The Nature of Our Nature

 

In recent threads, there’s been some back and forth regarding Mankind’s nature and some… speculation as to how attitudes about it correlate with political ideology. I’ve my own theories on the matter, but I think more might be gained at this point from asking than guessing (differences tend to get exagerated in debates, so it’s sometimes best to take a step back and explore each other’s first principles). So, Ricochetti, here’s this morning’s assignment:

  1. Do you believe Mankind to be inherently good, wicked, or neither? Explain briefly.
  2. Which philosophers and/or theologians do you identify with on this subject (bonus points for providing a representative quote).
  3. How do your answers above inform your political philosophy?
Published in Politics, Religion & Philosophy
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  1. Freeven Member
    Freeven
    @Freeven

    Kay of MT:Titus Techera:

    Children do learn evil fast enough, but I still believe they are born innocent, no matter how miserable they become later on.

    I draw a distinction between innocence and goodness. A child is born innocent in the sense that it is naive and guileless. In its innocence, it may act selfishly (“Mine!”) or strike the household pet without malice. Goodness (or evil) requires some understanding of consequences and some ability to step outside one’s self, which develop over later.

    • #61
  2. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    anonymous:

    I’m not sure what you mean by “above us”.

    Meaning.

    A scientist cuts down a tree and counts the rings.  A woodsman cuts it down and builds a house.  But an artist tries to capture its meaning.

    A rose is red, its stem is green, it is fragrant, etc.  But it also possesses beauty.  I suppose you would argue we’ve created the idea of beauty because it has some evolutionary benefit.  But it seems to me that beauty must exist in itself in order to first be known.

    So to the good.  The good being something we discover and not something we define.

    • #62
  3. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Casey:A scientist cuts down a tree and counts the rings. A woodsman cuts it down and builds a house. But an artist tries to capture its meaning.

    A rose is red, its stem is green, it is fragrant, etc. But it also possesses beauty.

    Is there an assumption here that the rings are not beautiful to the scientists, or the house to the woodman?

    Sometimes I wonder if non-science-geeks simply don’t see how much of science is driven by a sense of aesthetic satisfaction.

    • #63
  4. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Casey:A scientist cuts down a tree and counts the rings. A woodsman cuts it down and builds a house. But an artist tries to capture its meaning.

    A rose is red, its stem is green, it is fragrant, etc. But it also possesses beauty.

    Is there an assumption here that the rings are not beautiful to the scientists, or the house to the woodman?

    Sometimes I wonder if non-science-geeks simply don’t see how much of science is driven by a sense of aesthetic satisfaction.

    Let’s just that if you’re a non-science type, you might get the connection between sensing a whole & beauty. It’s easier to realize that putting things together is the job of poetry, making wholes up of things which do not seem that way, like day & night in day.

    • #64
  5. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Casey:A scientist cuts down a tree and counts the rings. A woodsman cuts it down and builds a house. But an artist tries to capture its meaning.

    A rose is red, its stem is green, it is fragrant, etc. But it also possesses beauty.

    Is there an assumption here that the rings are not beautiful to the scientists, or the house to the woodman?

    Not at all.  Simply a quick illustration.

    In fact, if we look at the modern artist we can see a distinction with the classical artist.  A modern artist will take a pile of trash and display it in a museum and say something like “I want people to see the beauty in this everyday stuff.” Or maybe attach some new meaning to it, like it being a statement about American consumer culture or something.  But it really only reflects the meaning of trash.

    This illustrates the modern notion that everything is beneath us.  That meaning is what we put into stuff.  Rather than the more classical notion that there is a world to seek above us.  That stuff is reflective of meaning.

    A woodsman can see utility and beauty.  But does he?  More often that not today, I think he doesn’t.  Or if he does, the beauty is only in the utility.  Like the bumble bee and the rose.

    • #65
  6. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    For what it’s worth, I’d describe the experience of doing science as far more like the experience of doing classical art than modern art (having done all three, though admittedly not much of the modern-art stuff).

    • #66
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