Human Nature - History

History

The concept of nature as a standard by which to make judgments was a basic presupposition in Greek philosophy. Specifically, "almost all" classical philosophers accepted that a good human life is a life in accordance with nature.

On this subject, the approach of Socrates, sometimes considered to be a teleological approach, came to be dominant by late classical and medieval times. This approach understands human nature in terms of final and formal causes. Such understandings of human nature see this nature as an "idea," or "form" of a human. By this account, human nature really causes humans to become what they become, and so it exists somehow independently of individual humans. This in turn has sometimes been understood as also showing a special connection between human nature and divinity.

The existence of this invariable human nature is, however, a subject of much historical debate, continuing into modern times. Against this idea of a fixed human nature, the relative malleability of man has been argued especially strongly in recent centuries—firstly by early modernists such as Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the latter of whom stated:

We do not know what our nature permits us to be. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile

Since the mid-19th century, thinkers such as Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Sartre, structuralists and postmodernists have also sometimes argued against a fixed or innate human nature.

Still more recent scientific perspectives such as behaviorism, determinism, and the chemical model within modern psychiatry and psychology, claim to be neutral regarding human nature. (As in all modern science they seek to explain without recourse to metaphysical causation.) They can be offered to explain its origins and underlying mechanisms, or to demonstrate capacities for change and diversity which would arguably violate the concept of a fixed human nature.

Read more about this topic:  Human Nature

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Famous quotes containing the word history:

    What you don’t understand is that it is possible to be an atheist, it is possible not to know if God exists or why He should, and yet to believe that man does not live in a state of nature but in history, and that history as we know it now began with Christ, it was founded by Him on the Gospels.
    Boris Pasternak (1890–1960)

    I am ashamed to see what a shallow village tale our so-called History is. How many times must we say Rome, and Paris, and Constantinople! What does Rome know of rat and lizard? What are Olympiads and Consulates to these neighboring systems of being? Nay, what food or experience or succor have they for the Esquimaux seal-hunter, or the Kanaka in his canoe, for the fisherman, the stevedore, the porter?
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    The history of work has been, in part, the history of the worker’s body. Production depended on what the body could accomplish with strength and skill. Techniques that improve output have been driven by a general desire to decrease the pain of labor as well as by employers’ intentions to escape dependency upon that knowledge which only the sentient laboring body could provide.
    Shoshana Zuboff (b. 1951)