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Author Topic: Human Nature?  (Read 14930 times)
BGMarc
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« Topic Start: June 11, 2009, 08:38:04 pm »

What is Human Nature? I see many claims made about it, both positive and negative (e.g. resentment, rationality, capacity for love, etc.), but rarely a clear explanation of why or how something is universally a component of the homo sapien makeup. Part of this is probably that I parse 'xyz is just human anture' as 'all homo sapiens share quality xyz (to some degree).

My question is what makes something 'human nature'? What sort of things are included and why? Does saying that something is human nature mean that all humans exhibit it? Are those that don't in some way abnormal? (I'm sure you get the drift)
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« Reply #1: June 12, 2009, 12:06:57 am »

... many claims made about it... but rarely a clear explanation...

Heh... and THAT, my friend, is human nature. Grin

Sorry, I absolutely could not resist...

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« Reply #2: June 12, 2009, 12:11:19 am »

Smiley

Bada Bing *cymbal crash*

Cheesy:D
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« Reply #3: June 12, 2009, 07:24:59 am »

What is Human Nature? I see many claims made about it, both positive and negative (e.g. resentment, rationality, capacity for love, etc.), but rarely a clear explanation of why or how something is universally a component of the homo sapien makeup. Part of this is probably that I parse 'xyz is just human anture' as 'all homo sapiens share quality xyz (to some degree).

My question is what makes something 'human nature'? What sort of things are included and why? Does saying that something is human nature mean that all humans exhibit it? Are those that don't in some way abnormal? (I'm sure you get the drift)

I think that "human nature" is such a weird malleable concept that it's impossible to define.

The only constant is adaptation - at least over time.  To be any more specific is to exclude people - and while I think that human nature is an aggregate, not something ALL people must have to be considered human, I appear to be in the minority in that view.  (At least, every time I try to say something is "human nature" people get pissy at me for being "not human", which isn't what I meant at all)
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« Reply #4: June 12, 2009, 10:25:25 am »

I think that "human nature" is such a weird malleable concept that it's impossible to define.

The only constant is adaptation - at least over time.  To be any more specific is to exclude people - and while I think that human nature is an aggregate, not something ALL people must have to be considered human, I appear to be in the minority in that view.  (At least, every time I try to say something is "human nature" people get pissy at me for being "not human", which isn't what I meant at all)

I'm going to say "what you said," Shad. Between the readings for my course on Adult Development and materials I chose to read on my own (which I never intended to be related to the coursework but turned out to be, regardless), I've come to the conclusion that there really is no one, all-encompassing definition. There are simply too many variables in the mix to be able to hypothesize, theorize, or otherwise -ize and come out with something meaningful to the entire population.

Right now I'm pointing people toward the work of Daniel Goleman. He's redefined intelligence through distilling research from around the globe. And, part of that "intelligence" is "human nature"--that which makes us human. In particular I suggest Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships. Not only does he hit on the "nature vs. nurture" discussion (and pretty much puts paid to it--neither is more important than the other, as it turns out, which is what I tried to tell my profs 30 years ago just from COMMON SENSE ::ahem:: ) but he also discusses the health care system (which is where I really went, "ok, I'm supposed to be reading this, clearly"--because of the BA I'm pursuing right now) and the need for, and tendency of humans toward, compassionate behavior.

And that's where I'll hush. I'm a bystander here. :-)
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« Reply #5: June 12, 2009, 02:31:19 pm »

My question is what makes something 'human nature'? What sort of things are included and why? Does saying that something is human nature mean that all humans exhibit it? Are those that don't in some way abnormal? (I'm sure you get the drift)

It's really no secret that I think the worst of humanity with very few redeeming qualities.  However, I would have to agree with Shad on this one.  The only trait that can be without a doubt could be applied to much of humanity as a whole is the ability to adapt over time.  There are quite a few animals who can't either because of their biology (ie warm or cold blooded) or because their diets are not as flexable as ours.  Humans managed to settle all but one of the continents (unless, of course, you count the research stations in Antartica, then it would be all of them) and the type of land varies from tropical rainforests to harsh deserts to Artic tundra and everything in between.  Hell, some humans have spent months at a time in Earth's orbit.

Another thing I might throw in is the capacity to both preserve and destroy various ecosystems but the case for that isn't quite as strong as adaptibility.
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« Reply #6: June 12, 2009, 05:37:46 pm »

What is Human Nature?

Human nature is like pornography.  You can write reams of paper trying to articulate exactly what it is without getting universal agreement, but most people know it when they see it.  Smiley

I’ll toss this definition out off the top of my head and see where we go…

Observable behavior or characteristics, whether good or bad, that so permeate society, culture, and individuals that they are collectively believed to be endemic to humanity, and are fundamentally ineradicable while humans remain human, can be called human nature.
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« Reply #7: June 12, 2009, 06:06:30 pm »

My question is what makes something 'human nature'? What sort of things are included and why? Does saying that something is human nature mean that all humans exhibit it? Are those that don't in some way abnormal? (I'm sure you get the drift)

I have been thinking about this since my first post and I came to the conclusion that it is impossible to call something 'human nature.'  Each and every individual is completely different from the other 6 billion+ people hir shares the world with.  So instead of human nature, I will say that everyone has their own nature.  Some people have compassion in their natures and others have distructiveness.  Some have love others have bitterness.
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« Reply #8: June 12, 2009, 06:14:53 pm »

I think that "human nature" is such a weird malleable concept that it's impossible to define.

Does this mean that you think there are no constants of human nature? Nothing at all that you can say is universal amongst our kind?
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« Reply #9: June 12, 2009, 06:22:14 pm »

Observable behavior or characteristics, whether good or bad, that so permeate society, culture, and individuals that they are collectively believed to be endemic to humanity, and are fundamentally ineradicable while humans remain human, can be called human nature.

Could you perhaps give a few examples of the sort of things that may fit the definition you have provided?

MOre generally, I'm a little stunned at the moment at the immediate willingness of people here to roll over and claim that human nature doesn't exist? For a concept that sees so much usage here, you'd hve thought that it actually meant something. Turns out everyone is ready to say that saying "It's human nature" might look like you're saying something, but actually it's just hot air.
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"If Michelangelo had been straight, the Sistine Chapel would have been wallpapered" Robin Tyler

It's the saddest thing in the world when you can only feel big by making others feel small. - UPG

Stupidity cannot be cured. Stupidity is the only universal capital crime. The sentence is death. There is no appeal and sentence is carried out automatically and without pity. Lazarus Long.

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« Reply #10: June 12, 2009, 06:23:13 pm »

So instead of human nature, I will say that everyone has their own nature.

What is a 'nature'? What sort of things does it define and control?
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« Reply #11: June 12, 2009, 06:43:11 pm »

Does this mean that you think there are no constants of human nature? Nothing at all that you can say is universal amongst our kind?

Without something to compare it to, it's really hard to say.

Intelligence and communication SEEM to be universal, but there are people that cannot ever communicate or are vegetative - are they not-human?  I don't want to say that.

I can say there are constants that are common in human CULTURES - but that's not the same thing as common in all PEOPLE.  If we're talking trends, I have things I can add.  If we're talking universal "have this or you're not human" - no, I can't.  Not unless you want to get into crap like "this set of DNA".
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« Reply #12: June 12, 2009, 07:04:04 pm »

What is a 'nature'? What sort of things does it define and control?

I dunno, in this context it seems like it is interchangable with 'personality.'  I'm basing this on if something is called 'human nature' it is almost always a personality trait.
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« Reply #13: June 12, 2009, 07:08:27 pm »

I dunno, in this context it seems like it is interchangable with 'personality.'  I'm basing this on if something is called 'human nature' it is almost always a personality trait.

That does seem to often be the case, or an intellectual capability of some sort at least. At least that was what I thought when I started the thread. Apparently though, it's just a turn of phrase and makes no truth claims about reality at all Sad

Oh, there are also a whole lot of 'trivial' ones, but as HeartShadow meantioned, we're not really here to talk DNA (unless it ends up being the only thing we can say is truly foundational of all healthy humans).
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« Reply #14: June 12, 2009, 07:21:07 pm »

Oh, there are also a whole lot of 'trivial' ones, but as HeartShadow meantioned, we're not really here to talk DNA (unless it ends up being the only thing we can say is truly foundational of all healthy humans).

And DNA itself opens up an entire different can of worms.  If someone is missing a chromosome or two, does that make them less human?
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