Is human nature inherently good or evil?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Thik Nongyow, Aug 23, 2002.

  1. Thik Nongyow

    Thik Nongyow Stunt Coordinator

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    A philosophy question:

    For thousands of years, philosophers had debated whether human nature is inherently good or evil. The Chinese Legalists thought that human nature is inherently evil and harsh laws are needed so that humans become good. However, French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau believed that human nature is inherently good. As one can see, there are different viewpoints on human nature; the first cynical, the second optimistic.

    To not bring the religious side of this topic (e.g. original sin), is human nature inherently good or evil?
     
  2. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

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    [​IMG] AHHH ITS ENGLISH CLASS AND LORD OF THE FLIES ALL OVER AGAIN! [​IMG]
     
  3. Ike

    Ike Screenwriter

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    There is no good and evil, only what one applies to those terms. So, if I were to say that humans are inherently good, that would be my assessment not only of humans, but also of "good".

    That said, I think humans are not unlike any other animal, in that they generally look out for themselves and those that they are close to, and wish to do this without causing much harm to others.

    (How's that for wishy-washy?)
     
  4. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    I graduated before set theory was taught extensively in schools so excuse me if I mangle the language or concept.

    The universal set is that humans instince to survive so that the largest subset may be realized; the drive to procreate.

    To achieve these ends mix in some matrix and game theory and call it what you will, good, evil or some other definition.

    This said, imperical observations would suggest that a libertarian, laissez faire society is more productive and aloows for higher levels of happiness than highly repressive societies.
     
  5. BertFalasco

    BertFalasco Supporting Actor

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    The only fact of the matter is that one's perspective is just an opinion. I myself, don't believe that, I observe people. People act on their emotions. If one loves and is betrayed, does that person have as much trust as they had before they were betrayed? If a person gets jabbed in the face by their friend, that person gets angry=emotions. I can give out tons and tons and tons. I myself factually know [for myself] because my dad is a schmuckdoosh. I hope he dies of ghonnareah(sp?) and rots in limbo, and for what he has done, he is an evil man. I am not. I get aggressive if one pisses me off but that's a self-control issue.

    Look at whats his face the damn traitor who joined Taliban. Righteous family and what not, what drove him to that? EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING in life affects us. Whether or not we realize it or not self consc. or not does not matter. I really just notice these things. It is an odd ass "gift."

    -Bert
     
  6. Rex Bachmann

    Rex Bachmann Screenwriter

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    Thik Nongyow wrote:
     
  7. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    "good" and "evil" are irrelevant if you look at human nature from an evolutionary/biological perspective.
    From a scientific perspective, human beings are living beings, existing through biological processes and subject to biological needs. Survival, procreation, and the raising of offspring. Good and evil could possibly be couched in biological terms: Good = helps my survival, my ability to procreate, my ability to raise my offspring. Evil = bad for my survival, my ability to procreate, my ability to raise offspring. Of course, this is still vastly oversimplified, and when you think about it, really isn't that relevant anyways. What is "good" for one individual (human or not) is not necessarily "good" for another, and may in fact be "evil".
    If you can accept that human nature is a product of millenia of biological processes and attendant environmental factors, then you MIGHT be able to discuss the subject in a reasonable and rational manner.
    Otherwise, all bets are off. [​IMG]
    If you are really serious about understanding human nature, then I implore you to consider the following:
    The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin.
    Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species, Sarah Hrdy.
    Why Sex Matters: A Darwinian Look at Human Behavior
    , Bobbi S. Low.
    The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature, Geoffrey F. Miller.
    The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life, Robert Wright.
    The Dark Side of Man: Tracing the Origins of Violence, Michael P. Ghiglieri.
    And of course, the classic work that kickstarted sociobiology (now called evolutionary psychology or behavioral ecology):
    On Human Nature, Edward O. Wilson.
    I also HIGHLY recommend reading any of Jane Austen's fictional works ("Sense and Sensibility", "Mansfield Park", "Pride and Prejudice", etc.). Heck, you can even rent the movie adaptations. I find her work captures the essence of human nature.
    There are a dedicated group of anthropologists, biologists, and other scientists who are studying human behavior. It is still a very young field...much of the current work uses extensive studies of primates and other mammals in and aid to studying human behavior.
    Consider the implications of chimpanzees practicing war (commando raids, ambush, mutilations, infanticide). Considering that 99% of DNA between humans and chimps are identical, what does that say about the human capacity for war?
    Only in the last few decades have scientists begun to seriously question: "What is human nature?". Despite protests from the intellectual elite and other entrenched academics that had ushered in a tyranny of political correctness and double-speak. The sociopolitical elite, in Rex words...
     
  8. AaronNWilson

    AaronNWilson Second Unit

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    I think that there is move people who are more evil than me than there is people who are more good than me (poor grammar). Therefore I think human nature is evil based on my perspective.
     
  9. Thik Nongyow

    Thik Nongyow Stunt Coordinator

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    Max, I hope you did not bring up Darwnism to attract a religious discussion. That scientific issue had evolutionists and creationists at odds with each other that it would not be appropriate to discuss on this forum.

    I think we also have to stay away from libertarianism and laissez faire, as both are political concepts.
     
  10. John Thomas

    John Thomas Cinematographer

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    Isn't this on par with asking if a glass is half-full or half-empty?
     
  11. Tim Hoover

    Tim Hoover Screenwriter

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  12. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    Another good book would be The Prisoner's Dilemma by William Poundstone. It is about game theory, and how what's best for an individual is not always best for society.
     
  13. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    What is "Human nature"?

    What is "Good"?

    What is "Evil"?

    The last two depend on a person's point of view and thought process in rendering judgment on a specific action by another person.

    Is human nature the behavior of humans devoid of societal/pychological/physical/economic/etc restrictions?
     
  14. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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  15. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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  16. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Screenwriter

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    Human nature is inherently evil IMO.

    IMO, humans are liars, thieves, and murderers at their core but a person situation will just not allow some of these actions to come to a head.

    Human beings look out for themselves first and than others second(not counting a father to child but I have no children so it might be the same) and that IMO is selfishness, and selfhisness is not good but evil. It's about getting mine and serving myself first, like watching football instead of being selfless and going shopping with the wife or something along those lines.

    Every human being has lied so that would makes us all liars at our core. We lie because we are liars, not liars because we lie; if we never had that liar in us it would never, ever come. Humans probably lie sooner than probably any other evil. Liars are evil.

    This can be said for many things in a persons life. Even if a person never stole anything in their entire life I would bet everything I own that same person has thought about stealing at least once. If that thievry was never in a person than that person would never even think about it.

    I believe every human being is capable of murder if they were put in the right situation. Grew up in a tough place, never had parental or adult support to help shape their moral framwork etc. IMO could make a "good person" commit murder.

    We all have flaws and hidden "sins" but most of us are known as "good people", like myself I have some big flaws that I know how bad they are but I keep them hidden for the most part and people either don't think they are that bad but I am honest with myself and know how bad they are. IMO, the hidden sins are what is the heart of man.
     
  17. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Hey Jeremiah, sounds like you need to pick up a copy of "The Dark Side of Man: Tracing the Origins of Violence". It fleshes out your viewpoint a little more. Also, in the course of reading that book, you'll realize that nearly all social animals lie, not just people! Nature is inherently evil, by your definition. [​IMG]
     
  18. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    I think evil is relevant to humans only within a social context. I think it has no meaning with respect to our fundamental nature, any more than we can say a tiger or a bird is "evil".
    Consider Tom Hanks' Character in Castaway. NOTHING he does while on the island can POSSSIBLY be considered evil. He CAN'T lie, cheat, steal, murder, or commit any of the other actions we consider evil. Yet he is CLEARLY acting according to human nature, ie doing what is necessary to survive. I do not consider "animalistic" acts to be evil. As a famous philosopher said, some people want to deny that we have a body by our very narture. Others want to deny that we have a mind. Neither fact is "evil".
     
  19. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    That scientific issue had evolutionists and creationists at odds with each other that it would not be appropriate to discuss on this forum.

    I think it is appropriate to bring up Darwinism. Simply because two groups have a difference of opinion is not grounds to arbitrarily reject the argument of either one or both sides. In fact both of these diciplines have much to say on the tread topic.

    I think we also have to stay away from libertarianism and laissez faire, as both are political concepts.

    You also brought up the point that the Chinese Philosophers argued for harsh laws for people to become good. Does Fascism or Communism make people good? The question openes up discussion that makes it impossible to not bring in religion or politics.
     
  20. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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