IB Philosophy, Core Theme - Human Nature

Universalism, Individualism, Diverse 

Our Nature as Reason (Plato), Our Nature as Egotistical (Hobbes), Our Nature as Noble (Rousseau)

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24/11/2012 20:18
Human Nature ­ Is human nature individualistic, universal
or diverse?
The individual decides what values they hold
Can be supported by biology or psychology ­ as we have all have
different physically appearances and also different behaviours. The
argument from Biology is quite weak as our physical appearances
don't necessarily have anything to do with our nature.
Supported most radically in Existentialism: identity is created by
individuals: "existence precedes essence" the famous argument by
Human nature = common inheritance of humanity. We have certain
qualities which unite us.
Supported by Biology (same brain state structures, therefore
capable of similar behaviour ­ this is supported by psychology),
Sociology (similar conditions/society ­ but is this a strong
argument? Societies are moulded by history, and this history varies
from place to place). Theology is one of the biggest supporters, in
particular Christianity ­ everyone has the ability to turn to God,
amongst other shared qualities.
Universalism is showcased in the ethical theory of human rights ­
everyone has the same rights, therefore we all have the same
nature? ­ John Locke, Declaration of Rights in America
There are many different human natures, varying in different
Again, psychological and sociological evidence to support this ­ our
psyches and societies are moulded by culture
Most important argument for diversity comes from cultural
Franz Boas ­ western scholars assume too much about foreign
cultures, there is not enough evidence to show the `grand nature of
Boas led to the idea of `cultural relativism', an idea which is
showcased in metaethics.
Different ideas of Human Nature:-

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Our Nature is Reason ­ Plato
We are essentially rational beings ­ this separates us from the rest
of the world, higher than other animals
We are born with this rationality ­ it is innate in our soul that existed
before us
The human condition of ignorance can be conquered, according to
Plato, by rational pursuit of the truth through reason ­ this way we
can discover moral truths (Similarity with Kant)
He comments, however, that we often experience an internal conflict
between different desires…read more

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Hobbes believes the only way to enforce this `Law of Nature' is by
the creation of a sovereign, as they can punish those who transgress
the rules.
However.. the sovereign may punish people for their own good as
well, and not for the good of the people.…read more

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