What Is Human Nature?

What Is Human Nature?

Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing.

– John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, III

For more quotes, check out: Twelve Quotes from Philosophers About Human Nature

Podcast of the Day

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the vexing issue of human nature. Some argue that we are born as blank slates and our natures are defined by upbringing, experience, culture and the ideas of our time. Others believe that human nature is innate and pre-destined, regardless of time and place. Is there really such a thing as human nature? And, if there is, can it be changed? Does the truth about human nature mean we should stop striving for progress, or should it give us cause for optimism? How important is the human race in the wider scheme of things?

Listen to the In Our Time podcast episode on Human Nature

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

There is something in the human condition that suggests the need for special treatment. Almost all people believe that it is a crime to kill an innocent human, but not to kill an innocent tapeworm. And almost all people regard tapeworms as incapable of innocence in any case — not because they are always guilty, but because the distinction between innocent and guilty does not apply to them. They are the wrong kind of thing.

We, however, are the right kind of thing. So what kind is that? Do any other beings, animal or otherwise, belong to it? And what follows? These questions lie at the center of philosophical inquiry today, as they have since the ancient Greeks. In a thousand ways we distinguish people from the rest of nature, and build our life accordingly...

Continue reading Roger Scruton's article: If We Are Not Just Animals, What Are We?

Further Reading

Human nature refers to the distinguishing characteristics—including ways of thinking, feeling, and acting—which humans tend to have naturally.

The questions of whether there truly are fixed characteristics, what these natural characteristics are, and what causes them are among the oldest and most important questions in philosophy and science. The concept of human nature is traditionally contrasted not only with unusual human characteristics, but also with characteristics which are derived from specific cultures, and upbringings. The "nature versus nurture" debate is a well-known modern discussion about human nature in the natural sciences... - Continue reading the Wikipedia article on Human Nature

Want to learn more? Check out: The Seven Best Books on Human Nature

Related Topics

 Evolutionary Psychology | Genetics | The Human Body | Moral Psychology

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