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The Problem Of Human Nature?

Discussion in 'General political debates' started by UnityFreedomAnarchy, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. UnityFreedomAnarchy

    UnityFreedomAnarchyActive Member Forum Member


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    Jul 18, 2013
     
    I, as you can imagine, have great difficulty explaining my views to my peers at my 6-form. One point people often raise is that based on what we observe in the animal kingdom, we can infer that human nature is inherently selfish and violent and thus anarchism would not function. I raise the point that we cannot really know human nature due to the effect of socialisation but this never really satisfies them (tbh they wouldn't accept that women enjoying cleaning is due to socialisation so they may be lost causes). How would you respond?
     

  2. NoGodsNoMasters38

    NoGodsNoMasters38Experienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    Oct 17, 2013
     
    The problem with this argument is that the animal kingdom does not directly mirror our lives. To make the assumption that all humans are selfish is absurd. We are actually social by nature and tend to be more inclined towards helping others than hurting. When people are in an environment that is altruistic and peaceful, they tend to be altruistic and peaceful, when they are in an environment that is selfish and animalistic, they tend to be selfish and animalistic. I would recommend doing research on altruism and the effects of different environments.
     
  3. PoshyX

    PoshyXExperienced Member Experienced member


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    Nov 17, 2012
     
    our lives shape human nature.
    human nature does not shape our lives.
    the second people can understand this is the second we can make some REAL social progress.
     
  4. Rebellious twit

    Rebellious twitExperienced Member Experienced member


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    Jul 21, 2012
     
    kropotkin also argued of the the survival of the fittest, he said that a perfect example of mutual aid would be with ants beside the hierachy they needed each others help to survive
    "
    In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: understood, of course, in its wide Darwinian sense — not as a struggle for the sheer means of existence, but as a struggle against all natural conditions unfavourable to the species. The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits, and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development, are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress. The mutual protection which is obtained in this case, the possibility of attaining old age and of accumulating experience, the higher intellectual development, and the further growth of sociable habits, secure the maintenance of the species, its extension, and its further progressive evolution. The unsociable species, on the contrary, are doomed to decay."

    Link to the mutual aid(havent read it myself yet.. but i'm going to do it some day book:http://www.complementarycurrency.org/ccLibrary/Mutual_Aid-A_Factor_of_Evolution-Peter_Kropotkin.pdf
     
  5. Kobac

    KobacExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    Nov 7, 2009
     Croatia
    I have heard that line so many times:Humans are selfish, what can you do about it!?
    If that is the end of argument then we would seize to exist long time ago.Selfishness and violence has been part of human nature only in the last 10,000 years because of our desire for "progress".They call it civilisation.
    They have taught us to be selfish and violent(The downside of competitive spirit).
    People just need to realize that we are created(born) to exist and coexist, and that was the case in the last few millions of years to the first great civilizations.
    I know that most of people are good by their nature and due to mutual aid we survived this long, but sadly now our perception is distorted and we suffer because of ignorance.
    Try becoming better man instead of becoming burden to this world.
    I do not know, why destroying when we can make something instead. :S
     
  6. Bakica

    BakicaExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    Feb 21, 2010
     
    I'm fed up with such arguments against anarchism. Recently I came across Locke, an interesting philosopher who said :

    "Locke characterized a newborn child's mind as a blank sheet of paper, a clean slate, a tabula rasa. Implicit is a doctrine of egalitarianism, well-known from the fourth paragraph of the Second Treatise of Government: There is "nothing more evident, than that Creatures of the same species…born to all the same advantages of Nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal amongst one another without Subordination or Subjection…. " This egalitarianism isone of the aspects of the modern view of human nature, so different from the Platonic or medieval outlooks with their inborn inequalities foundational to nature-or God-ordained hierarchies in society, church, and state. For Locke, there are no natural obstructions that would block development of children's native potential for acting freely and rationally. True, some possess more agile intellects or stronger wills than others; but all are innately equipped to become persons capable of freely following their own reason's pronouncements, that is, to become autonomous beings."

    Concept of tabula rasa is very interesting and I'm pretty sure if you google it you'll find some interesting stuff. Or read some of the Sartre stuff, he is an interesting guy. Persons I mentioned here are not strictly anarchists, but have influenced me in one way or another so...Cheers.
     
  7. UnityFreedomAnarchy

    UnityFreedomAnarchyActive Member Forum Member


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    Jul 18, 2013
     
    Yeah, my 'friends' are in my philosophy As class, we're just doing this however Locke's Empiricism is a deeply flawed, it inevitably leads to either we know nothing or the trap of solipsism, thus the people I argue with lean towards Descartes Rationalism, that states we are born with certain innate ideas, and we can gain knowledge through reason etc. and thus this argument does not work.
    To be fair, I don't really like Locke either, Kant had the best idea on this area of Philosophy
     
  8. Bakica

    BakicaExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    Feb 21, 2010
     
    I absolutely agree with you, his empiricism was a bit radical and pointless. I like the idea of being born without predetermined ideas but on the other hand I don't agree that everything we know comes from experience. I believe that one can control and shape oneself as one wishes and that is why I don't agree with 'human nature' philosophy. If human nature was indeed such as many claim, many revolutions or events that happened in the past wouldn't have happened ( I always take '36 Spain as an example, even though it's a cliche ). And where would we, as anarchists, be ? Saying that we're selfish by nature sounds to me like saying being gay is wrong because you can't reproduce.
    'Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.'


    edit : Is it in our nature to rape ? Do all man have that 'predatory fire' ? I think most of the people are afraid to take responsibility for their actions so they try to comfort themselves by saying that what they've done is perfectly natural.
     
  9. anticivpunk

    anticivpunkMember Forum Member


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    Aug 30, 2015
     
    Human beings seek food, water, shelter, security and offspring. Sometimes people have to give up one or more of those things to attain one or more of the other things that they are not getting at the time. Increased isolation, laws, rules, borders, ectetera leads to increased internalizes social tension which can be expounded in foreign wars or even civil wars. Or it can be de-escalated to street and gang wars, but anarchists see a future where it can be de-escalated to the point where our exchanges of resources are simply a dance which carries the slight haunting of violence. So anarcho-capitalism will not work, because capitalism causes too much inequality. Only through true equality can we all safely exchange resources that we truly need to survive. We will no longer have the excessively rich building enormous, unnecessary mansions, walls, and fences to safeguard themselves, only to need offspring from outside their walls. When their children go to the streets to find offspring and find the extreme lack of those other resources there, they then can lose their offspring. Then the rich wage war on the poor. When the war lose their offspring, they wage war on the rich. I believe anarchism, and true equality, will be an exchange of dances with each other to achieve exchanging of resources we need to acquire peace, love and anarchy. If you need me to go more in-depth I gladly will. I can even write a detailed paper on it, but I would need more information on the background of the people this paper would be read aloud to. First and last names are especially important, including city of birth, mother's maiden name, current city of residence and city or location the paper will be read at.

    I have some time on my hands and will probably for a few month, but if you can collect as much information as possible and relay it to me it would be greatly appreciated. If you are concerned about infiltrators from FBI or Law Enforcement, simply e-mail me the information at [email protected].

    If you prefer an encrypted e-mail to send it to, I'll look into getting one from hushmail.com

    I have spent a life being an anarchist who specializes in relating the socialist anarchist cause to people in an academic and sometimes common vernacular manner. Also it would be important to get their highest level of education completed and their work history if you can. Don't push anyone beyond their comfort zone, but acquire me as much information as you can if you are interested in me writing a speech. How long the speech would be and word choice would depend on the audience's background information. For peace, love and anarchy without war, anticivpunk.

    E-mail me at [email protected] if you want.
     
  10. SmokeyJoe

    SmokeyJoeExperienced Member Experienced member


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    Jan 17, 2016
     
    Hey thanks for the link! I'll have to give that a read when I have the chance.

    Personally, I have to agree that animals are not universally selfish, so the basic premise of the argument is flawed. There's just too many examples of animal behavior that isn't consistent with a creature motivated purely by self-interest. For that matter, selfishness isn't always a bad thing. Constantly sacrificing your needs for the sake of others screws both you and them in the long run: By definition that's not something you can sustain, and what happens to the people who were depending on you when you don't have anything left to give?

    You have to put your needs first before you can be a reliable source of support for anybody else. Society tells us otherwise because it was designed to make us subservient and obedient and therefore easier to take advantage of. It's cult indoctrination 101. (See also: Abusive Relationships.)

    As for the 'nature vs nurture' part of the argument, that's something even the scientific community can't agree on, so it's pretty ridiculous to take such a hard-line stance for the nature side when even the experts aren't sure.

    Hell, the very existence of punks and anarchists positively destroys this argument: If people are naturally selfish and can't overcome it then why in the hell would anyone ever be part of a group that gets so much crap from society? Obviously the selfish thing to do would be to claw our way to the top with the rest of the authoritarian corporate drones.

    On the other hand, since there are punks and anarchists in the world--and it's clearly not in our best interests to be such--then obviously either people aren't naturally selfish or they aren't bound by their natures. Either way, anarchism could totally be made to work.
     
  11. CHARX

    CHARXMember Forum Member


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    Apr 18, 2015
     
    "...we can infer that human nature is inherently selfish and violent and thus anarchism would not function." But their idea is too have a select group of selfish and violent people control all the other selfish and violent people.........how does that help???
     
  12. nodogs_nomasters

    nodogs_nomastersExperienced Member Experienced member


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    Jul 15, 2014
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    "'Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then were should we be?'"
    -Squealer addressing the animals in Animal Farm.

    That is a bit of circular logic I've always pondered.
    "Humans can't rule themselves! They're too corrupt and stupid!"
    So how, exactly, does concentrating the collective power of the human race on a select few members of this supposedly corrupt, stupid species somehow fix that issue? Humans do not exist in vacuums. Our behavior is highly influenced by the culture around us. Many inequities of humankind are, in fact, due to cultural inequalities and misconceptions taught at birth. We see people behave very differently in community oriented, egalitarian cultures than we do in authoritarian, hierarchical ones.
    Humans are not inherently all good or all bad. It has a lot to do with conditioning and development, methinks.
    This is a really big topic, and my extrapolations on it are, of course, very simplistic. Interesting hearing what everyone thinks :)
     
  13. persona-non-grata

    persona-non-grataExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    Mar 9, 2010
     
    "one might say selfishness is natural, in that people inevitably live according to their own desires and experiences. but egoism need not be competitive or dismissive of others. our relationships extend far beyond our bodies and our minds -we live in communities, depend on ecosystems for food and water, and need friends, families, and lovers for our emotional health. without institutionalized competition and exploitation, a person's self-interest overlaps with the interests of her community and her environment. seeing our relationships with our friends and nature as fundamental parts of ourselves expands our sense of connection with the world and our responsibility for it. it is not in our self interest to be dominated by authorities, or to dominate others; in developing a broader sense of self, we can structure our lives and communities accordingly"

    taken from: Anarchy works, examples of Anarchist Ideas in Practice. By: Peter Gelderloos
     
  14. CHARX

    CHARXMember Forum Member


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    Apr 18, 2015
     
    Peter Kropotkin was an evolutionary theorist, you know.

    He was one of the first to explain altruism in evolution. Scientists had a hard time explaining why animals, and humans, would sacrifice something to help another, when they should fight only for themselves.

    Kropotkin said that cooperation was a primary force in evolution, that altrusim was good. Human nature is not greed, it is kindness.

    <http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/kropotkin/mutaidintro.html>
     
  15. JolleyPunk

    JolleyPunkActive Member Forum Member


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    Aug 5, 2015
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    I watched an amazing documentary that completely challenges the whole concept of human nature being the end-all-be-all. It details the progression of a tribe of monkeys (I have no idea what monkeys, but its not really that important) through a plague they encountered. Basically all the alpha males in the tribe died out from the plague, it was in their food source at the time. With the alpha males dead, the tribe fell under the rule of females. The alpha males had been violent and aggressive, forming the culture of the tribe. With the violent leaders all dead, the group changed to a communal dynamic, going completely against their "violent nature". This entire changed happened in one year. Now if a species of monkeys know for their "violent nature" can change their entire dynamic in one year, what is the excuse for humans? Where does this human nature really come from?

    In my opinion, humans are generally pack animals. If we have a leadership that is violent and aggressive in all their dealings, we will follow in suite regardless of whether we agree or not. Its a nature of survival. Now, if we destroy this violent leadership, what will that leave us with? It will leave us with survival, and with humans being social creatures we will work together to benefit. This is all in group autonomy, destroying a singular leadership role and making it a group leadership built on communal autonomy and benefit. The whole "human nature" argument is garbage. If we lived off of human nature, there would be no nature, there would be no peace, there would be no love. We would function on the level of animals. But we don't. We live on a higher level on consciousness, we are aware and can surpass our "human nature" and be humans.

    So in short, human nature is bull shit, we can be autonomous, and we can work in a communal fashion. It all comes down to destroying the violent leadership and becoming our own mind and soul. Sorry if that was long winded haha
     
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