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The true nature of humans

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by moley, Nov 7, 2002.


  1. Everyone is basically 'evil' - greedy, selfish, 'sinful' - by nature, we were born this way

    35 vote(s)
    32.7%
  2. Some people are inherently good, some are inherently evil

    52 vote(s)
    48.6%
  3. Everyone's true nature is love, without exception. No-one is truly evil

    20 vote(s)
    18.7%
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  1. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I am genuinely interested to know people's opinions on this subject. I'm not trying to start arguments, I really just want to know what people think. But, of course, Mods, if you think this is inappropriate, or it turns into a holy war, do what you must...

    So, what do you guys think...

    1) Everyone is basically 'evil' - greedy, selfish, 'sinful' - by nature, we were born this way.

    2) Some people are inherently good, some are inherently evil.

    3) Everyone's true nature is love, without exception, no-one is truly evil.

    I'll start the bidding with a vote for the 3rd category, call me naive if you wish...
     
  2. people are selfish by nature, but i don't know if you want to call that evil. it just takes lots of training to ingrain ideas that we should act for the benefit of society as a whole. there's no such thing as a morally "good" 3 year old - someone that age simply doesn't have the faculty. if a 3 year old is behaving like an angel, it is either to avoid punishment or be rewarded (santa claus).
     
  3. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Wow this is a tough one for this early in the morning.
    I'm not really sure what the answer is so here is my thinking on it.
    If people were inherently good then the job of parenting wouldn't really be necesary. We would just have kids and they'ed all turn out great because we are all inherently good. We wouldn't need guidence and religion and laws to get us to do the right things in life.
    On the other hand after having had two kids and being there at they're births, how could I believe that someone could be inherently evil. I think we are never closer to God than we are as infants and children. So in that case evil comes from outside of ourselves. So I guess I'm going to be optimistic and have hope for us humans and say that our true nature is love.
    Of course all of the above assumes normal people without severe chemical imbalances and little voices in their heads
     
  4. yoshi

    yoshi

    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    i voted option 3. I dont fully aggree with it, but its the closest. I feel that a persons personality/behaviour is almost fully determined by their upbringing. Then again some guitarists are brought up good...:rolleyes:

    i jest.
     
  5. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    NY
    Humans are born selfish, greedy, needy, spitting, shi-ing little barbarians, which is why it takes two parents to raise one, and why it takes a human almost 1/4 it's life to fully mature (As opposed to many other animals that reach maturity in a fraction of the time).

     
  6. dkmonroe

    dkmonroe

    Jul 3, 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    I think you're missing an additional option here:

    Human nature is good, but part of the "goodness" of human nature is the power of will, and humans can will to do good things or bad things.

    In this view, human nature is noble in its capacity for good, but fallen in its capacity for evil. Everyone has the capacity for evil within them, it's just a question of how far that capacity gets excercised. Some people stop at white lies and traffic violations, other people get as far as mass murder and tyranny.

    Will is GOOD because it makes us free. However, that also means we are free to choose evil, so the consequences of our choices are often bad for ourselves and others.
     
  7. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Plants do not have self destructive tendencies. Niether do animals.

    Humans have this ability. With that being said, humans can also produce more than they consume.

    We can be charitable. Being Selfish is as much a virtue as it is considered a sin.

    Selfishness is the only way humans can survive. Selfishness is looking out for one's "self-interest".

    Ask yourself..."Will I give up the bread of my children for someone else's children?" Or.."Will I give up bread for myself for a Stranger".

    It probably depends on 2 things: 1) Your bread supply 2) Your need at the moment of the request.

    Those are questions only you as an individual can answer.

    Leave it to others to debate your reasons.
     
  8. IMO nobody is inherently good nor inherently evil, we are all shaped by society, understand this any way you wish to.
     
  9. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Interesting viewpoints people, keep 'em coming! A couple of observations...

    Of course, people have different definitions for right and wrong, but assuming that everyone basically wants to be happy and to live in harmony with others - religion and laws don't do this! We don't need them to do this, because they don't do this, the way we've set them up. Frankly, religion doesn't work, if this is the purpose. I'm not knocking religion, I'm not saying it's bad, but if it's purpose is to help us to be happy and live in harmony - it doesn't work. This is observably so. Because, it creates separation. Religion has divided the people of the world, not unified them - there are many people who genuinely believe that theirs is the only right religion, and all others are going to hell! This is not unity. The Christian religion has also taught people to live in fear - fear of God, fear of doing what pleases them, fear of sex, fear of going to hell... This is not happiness! Now, I'm not judging Christians here, or their religion (indeed it would be innacurate to say that all Christians, and all strains of Christianity believe and teach this) - but if you want to be happy, fear does not serve you.

    I see this is where definitions of 'selfish' start to come into question. When I said selfish, I meant self-serving at the expense of others. Rather than merely looking out for one's own self-interest. Selfish in the sense of self-serving at the expense of others arises out of fear, I believe, whereas looking out for one's own highest interest arises out of self-love. Two very different things!
     
  10. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I've never met anyone in the flesh who hasn't got their flaws or who could inspire me to trust that they would do no wrong, even given plenty of opporunity (even if only through the effects of a few selfish choices rather than deliberate maliciousness). I don't think that humanity is a sea of miserable, grovelling and wicked worms but I see plenty of evidence that no-one is untainted by what you could call evil, wickedness or merely 'sin'.

    Therefore, I'm quite happy to go along with the concept of fallen humanity, as expounded by the teachings of Christianity.

    Note, I'm not suggesting that there aren't a lot of nice people out there, who are relatively good pretty much all of the time; simply that I see plenty of examples of 'sinful nature' even in those I greatly love and respect, and therefore I consider that my theology fits what I find around me.

    Respectfully yours,

    Wulf
     
  11. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    I feel that the first option is more truer to the mark..

    Not evil in every sense, but just the way evolution has made us.

    Natural selection says that the biggest, smartest, strongest will survive while the weakest will not. Therefore, we unconsciously are always trying to outdo each other.. or put others down to make ourselves better and ensure that we will get our chance to "survive".

    All the time we're comparing ourselves to each other physically, mentally, socially.

    "Im stronger than you."
    "Im better-looking than you."
    "I can play bass better than you."

    Especially in kids and adolescents who can be exceptionally cruel when they so desire.

    You see it a lot in other animals too... Im mating rituals, many animals have attributes that attract males / females of the species ( ie colors, scent glands, special calls). During ruts, males constantly battle with each other to earn the chance to mate. We as homo-sapiens are really no different..

    We go to the gym and work-out..
    We wear cologne and perfumes...
    We adorn ourselves with fashionable attire and jewels...
    Women are always after that size 2...
    Men are after that "V" physique...

    Why? All to make ourselves "better" than the other person.. To ensure we get the "most desirable" mate and therefore ensure that the "superior" genes will continue.

    We cant help it... Thousands of years of evolution has told us that we have to do this stuff to survive...

    This I feel leads to our tendency to be selfish, bully-ish, & domineering

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Humans I feel are also inherently violent in nature.. We see it everyday, and some of us experience it every day.. Raod rage is an excellent example..

    When some one cuts you off while driving on the freeway... what is you're first reaction???

    a) Feel sympathy for that individual who's obviously having a bad day and forgive him.

    b) Roll down the window, toss up "The Finger", and shout out some rather obscene comments about their sexual orientation or the preferred coitus practices of their mothers/fathers/aunts/uncles/brothers/sisters....

    Id say that 99% of the time example "b" is more common. Unfortunately some people take it a step further and the results are often time deadly.

    Humans are animals.... We have to work at being nice... Being nice is NOT in our nature...
     
  12. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    I agree with your points on religion. I was using religion as an example of the kind of tool society uses to keep people in line. You know, with all those thou shalt nots and stuff
     
  13. Fishface

    Fishface

    Jul 26, 2002
    Denver, Colorado
    I'd say that #3 is the closest to what I think.

    I think that people are born innocent & in innocence we love. But as life goes on hurts, social training, & misunderstandings accumulate, which can cause bitterness, hate, & bigotry.

    But we have a free will. We can choose to overcome the negatives with positives.

    As far as children: foolishness is bound up in children, & they do dumb things sometimes with no evil intent. It is up to the parents to teach them that some behavior is not acceptable.
     
  14. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Indeed, I'd agree with that - but here we're talking about what's normal, not what's natural. Our society is such that it's normal to take option b) in that situation. But I don't believe it is natural.

    progzilla, I'd agree with your observations of what people do - but I think these demonstrate what is normal, not what is natural. And it is only normal because we have made it so.
     
  15. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    Id have to say it is natural to an extent... Much in the same way animals become violent over the territory they claim..
     
  16. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    But also in children (very young children in fact) is a selfishness that you cant deny is there from the beginning... Bigger kids will take away a smaller childs toys when they want it... Scientific researchers chronicle dominant / subordinate traits in children from extremely early ages..

    Yes, we do have a free will. My point was we have to "try" to be good... We have to put forth an effort to "do the right thing" as opposed to the wrong. Why? Because it's what's more natural for the animal inside us.
     
  17. Fishface

    Fishface

    Jul 26, 2002
    Denver, Colorado
    I would say that taking the toy from another child would qualify as foolish behavior that needs to be corrected. It is not neccesarily an evil act. Now if the child decides over time that he is not going to obey his/her parents & take the toy anyway, there is most likely a reason behind that. That takes me back to the thought that hurts/misunderstandings/social-training can cause to to choose to be "evil".

    Also, dominence is a personality trait that needs to molded into leadership. That takes it from foolishness to wisdom (or the beginning of wisdom).
     
  18. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    I never said a child was "evil" in his / her actions.. Just that simply it's in our nature to act and behave in the way we do. We dont "want" to share.. We want to keep it all to ourself. Parents "make" us share with our siblings and it makes us mad. I have a brother so I say this from experience.. I never "wanted" to share my toys with him... I never "wanted" to share my candy with him... I was "made" to by my parents... I'd wrestle him to the ground to prove I was stronger than he was and therefore proved that "I" was the "Big Kahuna" in the house. Now true that with age comes wisdom and we can ignore those feelings and (hopefully) do what is right. But, those instincts are always there...

    We desire what we can't have...
    We covet our neighbor's wife....

    We dont want to, but we can't help it. Why? Because it's in our nature to do so.


    No, my comments in no way were to label actions as good or evil... simply stating that naturally we tend to behave and act in certain ways.
     
  19. Fishface

    Fishface

    Jul 26, 2002
    Denver, Colorado
    -------------------------------------------------
    "But also in children (very young children in fact) is a selfishness that you cant deny is there from the beginning... Bigger kids will take away a smaller childs toys when they want it... Scientific researchers chronicle dominant / subordinate traits in children from extremely early ages..

    "Yes, we do have a free will. My point was we have to "try" to be good... We have to put forth an effort to "do the right thing" as opposed to the wrong. Why? Because it's what's more natural for the animal inside us."
    -------------------------------------------------

    In the last statement you said we have to try to be "good".
    I think that we have to try to overcome foolishness to do things that will not cause hurts in other people. These hurts cause people to be evil in their intents. Doing "bad things" is not neccesarily evil. But it can cause evil thru the hurt/misunderstandings that is causes.

    I think what you are saying in "bad" is the same thing as my "foolishness". Sounds like more of this "misunderstanding" that I mentioned.

    I think of evil as bad intent as opposed to stupid actions.
     
  20. British

    British

    Sep 5, 2002
    Well I guess everyone is inherently evil, but "evil" really isn't the right word. Looking out for yourself isn't necessarily "evil" and to say that it is, well... I'd better stop here before I get political.
     



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