Views on Human Nature

The first view identified within the major views of human nature is the Noble Savage or the Altruistic view. This view focuses on the sole basis of the nature of human beings and claims that within our simplest state of existence (our “natural” state) human beings are selfless, peaceful, and free of social ills. The concept of the Noble savage very well assumes that human beings are by our own nature altruistic, referring that humans engage in behaviors and express feelings that show desires to help others due to a certain lack of selfishness that stems from within our inner self.

The second view of human nature is the Angry Savage which asserts that in our simplest state of existence human beings are hostile and selfish due to an overwhelming fear of death. This view is very distinctively pushed by the fear of death because it assumes that death is the sole shaper of our feelings and logic that drive our behaviors. It is also fueled by the assumption that individual and social pathologies emerge when there are no uniting forces controlling individuals raw fears, and that social order is necessary because it brings out the best in humanity.

The third view is known as Dual Human Nature, it makes the claim that humans are composted of an ethereal soul trapped within a physical body. It focuses on the thesis that individual and social pathologies are the sole result of weak-will souls giving into bodily desires. Bodily desires can ultimately be bad because they result of in selfish behaviors, while the soul is inherently good as it allows us to choose or act against those bodily desires in the interest of other individuals.

One strength of the Noble Savage and its doctrine is that the presence of inequality within a society would be out of proportion since noble savages engage in unselfish behaviors to ultimately help other people out with desire. It’s embedded within the noble savages norms and values to act with peace and without ills towards all of humanity as they believe in a definitive nature. A social example can be that there wouldn’t be a stratification system from which inequality stems from under this concept of life as these people live under a heavy belief of altruism (unselfish concern for the well-being of others before theirselves). There also wouldn’t be a stratification system due to there being no social order or law that would dictate rules over individuals in society over who can do what and who cannot, it would just be a society filled with devotion to the welfare of others. Although the sound of a society where human beings are all selfless, peaceful, and free of social ills sounds like an all around sufficient one, it is too good to be true and thats where some weaknesses become to arise. A weakness to the noble savage concept is that it perceives blights such as greed, anxiety, and violence as products of civilization and therefore is against a more modern society. This can be regarded as a weakness because civilization is vital towards towards promoting continuity and prosperity of the larger population (which is ultimately what the Nobel Savages also want; to worry about the well-being and prosperity of others without putting theirselves first) as opposed to savagery or barbarism in the long run.

In terms of the Angry Savage, a strength would be that the desire for security is the most reliable and rational desire of our nature, as well as self-preservation. This concept can be beneficial because the fear of death can be used as a push towards asserting our survival instincts, making us more aware and protective of our environment and surroundings. Within this system humans must focus on finding a way to maintain peace and that’s where social order plays its role. With social order individuals living within this concept would be willing to give up some individual rights for security offered by a peaceful cooperative society. The weakness to this is that human nature wouldn’t allow this to happen due to things like greed and jealously, and people would eventually break up the society in an attempt to control a greater share of power over others.

A strength of Dual Human Nature

In terms of explaining social behavior and emergent properties, I believe that nurture (blank state) is the more convincing out of the two views of social phenomena. In my view, a persons behavior, actions, and feelings, and even personality mainly derive from life experiences whether they are good or bad. Envision this, a young boy grows up in a poor, rundown, dangerous neighborhood, all these environmental inputs will greatly play a role in how the boys behavior develops all the way up to adulthood. This is because the boy will most likely have a tougher life due to his parents socioeconomic position/status, making it harder for the boy to evidently escape factors such as poverty and violence, as opposed to a child who is fortunate enough to be born into a financially stable household. It is no secret that many behavioral problems within young adolescents such as fighting, stealing, and vandalism mainly stem from the exposure of living in distressed areas, because that is all they know and are around all the time. As a result, many of these unfortunate adolescents lean towards gangs, drug-dealing, and eventually drop out of high school due to the external environment not giving them any other choice but to steer towards crime in order to better their socioeconomic status, and have a shot at being successful. Therefore we as human beings don’t have a definitive nature because in like the adolescents, everything that characterizes us like our actions, feelings, and behaviors, are defined entirely by the results of environmental inputs. In conclusion, bad behavior is a product of learning and socialization within ones external environment.

In my opinion, neither of the three views of human nature provide a good general explanation of social reality because they all have their various flaws. The Noble Savage for instance asserts that at our simplest state of existence, human beings are selfless. In the absence of a social condition though, every action we perform no matter how charitable or benevolent, is done for selfish reasons. Even giving to charity is a way of showing one’s power to do so. The term is referred to as psychological egoism, which is the view that humans are always motivated by self-interest and selfishness, even in what seem to be acts of altruism. That is exactly where the problem within the noble savage rests, because it doesn’t correlate with the fact that any description of human action must ultimately reflect the reality that man is self-serving by nature. This effects our values and how we think about reality, because we are in fact helping others within our society not because we are unselfish, but because we want those people that we are helping to ultimately do the same in return whenever we are in need of aid. Another problem with this view is that human beings cannot be selfless and free of social ills because within our social reality, inequality is inevitable in order to have a fully functioning society. Within our society today, each person is born into a social and cultural setting that includes a family, community, social class, language, and even religion. As a result, every human is ultimately exposed to the extraneous factors of the characteristics within ones social setting, that sequentially affect how an individual learns to behave and perceive the world, by the means of instruction, rewards and punishments, and examples. Basically, human beings within a society cannot be free from social ills because we are all automatically placed into a hierarchal structure since birth, which consequently divides us and shapes us into different kinds of people throughout the process, allowing the growth of inequality to flourish within our inner-selves.

In terms of the Angry Savage, it asserts that humans are selfish due to the fear of death. Due to the fear of death, they believe that social order is necessary because it would bring out the best in humanity, and people would evidently obey the law in exchange for a more peaceful cooperative society. The conflict with this concept unfortunately, is that human nature would never allow this to happen due to the jealously and greed of others, as people would attempt to control a greater share of power over others. Ultimately, our fears reactions reinforce the need to give up our individuality, beliefs of a particular group, and subordinate ourselves to a leader. The fear of death can also polarize us against individuals who act, look, or believe differently, potentially leading us towards religious persecution or a war. The fear of death that humans experience lies in the death of meaning, because it is meaning that defines ones self and society. While I cannot deny that the fear of life and death is a fundamental human motivation, the fear of death itself can be shadowed by creating or becoming apart of something that we feel can outlast our time on Earth. Coming from a culture of life where religion and God are heavily cherished, I often question myself why is it that so many people from all shapes, colors, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds, chose to put all their faith within God. Many different strands of cultures and societies end up doing so because they feel they might become apart of something eternal that will never die (heaven), in comparison to the physical body that will eventually die. With religion, the need of social order becomes less factual because if you get a whole population to abide with one religion and its values, you essentially eliminate the evil from within human beings, making selfishness and the fear of death by another individual ultimately vanish.

The Dual Human Nature concept asserts that the conflict between the soul and the body are what shape human behavior. The concept seems to appeal to individuals because it relies on the hope that we indeed have free will, and that the mind as a result can survive the death of the body. The conflict with this concept in terms of explaining social reality, is that behavior is not actually caused by anything, but freely chosen. With choice comes freedom and responsibility, which allows us to hold people accountable for their actions. This is because our consciousness, unlike our bodies and other physical objects, does not feel as if it were divisible into parts. To be more specific, we cannot doubt the existence of our minds, but we also can’t doubt that we are our minds. On the other hand, the existence of our body is something we can doubt because we can imagine ourselves to be spirits who dream or hallucinate that we are incarnate. Whenever we consider the human mind to be like a machine and not a soul, concepts such as morality, love, and beauty are just fabrications of the brain chasing selfish evolutionary strategies. Neuroscience and cognitive science have also discredited the concept by displaying that our consciousness, feelings, thoughts, and urges, depend solely on the physiological activity of the brain. Further research has determined that weakening peoples belief in free will increases antisocial behavior, such as racial prejudice, aggressiveness towards others, and also decreases prosocial attitudes expressed in altruistic and cooperative behavior. It can also be argued that the strength within the belief in ones free will, can evidently predict intolerance for unethical behaviors, as well as a foundation for harsh criminal punishments within a society. Therefore, the ghost in the machine concept can seem rather problematic when trying to explain social reality, because it verges upon relevant areas of immaterial, transcendent and spiritual concerns as religious beliefs, the existence of a soul, the basis of morality, and the meaning of human life.

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