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Dániel Boros

Is Human Nature Good?

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By human nature I mean feelings, emotions and instincts.

Do hunger, lust and emotions help us in making decisions or are they an obstacle to rationality.

If they help, why?

Do I eat to survive or do I eat because I am hungry? Which is right and which is wrong?

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Thanks :smartass:

Definitions of human nature in objectivist philosophy tend to be incredibly vague.

They emphasise the rational part and ignore the emotional.

My problem is that humans will feel certain things in certain situations and act rationally to gain the object of their love or lust, but there's nothing that ensure that what their feelings makes them wish for is good for them.

For example what if all man had anorexia? If your nature would be to not eat and act to achieve that, than you would die. If that is the case a person may do the wrong thing by not eating since such an action would not be in his own rational self interest.

Objectivism denies all forms of predestination, and that includes genetic predestination as well, right?

So what makes human nature good? Human nature is what it is and it isn't necessarily good.

Or is it :)?

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Objectivism emphasizes the rational part and ignores the emotional? I would actually use this as part of a validation of what CptnChan asserted, were I so inclined.

Of the 60+ references I can find that state "human nature" specifically, most point out the contradictions that other ideologies embrace or endorse as human nature. One reference by Leonard Peikoff in the Introduction to The Letters of Ayn Rand,

In 1934, she wrote a letter to thank an actor she did not know, whose performance onstage "gave me, for a few hours, a spark of what man could be, but isn't .... The word heroic does not quite express what I mean. You see, I am an atheist and I have only one religion: the sublime in human nature.

Or in her words: "Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man's relationship to existence." Fundamental nature of what? Man?

In this sense, what makes human nature good is the human being (volitional by nature) who chooses to be of a good nature.

Ironically, the example of anorexia you use is the one Peikoff used to highlight the metaphysically given as against the man-made.

The fact that man's life requires food is metaphysically given; the fact that some men, such as ascetics or anorectics, prefer to starve is man-made.

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"Is human nature good?"

The question itself is invalid.

Good by what standard? Good, by Objective standards, relates to values which promote the existance of a being according to its nature. Therefore this evaluation is dependent upon a valuer. To judge all of humanity as "good" or "bad" implies that it must be beneficial or detrimental to some other being. If such a being exists and the question is adjusted accordingly, then it can be answered. Otherwise the question begs intrinsic moral premises.

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Ironically, the example of anorexia you use is the one Peikoff used to highlight the metaphysically given as against the man-made.

The fact that man's life requires food is metaphysically given; the fact that some men, such as ascetics or anorectics, prefer to starve is man-made.

That makes sense.

Even though I might feel like not doing something that doesn't mean that action isn't good objectively and vica versa.

Lets say I have a fetish for killing green people on sundays. That is something that I shouldn't do even if I would like to do it.

Lets say I am genetically predisposed to love my children and so I am happy when I am taking care of them. That is certainly not a bad thing, but I can't really say that it's a good thing since its just a different "fetish". Is it simply good because it is not bad?

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Do hunger, lust and emotions help us in making decisions or are they an obstacle to rationality.

I'd say they're definitely an obstacle to rationality - and in that I'd include lust for money or material gain. Are you trying to acquire items out of a rational desire or out of lust? Will it actually improve your happiness or lead to innovation - or will it just satisfy your irrational lust? I can see it being very possible that some of the more wealthy proponents of objectivism support the philosophy not out of rationality, but merely because they consider it to be a justification for their irrational lust. Perhaps the way to tell is by seeing whether or not those people are innovative and productive.

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Good or bad is determined by what you have a choice to act upon. That which promotes your life is good while that which harms it is bad. Emotions are physical reactions that humans have to stimuli based upon their value judgment. They basically act as a very complex pleasure/pain mechanism to your internal thoughts. Emotions as a concept are neither good or bad since they are the metaphysically given and are part of the basic nature of man, but the choices you make that shape your value judgments or the decision you make to how you decide to proceed after receiving the pleasure/pain response can be good or bad.

Human nature simply is. What you do with it from there is up to you.

Does that help?

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By human nature I mean feelings, emotions and instincts.

Do hunger, lust and emotions help us in making decisions or are they an obstacle to rationality.

If they help, why?

Do I eat to survive or do I eat because I am hungry? Which is right and which is wrong?

The hunger indicates that you are in existential danger. It says to you " eat or die." However it will not tell you what actions you have to take in order to obtain food. Sexual drive will not tell you how to find the love of your life. Unlike animals, you don't have an automatic hard-wired program which will guide your actions to obtain values in order to survive and flourish. This is a job for your mind. Rationality is an essence of human nature and the only tool of man's survival. Since man's life is the only objective standard of value, the human nature is good. Any attempt to ignore this aspect of human nature is detrimental to life and therefore bad.

Edited by Leonid

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Human nature -- with our mind, emotions, drives, instincts, etc. -- naturally pushes us in the direction of individual survival and personal happiness, and in the direction of social cooperation and collective prosperity. So, yes, human nature is morally good -- both personally and socially. :)

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i mean not only in Human Nature but also with many other species those things to be seen. but as humans we think we are way ahead of other species when it comes to human condition and human nature. at least some of us are, but nevertheless here is a brilliant piece of article i found recently about human nature and human condition. read it and let me know what you think about it.

http://www.worldtransformation.com/human-nature/

Thank you

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i mean not only in Human Nature but also with many other species those things to be seen. but as humans we think we are way ahead of other species when it comes to human condition and human nature. at least some of us are, but nevertheless here is a brilliant piece of article i found recently about human nature and human condition. read it and let me know what you think about it.

http://www.worldtran...m/human-nature/

Thank you

I don't think that the goals of conciousness and the goals of "instincts" (reflexes, hormonal drives, whatever our brainstem does) are opposed. They were all developed for our survival. Our nervous system and our endrocrine system do a good job working together to make life nice imo.

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By human nature I mean feelings, emotions and instincts.

Do hunger, lust and emotions help us in making decisions or are they an obstacle to rationality.

If they help, why?

Do I eat to survive or do I eat because I am hungry? Which is right and which is wrong?

I think that, to an extent, our instincts and emotions are detrimental to rational decision making. Many instincts were developed for survival in a world far more primitive than the one we live in today. Most instinctual reactions to fear, danger, etc. are meant for physical threats, but today we see them manifesting in response to situations where they are no longer helpful (i.e., situations where adrenaline and physical reactions don't help), causing anxiety and poor decision-making.

But at the same time, things like hunger and thirst are very helpful, imo. If your body didn't tell you to eat, you'd have to worry about consciously remembering to eat and drink all the time. The fact that our body takes care of this leaves us more attention to devote to thought.

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Most instinctual reactions to fear, danger, etc. are meant for physical threats, but today we see them manifesting in response to situations where they are no longer helpful (i.e., situations where adrenaline and physical reactions don't help), causing anxiety and poor decision-making.

Good point. Best example I can think of is 'fight or flight' when it comes to public speaking or job interviews, where what you say really 'matters.' Life would be so much easier without that bio-response.

Edited by mdegges

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