Human Nature Essay

essay about nature of human

Human Nature And Nature

There is a fundamental part of human nature that desires to be involved and engaged with nature. “We are in the fullest sense a biological species and will find little ultimate meaning apart from the remainder of life” (Wilson 81). Wilson identifies this urge as biophilia. While there is not strong formal scientific evidence, it is something that he sees in how people live their daily lives and how we have interacted with nature through history. “It unfolds in the predictable fantasies and responses

The Corruption Of Human Nature

The concept of human nature has been questioned numerous times throughout history. Debates on the issue have come and gone, but the underlying question still remains on the mind of societies across the globe: Are humans generally filled with an innate sense of goodness and light or are we debase creatures at heart continuously tainted with the stains of vice? Though some texts in literature would prefer to prattle on about the exclusive and rewarding wonders that being a human provides, others tend

What Is Human Nature?

Intro: What is human nature? Recently I heard the story of Edd, a man who begin therapy after being found on a kitchen floor with a knife, several vicious wounds, and no knowledge of how he got there. In his first therapy session the therapist asked about family and medical history, and finally life events leading up to the “kitchen incident,” as Edd termed it. After Edd filled him in on his struggle with depression and suicide and explained the “kitchen incident,” The therapist exclaimed, “You’re

Human Nature In Genesis

1.What is revealed about human nature (from Genesis 1-2)? The biggest point that is revealed about human nature from the first two chapters of Genesis is that humans are made in the image of God. This is seen within the creation narrative since everything that God made was good which included the humans. Also, it is because of their original human nature being in the image of God as to why humans are viewed as being the pinnacle of creation, as shown since they receive the most attention of all

Human Nature In Frankenstein

Exploration of Human Nature in Literature: What makes us Human? What makes us human? Is it a beating heart and living flesh? Is it encompassing advanced psychological and social qualities? The classic gothic novel, Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley and the modern horror novel, Warm Bodies, written by Issac Marion have lead many readers to question the complexity of human nature. Both novels explore several principal themes that develop the reader’s understanding of what it means to be human. We are

Human Nature Disobedience

Human nature encompases a series of traits that have been added to as history continues; these traits are what entitle people to who they are. Common sense seems to dictate that helpfulness, kindness, and greed would be ways to describe human nature, but another would be disobedience. An Irish author, Oscar Wilde, once voiced his view on human nature with regards to disobedience. Wilde claims “disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue”. History, where lessons

Nature And Human Nature : The Consequences Of Nurture

Human Nature is something you are born to have, but these natures are not always meant to adhere you for the rest of your life. As one grows up, distinctive ways of nurturing determines what kind of a person one would be in the future. Socrates believed that nurture tends to impact an individual’s behavior more than nature, and I agree with him. As an individual grows up family, peers, and living environments remodels who they are. Family factors are something that affects the development of a child

Human Nature In Lord Of The Flies

boys crashes on an island. These boys are forced to struggle to find a way off the deserted island,all while trying to deal with finding and killing a mysterious creature “the beast”. Throughout the chapters the boys become more wild and savage. Human nature comes with savagery, which the readers see through the characters and the language. This leads to hurting, hunting, and killing one another. Without rules and order, people lose their sense of right and wrong. The boys start to try to make rules

Essay On Machiavelli On Human Nature

Machiavelli’s view of human nature in The Prince To understand Machiavelli and his opinions, the era which Machiavelli lived should be known. Before Machiavelli, Medieval was just finished by renaissance. Medieval was the era for church which people were under the God’s rules control and church was the only way to get rest but after the renaissance human and human activities have taken into consideration. West has started to seek a way to understand human without idea of God. Renaissance is spread

Human Nature James Madison once said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary”. But men are not angels and there is a need for government, because men are not inherently good. Throughout the novel, Lord Of The Flies, William Golding successfully portrays his view of human nature as inherently evil by the actions and thoughts of the boys who are stranded on an island. The catholic church’s standpoint that human nature is inherently good is overpowered by William Golding’s view. William’s

Examples Of Human Nature At Heart

Human nature at heart What is human nature at heart? People often help others and are able to live happily, even in hardships. That shows people are good on the at heart. Not to mention, it is human nature to be good at heart. According to everything listed above people are truly good at heart. People often help others, even in rough times. Meip, a character from ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’ said: “I’ll be up the minute I hear some more!” (506). People like Miep are risking their lives to save Jews

Lord of the Flies through the psychological and biographical lens provides readers with a greater comprehension of Goldings views on human nature that inside everyone has an evil core kept in check due to societal laws and order. Looking at Lord of the Flies through the psychological lens allows the reader to understand Goldings views on the inner evil of human nature. For example, when Ralph informed Piggy about the absence of adults on the island, the novel states Ralph felt, ¨the delight of a realized

Examples Of Human Nature In The Lottery

In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, human nature shows itself in its finest form. A small town comes together and gets ready to perform a lottery, which is tradition for them. At first, everything is fine. All the children are happy about summer and picking rocks. Then once the lottery begins, the atmosphere gets tense. Once Bill Hutchinson “wins” the lottery and his wife makes a fuss, his family redraws and Tessie, his wife, gets the paper with the black dot. It is shown that the “winner” is killed

The Nature Of Nature : The Definitions Of Human Nature

Nature is what you learn and develop from your surrounding so when you see other people doing something everyday you start doing what they doing good or bad. Because they grew up around it they start to think its ok and will start to do it Human nature, fundamental dispositions and traits of humans. Theories about the nature of humankind form a part of every culture. In the West, one traditional question centred on whether humans are naturally selfish and competitive (see Thomas Hobbes; John Locke)

Human Nature Relationship

there are several different cultural perspectives which form theoretical and practical understandings of natural environments, creating various human-nature relationship types. In this essay, I will describe and evaluate different ways of knowing nature and the impact of these views on human-nature relationships. From this, I will then explore my own human-nature relationship and reflect on how my personal experiences, beliefs and values has led me to this view, whilst highlighting the strengths and weaknesses

Nature Of Human Nature

stand largely corrected if human nature is discussed through the study of psychology. As the founder of nonviolent communication, Rosenberg’s stance surrounds the idea that human are fundamentally compassionate creatures. That is, at our core—our most raw, natural state—human beings are compassionate. While I believe this is an important approach and mindset to work with when attempting to resolve widespread issues such as famine relief or water insecurity, believing humans are fundamentally compassionate

Human Nature

According to Nature" T he obstacle of figuring out the nature and instinctual behavior of humans has been toppled by many philosophical writers. Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Niccolo Machiavelli, in the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and The Prince, subsequently, talks about this subject. In the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Rousseau talks about the natural human state and is transition to its current civilized state. In The Prince, Machiavelli talks about the nature of humans already

The Nature Of Sustainability : A Human Nature Hybridity Essay

The Nature of Sustainability: A Human-Nature Hybridity Environmentalism is not a new concept. It is a social movement or philosophy that aims to protect and improve the health of the environment. While humans have accepted this view of environmentalism for living in the Holocene epoch, political environmentalist Paul Wapner proposes a renewed definition of environmentalism that has emerged in the Anthropocene epoch. Wapner sees the Anthropocene as an epoch of human geological influence, where humans

Human Nature And Nature In The Ecotone By James Clifford

Human actions do not disturb the pristineness of nature but add into the pristineness by enhancing nature. Artificial structures, such as the landfills and flood control gates aid in protection of property, but cause destruction of certain animal habitats. However, artificial structures in the Bay Area have an ecotonal relationship with nature. Building the floodgates sacrifice the habitat in place of the floodgate, but in the long term, protects more habitats. In “The Ecotone” by James Clifford

Nature    Nature is the world around us, except for human-made phenomena. As humans are the only animal species that consciously, powerfully manipulates the environment, we think of ourselves as exalted, as special. We acknowledge that in an objective view we are merely one of many organisms, and that we are not able to survive outside of our natural world of air, earth, water and life. But we tend to be poor leaders in the "hierarchy" of animal life. Despite our greatness, too often we waste, we

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Relationship Between Human And Nature (Essay Sample)

Humans and nature have a life-long relationship. This particular relation is as old as mankind itself. There was a time when nature and humans peacefully co-excited together in complete harmony but not anymore. Nature provided us with food, shelter, and everything else that we required but things changed drastically. For the past three centuries, humans have started to destroy nature. Diesel engines, smoke chimneys, factory waste, deforestation, nuclear waste, and whatnot are destroying the human relationship with nature. Nature is not just silent to all this, it has responded with global warming, wildfires, floods like a tsunami, and a rise in sea levels. In this essay, we will discuss events that led to this bad relationship between humans and nature.

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Relationship Between Human And Environment Essay- 700 Word Long Essay

Humans and the environment have a centuries-long relationship with each other. For countless centuries mankind has peacefully coexisted and benefited from everything provided by nature. Mother nature on the other hand has been very kind to shower us with all its blessings. It has provided mankind with food, shelter, and all necessities of life without ever asking anything in return. For all these centuries human beings also cared for nature until the invention of diesel engines and large-scale factories that polluted the environment. In this essay, I will discuss how the relationship between humans and the environment is progressing after all this time.

Population explosion is the biggest factor that negatively affects the relationship between humans and the environment. Because of the rapid human population growth, the requirement for resources also increased by many folds. This huge population size created an imbalance and scarcity of resources. To fulfill growing demands for resources large-scale factories and production units were set up. These factories, chimneys, the petroleum industry, the textile industry, and whatnot released all the poisonous waste into the environment. These factories are exploiting nature and playing with human well-being by polluting the natural world.

Technological advancements,  modernization, and economic growth have led humans away from mother nature. Modern society has seen an increase in demand for natural systems and natural materials changing the human perception of nature. Humans no longer respect, love, and value nature as they just exploit it for their own benefits. The bond of love and affection between humans and the environment is no longer there. These increased distances have negatively affected our mental health and psychological well-being. Deforestation has caused a major climate change which has led to global warming but humans continue to cut all trees without planting new ones.

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Humans are strong and smart enough to dominate the world, but they still can’t survive without natural resources. Nature was a silent watcher for all these centuries but now it has struck back. Humankind suffers because of the destruction of nature and is forced to withstand harsh temperatures due to deforestation. Global warming, sea-level rise, heatwaves, flooding, and wildfires are some signs from nature that we need to stop harming our environment.

The natural life that includes animals and other species has improved their nature relationship. In all these centuries every living thing other than human beings has strived towards achieving sustainability. They have learned how to survive with limited resources by providing benefits to the natural environment. These species created a strong relationship with nature and played their part to improve human health. Whenever they use any natural resource they add value to the environment. Humans should learn from all other species to avoid environmental disasters.

In conclusion, just like many animal species are now distant because of overhunting, natural resources are also depleting every day. Everyone should be taught to love and respect nature to improve the relationship between humans and the environment. If things continue like this we won’t be able to survive on planet earth.

Short Essay On Relation Between Human And Nature – 300 Word Short Custom Essay

Humans and nature share a life-long relationship. They have been in a relationship since the first man laid food on earth. The human-nature relationship is ever-evolving and changing but for the last two centuries, it has just gotten worse. The main reason for this negative change is that humans no longer love and respect nature. The digital age has made humans lazy, now they only exploit nature for their benefit. In this short essay, I will discuss why this relationship is worsening with each passing day.

Population explosion is the main culprit behind environmental pollution. The increased demand for resources has led to the establishment of factories, mills, industries, and even nuclear reactors. All this poisonous waste is released in the sea, air, and water that destroys everything nature has blessed us with. Humans also destroy natural resources like trees and don’t care about achieving a sustainable future. Deforestation has caused climate change and a lack of fresh air. This climate change is responsible for global warming and flooding.

After all these centuries of peacefully coexisting the nature has finally struck back. Humans now face the threat of natural disasters like heat waves, rising sea levels, wildfires, and ozone depletion challenges. Humans are also running out of fossil fuels and social capital that played a vital role in the progress of humanity.

During human evolution and human development, we all shared a bond of love and affection with nature. Our social development and social relationships have destroyed the natural relationship of love with the environment. Humans nowadays are constantly developing alternative ways of coping with nature. We are forced to contend with the changing patterns of weather, and other natural processes all because we don’t respect nature anymore.

In conclusion, to preserve our relationship with nature, we must launch a social movement and raise awareness to promote green space. We should raise awareness among kids so that they can learn to respect nature as this is the only way to redeem ourselves in the eyes of mother nature.

Do you like these sample essays about the Relationship Between Humans and Nature? Reach out to Essay Basics to get a professionally written plagiarism-free and unique custom essay on any topic in less than 3 hours.

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FAQ About Relationship Between Human and Natural World Essay

Why is human connection to nature important.

The human connection to nature is very important because this way we can start to love and respect nature like we did 2-3 centuries before. This bond with nature is the only way to restore our connection with nature.

What Is The Difference Between Human And Natural Environments?

Humans and the natural environment are two different entities. Humans can’t survive without nature but nature can still survive without humans.

essay about nature of human

Silvica: Blog for Sustainable Development

An Essay on Man and Nature Connection

Over the previous decades, research has been focused on understanding the relationship between man and nature. While pundits may argue about this relationship, there is substantive evidence demonstrating an intricate relationship between humans and nature. 

Man lives in the sphere of nature. 

As humans, nature always surrounds us.  We interact with it now and then. The biosphere is the most crucial part of nature regarding the man-nature relationship. It includes the thin layer surrounding the earth, the soil cover, and any living creature.  Without nature, human beings can’t live normal lives. In other words, man needs nature more than nature needs him. Nature can exist without man, but humans can’t exist without nature.

Man has a massive influence on nature

Humans aren’t just mere dwellers in the sphere of nature. They also transform nature.  Since man’s existence, he has adapted nature and further made all sorts of incursions into nature. Man has spent enormous energy and time changing nature.  The observation explains that man has consistently transformed nature’s wealth into the present-day means of the historical and cultural life of modern society.  For instance, man has exploited nature to generate electricity and then utilizes the electrical power to serve his interest and his community.  Man hasn’t just transferred a variety of animal and plant species to various climatic conditions, but he has further altered the climate of his habitat.

Man and nature connection is strong.

While man’s connection to nature has been severely weakened by man’s dependence on nature for domestic and industrial resources over the years, man still has a strong connection to nature.  After all, man’s psychological and physical need for nature remains intact. As far as nature will continue being man’s source of physical and psychological well-being, humans will remain deeply connected to nature. That explains the deep and strong relationship between nature and man.

Nature and man interact dialectically.

The interaction between nature and man is such that, the more the society progresses, the more man relies less on nature. Think about it; we rely on natural resources for the sustenance of cities and the development of technologies. The components of your phone are mainly derived from the minerals-a natural resource! Again, as man continues to discover more about nature, the more he strives to transform it. Man’s influence on nature increases progressively. Nevertheless, man continues to come into more contact with nature as time progresses.

There are specific stages of man-nature relationship.

The relationship between nature and man has various stages. The first stage is whereby man depends entirely on nature.  Since time immemorial, man has thrived regardless of the enormity of natural formations. He has always been awake to nature’s destructive and menacing forces. The second stage of the man-nature relationship is whereby nature changes its face in the course of its interaction with man. The third stage is whereby man is concerned with preserving nature for the sake of his needs.

The man-nature connection has led to unforeseen paradoxes

One of the unforeseen paradoxes that have been brought about by the man-nature relationship is the infamous paradox of saturation. Since the existence of man on the planet millions of years ago, the effects of humans’ power over nature were insignificant.  With time, man’s over-exploitation led to the destruction of nearly all aspects of nature. A key example of the prolonged over-exploitation of nature by humans is pollution.  Over the years, pollution has led to the destruction of key aspects of nature such as water and the atmosphere. Currently , plastic pollution is an environmental menace that is challenging for our generation. 

The man-nature relationship has been characterized by overuse and imbalance.

Almost every part of man’s history has been marked with nature exploitation, specifically environmental degradation.  Initially, humans were incredibly in-tune with their surroundings. The ancient people had an insignificant effect on nature, due to their meager population size. But as the human population continued to soar, coupled with technological advancements, man started using more efficient methods of sustaining himself. As populations grew, and societies evolved, the demand for resources shot drastically. This trend led to man distancing himself from nature. He was no longer in-tune with nature. This led to an imbalance and over-use of nature.

essay about nature of human

The industrialization has alienated man from nature

Whereas no one would deny that man has depended entirely on nature for virtually all his needs, industrialization has taken a toll on nature.  With the rise of industrialization, man is gradually being alienated from nature.  But due to man’s understanding that he is completely dependent on nature, there have been concerted attempts in the world over to redeem man’s connection to nature. It is no wonder that concepts such as Environmental Impact Assessments are becoming more relevant.

Nature always fights back, and wins

Generally, humans have an insatiable appetite for exploiting nature. We tend to overuse the natural resources by our excessive consumption. There are many ways in which nature has fought. Two of the ways are highlighted below:

Man is a vital part of nature

Man defines nature as much as he is fully dependent on it. Historically, man has a considerable influence on nature. Through his actions, whether unconscious or conscious, man determines which course nature will take.  In other words, man determines the pace that nature will take to evolve. As such, nature and man are inseparable. Man depends on nature for all resources he requires in life. He, therefore, should remain in-tune with nature since he is an integral part of it.

The man-nature connection is sometimes ‘unclear’

The connection between man and nature is, at times, ambiguous, as much as it is intricate. For instance, nature can be an enemy to man as much as it remains a provider. Think about environmental disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons, and floods. On the other hand, man is the main beneficiary as far as the relationship is concerned. Since time immemorial, man has always strived to dominate nature. Nevertheless, this domination is currently being revised by societies in the world over. For instance, we are learning that dominating nature is difficult, as exemplified by the complexities of climate change.

The man-nature relationship has had its ups and downs since time immemorial. Although the connection is intricate, multiple instances prove that the present-day man isn’t in-tune with nature. As such, humans must consider their relationship with nature, considering that they need nature more than nature needs them. There should be a universal awareness of how humans can best use nature without exploiting it so that the man-nature connection can continue to thrive.

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Feeding, Breeding and Killing Habits of Lions (African Lion)

Facebook0Tweet0LinkedIn0 They may not be the most giant animal in the African savannas; however, the habits of lions make them the ‘King of the jungle’.

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The Environmental Benefits of the Coronavirus (COVID 19)

Facebook0Tweet0LinkedIn0 By David OkulApril 29, 2020 The COVID 19 global pandemic has affected all aspects of human life.  The virus has claimed hundreds of thousands

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Human Nature Essay

It’s In Our Nature Human nature is a very complex thing that is not easily defined. It is typically defined as the tendencies of humans to behave certain ways in certain situations- to act according to their surroundings. There are a number of stereotypes that accompany human nature- some of which are confronted in the literature over realism. For example, the notion that Americans are all obnoxious and airheaded (like in Daisy Miller, A Study) is a presumption commonly brought about in today's society, despite the fact that the story was written ages ago. Also, the way John treats his wife in The Yellow Wallpaper, alongside the way she slowly descends into madness at the oppression she faces in light of her illness are both prime examples of basic human nature. There are certain ways that most humans will always behave, such as with judgement, obnoxiousness, control, and weakness- all of which are stereotypical and commonly seen in today's society, and also in realism literature In "Daisy Miller", Winterbourne is fascinated by the main character, Daisy Miller, due to her dual nature of virtue and immaturity. She runs around flirting with boys, while maintaining the stance of innocence. This is so exceedingly common amongst American girls her age. It isn't a rarity to find a girl who will pretend to be sweet and harmless and innocent, whilst running around and misbehaving at the same time. This is exactly what Daisy Miller does. In The Yellow Wallpaper, Show More

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essay about nature of human

Our human nature and species can sometimes seem difficult to fully understand, but the way I see it we are just animals with the ability to reason. Because of this we self-rationalize, making what can sometimes seem wrong right in our own minds. Horrible things throughout the course of human history have occurred because of this, for example the Holocaust for which Hitler thought he was doing the world a favor by exterminating the Jews. The concept of good and evil however does not apply to humans;…

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Human Nature In The Crucible

The Crucible: A Study on the Primitiveness of Human Nature Mankind will never truly rise above its savage predispositions. The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, takes place in the colony of Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Rumors of witchcraft, originating from a small group of girls, cause the town to descend into madness and ultimately result in the punishment of hundreds of innocent lives. The play offers a commentary on human nature during times of great fear, in which a civilized society is reduced to…

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Human Nature In The Holocaust

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Nature And Human Essays

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1984 Human Nature

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Haass 1 Kelsey Haass Rosenbaum English 1310 16 October 2014 John Locke’s Idea of Human Nature Moral character is birthed from the forum called life. In accordance with the ideology of the philosopher, John Locke, life’s experiences are met to create the beings we have grown to become. Essentially, his theory states that the human mind starts out as tabula rasa and the senses we encounter create the knowledge we soon come to know. Personal experiences I have lived through and those who…

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Human Nature In The Tempest

In The Tempest, Shakespeare analyzes human nature through three distinct characters. Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, is maliciously overthrown by his own brother, Antonio. After being thrown on a shabby raft, he is left to die on an island with his daughter Miranda. Twelve years later, he finally takes his vengeance by shipwrecking his brother and the other lords on his island. Despite having been betrayed by his own brother, he finds the humanity to forgive Antonio and all the other lords…

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Human Nature In Lord Of The Flies

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essay about nature of human

The Nature Of Human Resource Management

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Machiavelli's Views On Human Nature

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Human Nature 1 Pages 352 Words

             There is no perfect person in the world, but the celestial and most sacred person has their faults. But my belief is that everyone was born free of sin, because of course, when you're a baby, you don't do anything wrong. But I believe that humans aren't essentially good or bad, but rather, both. Humans aren't all good. Every human has their mistakes, no matter how hard a person tries. I believe that humans are also bad those are the mistakes they made that would cause God to be angry. So therefore, humans are a little bit of both.              Humans aren't good because of the fact that someone has to do something disobedient or bad in their life. No one can be so good, because I find that this is an impossible thing. If you think you're good, you must not do anything all day, and lock yourself in a room.              Humans are bad mainly because of temptation. Every single on of us has done something that wasn't exemplary, sometimes without us even knowing that we did. And so therefore, we are all bad at some point, but most people aren't bad, like everyone is going to jail, so we balance things out.              So thus we are both good and bad. We have our holy days, and we have our bad days. We are not perfect human beings. It is what we do to ourselves once we start thinking for ourselves and we know what's going on n our environment, Except for when we were younger and told what to do, we now have control of our lives. Our everyday decisions makes us what we are right now. We can sometimes be good, and sometimes be bad. One thing that was not mentioned in the sermon that god loves everyone no matter what. Whether you are really good, or really bad, God will always find it in his heart to forgive you for you sins as long as you're willing to try and do your part.              ...

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essay about nature of human

Essay About Human Nature

Human Nature The beliefs I have about human nature is a combination of our innate and learned behaviors. Most of them coming from or innate drive for survival, thus our fight of flight reactions to different stimuli. Even though our determination to survive trumps our other instincts, our nature tells us to nurturing our young, old, and people of ill health. Since humans are nurturing in nature, they need one another in order to survive. Our human nature is to help each other build shelter, raise or find food, and help others that are in need. Unfortunately, human nature also possesses negative qualities such as one culture wanting to be superior to another. Although we have made progress to this regard in the last 100 years we still have a long way to go. Personality As humans we are born with a personality, but as we age our experiences from outside influences can affect and change our personalities. If we are developing that secure bond with our parents as infant’s chances are our personalities will become positive and perhaps cheerful. On the other hand, if we are neglected during our early development …show more content…

In this essay, the author

One of the ways people change is seeking spiritual guidance by allowing a higher power into their lives. There are cases when people who are not facing negative consequences decide to make changes in their lives, although I believe these are rare cases, because unless people are facing negative consequences their motivation for change is minimal. People can change in many ways such as becoming financially responsible but stopping their frivolous spending. Changing their diet and eating nutritional foods instead of fatty and sugary foods for health or weight concerns. Typically, there needs to be a motivating factor to cause people to make the effort to rearrange their lifestyle to

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essay about nature of human

Essays on Human Nature

The impact of human selfishness on nature, the importance of finding personal strengths for a leader, observing the true human nature, the dark side of human nature in shakespeare play macbeth, the platonic conception of human nature, the definition and nature of human greed, the human origins and his role in sumerian akkandian and egyptian texts, defining the meaning of optimism, the uncanny ability of fallen humans to view the world through their narrow reasonable lens, the secret strengths of introverts, the concept of alienation in the works of karl marx, analysis of hannah arendt’s opinion about collective dynamics, a philosophical investigation of religion's impact on the human nature, human flaws and the importance of the open mind in jack london’s 'to build a fire', music through the ages: a music history timeline, a general study of human species, the reasons why tartuffe finds it so easy to manipulate and exploit orgon, the thematic purpose of the powerless underclass in agamemnon, perceptions of human nature by locke, marx and machiavelli, bicentennial man: what it means to be a human being, the importance of allies and human relations in silas marner, privilege and it`s function in society, comparison of the views of thomas hobbes and john locke on human nature, the investigation of human nature: victor vs nim, specific depiction of human figure, the brutalized toiler in the man with the hoe, a poem by edwin markham, the capability of a plant-based diet to save the environment, what does it mean to be human: essay about refugees, the concept of the copy principle in david hume's treatise of human nature, the meaning of adopting a "meerkat brain", feeling stressed about your essay.

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essay about nature of human

Human nature matters | Aeon

A family gathering near Tehran in 2017. Photo by Thomas Dworzak/Magnum Photos

Human nature matters

The only way to construct a robust philosophy for life is to have a clear and realistic picture of what makes humans tick

by Skye C Cleary & Massimo Pigliucci   + BIO

A strange thing is happening in modern philosophy: many philosophers don’t seem to believe that there is such a thing as human nature. What makes this strange is that, not only does the new attitude run counter to much of the history of philosophy, but – despite loud claims to the contrary – it also goes against the findings of modern science. This has serious consequences, ranging from the way in which we see ourselves and our place in the cosmos to what sort of philosophy of life we might adopt. Our aim here is to discuss the issue of human nature in light of contemporary biology, and then explore how the concept might impact everyday living.

The existence of something like a human nature that separates us from the rest of the animal world has often been implied, and sometimes explicitly stated, throughout the history of philosophy. Aristotle thought that the ‘proper function’ of human beings was to think rationally, from which he derived the idea that the highest life available to us is one of contemplation (ie, philosophising) – hardly unexpected from a philosopher. The Epicureans argued that it is a quintessential aspect of human nature that we are happier when we experience pleasure, and especially when we do not experience pain. Thomas Hobbes believed that we need a strong centralised government to keep us in line because our nature would otherwise lead us to live a life that he memorably characterised as ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’. Jean-Jacques Rousseau embedded the idea of a human nature in his conception of the ‘noble savage’. Confucius and Mencius thought that human nature is essentially good, while Hsün Tzu considered it essentially evil.

The keyword here is, of course, ‘essentially’. One of the obvious exceptions to this trend was John Locke, who described the human mind as a ‘ tabula rasa ’ (blank slate), but his take has been rejected by modern science. As one group of cognitive scientists describes it in From Mating to Mentality (2003), our mind is more like a colouring book, or a ‘graffiti-filled wall of a New York subway station’ than a blank slate.

In contrast, many contemporary philosophers, both of the so-called analytic and continental traditions, seem largely to have rejected the very idea of human nature. A prominent example is our colleague Jesse Prinz at the City University of New York, who argues forcefully for what is referred to as a ‘nurturist’ (as opposed to a ‘naturist’) position in his book Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape the Human Mind (2012). More recently, Ronnie de Sousa argued that modern science shows that human nature does not exist and, drawing on Jean-Paul Sartre’s notion of radical freedom, concluded that this favours an existentialist philosophical outlook. We beg to differ.

What exactly does science tell us about the idea of a human nature? If we take evolutionary biology seriously, then we certainly should reject any essentialist conception of it, such as Aristotle’s. There is no immutable, clearly defined ‘essence’ that characterises human beings, and only them, within the whole animal world. From Charles Darwin onward, the scientific consensus has been pretty clear: we are but one species among millions on Earth, members of a not particularly numerous branch of the tree of life, endowed with unusually large and structurally complex brains. Our particular lineage gave origin to the species Homo sapiens at least 300,000 years ago, resulting from a long evolutionary period, which unfolded over millions of years from the point of divergence from our most recent common ancestor with the chimpanzees, our closest phylogenetic cousins.

Put that way, it would seem that biology does indeed do away with any idea of human nature: whatever characteristics our species possesses are the result of a continuous process of evolutionary differentiation from other species of primates, and there is no reason to believe that such process is over, or will be any time soon. Moreover, people are fond of citing the famous figure that humans and chimpanzees differ ‘only’ in about 1-2 per cent of their genomic sequence, implying that we are not really as special as we’d like to think.

But as Kevin Laland has pointed out in his book Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human Mind (2017), that small percentage translates into thousands of structural changes at the genetic level, which in turn can be combined to yield millions of ways in which humans are distinct from chimpanzees. Just because the difference is small in percentage, it doesn’t mean it is not both very obvious and highly consequential.

In light of this, we think that the picture emerging from evolutionary and developmental biology is – contrary to the widespread opinion among contemporary philosophers – one that very much supports the notion of human nature, just not an essentialist one. Human nature is best conceived of as a cluster of homeostatic properties, ie of traits that are dynamically changing and yet sufficiently stable over evolutionary time to be statistically clearly recognisable. These properties include characteristics that are either unique to the human species, or so quantitatively distinct from anything similar found in other animals that our version is unquestionably and solely human.

Take language, for instance. Plenty of other animals (and even plants and bacteria) communicate, meaning that they exchange signals aimed at improving their own or their kin’s survival. But no other living species has anything even remotely like human language, with its complex grammar and high levels of recursion (where a linguistic rule can be applied to the results of the application of the very same rule, and so on). Other animals, such as octopuses, have large, complex brains and nervous systems, but no other animal has both the size (relative to the body) and especially the structural asymmetry and layering of the human brain; for instance, its enormously developed frontal cortex, which is in charge of reward, attention, short-term memory tasks, planning and motivation.

The list could go on and on, but the basic point is that it is fallacious to state that there are no fundamental differences between humans and other animals just because the boundaries are fuzzy and dynamic (over evolutionary time). As Justice Potter Stewart said, in a case about pornography versus art in 1964: ‘I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.’ A modern biologist and a scientifically informed philosopher could say something very much along the same lines about human nature. We all know it when we see it.

Now, if human nature is real, what are the consequences from a philosophical perspective? Why should a philosopher, or anyone interested in using philosophy as a guide to life, care about this otherwise technical debate? Let’s explore the point by way of a brief discussion of two philosophies that provide particularly strong defences of human nature and that are aligned with cognitive science: existentialism and Stoicism.

T he temptation to link existentialism with the idea of a tabula rasa is understandable. At the heart of existentialism is Jean-Paul Sartre’s idea that ‘existence precedes essence’, meaning that we didn’t choose to be born, but we’re free to figure out what to do about it. Sartre took this very seriously, speaking of freedom as a lack – or a gap – at the heart of consciousness, and claiming that we’re free even when in chains. In one of his more radical statements, he wrote: ‘Never were we freer than under the German occupation. We had lost all our rights, and first of all our right to speak. They insulted us to our faces … They deported us en masse … And because of all this we were free.’ It is perhaps not surprising that Sartre is frequently mocked for overstating the extent to which we are free.

Even Simone de Beauvoir thought he took it too far, particularly when he told her that her seasickness was all in her head. In her autobiography The Prime of Life (1960), she wrote: ‘If you gave way to tears or nerves or seasickness, [Sartre] said, you were simply being weak. I, on the other hand, claimed that stomach and tear ducts, indeed the head itself, were all subject to irresistible forces on occasion.’

Although de Beauvoir also accepted that existence precedes essence, she was more attuned than Sartre to the ways in which our ‘facticity’ – the facts of our existence – influence our lives. For example, we can’t choose our bodies or the economic and social situations in which we find ourselves, and often we see other people as the immutable banes of our existence. De Beauvoir argues that although we’re not free from our natural condition, it doesn’t define our essence, which is how we create ourselves out of our facticity. We don’t live only to propagate the species as animals do; rather, we are beings who look for meaning in our lives, and we do it by taking risks to overcome ourselves and our situations. This is human nature: perpetually seeking to escape our natural condition, to transcend – surpassing the given – towards self-chosen, concrete goals. But this isn’t at all easy, and is one of the reasons why anxiety is a fundamental theme of existentialism. To be human is to live in ambiguity because we are forever caught in a tension between the facts of our lives and the will to overcome them.

Biology might seem to offer a simple explanation for some limitations. For example, consider the old-school argument that women are ‘naturally’ suited for caregiving roles. This is both a wrong and a harmful way to think about our nature. It’s wrong because, as de Beauvoir points out in The Second Sex (1949), gestating babies is a biological female function, but rearing children is a social commitment. And it’s harmful because the assumption that biology sets our destiny is oppressive. Historically, women have been defined primarily by the same biological functions they share with other animals, tethered in myths about femininity, and robbed of the opportunity to transcend.

Natural obstacles provide a different sort of limitation. It might be absurd for de Beauvoir to persist with sailing if she vomits constantly, but giving up on her goals because of seasickness is stupid, too. Sometimes, we don’t have the power to break our chains, and we fail in our projects, but resignation is not the answer. To transcend is to recognise our resistances and failures, and to rebel against them creatively. This perspective matters because it emphasises that, while there are fixed elements to our being, we are not fixed beings, since we are (or ought to be) free to choose our projects. Neither biology nor natural obstacles limit our futures to a great extent, and how we live out our human nature will vary because we give different meanings to our facticities. An authentic life is about acknowledging these differences, and stretching ourselves into an open future. It does not follow that this openness is unlimited or unconstrained. We are limited, but mostly by our own imagination.

For the Stoics, human nature circumscribes what humans can do, and what they are inclined to do

An interesting contrast here is provided by a philosophy that is in some respects very different, and yet shares surprising similarities, with existentialism: ancient Greco-Roman Stoicism , which has seen a remarkable revival in recent years. The Stoics thought that there are two aspects of human nature that should be taken as defining what it means to live a good life: we are highly social, and we are capable of reason. Therefore, to ‘live according to nature’, as they advised us to do, means to apply reason to the improvement of the human polis. In turn, the way to accomplish the latter is to improve one’s judgment (the faculty of prohairesis , which distinguishes us from any other animal species), and to exercise the four cardinal virtues of practical wisdom, courage, justice and temperance.

At first glance, it might seem that human nature plays a far more crucial role in Stoicism than in existentialism. Indeed, it is tempting to accuse the Stoics of committing an elementary fallacy, to argue for a particular way of life by appeal to nature. But Seneca, Epictetus and co were excellent logicians, which should make us pause before dismissing their philosophy so quickly. On closer examination, it is clear that for the Stoics, human nature played a similar role to that played by the concept of facticity for the existentialists: it circumscribes what human beings can do, as well as what they are inclined to do. But the parameters imposed by our nature are rather broad, and the Stoics agreed with the existentialists that a worthwhile human life can be lived by following many different paths.

Indeed, Stoic literature even features a story similar to the debate between de Beauvoir and Sartre on seasickness. It is told by the Latin author Aulus Gellius, who writes about a Stoic philosopher experiencing a severe storm while on a ship. Gellius noticed how the philosopher became pale and trembled in the midst of the storm. Once things had calmed down, he asked the philosopher how come his Stoicism had not prepared him better to withstand those frightening moments. His response is illuminating:

When some terrifying sound occurs, either from the sky or from the collapse of a building or as the sudden herald of some danger, even the wise person’s mind necessarily responds, and is contracted and grows pale for a little while, not because he opines that something evil is at hand, but by certain rapid and unplanned movements antecedent to the office of intellect and reason. Shortly, however, the wise person in that situation ‘withholds assent’ from those terrifying mental impressions; he spurns and rejects them and does not think that there is anything in them which he should fear.

In other words, just as de Beauvoir explained to Sartre, the ‘facticity’ of our biology is here to stay, but we have a choice about how to regard it and manage it. And that’s what philosophy teaches us.

T he Stoics grounded that teaching in an approach most famously associated with Epictetus, the 2nd-century slave-turned-teacher who became one of the best-known philosophers of antiquity. He developed a whole ethics based on the idea that we play a multiplicity of roles in life: some of them are given (we are all human beings, sons or daughters of our parents, and so forth), and some are chosen (our careers, whether we wish to have children and become parents or not).

How we play these roles is up to us. In Book I of the Discourses , Epictetus discusses the case of two slaves who react differently to the same demeaning situation (having to hold their master’s chamber pot while he’s relieving himself). What determines the difference is how the slaves see themselves as human beings, a concept not that different from the existentialist notion of authenticity. Epictetus concludes the analysis of that example by admonishing his students in a way that Sartre and de Beauvoir might have approved of: ‘Consider at what price you sell your integrity; but please, for God’s sake, don’t sell it cheap.’

It’s not only modern science that tells us that there is such thing as human nature, and it’s no coincidence that a number of popular modern therapies such as logotherapy, rational emotive behaviour therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy draw on ideas from both existentialism and Stoicism. No philosophy of life – not just existentialism or Stoicism – could possibly exist without it.

If we were truly tabulae rasae , why would we prefer certain things to others? What could possibly urge us to seek meaning, to build relationships with other people, to strive to improve ourselves and the world we live in? We do all that because we are a particular kind of intelligent social animal, just as the Stoics thought. And we do it within the broad constraints imposed by our (biological as well as contingent) facticity, as the existentialists maintained. There is no single path to a flourishing human life, but there are also many really bad ones. The choice is ours, within the limits imposed by human nature.

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