By Adam's fall into sin, "human nature" became "corrupt." although it still bears [God's] image." The Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament, teaches that "sin is universal." For example, "I was sinful at birth," says Psalm 51:5. Jesus taught that everyone is a "sinner naturally" because it is mankind's "nature and disposition to sin."Paul, in Romans 7:18, speaks of his "sinful nature."
Such a "recognition that there is something wrong with the moral nature of man is found in all religions" Augustine of Hippo coined a term for the assessment that all humans are born sinful: "original sin." "Original sin" means "the tendency to sin innate in all human beings."
"The corruption of original sin extends to every aspect of human nature": to "reason and will" as well as to "appetites and impulses." This condition is sometimes called "total depravity." Total depravity does not mean that humanity is as "thoroughly depraved" as it could become. Commenting on Romans 2:14, John Calvin writes that all people have "some notions of justice and rectitude . . . Which are implanted by nature" all people.
Adam embodied the "whole of human nature" so when Adam sinned "all of human nature sinned" The Old Testament does not explicitly link the "corruption of human nature" to Adam's sin. However, the "universality of sin" implies a link to Adam. In the New Testament, Paul concurs with the "universality of sin." He also makes explicit what the Old Testament implied: the link between humanity's "sinful nature" and Adam's sin In Romans 5:19, Paul writes, "through [Adam's] disobedience humanity became sinful." Paul also applied humanity's sinful nature to himself: "there is nothing good in my sinful nature."
The theological "doctrine of original sin" as an inherent element of human nature is not based only on the Bible. It is in part a "generalization from obvious facts" open to empirical observation.
A number of experts on human nature have described the manifestations of original (i.E., the innate tendency to) sin as empirical facts.
Biologist Richard Dawkins in his The Selfish Gene states that "a predominant quality" in a successful surviving gene is "ruthless selfishness." Furthermore, "this gene selfishness will usually give rise to selfishness in individual behavior."
Child psychologist Burton L. White, PhD, finds a "selfish" trait in children from birth, a trait that expresses itself in actions that are "blatantly selfish."
Sociologist William Graham Sumner finds it a fact that "everywhere one meets "fraud, corruption, ignorance, selfishness, and all the other vices of human nature." He enumerates "the vices and passions of human nature" as "cupidity, lust, vindictiveness, ambition, and vanity." Sumner finds such human nature to be universal: in all people, in all places, and in all stations in society.
Psychiatrist Thomas Anthony Harris, MD, on the basis of his "data at hand," observes "sin, or badness, or evil, or 'human nature', whatever we call the flaw in our species, is apparent in every person." Harris calls this condition "original sin."
I am able to think, therefore I exist. A philosophical proof of existence based on the fact that someone capable of any form of thought necessarily exists. Descartes has famously stated that "I Think, Therefore I Am". What it means is that we can not doubt our own existence. However, essence precedes existence and therefore it exists a priori.
As our existence is fixed and is perceived by our mind to be so, in the same line of argument something that precedes this existence should also have the same characteristics. This characteristics has been inherited by existence. Therefore, we can conclude that the essence of human nature has absolutely fixed characteristics.
The term "human nature" refers to characteristics that humans tend to have naturally. This is a deep question; the traditional view in Western philosophy is that the essence of a thing is more fundamental than its existence. Are humans the same? According to Christian, Muslim and Jewish theology humans are created by God, we are objects and subjects of God. So in a religious context, the human essence existed in the mind of God before humans existed. Many atheists accepted this despite dispensing the premise of God. They assumed humans possessed an essence that preceded their existence. Jean-Paul Sartre held a completely opposite view; there is no fixed human nature because there is no God to give it. He argued that in order to take atheism seriously, one must not only abandon the concept of God, but abandon any concept derived from and dependent on God. When I think of human nature, I think of innate tendencies; ways of thinking, feeling and acting that humans have naturally. There are many examples.
The concept of nature as a standard by which to make judgments was a basic presupposition in Greek philosophy. Specifically, "almost all" classical philosophers accepted that a good human life is a life in accordance with nature.
On this subject, the approach of Socrates—sometimes considered to be a teleological approach—came to be dominant by late classical and medieval times. This approach understands human nature in terms of final and formal causes. Such understandings of human nature see this nature as an "idea", or "form" of a human. By this account, human nature really causes humans to become what they become, and so it exists somehow independently of individual humans. This in turn has sometimes been understood as also showing a special connection between human nature and divinity.
However, the existence of this invariable human nature is a subject of much historical debate, continuing into modern times. Against this idea of a fixed human nature, the relative malleability of man has been argued especially strongly in recent centuries—firstly by early modernists such as Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In Rousseau's Emile, or On Education, Rousseau wrote: "We do not know what our nature permits us to be." Since the early 19th century, thinkers such as Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, structuralists, and postmodernists have also sometimes argued against a fixed or innate human nature.
Still more recent scientific perspectives—such as behaviorism, determinism, and the chemical model within modern psychiatry and psychology—claim to be neutral regarding human nature. (As in all modern science, they seek to explain without recourse to metaphysical causation.) They can be offered to explain human nature's origins and underlying mechanisms, or to demonstrate capacities for change and diversity which would arguably violate the concept of a fixed human nature.
There is tension in the world between two partially true beliefs -- both of which claim evidence from evolution. These two views are:
1. "People are basically good and just need to be nurtured and freed"
2. "People are basically bad and need to be controlled to keep from killing each other"
Given the tremendous evidence on both sides, perhaps it might be useful to consider a third thesis that embraces both of them:
3. "Human nature is not one thing, neither 'good' nor 'bad' overall. People in general have been genetically endowed by evolution with a wide variety of tendencies and capacities that respond to -- but are not necessarily controlled or determined by -- their environment. And so we see all sorts of individual and cultural behaviors, providing evidence to defend virtually any assertions about 'human nature.'"
We might therefore conclude that our challenge at this stage of evolution is to recognize that 'human nature' is richly diverse and flexible. Perhaps our task is to use our powers of consciousness, intelligence, and choice to explore the full range of who we are and can be in various circumstances, aiming both to accept our whole selves and to co-create more life-serving, meaningful and joyful ways of being together.
Among the things we might take into account is the evocative power of our assumptions about ourselves, each other, and what's possible. For example, elementary teacher Jane Elliott did a famous experiment in 1968 in which her young students behaved -- with unexpected intensity -- according to her assumptions about how bright and competent they were. One day brown eyed kids were smart and blue eyed kids stupid, and the next day the opposite. Her results suggest that in many circumstances our assumptions about each other have a profound effect on which aspects of us show up in the world. And this is only a small piece of what is going on within us and among us. We have much more to learn about this and other dynamics if we wish to consciously and wisely engage our full evolutionary heritage as humans.
We could also develop evolutionary versions of political philosophies like liberalism, conservatism, anarchism, libertarianism, and communitarianism. Each of these worldviews invokes key facets of human nature that other philosophies downplay or disparage. Since, from an evolutionary perspective, all facets of our humanity have a certain functionality under particular circumstances, evoutionary reframings may allow for integrating these embattled ideologies into more inclusive, holistic, and benign political worldviews.
We are the ones we've been waiting for -- and we are all we need. We just need to live into being the people and societies we know we need to be. Evolution has much to teach us about the full pallette of humanity that's available to us, and the interplay of our strengths and weaknesses in the world we face -- a world which we and evolution have made.
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