Tuesday, March 6, 2012

There is no such thing as human nature.

Lately I've kept coming back to the question of human nature. Intelligent, moral, ethical people continue to use the term as a rationalisation device as to why human beings in repetitive patterns, continue to commit atrocious acts of genocide and destruction. "It's human nature."

Let me explain something. There is no such thing. The idea that we have to destroy each other as if that is some kind of inbuilt instinct is ridiculous. The only things we /have/ to do, as human beings, is to eat, to drink, to shit, to piss, to breathe and to fuck (Sometimes not even that). That's it. Everything is else societal and environmental pressure.

I call it 1st world exceptionalism.

The 1st world exceptionalist will use phrases like "People will always X. People have always Y. People will never X and/or Y"

We will notice that when the 1st world exceptionalist use these phrases, they seem to consider themselves outside of what they define as "People". The 1st world exceptionalist believe themselves exempt. Which is not unreasonable as long as we acknowledge the truth as to why. The why being societal and environmental pressures.

To acknowledge this truth however, comes with the realization that every other human being in any society can be produced to be exempt too. Which cancels the idea that "people" are naturally anything.

We are products of our environment.

To think that human beings have some inbuilt psychological pattern that forces us to destroy each other, and at the same time to suggest that we are exempt from this rule we claim resides in our "natural" psychology is arrogant and closely linked to a superiority complex usually adopted by racists.

If this was true we'd all be constantly fighting down some natural urge to murder each other. Do we, and have we done horrible things as a civilisation time and time again? Sure. But to use that as some kind of justification for why change in human psychology is impossible is just plain wrong. If human psychology could not change we would all still be living in caves.

To suggest that it is human nature to commit these horrible acts and that societal and environmental pressure is not the cause, is to suggest that we (The 1st world exceptionalists) are somehow above the rest by some kind of divine magic.

Let me define it. If one person, or a community of people are able to become moral, ethical people who try and do the right thing by each other, every single other human being on the planet carries this same potential.

If you happen to be a person who does not carry what some claim to be a natural human instinct to be greedy and murdering pigs, this is not because you are special, it is because you are lucky. You are lucky to be born into a certain community, part of a certain society, at a certain time, with certain people to take care of you, and that you have gone through life relatively unscathed of experiences that might turn you into a more destructive kind of individual to yourself and society as whole.

That's it. "Good" individuals, are lucky. "Bad" individuals are unlucky, and in some cases insane.

"Good" individuals come about because of environmental and societal pressures in the same way "Bad" individuals come about. This is psychological and scientific fact.

In other words, the pattern of human evil and destruction that realists and ignorant fools claim to be part of human nature, is not. It is a symptom of societal and environmental pressure, which is perpetuated as an indirect result of "Good" people clinging onto this arrogant, superiority complex that the only reason we, as individuals don't carry the urge to destroy each other is because we just happen to be "better".

As an eight year old I went from knowing not a word of English to speaking fluently with a flawless accent in a period of eight weeks. This was not because I was some kind of genius, this was because of the societal pressure placed on me by my environment (Moving to London from Norway) and the natural learning ability of being a child (Which is not considered or utilised by any educational system anywhere in the world).

We all carry the same potential within us as human beings and to suggest otherwise is to suggest some kind of divine chosen superiority over the rest of the human race.

Fuck. That. Shit.

There is no such thing as human nature, and our potential as human beings is infinite.


  1. Humans are societal animals and so if anything can be called 'Human Nature' it is our need to rely upon and interact with each other. That need is what created society. Destruction and killing is opposite to that need. Does our natural desire for the company of other humans and most humans distaste for killing* imply an inherent goodness?

    I think maybe it might.

    *Most people find the idea of killing distasteful and I don't believe it's purely because of societal pressure or potential consequences. If that were true then ultra-religious arguments against atheists being moral would have a grain of truth. Our inherent dislike of killing is part of our nature - it compelled us to create a system of law and to form societies and to protect each other. It's why we fear other humans who enjoy it. We sense that their 'Human Nature' is broken.

  2. Valid points. I think we agree for the most part. The idea of goodness changes with time though, so it requires a definition. It can be radically different depending on what era and region we look at.

    I believe the idea of being good, is a product of an understanding that it is the most efficient way to live free of worry from harm. We understand this for the most part individually, but collectively we have yet to completely grasp the concept. IMHO.