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  • Human nature

    Human nature


    • Human nature refers to the distinguishing characteristics—including ways of thinking, feeling, and acting—which humans tend to have naturally.

      The questions of whether there truly are fixed characteristics, what these natural characteristics are, and what causes them are among the oldest and most important questions in philosophy and science. The concept of human nature is traditionally contrasted not only with unusual human characteristics, but also with characteristics which are derived from specific cultures, and upbringings. The "nature versus nurture" debate is a well-known modern discussion about human nature in the natural sciences.

      These questions have particularly important implications in economy, ethics, politics, and theology. This is partly because human nature can be regarded as both a source of norms of conduct or ways of life, as well as presenting obstacles or constraints on living a good life. The complex implications of such questions are also dealt with in art and literature, the question of what it is to be human.

      The concept of nature as a standard by which to make judgments is traditionally said to have begun in Greek philosophy, at least as regards the Western and Middle Eastern languages and perspectives which are heavily influenced by it.

      The teleological approach of Aristotle came to be dominant by late classical and medieval times. By this account, human nature really causes humans to become what they become, and so it exists somehow independently of individual humans. This in turn has been understood as also showing a special connection between human nature and divinity. This approach understands human nature in terms of final and formal causes. In other words, nature itself (or a nature-creating divinity) has intentions and goals, similar somehow to human intentions and goals, and one of those goals is humanity living naturally. Such understandings of human nature see this nature as an "idea", or "form" of a human.



      • being "transformed by the renewing of your minds" (Romans 12:2)
      • being transformed from one's "old self" (or "old man") into a "new self" (or "new man") (Col.3:9-10)
      • being transformed from people who "hate others" and "are hard to get along with" and who are "jealous, angry, and selfish" to people who are "loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled" (Galatians 5:20-23)
      • being transformed from looking "to your own interests" to looking "to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4)
      • Man is a conjugal animal, meaning an animal which is born to couple when an adult, thus building a household (oikos) and, in more successful cases, a clan or small village still run upon patriarchal lines.
      • Man is a political animal, meaning an animal with an innate propensity to develop more complex communities the size of a city or town, with a division of labor and law-making. This type of community is different in kind from a large family, and requires the special use of human reason.
      • Man is a mimetic animal. Man loves to use his imagination (and not only to make laws and run town councils). He says "we enjoy looking at accurate likenesses of things which are themselves painful to see, obscene beasts, for instance, and corpses." And the "reason why we enjoy seeing likenesses is that, as we look, we learn and infer what each is, for instance, 'that is so and so.'"
      • Biologist Richard Dawkins in his The Selfish Gene states that "a predominant quality" in a successful surviving gene is "ruthless selfishness." Furthermore, "this gene selfishness will usually give rise to selfishness in individual behavior."
      • Child psychologist Burton L. White, PhD, finds a "selfish" trait in children from birth, a trait that expresses itself in actions that are "blatantly selfish."
      • Sociologist William Graham Sumner finds it a fact that "everywhere one meets "fraud, corruption, ignorance, selfishness, and all the other vices of human nature." He enumerates "the vices and passions of human nature" as "cupidity, lust, vindictiveness, ambition, and vanity." Sumner finds such human nature to be universal: in all people, in all places, and in all stations in society.
      • Psychiatrist Thomas Anthony Harris, MD, on the basis of his "data at hand," observes "sin, or badness, or evil, or 'human nature', whatever we call the flaw in our species, is apparent in every person." Harris calls this condition "intrinsic badness" or "original sin."
      • being "transformed by the renewing of your minds" (Romans 12:2)
      • being transformed from one's "old self" (or "old man") into a "new self" (or "new man") (Col.3:9-10)
      • being transformed from people who "hate others" and "are hard to get along with" and who are "jealous, angry, and selfish" to people who are "loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled" (Galatians 5:20-23)
      • being transformed from looking "to your own interests" to looking "to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4)
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