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[Philosophy] Human Nature. (P1)
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Default [Philosophy] Human Nature. (P1) - 10-26-2010, 10:53 AM

The most basic question in philosophy is this: Who and what am I?
Your answer to this question about human nature - what a human being is - will profoundly affect how you see yourself, how you see others, and how you live.
To see how a view of human nature can affect us, let's look at what some psychologists and philosophers have said about human beings.
Imagine walking down the streets of a city on a wintry day and seeing an old, unshaven man in ragged clothes sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk. In front of him is a sign that reads ''I am blind and deaf. Please help me''
Almost immediately you reach into your pocket for a couple of dollar bills, which you put into his cardboard box. Then, feeling good, you walk on.
Why did you help him? You might respond with the easy answer that you helped because you wanted to do something for this unfortunate person: You wanted to relieve his obvious need. Yet was this your real motive for helping? Might it not be possible that your actual motive was self-interest? That you wanted the good feeling you knew you would get from helping him? Are human beings, yourself included, moved ultimately by self-interested desires? Are all your actions, even those that seem to arise out of love for others, ultimately motivated by a desire for self-gratification? Is self-interest an inescapable part of being human? Or are we at least sometimes unselfish?
Psychologists have long pondered the question of whether human nature is essentially cruel and selfish. As an illustration, consider the conclusion that the father of modern psychology, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), presented in his work Civilization and It's Discontents:

¨Men are not gentle, friendly creatures wishing for love, who simply defend themselves if they are attacked, but... a powerful measure of desire for aggressiveness has to be recjoned as part of their instinctual endowment.
The result is that their neighbor is to them not only a possible helper or sexual object, but also a temptation to them to gratify their aggressiveness... to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him...
Anyone who calls to mind the atrocities of the early migrations, of the invasion of the Hun or the so-called Mongols under Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, of the sacks of Jerusalem by the pious crusaders, even indeed the horrors of the last world war, will have to bow his head humbly before the truth of this view of man.¨

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