Philosophy- Core- Human Nature

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  • Human Nature
    • Hobbes
      • Life in the state of nature would be 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short'
        • believes no governments, laws or prisons would lead to disaster as we compete for the limited goods we desire
        • The state of nature is essentially a war for every individual, with no security or happiness
        • Because life in the state of nature would be so appaling, we would be willing to sign a Social Contract- saying we will obey certain rules.
          • we are motivated by our selfish desires for safety and certainty and recognise that this can only be achieved if we agree to live by certain rules- e.g. a monarchy- one ruler everyone obeys and we avoid quarrel which would lead back to the state of nature
      • Believed humans were complicated machines whose God built purpose was to survive at all costs 'maintain their virtual motion'
      • we are filled with desires for things that help us survive 'appetites'; and wish to avoid things that will harm us 'aversions'.
      • a psychological egoist- believes we're motivated and concerned only by our own needs 'the object is to every man his own good.
      • claims we are not incomplete without our society and do not really enjoy the company of others. e.g. friendship is a business arrangement whereby people use eachother for mutual benefit.
    • Rousseau
      • 'man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains'- refers to the social contract
      • The state of nature is a state of paradise- people are isolated, there is no property, and the 'noble savage' takes only what is necessary
        • no greed or competition only peace.
          • People are not equal but there's no compatition to fight for and thus no reason to fear eachother
      • In common with animals, humans naturally have self-love and compassion
      • Society only arrises as a result of natural disaster
        • In groups hierarchies emerge, concept of property emerges, which in turn creates jealousy, greed and competition
          • 'Socialable man, always outside himself, can only live in the opinion of others'
          • people use their compassion in a selfish drive to gain power.
          • Property has caused evils of the world- it was the beginning of society- also the cause of jealousy, unfairness and wars
        • The Social Contract is used to protect the wealthy, ruling few.
    • Aristotle
      • 'man is by nature, a political animal'
        • we are natural social beings and by nature are members of society, not self-intererested individuals
        • Without society you are incomplete- it would be impossible to achieve Eudaimonia
      • We crave the company of others
        • Language is evidence for this
          • evolutionary perspective- from the beginning we lived in groups
        • society is a force which designed humans and intends for us to live socially
      • those who live outside of society are more like animals
        • Without socialisation and interaction we would lack humanity
          • 'Feral Children' is used as evidence
    • Herder
      • There is no such thing as human nature- we are simple a notion of biology
      • Human nature is not universal but cultural.- there is not set human nature
        • linked to shared experience and language
        • Our modes of thinking and acting are formed by the society we live within, so human nature is not universal
      • character is formed entirely by socialisation
        • We are influenced by others as we grow, so our nature is malleable
          • The development of our characted is something we do as a group
            • linked to shared experience and language
            • Our identity is not a matter of choice- it is given to us by our group
    • There is no such thing as human nature- we are simple a notion of biology


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