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Human nature

tacomancer

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What do you think human nature is?

What political philosophy most closely matches it?

Do you think people in general are capable of change or will people always be what they are from generation to generation? (This is not about individuals changing, but society in general).
 

tacomancer

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I will quote myself to make the OP a little more organized.

What do you think human nature is?

Human nature is both the good and bad things we do. It is both the saint and the sinner. It is the sum of our instincts, our learned behavior, our intellect, and our emotions. Of course, I am using broad language here, but essentially, it is everything we like and dislike about our species. It is both yin and yang.

What political philosophy most closely matches it?

I think to some level, every philosophy recognizes a portion of human nature. Fascism responds to our need for order, strength, and leadership. Libertarianism responds to our need for freedom and spirit. Liberalism responds to our caring, desire for growth, and need for community. Conservatism also responds to our need for community, the tribal (national as modernly expressed) instinct, and our need for order and triumph of our group over competing groups.

The problem is that while each philosphy caters to a need within human nature, it also denies other portions of human nature. This is why I try to be moderate. I don't think pure discipline is a recipe for success as the human mind contains a bunch of competing and often contradictory interests, so much society in response. (at least, a free society).

Do you think people in general are capable of change or will people always be what they are from generation to generation? (This is not about individuals changing, but society in general).

While I have my (strong) preference. I cannot wish away the tide. People will always be as they are with the only changes coming from evolutionary pressures. The other possibility (and something I believe will happen at some point) is that there will be a divine reckoning and when we get new bodies, a lot of our instincts contained in our genes will be erased, leaving us with a freer will and more able to make choices than we currently are able to.

However, under our own power, nothing will ever change and the best we can do is to make society a more accurate representation of the struggle inside us, which is the most freedom we could ever hope for in our current state.
 

spud_meister

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Human nature is how we act, every political philosophy is a reflection of the nature of the people that believe it, there is no set criteria as to the nature of our entire species, and I don't believe it is fixed to a generation, people will act how people will act, while the societal expectations of our actions change, what drives us to those actions is entirely dependent upon the individual.
 

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It is difficult to articulate my thoughts on what you posted because now we're not just talking about politics - rather, we're talking about meta-politics.

You see, I don't think any one political philosophy is accurately representative of human nature. Like you said, different political philosophies focus on different values for different people. Some people need the highly structured order of fascism. Some people need the freedoms of libertarianism.

But we're talking about individuals when it comes to political philosophy. And I don't think there's any one particular political philosophy that best suits every individual.

Rather, I think it is the system of government that can best represent human nature, especially when it allows for proportional representation. Effectively, the more representative the government of a society can be, the best that government can attend to the needs of the different types of people in government.

I am all for proportional representation in government. I believe that fascist politicians should represent fascist citizens. I believe that libertarian politicians should represent libertarian citizens. I believe that conservative politicians should represent conservative citizens. I believe that liberal politicians should represent liberal citizens. I believe that socialist politicians should represent socialist citizens. I believe that Christian dominionist politicians should represent Christian dominionist citizens.

Now, many of these philosophies I don't agree with. However, I am not the government. Rather, the government is made up of it's citizenry. And by having a government that is made up of all the different types of political philosophies that comprise it's citizenry, the government can, in a broad sense, represent the human nature of the culture of it's people.
 

tacomancer

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It is difficult to articulate my thoughts on what you posted because now we're not just talking about politics - rather, we're talking about meta-politics.

You see, I don't think any one political philosophy is accurately representative of human nature. Like you said, different political philosophies focus on different values for different people. Some people need the highly structured order of fascism. Some people need the freedoms of libertarianism.

Yup. I think this sort of thing is why a libertarian might feel confused when someone who prefers a different style of government says "how dare you impose your libertarianism on me" because while to one person a certain philosophy will free them (even to the fascist, a fascist government will free them) that same philosophy will burden another.
 

digsbe

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I believe human nature at the core is selfish and evil.

I do believe people are capable of change, but typically only if it benefits them.
 

samsmart

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I believe human nature at the core is selfish and evil.

I do believe people are capable of change, but typically only if it benefits them.

I do agree that human nature is selfish. However, I don't know about evil.

Also, selfish shouldn't be confused with self-interest.
 

tacomancer

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I see human nature as both good and evil. I know plenty of kind hearted and good nonreligious people.
 

spud_meister

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I believe human nature at the core is selfish and evil.

I do believe people are capable of change, but typically only if it benefits them.

I disagree, for example, if a loved one is in danger, your automatic reaction is not to draw up a cost/benefit analysis table and determine whether helping them would benefit you or not, you would help them, and many people would help strangers too, without a second thought. While society has the perception of human nature as the "bad" emotions of greed, anger, envy etc. selflessness, empathy and love are just as much a part of human nature.
 

Black Dog

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Human nature is all about needs and wants. Selfishness is our natural state. Fortunately we can reason and be better than our base instincts.
 

Goshin

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Human nature is a dichotomy. We are capable of breathtaking acts of selfless courage and generosity; we are also capable of incredible acts of abyssmal depravity and evil. Our nature is continually at war with itself in this dichotomy.

These two sides have been called "our better angels" and our "Demons"; our "superego" and "id"; our "rational" and "animal" natures; conscience and temptation, spirit and flesh.

Any political system must take both into account, or it will fail. In particular, it must take into account the darker side of human nature.

To expand on this, I think the "dispersed power" theory is best. No one person or one body should hold too much power; there must be checks and balances so that if any one office/branch/etc gets out of hand, the others will have self-intrest reasons to smack it back into place. IMO we've moved too far towards centralized government since America's founding, and weakened too many of those checks and balances.
 
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Fiddytree

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People's social attitudes change through time, such as customs, religions, and so forth. We may even believe that their attitudes are superior from where they once were. However, deep at the core, if you stare into the hearts of man through history, much of them are the same from us. They all have fears, they all desire success and to make an impact upon history, they want the best for their children, and they all have dreams.
 

Psychoclown

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I believe at the core, most, if not all, of our actions are motivated by self interest. Self interest is not a bad thing, nor is it a good thing. Depending on the values one has, it can drive a person towards inspiring acts of kindness or towards depraved acts of greed. And I agree with megaprogram that the various political philosophies cater to various human desires - freedom, fairness, chairty, order, community, tradition.

As for change, a soiety's values can change. I think that is clearly demonstrated throughout history. Different societies have had different values throughout the ages, but that basic engine of self interest is always going to be what drives us.
 

samsmart

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Human nature is all about needs and wants. Selfishness is our natural state. Fortunately we can reason and be better than our base instincts.

Well, you have to remember that selfishness is a defense mechanism. All people want food, shelter, and safety for themselves. That's instinctual and hard-coded into our being. So to truly look out for another's interests is quite difficult for us.

Sure, we can try to look out for another's interests. But it's difficult because of our individuality. All we can do is extrapolate what another person's interests are and attempt to do so, but it's not perfect.

It also doesn't help that we can't know for certain that another person is looking out for your individual interests either. While you may deal fairly with someone else, it is unknown if they will do the same to you, concerning which areas, and to what degree.

So, considering all those factors, I can understand why people are naturally selfish - it's because others are naturally selfish too.
 

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Well, you have to remember that selfishness is a defense mechanism. All people want food, shelter, and safety for themselves. That's instinctual and hard-coded into our being. So to truly look out for another's interests is quite difficult for us.

Sure, we can try to look out for another's interests. But it's difficult because of our individuality. All we can do is extrapolate what another person's interests are and attempt to do so, but it's not perfect.

It also doesn't help that we can't know for certain that another person is looking out for your individual interests either. While you may deal fairly with someone else, it is unknown if they will do the same to you, concerning which areas, and to what degree.

So, considering all those factors, I can understand why people are naturally selfish - it's because others are naturally selfish too.

Exactly. Whenever I'm doing business with a person for the first time, I always assume they are out to screw me over. As I tell my wife, that way any surprises will be pleasant ones.
 

Fiddytree

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So, I'm taking it mega, that this conversation spread from our previous one?
 

tacomancer

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So, I'm taking it mega, that this conversation spread from our previous one?

Our previous one got the gears turning in my head. I think this is an expanded version of our conversation after I had some thought about it.
 
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