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Human Nature

Zatharel

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Nov 5, 2013
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You asked for a philosophy thread you got one.
I've had this discussion multiple times with multiple people, and the outcome is usually hours of skype chatting ending with one person falling asleep >.>

My own personal opinion is that human nature is being selfish, being greedy and only helping people when you actually have a use for them. Sure, there are exceptions but how many compared to the other number? One day we're just going to kill eachother, we've already seen the start of it, innocent people get killed every day because of their beliefs, because of profit, and those who profit out of this, in the end will end up lying on the street like dogs.
I've always liked to think of H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine" as a symbol of how the world looks. Those little quiet and peaceful beings on the surface are the rich, while those monsters as they're called in the underground are the poor, and every night these monsters eat these "innocent" little beings, when in reality they're the reason the monsters are like this. I like to think of the man with the time machine as a God, taking into consideration the religions, watching us, watching how we kill eachother until there's nothing left. And when this same man returns to the Earth so many years after, there are no humanoids on Earth, just animals.

Continue the discussion onwards.
 

nahfackler

Peon
Aug 8, 2014
483
39
Sounds like the movie After Earth,

Here is something I have noticed of human nature on roads and please, don't take anything personally

Human nature thinks that the roads are a video game, but they aren't right it is reality with only one life and they waste it. I mean on Twitter he news they were talking about a one hundred car pile up in the USA. The cause of that we're people not being careful. Human nature also convinced me that in order to be better we have to take a few extra steps.

In order to not be part of human nature, be better than the ordinary person.

Good topic choice Zath.
 

Srentiln

minr op since Nov 2011
Op
Oct 28, 2013
1,993
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*cracks knuckles* this will be less than organized, I am just going to do a "data dump" here:

So, I have thought a long time about many philosophical quandaries: human nature, what is 'consciousness', the meaning of life, etc. from what I have observed, there are some key truths about us as a species:
  • We don't like to be wrong
  • If there is no benefit to us, we won't do it
  • We demonize that which we do not understand
  • We are afraid, and we prefer to keep it that way
  • By our very nature, we are stupid
  • We are lazy, seeking out convenience rather than quality
So, is it right to say this is true of all people? Of course not. Nature loves to pretend to keep things balanced. That is why we have the capacity to learn and improve upon knowledge. The question then is less about the nature of humanity and more about how to manipulate it to do good things. Let us look at an example: global warming. Because of our advancements in industrialization, we burn a lot of fuels that cause damage to our own atmosphere. Many people don't understand the science of it, and act as if it is just a conspiracy. In other cases, business leaders see potential profit loss in switching to clean alternatives and ignore the problem. Meanwhile, the average person who is worried about the effects will just say "something should be done about this" but not act. Now, I am not saying that I am any better. The most I have done is sought employment with companies that are actually developing the better technologies, which is not doing very much at all.

Those who understand human nature wield a powerful tool. To keep the faith of their local populations strong, some past priests would make a tea from cedar bark. I don't remember the chemical involved, but cedar bark tea turns urine red. The priests used the ignorance of the people to make them believe that their god was angry with them and they had to pray for forgiveness. They would then make the tea with something else to make the people "forgiven". A more modern point is vaccinations. People with limited knowledge go on and on about how dangerous vaccines are, which leads to some parents not vaccinating their infants, which leads to more deaths than there would have been. In reality, the risk these people are going on about is a preservative used in a small number of vaccines and the actual risk of problems from it is fairly minor. Because people are stupid by nature and don't like to be wrong, attempts of explaining the facts to these people is futile.

The sad thing is that it is very easy to overcome these qualities and so many people would much rather maintain the status quo just because it is easier.
 

rickyboy320

Administrator
Op
Nov 18, 2013
2,252
1,758
Does this mean that this is how a human is before it is influences by other sources?
I really believe a person can be shaped. That society has a huge impact, and that people actually may be better of with parents that do not push their beliefs onto their child. Most christian families also get christian childs. That because they combine their beliefs to the education of the child and that way the child is 'shaped'. So what is human nature? Nothing that we have now. Human nature is opressed by beliefs and moralities that we push onto our next generations. We once decided our human nature is horrible, and ever since we try to fight it.
So, we try to fight it, and it gets opressed, but what is it!
I actually almost believe the same as zath, and people wouldn't kill/do anything without reason. For some it is belief, for some it is money, for some it is fun.
 

Srentiln

minr op since Nov 2011
Op
Oct 28, 2013
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That is another topic that I enjoy discussing (but many people are afraid to). First off, what is morality? Is it only in existence because of religion? No, morals pre-date religion. All it took was one person realizing that pain in retribution of pain only prolongs it for all. However, most people saw it as justice and thought it would make them feel better. Religion was created to instill the fear that was needed to push people toward the "right thing". However, as time passes this was corrupted and used by those in power for their own benefit in the way of "we call upon god for which killing's permitted, then brag out loud that our side made the grade" (yes, I am using song lyrics for this). Human nature is not intrinsically a thing of good or evil. As feral beings, it is what kept us alive. In the modern world, with the scale to which our population has grown, it has become more necessary than ever for us to move past this nature because we have such a huge impact on everything around us as compared to what it was back then. Empathy for the entire world and not just our own species is needed to sustain livability.

As to shaping people, that has more to do with personality than nature. The difference is that nature is the very core, instinctual response. Personality is how you use that response. A very common example is fight or flight. It is in your nature to have a sense of fear towards a form of danger. It is in your personality to choose if you run from it or fight it.
 

TheForgottenUser

Honorary green
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Whitey
Nov 3, 2013
602
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I'd first like to ask @Zatharel what the exact resolved statement of this debate is. Human Nature just 'in general' is a massive subject. Would something like 'Human nature, naturally, is morally sound' work? Affirmative supports it; Negative tries to show weakness in it.
 

nahfackler

Peon
Aug 8, 2014
483
39
lel,
Sren you should be a psychologist because you seem to have An answer to everything.......

Human nature to me is balanced but yet unbalanced.

There are two sides the good and bad sides good people die young because they are trying to do the right thing. The bad side is everyone who falls into the sinners trap of everything bad.
 

Zatharel

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Nov 5, 2013
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I'd first like to ask @Zatharel what the exact resolved statement of this debate is. Human Nature just 'in general' is a massive subject. Would something like 'Human nature, naturally, is morally sound' work? Affirmative supports it; Negative tries to show weakness in it.
Humanity's moral, humanity's nature when threatened by something or needed to help with something and humanity's eventual downfall.
 

DistinctMadness

Old Green
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Nov 2, 2013
664
271
We've got the one side of humans at their core suck.
I find that often true. But sometimes I like to look out in the world and am like: What a badass world we have, even if we are destroying it.

Humans at their core are curious. Sometimes morbidly so, but nonetheless curious. When you see something you didn't understand as a child, you were fascinated by it and wanted to touch it or something like that. As you grew older, that drive disappears, not because you know more about the thing, but because you've been coached to not approach it for it might be dangerous.

We are also curious in that we wish to acquire more knowledge. Lets take school as an example. Everyone pretty much hates school, or at least elementary middle and high school (or Primary Secondary etc for you brits) kinda sucked right? Well that's because peoples brains are "hardwired" towards specific things. They understand specific things, and they try to learn about those specific things, and so you get artists, scientists, mathematicians, historians, etc. We all want to learn more about specific topics (or at least most of us), but often those specific topics are only broadly touched on in school, until you get to college. But yet almost everyone has fun in college, right? Well that's at least partially because you can finally study the thing that actually matters to you, rather than taking ceramics, health, and pre-calc even though the only class you care about is history.

If you're not a reader let me summarize this paragraph:
School sucks because its broad, but everyone loves to learn stuff that interests them, proving that humans are still curious and so we try to learn about what we are curious about.

Touching on sren's comment about how humans are lazy and stuff
We are lazy, seeking out convenience rather than quality
Some place i read that someone hired lazy people to do difficult task because they would find the most efficient way of doing said task. Laziness isn't always a "bad" thing. If people weren't lazy, we would still be hunter gathers, but we're not, and quite frankly I enjoy that fact.

Also going to use Forgot's topic because it makes sense
Basically if you didn't understand his topic:
Human nature is good.
Prove if this is true or false.

As for my strange fact:
The first joke recorded was, if i recall correctly, a fart joke... wait... wrong thread.
 

Srentiln

minr op since Nov 2011
Op
Oct 28, 2013
1,993
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lel,
Sren you should be a psychologist because you seem to have An answer to everything.......
My sister (who is working towards a PsyD) would kill you for that one :p


Some place i read that someone hired lazy people to do difficult task because they would find the most efficient way of doing said task. Laziness isn't always a "bad" thing. If people weren't lazy, we would still be hunter gathers, but we're not, and quite frankly I enjoy that fact.
Actually, the rise of agriculture was not due to laziness. In fact, the hunter-gatherer system is far easier work-wise than agriculture (thank you to my art history and anthropology professors for covering this topic). It is believed that when humans first saw that they could grow food, they realized the benefit for the seasons where food was more scarce.

As to the lazy workers thing, they might find the quickest way of doing the task, but unless the quality of the work and product of said work are not hindered by the reduction in time, it is not an efficient way to complete the task.
 

DistinctMadness

Old Green
Greenie
Nov 2, 2013
664
271
Actually, the rise of agriculture was not due to laziness. In fact, the hunter-gatherer system is far easier work-wise than agriculture (thank you to my art history and anthropology professors for covering this topic). It is believed that when humans first saw that they could grow food, they realized the benefit for the seasons where food was more scarce.
I was misinformed about this one. Forgot told me about it before you posted but i was curious if you might know about it.
As to the lazy workers thing, they might find the quickest way of doing the task, but unless the quality of the work and product of said work are not hindered by the reduction in time, it is not an efficient way to complete the task.
Did i say quickest? No i said more efficient, which implies that the deed was done as well as before they made it more efficient

As for the actual quote:
"I choose a lazy person to do a hard job because they will find an easy way to do it." - Bill Gates
I suppose i was a bit off in what i said, but still, making it easier to do doesn't make the product any worse. Just easier to make :p

I suppose my curiosity point seems pretty solid? That took me a while to write so i was hoping it was
 

nahfackler

Peon
Aug 8, 2014
483
39
Ok,
Here is something humans should do but really suck at
No personal offense

People can't multi task, as much as they say they Can they can't most of the time.
 

TheForgottenUser

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Nov 3, 2013
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I'm going to go with mine too... That resolution is a biased fragment. For the purposes of this debate, I'll play devil's (angel's in this case?) advocate since I don't consider myself a philosophical person, and nobody is saying human nature is fundamentally good.

Since I'm debating the affirmative and therefore have the burden of proof, I'd like to give some definitions for the purpose of this debate.
  1. Human Nature - the psychological and social qualities that characterize humankind, especially in contrast with other living things
  2. Natural - existing in nature and not made or caused by people
  3. Moral - considered right and good by most people
  4. Sound - competent, sensible, or valid
I'd like to further support my definition of moral by showing that morality is subjective. Unlike the laws of physics, there is no particle that defines morality for us. Morals and laws are social contracts, not ideas pre-existing humanity. If this is true, and morality is subjective, then what can be considered as moral is different from person to person. Some people think marijuana should be legalized, others don't; Some people think abortion is fine, others think it is a bane to society. Since there is such a huge gap in opinion from each person's views on morality, the only definition that would make any sense is the one that looks at what society believes as a whole.

Now for my main point of contention.

1) People, by their own definition, rarely consider themselves morally unsound.
~~~A. For those familiar with Dale Carnegie's famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, you'll remember that one of the recurring points throughout the book was looking at how people view the world from the others' perspective. In particular, Carnegie notes that people like Al Capone considered themselves benefits to society. This is a book that many entrepreneurs and self-made men and women cite as the most helpful book ever written. It has stood the test of time, and was written 81 years ago.
~~~B. Following the logic of C1A, if each individual considers themselves good, this is already an overwhelming majority. People like to believe that they're special, and that the 'exceptions' that prove that you are decent don't apply to others. I'd cite this simply as common sense.

I'll just start with that first contention, since this post is already huge and I'm getting bored. I'd like to hear from the opposition.
 

Srentiln

minr op since Nov 2011
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Oct 28, 2013
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I would argue that you are not proving an opposing point, but a tangential one. Someone believing they are moral falls into the ideas that people don't like to be wrong and are self-serving.

If I were to try to argue that people are inherently good, I would use infants and other species to do so. However, infants are less suitable due to their lack of ability to express their nature as they are still learning just to control their body. I would argue that other species are a good analog because their nature is rooted in the same purpose: survival.
 

TheForgottenUser

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Nov 3, 2013
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I'll grant you that most people don't like to be wrong, but I'd like to see evidence for your claim that humans are naturally self-serving. As counter-evidence, I have an observation. The observation is that plenty of people give to charity. They could instead choose to keep their food/water/clothes/money, but instead donate it, knowing that they will receive nothing in return. If people are self-serving, why do they bother? They get nothing out of the transaction, and it weakens their finances.

You've already agreed that infants are a poor metric to use when discussing human nature. I'd like to pose the question of how observing other species will grant us insights into our own nature. Humans, unlike other species, are capable of intense intellectual tasks. It may be argued that we are biologically similar to other animals, but biology does not comprise the entirety of human nature. Case in point: people forgo their evolutionary manifestations often. People choose not to have kids. People choose to commit suicide. Men like Gandhi starve themselves, ignoring their biology that would tell them to feed. Our biology does not constrain us morally in the way you would seem to suggest.
 

creeperTNTman198

Lord of the Creepers
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Nov 2, 2013
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I view morality as a human construct. There is no "good" or "bad", there is only survival and death. Decisions should be evaluated on the effect they have on a person's survival, or to use forgot's word, the "soundness" of the decision. However, "good" decisions usually have a good effect on a person's survival because society is more likely to accept them if they make "good" decisions. The concept of morality is a religious concept that comes from ancient laws that were "one punishment for all instances of a crime" law codes. I think morality is accepted in popular culture because it is what most humans use to subconsciously determine if they will accept a person or not. Most people need social interaction, which is why solitary confinement is a punishment. Sometimes, non-acceptance can even lead to death, mostly by suicide. This non-acceptance/death correlation is one reason "good" decisions can help with survival. However, in a life or death situation, "bad" decisions can be just as useful for survival, such as stealing food in a famine. In a case like that, morality would only get you killed and would be a decision that was "good" or "right", yet wouldn't help you survive and would be, in my opinion, the wrong decision to make.

I agree with sren that humans are self serving. Many people give to charity because they feel it is the "right" thing to do, and doing the "right" thing makes them happy. Doing this right thing also sometimes gives them benefits, like acceptance or tax breaks. The charity is just a means to the end of feeling good about one's self.
 

Srentiln

minr op since Nov 2011
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Oct 28, 2013
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I'll grant you that most people don't like to be wrong, but I'd like to see evidence for your claim that humans are naturally self-serving. As counter-evidence, I have an observation. The observation is that plenty of people give to charity. They could instead choose to keep their food/water/clothes/money, but instead donate it, knowing that they will receive nothing in return. If people are self-serving, why do they bother? They get nothing out of the transaction, and it weakens their finances.
That "good feeling" they get for helping a cause they find worthy is what they get out of it. And to pre-emptively counter arguments of feelings not being a reward, I will just say continuation of the species is not the only reason why people procreate (to put it as close to 'G-rated' as I can).

You've already agreed that infants are a poor metric to use when discussing human nature. I'd like to pose the question of how observing other species will grant us insights into our own nature. Humans, unlike other species, are capable of intense intellectual tasks. It may be argued that we are biologically similar to other animals, but biology does not comprise the entirety of human nature.
There have been many studies that show other species are capable of the same. Chimps solve puzzles and create tools, dolphins recognize that their reflection is an image of themselves, and baboons have shown to exhibit the same characteristic of not only passing down knowledge, but building upon it. Therefore, looking to their nature provides insight into the basis of our own. While an apple is not an orange, both are fruit that grow from trees, and you can infer some things if one from experience with the other.
 

TheForgottenUser

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I'd question what the opposition finds morally unsound about feeling good. They aren't getting anything that would help them survive. Their motivation can't be selfish by that definition. Furthermore, if you'd like to debate that there is something wrong with feeling good as a result of doing a selfless deed, it would be prudent to realize that you've now begun to debate from a point which comprises an extreme minority. Since the definition of morality for the purposes of this debate what a majority of people think, arguing from that viewpoint is quite weak. I'd cite this, again, as common sense, but should my opponent wish to challenge, I will be happy to provide evidence.

Since no formal contentions have been brought up by the negative, I'd like to know what you draw from these studies. Dolphins seeing their reflection is a fun fact, but I don't see the connection between that and how human nature, naturally, is morally unsound. Continuing, you have also not shown that animals are capable of forgoing their evolutionary instincts without human intervention. Without proper contentions on the side of the negative, the debate may as well be over.
 

Srentiln

minr op since Nov 2011
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Oct 28, 2013
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I'd question what the opposition finds morally unsound about feeling good. They aren't getting anything that would help them survive. Their motivation can't be selfish by that definition. Furthermore, if you'd like to debate that there is something wrong with feeling good as a result of doing a selfless deed, it would be prudent to realize that you've now begun to debate from a point which comprises an extreme minority.
And this is where these discussions always derail. the question isn't "is it wrong?", the question is "is it self serving?" Feeling good is, indeed, self serving. Self serving is neither right nor wrong, it is merely a fact of human nature.

Since no formal contentions have been brought up by the negative, I'd like to know what you draw from these studies. Dolphins seeing their reflection is a fun fact, but I don't see the connection between that and how human nature, naturally, is morally unsound. Continuing, you have also not shown that animals are capable of forgoing their evolutionary instincts without human intervention. Without proper contentions on the side of the negative, the debate may as well be over.
You have missed my purpose in bringing up these parallels. They are examples of how characteristics commonly thought to be defining of humans are present in other species. Ergo, it is reasonable to look at their nature when trying to define human nature.

Additionally, my point has never been "human nature is bad" despite how others have interpreted it based on the morals they were brought up with. As previously stated, each of these features was a key part of our survival.

I have to get on the road to get home now, but I would like to further explain my point with regards to you arguing a tangent rather than an opposite.
 
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