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A simple "street" definition is sufficient. I'm working on a survey of what the people of our culture have as a working definition of human nature.
This sounds like an essay question, of which we only have part of the overall resources. If you have a reading list/study materials, I would recommend you look at those as your starting basis for answering this question. The reason I expect that you have these resources available is that this question is far too specifically phrased. If, however, you don't have those resources then your best bet would be to find yourself some primers on human behaviour and the human condition (with specific relation to the area you're studying i.e. psychology, sociology, anthropology) and come up with your own definition of human nature from there.
@ Thesreyn...No, this is not an essay question, this is a question based on personal study. I'm not looking for someone else to answer a question for me, I am literally asking it as a question for someone to answer with their own understanding of human nature. Even if it's just a simple and basic understanding, I'm looking for yours (anyones) description of what human nature is as they understand it growing up in their culture/society...and every society does offer an understanding being human. Thanks for evaluating my question, I appreciate that. Any feedback on how to better ask questions is always welcome. But again...I'm looking for what people have been taught about human nature on a general level, what they've been taught and raised to believe about what human nature is and what it means to the human condition as we experience it. I have abundant resources and will continue to use them, but I also consider it a valuable resource to listen to and understand what individual people have been taught about human nature.
Hoo boy, I'm thinking you'd get better results with a survey :P Though I'm not sure the sorts of questions you'd ask. Hmm... Taking the perspective of someone who is constantly foiled by the nature/nurture debate, I would have to say that human behaviour, whilst certainly innate in some aspects is primarily situationally defined. Even as we grow into our innate abilities, they are shaped by the experiences we partake in and those experiences provide opportunity for and also influence later experiences and situations. I suppose it is somewhat coincidental that the human condition is reflected in these experiences and a persons individual human condition has a somewhat symbiotic relationship with that individuals behaviour. I would argue (though I have no references) that the human condition is generated for each person on the basis of a) their own behaviour and how that affects their environmental interactions and b) the initial environment in which they were raised. This isn't to say that an individuals human condition is set in stone at some point, but that we may be able to make some inferences about their condition from these initial conditions. What does this mean for human nature? In my opinion, human nature is best defined as the amalgamation of experiences and their interaction with the genetic traits a person has inherited. Sure, that's probably a massive cop out, but the only other thing I can come up with is that human nature is pellet, because the history of humanity is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong.
Nature vs Nuture....I've heard it said, "You can only successfully nuture what is natural." However, how do we confidently define that 'natural' so it can be nutured in a healthy environment? Is it, as you say, situationally defined or is there an instinct of human nature that exists before any cultural situation defines it? You're absolutely right, "...a persons individual human condition has a somewhat symbiotic relationship with that individuals behavior." (May I quote you on this?) Our behavior is based on our condition, our natural condition as a human and our conditioning we recieve as part of a culture/society. It's the foundational needs of our human condition/nature that our behavior reflects, our behavior is symbiotic with our condition because there are needs that are either met or neglected within our human condition. One who's neglected seems to be starving, one fed seems to be healthy and the human condition/nature has 'dietary' needs as the rest of human needs has. Needs that we would classify as inhumane if neglected, intentionally or unintentionally. I'm very curious what you mean by, "...human nature is pellet, because the history of humanity is just a litany of getting pellet dead wrong." Are you saying that regardless of what definition of human nature we have, that if we are actually able to understand what behavioral needs we have as human men and women, we can't help but get them wrong anyway? That because we seem to have historially screwed up the human condition we will contine to do so? Please correct me if i'm misunderstanding this...cause i don't believe that we have to continue to screw it up. I do believe you have a point and historically we are notorious for getting human nature and its needs dead wrong, but I also understand that what we believe of human nature and the human condition has been defined by our culture/history/mythology. Perhaps, even after all our history, we have misunderstood the needs of being human...what if we've been wrong human nature and so many generations have passed that we no longer realized it?
Well, I didn't say Pellet, apparently this site auto corrects swear words :P Feel free to quote me on it! As for the later stuff, no I don't believe we're immune to the prospect of change. However our historical record shows us just getting stuff wrong all the time. Now we might be able to blame this on the nature of experimental learning in that we must go through a process of trial and error in order to learn how to do things. However, we are also capable of logical thought and rational forethought. Sadly it would seem that we do not apply these capabilities in nearly as many situations as we should. Can we change our nature? Perhaps. But I think it would require an effort on a global scale that we are just not capable of. At least not in our present fractured society. We're talking Brave New World level societal change before we can even think about changing human nature in that way.
"Pellet"...hahaha, now understand what you meant. Thanks for being direct. Reading your response, I wonder how many people feel the way you do...in that we aren't immune to the prospect of change but that our own historical record seems to crush the hope of that potential. Our history (and i believe the origination of our particular cultural history begins in the fertile crescent with the development of totalitarian agriculture, a term coined by Daniel Quinn in 'Ishmael') has been one that hasn't shown that by trial and error we can develop a lifestyle for our own people that meets their needs. You're right, our historical record shows that we get stuff wrong all the time and it's a sad example when, after 8000+ years of civilizational development we still can't meet the behavioral needs of our own people. The reason we continue to get these things wrong is a combination of our mythology, our percieved history, our culture and our social perspective of what it means to be a human being. Simply put, what we have contined to believe as a culture about humanity has defined our own interpersonal humanity and how we view ourselves. I do not believe that we have to "change" our human nature (I don't even think we can, only evolution can change what is 'natural'), what we must change on a generational scale is what we believe about our nature (our mythology and that includes what religions believe) and what we believe about being humans on this earth. When I can, I will post a few examples about what I'm referring to and what may be possible with a more honest understanding of our human nature and what a healthy human condition is.
You can't. Humans are varied in so many ways that factors within human nature cannot be completely explained. The most basic nature is survival. Also understand that human nature in America is not the same as it is in South Africa. Basic human nature consists of: Eating, pelletting, Sleeping, and fluttering. Ethics and morality aside.
pelleting = excreting, fluttering = reproducing
You can't define human nature? You can define the physical needs of being human...eating, pelleting, sleeping and fluttering but behavioral needs can't be identified and understood? Of course survival is a part of the the basic nature, that's true of every living creature on earth, plant or animal. But even animals have behavioral needs that can or cannot be met and humans are no different. Human nature has nothing to do with morality and ethics, morality and ethics exist to (hopefully) support and meet behavioral needs in humans, what is natural in humanity...why else would they exist in every tribe, civilization and culture? If a particual moral or ethic doesn't continue to meet a need, it's abandonded...that's true of tribal and civilized cultures. It's the needs being met that are fundamentally important, not the ethic, moral or law. Being a human being is no different from one continent to another, the differences aren't in their nature; it depends on if they're tribal or civlized and their particular culture defines the society that supports the morals and ethics that people are looking to meet their behavioral needs. There are behavioral needs that you have that aren't any different than the ones I have and neither of us have behavioral needs that are different from any one human that has lived on any continent in history. It's that 'nature' that exists in all of us as humans that I'm looking to understand. I would think that if we lived in a culture and society that truly met our needs, we would view what human nature is differently.
"Human nature has nothing to do with morality and ethics" how can you say that when morality and ethics are grounds for human nature, even in cave man days, or the term "common law" (the basis for morals and ethics). You can't seriously think that all humans on earth are the "same" in nature, have you actually traveled or are you just speculating? Human nature is an idea us humans have instated to explain to ourselves what we do and why we act and cannot be fully explained by specific sciences due to too many "x" factors within a given society. i.e. as an axe murderer in modern times is "more or less" the same as an axe wielding soldier in the dark ages. Human nature is an ever changing creature that cannot be pinned down because within itself it is just another "idea" to help explain to us conscious "animals" (humans) definitions of our every day existance. All BS if you ask me. ;)
I'm re-reading your points and making sure that I'm trying see what you're saying from that perspective. Clearly we disagree on what may define human nature but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate your perspective and where you're coming from on this. My intention on asking this particular question was to have responses from different view points so as to futher understand what we've generally been taught about our nature within culture. You've done that and thanks for that. When I have more time, I'll respond directly to your last post.
You seem to have one of the highest levels in history here and I am in desperate need of help on my andrew jackson project. if you cant, thats fine. if so, you'd be saving me and my grade. sorry to barge in on this....
Rebeccadb...no worries. what help are you needing?
Oh yay!!! god bless you. (if you don't believe in god then may the universe bless you) :) well im a junior in high school in ap history and its absolutely terrible. i just want to pull my hair out. i am way overdue on my andrew jackson project. i'm answering the question: Was Andrew Jackson a “Champion of the People” or “King Andrew”? and i'm agreeing that he acted like a king during his presidency. I will send you what i have so far which is my thesis and my introduction paragraph saying the 5 actions/events that he did that made me believe he acted like a king. let me know what you think ^-^
Before Andrew Jackson became president, he came off as an average man living in middle class America. He pulled his "Average Joe" persona off like a pro and got elected into the White house as a "man of the people". However, Jackson may have been a common man, but he wielded power like a king. Kings have a difficult job. They have to walk the fine line of being strict enough that the subjects won't throw a fit when they don't get what they want but at the same time not being too dictatorial or else the people will rebel. Sometimes a king can make unilateral decisions. Making these can lead to rash decisions with undesirable consequences. Jackson abolished the National Bank of America without getting permission from Congress, he used the presidential veto more than any previous president, he did not comply with the checks and balance system, the nullification crisis in which he did not allow North Carolina to nullify of the Protective Tariff of 1823 and he also fired the old aristocrats (from farming families) from government jobs and replaced them with incompetent people - this was known as the "spoils system." In Jackson’s case, he did what he wanted to, no matter how many toes he had to step on.
Alright, the facts that you've presented support the argument that he acted as a "king" rather than an "elected official". Do you have anything else written other than these 2 paragraphs? Clearly he made moves that were in his own best interest rather than the people's interest. Would you make the argument that he was one president that attempted to rule America as the European rulers had under kingdoms and that his "experiment" to rule as a king could be proven to have failed under the protection of the American Republic/Democracy?
No, this is the only thing I have written so far. Thus, making me completely stuck because I don't really know history that much. Can you explain to me what the nullification crisis is? everything I read online makes me more confused
Honestly...I haven't ever heard of it.
Just read though a brief synopsis of it. Essentially, it sounds like it was the series of events that ultimately led to South Carolina seceding from the nation. The definition of it is "Nullification is the formal suspension by a state of a federal law within its borders." Meaning that a state could suspend federal law within it's state boundaries. A recent example would be the medical marijuana act in California. Even though the state approves the federal government does not and their federal law supercedes state law.
It goes on to say "Jackson immediately offered his thought that nullification was tantamount to treason and quickly dispatched ships to Charleston harbor and began strengthening federal fortifications there. Congress supported the president and passed a Force Bill in early 1833 which authorized Jackson to use soldiers to enforce the tariff measures." In relation to Jackson acting like a king, the last thing he would tolerate would be a state excersising it's own independence. Thus, his use of force to keep SC under federal law.
Here's the link i was reading... http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h333.html
Is that more confusing, or less?
Human nature: The propensity of humans to fail to heed, or even recognize the laws that govern the environment which nourishes and maintains the existence of the species.