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Human Nature: good or bad?


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mshabsovich mshabsovich is offline
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03-Oct-2007, 12:13 AM #1
Human Nature: good or bad?
would you say that human nature is good or bad? why? provide an example of why it is good or bad? im doing english HW and i am a bit stuck.
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03-Oct-2007, 01:07 PM #2
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Originally Posted by mshabsovich
would you say that human nature is good or bad? why? provide an example of why it is good or bad? im doing english HW and i am a bit stuck.
That depends. If you believe in God and that the Bible is His word then you will hold to the idea that human nature is bad because the sin nature is in all of us. You might support that with the idea that children dont need to be taught how to be bad..they do that all on their own, they have to be taught to be good. (thats just one example)

If you hold to the idea that human nature is good then you can point to the human ability to love and protect and also the desire to help others (these can be God-given traits or just a product of socialization)

very general ideas there and nothing too deep...hope it helps.
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03-Oct-2007, 02:30 PM #3
Good and bad does not have to do with God and the Bible. People can be good without ever practicing Christianity. And many of the worst mass murders in the world were done under the Cross. (Crusades and Inquisition). That would be the "bad".

I've never heard anyone utter the words" Bad Buddhist!"

I believe it is the individual choice to act a certain way and morals instilled from the social perceptions as well as inflicted emotional damage. Ironically, those treated horribly, in most cases, grow up to be great individuals whereas those treated well in "good" homes grow up to fit the <cwlmst> mold.
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03-Oct-2007, 05:29 PM #4
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Originally Posted by mshabsovich
would you say that human nature is good or bad? why? provide an example of why it is good or bad? im doing english HW and i am a bit stuck.
i'd have to say good, in general....in spite of all the "bad" that has been done, we are at 6 billion and counting, with countless families and social networks carrying on the busniness of life without overwhelming "badness" holding sway over them

most people's lives are not a struggle against the badness of other people....they are a struggle against the simple fact that life has no guarantees, which makes it beyond compromise and often times downright hard.
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04-Oct-2007, 12:40 AM #5
Neither/both. Without one, you can't have the other. Without bad people, you'd never know the good.
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04-Oct-2007, 06:44 AM #6
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Originally Posted by johnnyburst79
Good and bad does not have to do with God and the Bible. People can be good without ever practicing Christianity.
we are not talking about practiced behavior...we are talking about human nature. People are not robots. They have the ability to distinguish between wrong and right. Yet we all choose to do what is wrong more often than not. People know its wrong to gossip, but they do it. They know its wrong to take advantage of others, but they do it. They know its wrong to lie but they do it. They know its wrong to take things out on the people they love, but they do it. Ask yourself why.

Human nature is selfish and self-seeking and thats why we do bad things..because its in our nature to do so. You have to actively fight against that nature to be a well adjusted member of society and a "good person". (now I am talking totally outside of the religious realm here so no one thinks I am trying to turn this into a big religious discussion)

Quote:
many of the worst mass murders in the world were done under the Cross. (Crusades and Inquisition). That would be the "bad".
you're just proving my point that people are essentially bad. Evil things are done in the name of religion all of the time. It has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with whats inside a person's heart.

Quote:
Ironically, those treated horribly, in most cases, grow up to be great individuals whereas those treated well in "good" homes grow up to fit the <cwlmst> mold.
well gee..I guess i'd better start smacking my kids around so they will have a chance to be good people when they grow up.
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07-Oct-2007, 11:26 PM #7
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Originally Posted by valley
we are not talking about practiced behavior...we are talking about human nature. People are not robots. They have the ability to distinguish between wrong and right. Yet we all choose to do what is wrong more often than not. People know its wrong to gossip, but they do it. They know its wrong to take advantage of others, but they do it. They know its wrong to lie but they do it. They know its wrong to take things out on the people they love, but they do it. Ask yourself why.
Because humans are creatures of habit, that's why. Good habits as well as bad. Which is why I'd question the stuff I underlined - can you really quantify it like that? How do you know what we choose to do more often than not? Who is "we"? You can speak with experience for a limited group of friends, but not for all of humanity.
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Originally Posted by valley
Human nature is selfish and self-seeking and thats why we do bad things..because its in our nature to do so.
Isn't it also in our nature to do good? Isn't the feeling of warmth you get in your heart when you share or do something positive universal to all of humanity? If so, how do you quantify which we do more often than the other?
Quote:
Originally Posted by valley
You have to actively fight against that nature to be a well adjusted member of society and a "good person". (now I am talking totally outside of the religious realm here so no one thinks I am trying to turn this into a big religious discussion)
I think all it takes is habit - if you form bad habits, they're hard to change, but the same is true of good habits.
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Originally Posted by valley
Quote:
many of the worst mass murders in the world were done under the Cross. (Crusades and Inquisition). That would be the "bad".
you're just proving my point that people are essentially bad.
What he's saying is irrelevant to whether or not "most people" are essentially bad. That's the case because most of the evil that has transpired in the world has been caused by a small minority of the people in it, whether religious or not.
Quote:
Originally Posted by valley
Evil things are done in the name of religion all of the time. It has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with whats inside a person's heart.
What's inside a person's heart varies by the individual. Again, I'm back to the point of quantifying which one outweighs the other - good or bad?
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08-Oct-2007, 06:48 AM #8
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Originally Posted by BanditFlyer
most of the evil that has transpired in the world has been caused by a small minority of the people in it, whether religious or not.
What is your definition of evil?
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08-Oct-2007, 08:53 AM #9
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Originally Posted by valley
What is your definition of evil?
Same stuff you and Johnny were discussing - the stuff that's gone on in the name of religion(and sometimes for other reasons) - murder, genocide, etc.
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08-Oct-2007, 02:41 PM #10
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Originally Posted by BanditFlyer
Same stuff you and Johnny were discussing - the stuff that's gone on in the name of religion(and sometimes for other reasons) - murder, genocide, etc.
lol...thats not what we were discussing. Johnny brought up religion and I said that I thought the issue could be discussed apart from religion.

The original question was: Is human nature good or bad?

I'll go back to my original example of a child. Put a toddler in a room with another toddler and watch how they will fight over a toy. The more aggressive toddler will take the toy...the weaker toddler will cry and the other child has no remorse. Thats human nature...to want everything to be your way without any regard for others. You can only get toddlers to share and show kindness after you've taught them the importance of those things. We, as adults are products of society and we know what is acceptable and what is not because we've been taught how to be that way. But at our most basic human level...we are self-serving, "bad people". You have to actively work against that nature in order to be considered a "good person".

So thats my story and i'm sticking to it.
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08-Oct-2007, 02:44 PM #11
My mother told me I was a good baby..........................
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08-Oct-2007, 03:42 PM #12
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Originally Posted by valley
I'll go back to my original example of a child. Put a toddler in a room with another toddler and watch how they will fight over a toy. The more aggressive toddler will take the toy...the weaker toddler will cry and the other child has no remorse.
That is not human nature, it is the nature of the animal kingdom. From baby birds stealing worms from their siblings in order to grow stronger and kill their siblings to baby tigers fighting over meat. The toy is the only thing to fight over and therefore the prize. All animals, man included, fight for survival from the instant of birth.
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08-Oct-2007, 07:43 PM #13
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Originally Posted by Stoner
My mother told me I was a good baby..........................
Yes, I was a perfect angel for my mommy too.
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14-Oct-2007, 01:11 PM #14
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Originally Posted by valley
lol...thats not what we were discussing. Johnny brought up religion and I said that I thought the issue could be discussed apart from religion.

The original question was: Is human nature good or bad?

I'll go back to my original example of a child. Put a toddler in a room with another toddler and watch how they will fight over a toy.
Try taking away the toy - what happens then?

Quote:
Originally Posted by valley
The more aggressive toddler will take the toy...the weaker toddler will cry and the other child has no remorse. Thats human nature
Isn't it also human nature to share? Where does sharing come from?

Quote:
Originally Posted by valley
...to want everything to be your way without any regard for others. You can only get toddlers to share and show kindness after you've taught them the importance of those things.
So the question then becomes, where did these things originate?
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Originally Posted by valley
We, as adults are products of society and we know what is acceptable and what is not because we've been taught how to be that way.
And what is that society a product of? Doesn't it all spring from human nature? Doesn't the good spring from human nature as well?

You seem to be saying that the stuff that comes from within us is all bad, and the only reason we have any good in us is that the good comes from outside of us. But where does the stuff outside of us come from? Isn't human society a product of human nature? And if so, doesn't the good stuff in society come from human nature just as surely as the bad stuff does? If it(the good stuff we learn from society) doesn't come from human nature, what's the source of it? What's the source of society's goodness if not human nature?
Quote:
Originally Posted by valley
You have to actively work against that nature in order to be considered a "good person".
But why would a person who was "bad" chose to work against their bad nature?

Quote:
Originally Posted by valley
So thats my story and i'm sticking to it.
This is a very interesting discussion for me I hope we don't get fixated on defending a certain viewpoint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyburst79
That is not human nature, it is the nature of the animal kingdom. From baby birds stealing worms from their siblings in order to grow stronger and kill their siblings to baby tigers fighting over meat. The toy is the only thing to fight over and therefore the prize. All animals, man included, fight for survival from the instant of birth.
If you look at the nature of aggression, it's only by way of accidents that most animals kill others of their own species. Competition forces a certain measure of aggression, but humans are among the only animals who actually take that aggression to the level of making it fatal. Killing your own species appears to be "unnatural". (I got that from Konrad Lorenz's On Aggression in case you're interested)

Quote:
Originally Posted by valley
You have to actively work against that nature in order to be considered a "good person".
Why do we work against it in the first place? What inspires us to work against it? If it was in our nature to be bad, would we bother to fight the badness inherent within us? Would we try to work against it at all?


This is a great thread!

I'd love to hear from mshabsovich about his homework assignment and just get some feedback in general.
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14-Oct-2007, 04:17 PM #15
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Originally Posted by BanditFlyer
Try taking away the toy - what happens then?
If an adult takes it then he will cry bitterly until he learns to understand the reasons for the removal of the toy.
Quote:
Isn't it also human nature to share? Where does sharing come from?
The same place love comes from.

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But why would a person who was "bad" chose to work against their bad nature?
Because there is an emotional benefit that people get in being "good". The brain releases endorphines and such that give us a nice feeling. Endorphines are like a good drug thats you know is good for you...the experience is good so you want it again and again. Thats the only way I can explain in from a secular POV anyways. After that, I have to go beyond the way the human body was designed and look for reasons why we are wired this way.

Quote:
This is a very interesting discussion for me I hope we don't get fixated on defending a certain viewpoint.
well...for me, this is where it ends because you know the direction I will eventually take. I do believe that you can observe the essence of human nature in someone who has no discipline or self-control. If you want to go deeper, it becomes a matter of philosophy and you end up with no more answers than when you first began.

Personally...I have found answers already but you are not open to that POV, as indicated in your statement above so I will bow out in order to prevent the direction of the thread from taking a religious turn.

I will say this: Its too bad that rational human beings are so willing to explore human behavior and wonder about how certain thoughts and feeling originated...yet they are unwilling to explore the spiritual realm or apply those ideas to human behavior. Is it a fear of the unknown? A fear of looking foolish? Or a total denial of anything that is spiritual? I dont know.....

Quote:
Why do we work against it in the first place? What inspires us to work against it? If it was in our nature to be bad, would we bother to fight the badness inherent within us? Would we try to work against it at all?
once again...I know how to answer that but I said that I would not bring religion into this so I will leave you to search for answers from a secular standpoint.

I still stand by my original point..that human nature is bad and that it can be observed from early childhood. But what you are asking requires the application of philosophical ideas. In a nutshell...you rarely can observe spontaneous selfless sacrificial behavior in small children. Not unless they have seen it modeled to them or taught to them first or if they can somehow discovered on ehteir own that its in their own best interest to do so.

This is all imo, of course.

Quote:
I'd love to hear from mshabsovich about his homework assignment and just get some feedback in general.
Yeah, I look forward to hearing which way he decided to go too.

Good talking to you, Bandit.
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