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Human nature... Is man inherently good, or inherently flawed?

Ontologuy

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Some 'men are better than others.

'Men can be injured from a number of sources, including, most relevantly, the environment.

Injured 'men are neither good or evil, they're just in pain, and pain affects different people in different ways, so some tolerate the pain without inflicting it on others, while others, not so much.

The uninjured 'man is a fantasy, as is the perfect environment.

Thus we really have no reality-based calibration to determine what our nature is, no normative control group with which to make a comparison.

My guess is, however, that if you put 'man in hell, he'll behave devilishly, and if you put 'man in heaven, he'll behave angelically.

Because if there's one thing that's true about humanity, at least those humans still alive today, is that we are as adapative to our surroundings as Darwinianly possible.
 

Schutzengel

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All that demonstrates is that his action was not worthless in his own estimation. It does not demonstrate that Marine A's action benefits Marine A, which is the definition of self serving.

In fact, you're rather contradicting yourself by admitting Marine A places a higher value on the lives of others than his own. That's not "self-serving", that is altruistic motivation by definition.

How often have you heard one say that they could not live with such and such a choice... the act is one of mitigating the pain of loss, and therefore a self-serving act.
 

Sherman123

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Humans are inherently human. I'm not going to squabble about the lack of objective definition with regard to good or evil, though there are arguments from naturalism and neurobiology that indicate some clear constants. We act in a way that increases our individual utility where possible and perceived, and often this takes the form of group (family, friends), and societal (community, country) action. Utility is obviously subjective, though as mentioned before there are some naturalistic constants we have come to believe are true.
 

sawyerloggingon

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Mans first and only instinct is to survive and if that means killing someone else and taking what they have or pushing someone out of your way to insure you get out of a burning building instead of them that is what you are programed to do. This is where society comes into play. If your society teaches you it is grand and noble to die in the process of saving another or that stealing and killing is wrong that's the way you act. If the society your born in says killing others and taking their wealth is grand and noble and if being cruel and barbaric is looked at with admiration then thats what you do. In essence, society trumps natural instinct or at least it is supposed to but our prison population proves that sometimes natural instinct wins out.
 

the_recruit

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How often have you heard one say that they could not live with such and such a choice... the act is one of mitigating the pain of loss, and therefore a self-serving act.

Look some acts, many in fact, are self-serving. Some are not. The Marine jumping on a grenade is a standard example of one that is not. He obtains no personal gain from that act.

The notion you are describing even has a name in philosophy, psychological egoism (see also),and is actually a fairly commonly held belief among people with only a passing knowledge of philosophy. But ultimately it's been shown time and time again to be a wrong one, and no accepted contemporary philosophical theories include it. Altruism does exist. Not everything a human does is to their own personal benefit. And it's not limited to humans. Other animals exhibit altruistic behavior in certain situations, for example a mother moose protecting her offspring from a bear (see also). And such behaviors are even predicted and supported by evolutionary theory.
 

cpwill

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Mankind is sinful.
 

tacomancer

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inherently flawed which is why we should find ways to curb our societal excesses through self government.
 

Daktoria

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You can't. Not really. The Christian metaphysic plagues so much of Western thought that it would require an annihilation event to do away with them: even our 'secular humanists' embrace an entire pantheon of 'rights', 'morality', 'agents' and 'actors', and so much other ideological debris.

You are what you do at any given moment. Consequentially you are never yourself from moment to moment.

Eh... what?

Total depravity versus universal reconciliation is the crux of Protestantism versus Catholicism. All Christians are not the same.

As for the OP, some people are good, some people are bad.
 

Sherman123

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Mans first and only instinct is to survive and if that means killing someone else and taking what they have or pushing someone out of your way to insure you get out of a burning building instead of them that is what you are programed to do. This is where society comes into play. If your society teaches you it is grand and noble to die in the process of saving another or that stealing and killing is wrong that's the way you act. If the society your born in says killing others and taking their wealth is grand and noble and if being cruel and barbaric is looked at with admiration then thats what you do. In essence, society trumps natural instinct or at least it is supposed to but our prison population proves that sometimes natural instinct wins out.


That isn't really true though. For example, we've come to know that what we call altruism has deeply naturalistic and evolutionary roots. Society is a powerful molding factor, but it's worth pointing out that while cultural standards have been different across various civilizations and societies, basic rules and norms have been pretty standard.
 

sawyerloggingon

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That isn't really true though. For example, we've come to know that what we call altruism has deeply naturalistic and evolutionary roots. Society is a powerful molding factor, but it's worth pointing out that while cultural standards have been different across various civilizations and societies, basic rules and norms have been pretty standard.

Look at the Roman Empire where it was entertainment to watch people murdered in the arena and where men having sex with little boys was considered normal behavior. I would not call that "pretty standard".
 

Tettsuo

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It's in man's nature to act in his or her best interest. Thus, it is in man's nature to act within a community. We not only crave companionship, we need it. It's a part of our instincts. Those that act outside or weaken the community are seen as evil or flawed. Those that seek to strengthen the community are seen as good.
 

Schutzengel

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Look some acts, many in fact, are self-serving. Some are not. The Marine jumping on a grenade is a standard example of one that is not. He obtains no personal gain from that act.

The notion you are describing even has a name in philosophy, psychological egoism (see also),and is actually a fairly commonly held belief among people with only a passing knowledge of philosophy. But ultimately it's been shown time and time again to be a wrong one, and no accepted contemporary philosophical theories include it. Altruism does exist. Not everything a human does is to their own personal benefit. And it's not limited to humans. Other animals exhibit altruistic behavior in certain situations, for example a mother moose protecting her offspring from a bear (see also). And such behaviors are even predicted and supported by evolutionary theory.

you have to understand, that I do agree... that there is some altruism in the world... you happened upon one of the only real examples of it out there... there is no thought put into something like that... one just acts... of course you cannot negate an entire point because the frays around the edges a little... the vast majority of human action is either directly or indirectly self-serving... it is just the way we are wired.
 

Aberration

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This is the core of all political debate, where do you stand on the idea of human nature? Is man by his nature good or bad?

Both. A conflicting duality. It is the mechanism of change.
 

armor99

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Here is what I have found over time, that most "Socialists" believe in the inherent good in man, that by his nature he is giving and kind, this is why they believe that socialism will work.

Those wild free market people like me think that man is inherently self-serving, and believe Adam Smith, and want to harness that self-serving nature to make the best world we can.

The main problem with Socialism, Communism, or any other non-capitalist... -ism's... is that they require something that is impossible to work properly. You see the goal of Socialism... Communism, etc, is that they will claim.... it will be a utopian society if we would just do it "their way". Of course, there will, and have always been those that do not want to go along with "the program". So those folks will be "talked to", and "reasoned with". Perhaps put back into some sort of remedial education because obviously they are just not thinking the "right way".

So that goes on for a while... and still there will be a percentage that cannot be changed in their thinking. So eventually these people are put in jails so they do not "infect others" to their way of thinking. And in turn that goes on for a while, until finally the govt reasons that like a cancer these people need to be "cut out" of their society. If only they can remove these incorrectly thinking people.... then everything will be fine. And they can finally get that utopian society. And that is when the mass killings start. Any society that puts the good of the whole as more important than the rights of the individual. then really horrible things start to happen.

And this is socialism's and communism's fatal flaw. To create this utpoian society, it would take a population of "perfect people" to make it all happen. People that are beyond corruption, people that like to work to their fullest ability, even though they all get paid the same. People that are completely, and in all ways altruisitc, rather than selfish in any way. And no society, anywhere, at any time, will ever have a population like this. And that is why it "looks so good on paper", and fails each and every time.
 
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