from its source.

Lets set a definition of natural. Natural is whatever a human is predisposed to do without interaction with his environment. In this context, natural stands in contrast with learned or nurtured. Exactly on this basis the prominent debate in psychology about nature and nurture came to fruition.

If you are to accept my definition of natural, I do not think that we still would have a disagreement. Accordingly, our dispute appears to be about how the word natural is to be defined rather than the concepts that can be addressed in a debate where one definition of this term has been established and consistently employed.

It seems to me that the definition of natural that you have in mind is whatever is possible for a human being to do. As you put it, whatever a human is, is its nature.
Thus, human nature is everything that humans are.

I take issue with this definition simply on the account that its unconventional or not descriptive of how people use the word natural. Even when talking about biology and matters as simple as the growth of trees, clear distinctions between natural and unnatural can be cited. For example, a certain small bush could grow to a height of two feet. Yet for example, if you feed a poisonous chemical to this bush, it may grow to be only one half of a foot. Similarly you may feed another chemical to the bush and it may grow to be 2.5 feet.

These changes are not regarded as natural because the plant needed external influences in order to take this course of action. Simply put, it did not do this by itself, it required a path of development that was not entailed by its intrinsic, natural substance or anything that it was endowed with since the beginning of its existence.

The same could be said with regard to humans. There have been theories that the natural lifespan of a human being is 30-40 years, yet through artificial treatment or drugs which we now regard as a routinely part of our medical treatment, we are able to extend our average lifespan to well over 60 years.





:shock: nobody placed a "necessary" logical qualifier on each human action, it's an on-off switch requiring only pertainance to the species, indipedent from actions. .

I am not sure if I understand what you mean. I am guessing that there is nothing to human nature that is of necessity 'human'. If so, this is exactly the conclusion that I aspire to refute.

:Thus, human nature is everything that humans are, but humans aren't necessarily everything that human nature can be. .

Well, it seems to be that here you are saying something that is very similar to what I thought you were saying in the previous passage. Hence, you have two claims.

1. Whatever a human does can be regarded as human nature. Another way to say this is once a human engages in an act, the act in question instantly becomes part of his nature.

2. At this point humans are not everything that they can be. Thus, what humans are now is human nature. However, what human nature is now is not representative of its potential or everything that it can be.

This is interesting, but unfortunately I cannot find a passage in your post where you support this view. But perhaps I have missed it somehow.


Since I cannot find the support for the view that you have offered anywhere in your post, I will attempt to construct one myself.

One may say that humans are resolutely independent animals. Some scholars believe that every event a human being engages in, is to some degree a result of his exercise of Free Will or independent decision making. Accordingly, he or she is not at all like a plant whose development could change radically as a result of an external influence such as a different watering.

I don't believe that this view is true, or that every event that a human being engages in is a result of his own choices; however, for the sake of this argument we may assume that it is true.

On this basis we may begin building a defense of the view that there is no such thing as an artificial human quality. Accordingly, since it is our nature to have free will and we use free will to select every event that we engage in, by our very nature we engage in all activities that occur in our lives.

I think that this view is also false in this context on the account that its not the case that Free Will is completely natural. Free Will or having an ability to decide what we want to do does not exist within every person at birth. Hence, its not natural. It is artificially instilled within us by virtue of our experiences with the world. For example, a baby who was to be abandoned on an uninhabitated Island would never learn to speak, or even less to reason. Surely it would not develop the superb reasoning skills it would need to be in control of every action it engages in.

Thus, because our ability to control our lives in itself is not natural or not completely innate and therefore resultant of our interaction with the environment rather than our non-experiential, inborn faculties; it follows that it is possible for humans to have non-natural or artificial qualities. In fact, almost all of the qualities of an average person are indeed artificial. Keep in mind, an artifical quality is one that is not resultant solely of a person's inborn or innate attributes.


:Just an opinion, of course. If you disagree with me on the natural-artifical debate, then my position does not hold anymore.

I challenge the view that there is no such thing as an artifical human quality. I do believe that humans have both natural and artifical qualities and have explained my position in the previous paragraph.

Unless I misunderstand this very well could be an innate instinct. True, skydiving itself and the act of studying metals are not things that all human beings participate in but these actions performed by an individual could be an effort to satisfy human nature..

Is a baby born with an instinct to sky dive? Would it seek out such experiences right away without any prior interaction with its environment?

If not, then its not an innate instinct but a result of a learning experience.


The desire to experience physical thrill (rush of endorphins?) can explain skydiving and human inquisitiveness can explain a fondness for metals...

Do all people desire to experience physical thrills since birth? I think not. But suppose that they do. In that case the desire to experience physical thrills in itself is innate, yet fascination with metals and skydiving is not as it is an activity that humans have learned to desire as they have learned that it satisfies their natural instinct to desire physical thrills.

In short, take note of the distinction between an instinct all humans have had since birth and instincts that humans have developed in order to satisfy other instincts that they indeed have had since birth.

I agree with what you said, that everything we are is not our nature but as I said in my previous post we are the result of our nature. ...

We may be a result of our nature as all of our learned instincts have been developed to satisfy our natural instincts, however, again, there is a difference between a learned instinct and a natural or an inborn one. For example, I may have an inborn instinct to desire whatever feels good and therefore I may learn to like ice-cream because I have learned that ice-cream feels good, but from this it does not follow that I have a natural or an innate instinct to like ice-cream.


I also agree with FDG in that labeling some human qualities as artificial is meaningless when these qualities have been developed by humans in the context of human nature.

As I have shown above, some of these qualities have not been developed by virtue of human nature alone. Some of them required a certain kind of experiences. For instance, I now have an instinct to appreciate ice-cream, this instinct has not been developed within the context of human nature alone on the account that had I never experienced ice-cream, I would have never developed an instinct to like it.

But even more importantly, as I have shown in my response to FDG, we were able to learn or to make choices due to factors other than our nature alone. At the very least, a child needs attention in order to learn to speak or to reason. If he was left alone on an uninhabited island, he or she would not be able to acquire habits that satisfy his natural instincts. For instance, he or she would not be able to learn to sky-dive or to appreciate metals (irrespectively of whether these activities satisfy his inborn instincts) as he or she would not have been able to develop the observational or reasoning skills to discover such activities and learn how to perform them.
 

Mole

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Rather than human nature, there is nature.

And all of nature from a butterfly to the Prime Minister, is based on the same four letters.

Yes, our genes only consist of four letters. And these four letters create all life on earth from an elephant to a mongoose, from you to me.

So there is no human nature above nature for we are part of nature ourselves.

We are all literally part of the web of life on earth, from a wombat to Madonna.

And all of us, butterflies, Prime Ministers, elephants, mongoose, you and I, wombats and Madonna, create and depend upon the ecosystem.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for us.
 
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