The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum (Archive Board)
January 18, 2021, 08:40:01 am *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: This is our Read Only Archive Board (closed to posting July 2011). Join our new vBulletin board!
 
  Portal   Forum   Help Rules Search Chat (Mux) Articles Login Register   *

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
January 18, 2021, 08:40:01 am

Login with username, password and session length
Donate!
The Cauldron's server is expensive and requires monthly payments. Please become a Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor if you can. Donations are needed every month. Without member support, we can't afford the server.
TC Staff
Important Information about this Archive Board
This message board is The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum's SMF Archive Board. It is closed to new memberships and to posting, but there are over 250,000 messages here that you can still search and read -- many full of interesting and useful information. (This board was open from February 2007 through June 2011).

Our new vBulletin discussion board is located at http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/ -- if you would like to participate in discussions like those you see here, please visit our new vBulletin message board, register an account and join in our discussions. We hope you will find the information in this message archive useful and will consider joining us on our new board.
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 6   Go Down
  Add bookmark  |  Print  
Author Topic: Human Nature?  (Read 14893 times)
BGMarc
Adept Member
*****
Last Login:August 17, 2011, 09:57:32 pm
Australia Australia

Religion: Stoic (with declining druidic/wiccish hangovers and emergent Hellenic/Kemetic affiliations)
Posts: 1525


Blog entries (0)

Marc Larkin 6marc9
WWW

Ignore
« Reply #15: June 12, 2009, 07:26:46 pm »

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?

I need to think a bit on my response here, but it does make me think that the distinction between human and person my be relevant.
Logged

"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.

BGMarc at the Pub

Welcome, Guest!
You will need to register and/or login to participate in our discussions.

Read our Rules and Policies and the Quoting Guidelines.

Help Fund Our Server? Donate to Lyricfox's Cancer Fund?

Marilyn (ABSENTMINDED)
Assistant Board Coordinator
Senior Staff
High Adept Member
****
Last Login:February 06, 2013, 08:12:28 pm
Canada Canada

Religion: free-flowing animist, Dudeist Priest
TCN ID: Absentminded
Posts: 2725


Blog entries (11)


« Reply #16: June 12, 2009, 08:05:39 pm »

Apparently though, it's just a turn of phrase and makes no truth claims about reality at all Sad  

The thing is, there is hard, quantifiable reality, in which human nature is as hard to define er... definitively, as love or evil is.  There is a different, squishier reality at work as well, though, a situational reality, in which undefined or undefinable things can still be recognized and reacted to in a useful way.

The least complicated example I can think of:  I can predict with reasonable accuracy the time between a person being lauded as a hero and the time 'shady' details will start appearing or being suspected about them, the backlash that always comes after a rush of admiration. I believe this automatic backlash is part of human nature and can point to it time after time in situation after situation.

Discussing it as an aspect of human nature without tying it to any specific situation, however, will produce several very reasonable exceptions, objections, and dis-proofs, if that's a word.  As well as responses like 'well, I wouldn't do that, so does that mean I'm not human?' and suchlike.

There are reasonable and convincing arguments against most such observable patterns in human behaviour.  They are usually more reasonable and convincing than my observations, but when the actual situations are playing out without interference (i.e. when observed in strangers rather than discussed among individuals) the patterns continue to play out according to prediction.

That is what I think of as human nature - patterns in the aggregate, rather than characteristics of the individual.  None of it will fit everyone, all of it will fit someone, and the observation of it will allow accurate predictions. From there, effective interaction can arise.  Whether human nature exists in hard reality or not, it exists in effect.  It only matters when you're trying to use it, predict it, profit by it or guide it, and it only applies to individuals if you don't tell them in advance.

Absent   
Logged

"There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure."
- Jack E. Leonard

Blessed are the cracked, for it is they who let in the light.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

L Cohen
BGMarc
Adept Member
*****
Last Login:August 17, 2011, 09:57:32 pm
Australia Australia

Religion: Stoic (with declining druidic/wiccish hangovers and emergent Hellenic/Kemetic affiliations)
Posts: 1525


Blog entries (0)

Marc Larkin 6marc9
WWW

Ignore
« Reply #17: June 12, 2009, 08:14:49 pm »

That is what I think of as human nature - patterns in the aggregate, rather than characteristics of the individual.  None of it will fit everyone, all of it will fit someone, and the observation of it will allow accurate predictions. From there, effective interaction can arise.  Whether human nature exists in hard reality or not, it exists in effect.  It only matters when you're trying to use it, predict it, profit by it or guide it, and it only applies to individuals if you don't tell them in advance.

Would you say that there is a meaningful definition for human nature at the non-aggregate level? It seems to me that the problems of exceptions simply invites one to revisit the posited quality and see if it can be pared back to a nub that is in fact common, or to be discarded as part of the actual defintiion (despite the fact that they may be part of a common sense defintion). In your example, the backlash may be explained by a basic need to protect ones own access to resources, a reaction against hypocracy, pattern recognition abilities, etc.. Essentially, I would argue that it may be a case of the level of focus we are bringing to each situation.
Logged

"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.

BGMarc at the Pub
Kalonyction
Senior Apprentice
**
Last Login:August 07, 2009, 04:35:01 pm
United States United States

Religion: Quasi-Experienced and Sort-Of-Seeking
Posts: 72


(The Artist Formerly Known As BlueFeather)

Blog entries (0)



Ignore
« Reply #18: June 12, 2009, 08:24:18 pm »

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.

Hmmmmm. I am perfectly ready to say that SAYING it, in the way we usually say it, is indeed just hot air. But this has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not there IS such a thing. Which question is it that you're asking - what it might really be, or what we mean when we say it - or both? They're quite separate, to my mind.

"Human nature" IMHO has become a conversational shorthand for "People are like that" which really means "The people I hang around with (or watch on TV, or whatever) are often like that, and when they aren't like that, I'm usually not paying attention." Wink For instance, I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard some variation of the "Boys are attracted to girls, girls are attracted to boys, it's human nature" type of statement. (Hmmm... Robert Heinlein probably did get a nickel for... um, never mind. Cheesy) Would this leave me out of humanity? Depends on how we interpret the statement. Several options:

1. "Humans were created such that boys are..." etc. This makes me someone who is either by nature inhuman, or - perhaps wilfully - "going against nature". Kewl. Grin

2. "In my culture, the acceptable paradigm for human sexuality is that boys are..." etc. This is a more flexible statement and doesn't actively exclude me, but neither does it include me.

3. "A statistical majority of humans are 'programmed' such that boys are..." etc. This a least openly admits that the population is being defined by its majority, not by its totality.

... and so forth.

And none of it, to me, sheds any really useful light on what "human nature" might REALLY be.

My personal take?

I did my undergraduate work in a very cool little Humanities program that allowed for a considerable degree of self-design, where we sometimes joked about the incredibly broad scope and content of our work. If (we reasoned) you work at an Engineering degree to learn how to be an engineer, and a History degree in order to become a historian, then perhaps you take a Humanities degree in order to learn how to really be human. And so what "human nature" meant to us was the "broad-brush" traits that shape history: curiosity and inventiveness; lust and ambition; the ever-shifting dynamic of freedom-versus-security; and the like.

Would I defend this definition? Depends on the conversation. Perhaps that's really how everyone uses it, knowingly or not - to denote those facets of humanness that are most personally important or visible to us, whether because they are iritating or because they are inspiring. Perhaps that's even the only really meaningful way to use it, despite philosophical attempts to the contrary. Because, failing that, we start getting into arguments about chromosomes. Cheesy

~Val~*
Logged

... it was as if there were a scent in her own nostrils or a glittering trail
laid out before her, the path of the Moon. It was like
the directionless direction, the windless wind on her cheek...
Robin McKinley

And further still, at an unearthly height
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
Robert Frost
BGMarc
Adept Member
*****
Last Login:August 17, 2011, 09:57:32 pm
Australia Australia

Religion: Stoic (with declining druidic/wiccish hangovers and emergent Hellenic/Kemetic affiliations)
Posts: 1525


Blog entries (0)

Marc Larkin 6marc9
WWW

Ignore
« Reply #19: June 12, 2009, 09:04:46 pm »

Hmmmmm. I am perfectly ready to say that SAYING it, in the way we usually say it, is indeed just hot air. But this has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not there IS such a thing. Which question is it that you're asking - what it might really be, or what we mean when we say it - or both? They're quite separate, to my mind.

Sorry about that. I should have been clearer that it is the question about what it really is that interests me, and that I intended to be asking.

Quote
Perhaps that's even the only really meaningful way to use it, despite philosophical attempts to the contrary. Because, failing that, we start getting into arguments about chromosomes. Cheesy

Do you think that there's any way of avoiding the chromosome arguments and still making useful headway on the topic? I also wonder if it's a topic that can be discussed in a politically correct environment. I can see immediately that any discussion that leaves some individual homo sapiens out of the definition of human is likely to bring about a crisis for some people, or (alternatively) that definitions that don't leave any homo sapien out aren't necessarily found at the level that interests a lot of people (maybe not enough here to have the conversation?).
Logged

"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.

BGMarc at the Pub
Kalonyction
Senior Apprentice
**
Last Login:August 07, 2009, 04:35:01 pm
United States United States

Religion: Quasi-Experienced and Sort-Of-Seeking
Posts: 72


(The Artist Formerly Known As BlueFeather)

Blog entries (0)



Ignore
« Reply #20: June 12, 2009, 10:10:32 pm »

Do you think that there's any way of avoiding the chromosome arguments and still making useful headway on the topic? I also wonder if it's a topic that can be discussed in a politically correct environment. I can see immediately that any discussion that leaves some individual homo sapiens out of the definition of human is likely to bring about a crisis for some people, or (alternatively) that definitions that don't leave any homo sapien out aren't necessarily found at the level that interests a lot of people (maybe not enough here to have the conversation?).

Those are interesting questions, which become more interesting as we contemplate the fact that a strictly scientific viewpoint would pretty much have to ascribe all of our qualities to our chromosomes, directly or indirectly - even, say, creativity and learned behavior must eventually be seen to depend on our "preprogrammed" ability to create and learn, and, for those who choose to do so, spiritual/religious experience can easily be "explained away" as one of the aforementioned.

My issue with such questions, in the long run, is that the very act of asking them seems to  presuppose certain things about the universe - for instance, that categories and definitions of things in the natural world can actually exist outside of our construction of them, and therefore if we just narrow our focus enough, we can "discover" the proper categorization or description for anything. IMHO, one look at some of the arguments about how to classify a newly-discovered species should disabuse us of that notion. Wink Classification, categorization, definition - these are, to my mind, human inventions and human compromises, our way of trying to split up the big picture into little ones because we're incapable of really seeing or understanding the messy, unfathomably complicated totality of the whole. In our efforts to pin down the pieces, we inevitably distort them.

This is not to say that I think asking questions about these things is useless. I merely believe that it is unwise to think that there is an actual answer out there somewhere.

In fact, to me personally, that's one of the primary facets of "human nature": that we are people who create answers. (Which is a good thing, since we also created - and continue to create - questions!) We make meaning in-and-of the world - not find it, but make it, construct it.

A blue ball is part of the category of things that are blue, and part of the category of things that are ball. By our nature, we have chosen to privilege one of those distinctions over the other, by making it noun instead of adjective. Why? Because in our limited experience of the universe (living on a planet's surface where gravity and friction are key components of the interaction of things), we see a greater distinction between balls and nonballs than between blue things and nonblue things. If we were energy-beings who flitted between the stars and fed on light, blueness would doubtless be the more important factor. ("Hey! Hey! Stop that - the blue is for dessert!") Definitions, despite best efforts at objectivity, are in all ways highly personal things.

So, while I think that we can have a scintillating and mind-opening discussion about what human nature is, that's completely different than thinking we can use the rules of logic to narrow down our focus until we "find" the answer. Cheesy

~Val~* (who understands the worth of prickles, but is undeniably goo)
Logged

... it was as if there were a scent in her own nostrils or a glittering trail
laid out before her, the path of the Moon. It was like
the directionless direction, the windless wind on her cheek...
Robin McKinley

And further still, at an unearthly height
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
Robert Frost
Artur
Senior Apprentice
**
Last Login:June 17, 2011, 05:23:05 pm
United States United States

Religion: None. Undefined, Skeptical Theist.
Posts: 85

Blog entries (0)



Ignore
« Reply #21: June 12, 2009, 10:14:11 pm »

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


Certainly.  Working within that definition, and bearing in mind that occasional aberrations or exceptions will occur, I can posit a few that I believe are defensible.

It is human nature...

- to avoid negative consequences

- to attempt communication

- to seek relationships of some kind with others

- to react emotionally to real or perceived attacks

- for emotion to, at least occasionally, override reason

- to find pleasure in the approval of peers

- to adapt to changing circumstances

- to form judgments of right and wrong

- to, when forming friendships, tend toward people who share similarities with us

- to have a sense of justice
Logged
Chabas
Reserve Staff
Staff
Master Member
***
Last Login:August 15, 2014, 02:06:27 pm
Netherlands Netherlands

Religion: Kemetic
Posts: 444


Blog entries (1)


« Reply #22: June 13, 2009, 03:21:01 am »

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:: )

One of my professors likened it to an omelette. If I've got all the right ingredients (nature), but don't do the right things (nurture) with them, I won't get an omelette, but doing the right things to, oh, I don't know, rocks and water, it won't turn into an omelette either. So given that, if I make an omelette, the question "how many percent nature is this omelette?" is just nonsensical.

--Chabas
Logged
Bastemhet
Master Member
****
Last Login:July 29, 2012, 07:48:38 am
United States United States

Religion: Reformed Kemetic
Posts: 500


May She smile upon me always.

Blog entries (0)

http://www.facebook.com/h
WWW

Ignore
« Reply #23: June 13, 2009, 05:51:08 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)

There is no human nature if by nature you mean trait universally inherent in human beings.  If anything it's a misnomer used to describe actions or emotions.  I personally don't like the idea of people accepting it because then no one might be responsible for their actions, because they can blame it on their "human nature."  I accept that there is no human nature because then we can begin to judge people only on their actions, and not on their "nature."  Because of this, people are responsible for who they are.


Discussing it as an aspect of human nature without tying it to any specific situation, however, will produce several very reasonable exceptions, objections, and dis-proofs, if that's a word.  As well as responses like 'well, I wouldn't do that, so does that mean I'm not human?' and suchlike. 

And this exactly proves my point.  The situation is the action someone does in order for us to judge that person.  One cannot claim someone is kind unless they first do a kind act.  One cannot be an artist unless he makes art.  No matter how much potential one has to be a great novel writer, no one will see them as such unless they write a great novel.  Talking about potential is in the end, pointless.
Logged

Altair
Adept Member
*****
Last Login:December 18, 2012, 06:59:40 am
United States United States

Religion: Wiccan-ish pantheistic polytheist
Posts: 1942


Follow your star wherever it may lead

Blog entries (0)



Ignore
« Reply #24: June 13, 2009, 07:48:44 am »

The only constant is adaptation - at least over time.

I'll disagree, in that I think that's not human nature but simply nature: adaptation is an essential characteristic of life--all living things--rather than something specific to humans.

On the other hand, defining human nature doesn't necessarily mean you're looking for the unique characteristics of humans, just the characteristics.

If you're looking for a defining characteristic that makes us unique among other animals, I'd say it's our ability to think abstractly, from which our language ability derives.

Anyway, one thing that might be muddling this discussion is that we're talking about a lot of things besides behavioral characteristics, and when most people say "human nature," they're referring to behavior.

Or maybe it's just me who's muddled.
Logged

BGMarc
Adept Member
*****
Last Login:August 17, 2011, 09:57:32 pm
Australia Australia

Religion: Stoic (with declining druidic/wiccish hangovers and emergent Hellenic/Kemetic affiliations)
Posts: 1525


Blog entries (0)

Marc Larkin 6marc9
WWW

Ignore
« Reply #25: June 13, 2009, 11:11:42 am »

I accept that there is no human nature because then we can begin to judge people only on their actions, and not on their "nature."

How is it possible to say this? What leads you to think that the ability to judge anything can be reliably attributed to a human being? From the several opinions to date, I am getting that there are no qualities shared by homo sapiens that are not simply liguistic gymnastics.
Logged

"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.

BGMarc at the Pub
Starglade
Adept Member
*****
Last Login:April 02, 2012, 03:07:59 pm
United States United States

Religion: Tibetan Buddhist
TCN ID: Starglade
Posts: 1614


Life is a work in progress.

Blog entries (0)



Ignore
« Reply #26: June 13, 2009, 11:30:56 am »

One of my professors likened it to an omelette. If I've got all the right ingredients (nature), but don't do the right things (nurture) with them, I won't get an omelette, but doing the right things to, oh, I don't know, rocks and water, it won't turn into an omelette either. So given that, if I make an omelette, the question "how many percent nature is this omelette?" is just nonsensical.

--Chabas

Because I hit post before I wrote anything... Duh.

Goleman likens it to arguing which is more important to a rectangle, the length or the width. I like the omelette example too, very much.
Logged

The source of all misery in the world lies in thinking of oneself. The source of all happiness lies in thinking of others. -- Shantideva

My public transcript is available for viewing.
http://www.brainbench.com/transcript.jsp?pid=7189853
Kittiann
Apprentice
**
Last Login:July 10, 2013, 02:31:46 pm
United States United States

Religion: Agnostic Taoist
Posts: 23

Gravatar

Blog entries (0)



Ignore
« Reply #27: June 13, 2009, 01:00:01 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 don't believe that it's necessary for all humans to exhibit a quality for it to be called 'human nature'.  As I remember from biology class, for something to be considered a characteristic of a species, it does not have to be present in all members of the species, just a large majority.  Whether or not the lack of these characteristics makes a person abnormal, I'll have to think on for a bit.
Logged
Bastemhet
Master Member
****
Last Login:July 29, 2012, 07:48:38 am
United States United States

Religion: Reformed Kemetic
Posts: 500


May She smile upon me always.

Blog entries (0)

http://www.facebook.com/h
WWW

Ignore
« Reply #28: June 13, 2009, 01:24:17 pm »

How is it possible to say this? What leads you to think that the ability to judge anything can be reliably attributed to a human being? From the several opinions to date, I am getting that there are no qualities shared by homo sapiens that are not simply liguistic gymnastics.

You have two questions here and I'm having trouble understanding how they're related.  I'll just answer one by one.

How is it possible?  Simple, every time someone does something someone else comes to a conclusion about that person.  This is one of the simplest things to understand about humanity but it is not at all exclusive to us, as animals do the same thing in order to survive.

What makes me think we are able to judge?  I do it all the time, as I see other people as well.  Judging means coming to a conclusion about something after examining it and responding to its actions.  I don't see the hangup here.

What do you mean by "qualities are linguistic gymnastics"?  From what I've seen here is a few people trying and failing to define even what human nature is, mistaking it for personality traits, and then going on to say that it is contextual, which is completely opposite of the definition of a nature or "inherent response" that must be universal to all human beings in order to be considered a "human nature."
Logged

Bastemhet
Master Member
****
Last Login:July 29, 2012, 07:48:38 am
United States United States

Religion: Reformed Kemetic
Posts: 500


May She smile upon me always.

Blog entries (0)

http://www.facebook.com/h
WWW

Ignore
« Reply #29: June 13, 2009, 01:25:40 pm »

I don't believe that it's necessary for all humans to exhibit a quality for it to be called 'human nature'.  As I remember from biology class, for something to be considered a characteristic of a species, it does not have to be present in all members of the species, just a large majority.  Whether or not the lack of these characteristics makes a person abnormal, I'll have to think on for a bit.

Would you call a trait inherent in most mollusks "mollusk nature"?  Or would you simply call it a characteristic peculiar to most mollusks?  Did your biology teacher ever use the words "characteristic" and "nature" interchangeably?
Logged

Donor Ad: Become a Silver or Gold Donor to get your ad here.

Tags:
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 6   Go Up
  Add bookmark  |  Print  
 
Jump to:  
  Portal   Forum   Help Rules Search Chat (Mux) Articles Login Register   *

* Share this topic...
In a forum
(BBCode)
In a site/blog
(HTML)


Related Topics
Subject Started by Replies Views Last post
Human Footprint
Music, Television, and Film
Juniper 0 931 Last post April 16, 2008, 11:04:59 pm
by Juniper
The human condition
Philosophy and Metaphysics
BGMarc 12 3845 Last post March 05, 2009, 01:38:57 pm
by fatalperfection
Human Values « 1 2 »
Philosophy and Metaphysics
HeartShadow - Cutethulhu 21 6080 Last post September 11, 2009, 01:27:22 am
by Stitchii
Human uniqueness?
Miscellaneous Religious Discussions
Cliona 5 1671 Last post February 10, 2010, 11:18:51 am
by sparrow125
Human bones and what to do with them
Witchcraft, Hoodoo, and Folk Magic
Wood Rose 7 3445 Last post April 11, 2010, 12:30:47 pm
by sanctuary
EU Cookie Notice: This site uses cookies. By using this site you consent to their use.


Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines
TinyPortal v0.9.8 © Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.061 seconds with 47 queries.