THE NATURE OF MANKIND
Theories of Human Nature
“Good and Evil in Chinese Philosophy” by C. W. CHAN
Man is not naturally good, Hobbes claimed, but naturally a selfish hedonist -- "of the voluntary acts of every man, the object is some good to himself". As human motives were, in their natural state, guided by unenlightened self-interest, these could, if left unchecked, have highly destructive consequences.
John Locke's philosophy of empiricism saw human nature as a tabula rasa. In this view, the mind is at birth a "blank slate" without rules, so data is added, and rules for processing them are formed solely by our sensory experiences.
Of the State of Nature. Chapter 2. (Second Treatise of Civil Government)
In his early writing Rousseau contended that man is essentially good, a "noble savage" when in the "state of nature" (the state of all the other animals, and the condition man was in before the creation of civilization and society), and that good people are made unhappy and corrupted by their experiences in society.
Freud believed that destructive forces are present in all individuals, and thus man is by nature, an essentially anti-social and anti-cultural being.
150.19 FRE The Major Works of Sigmund Freud. pp. 767-802 “Civilization and its Discontents.”
Marx's Concept of Man by Erich Fromm 1961
Marx did not believe, as do many contemporary sociologists and psychologists, that there is no such thing as the nature of man; that man at birth is like a blank sheet of paper, on which the culture writes its text. Quite in contrast to this sociological relativism, Marx started out with the idea that man qua man is a recognizable and ascertainable entity; that man can be defined as man not only biologically, anatomically and physiologically, but also psychologically.
Humanistic psychology is a value orientation that holds a hopeful, constructive view of human beings and of their substantial capacity to be self-determining. It is guided by a conviction that intentionality and ethical values are strong psychological forces, among the basic determinants of human behavior.
TIME MAGAZINE: The Rediscovery of Human Nature
TIME MAGAZINE: Behavior: Skinner's Utopia: Panacea, or Path to Hell?
Our Dark Hearts: The Stanford Prison Experiment
Stanley Milgram: Obedience to Authority Or Just Conformity?
When Situations Not Personality Dictate Our Behaviour
Evolutionary psychology attempts to explain psychological traits—such as memory, perception, or language—as adaptations, that is, as the functional products of natural selection or sexual selection.
The Social Psychology of Evil: Can the Law Prevent Groups From Making Good People Go Bad?
The Social Psychology of Evil: Can the Law Prevent Groups From Making Good People Go Bad. By: Crump, David. Brigham Young University Law Review, 2008, Vol. 2008 Issue 5, p1441-1464, 24p. Database: MasterFILE Premier.
Simon Baron-Cohen Interview
An interview with autism researcher Simon Baron-Cohen is presented: his interest in research on evil and cruelty, his ideas regarding Germany's persecution of Jews in the Holocaust and the role or absence of empathy in acts of cruelty.
Is evil really innate?
The murderers of James Bulger have been demonised as evil, as if they were born that way. But is evil really innate? And do we need religion to explain the ills of the world?
Of men and monsters. Eagleton, Terry. New Statesman, 4/5/2010, Vol. 139 Issue 4995/4996, p28-31, 4p
Database: MasterFILE Premier.
Getting Away from It All
(Lord of the Flies)
Beck, Stefan. “Getting Away from It All.” New Criterion, vol. 34, no. 2, Oct. 2015, p. 30. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com
ABC News story Evil: Nature or Nurture
Berkley Nature vs Nurture article
Trinity article Nature vs. Nurture
Additional Websites on Nature vs. Nuture
PBS | NOVA Online | Cracking the Code of Life - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/genome/debate.html
TIME Magazine - http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,789690,00.html
Washington Post –
Discovery Education –
National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine (PubMed.gov) –
Psychology Today –
Discovery News –
Business Insider –
Literary Criticism: Discussions of Evil in Macbeth(c) Council Rock High School South Library
Updated December 2018