Human Nature Essay Example
Human Nature Essay Example

Human Nature Essay Example

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  • Pages: 8 (2046 words)
  • Published: November 9, 2017
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The Evil Nature of Man: An Essay on Human Nature People today enjoy the many pleasures life provides, including entertainment and technology, all the while living longer than ever before.

This would not be possible, if it were not for a government that protects it’s citizens from danger and promotes peace. Humans are evil by nature, and therefore require some form of power in a society that will protect each person. This evil is described in a interview with a U. S.

oldier who after returning from Iraq, found his evil nature to control his emotions toward Muslims, until he was able to join their group, an become a member of their society. Thomas Hobbes, an English Philosopher from the 17th century, wrote a book on the subjects of human nature and also its relation to g


overnment. In Leviathan, Hobbes states in Chapter XIII, “Nature hath made men so equal in the faculties of body and mind…” referring to the idea that every man is created equal (41). Hobbes goes on to say, “from this equality of ability ariseth equality of hope in the attaining of our ends”.

While every man is created equal, they are also created with the wants and desires to attain their hopes, goals, and dreams, which can cause for conflict if two men wish for the same thing, yet cannot have it (41). This idea leads to Hobbes next point that “from this diffidence [shyness, almost fear] of one another, there is no way for any man to secure himself so reasonable as anticipation; that is, by force, or wiles, to master the persons of all men he can so long till he

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see no other power great enough to endanger him” (42).Hobbes talks of the inability of man to get have what he wants. As an equal in the society in which he exists, each man thinks he should be able to have whatever it is he wants, even when others also want the same. These men will battle for the object of interest, along with all others who desire said object, which eventually results in a war.

This war only ends when one man defeats all the others, and no one else exists to threaten him.There is always a war of this type going on, although it may not be for the same reason, with every man’s actions being uniquely his own, not being judged by God, with no rules, no justice, and the only thing that can stop the war is each man’s fear of death (Hobbes 43,44). Because of his negative view about human nature, Hobbes believes that in order to live in peace and happiness instead of war, we must give up certain liberties to the state (45). We each have rights, with certain rules Hobbes defines as essential to our nature.

Hobbes starts out by claiming that the right of Nature “is the liberty each man hath to use his own power as he will himself for the preservation of his own nature”. The claim is followed with this explanation of liberty: “the absence of internal impediments; which impediments may oft take away part of a man’s power to do what he would, but cannot hinder him from using the power left him according as his judgment and reason shall dictate to him” .

Hobbes is saying those liberties which man keeps may be used as he wishes, but those given up to the state are lost for good reason, mainly to prevent constant war.The first law of nature explains that man cannot harm or take his own life, as it is against nature. The next law basically sums up the previous points of man having right to all, and wishing to have peace, but when it is not attainable, the right to defend himself. The second law of Nature is where Hobbes sums up his claims, saying “that a man be willing, when other are so too, as far forth as for peace and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men as he would allow himself”.

This idea of men giving up certain rights to ensure peace is the basis for Hobbes’ view of human nature, with each man giving up the same rights as others, so that one man does not have certain rights while another does not have those rights. Man in this view is considered equal, just with a more powerful, united being (as described by Hobbes in Leviathan as a giant made of many different people, operating all the different body parts (40)) known as the State, watching over and protecting its people.Of course with this State, the idea of the third law of nature comes into view, with people of the State “perform[ing] their covenants made”, having each man follow the rules of the State, which is able to determine for itself what is just

and unjust. The violent nature of man is thwarted through the existence of the State, which every man gives up certain rights to, yet gains security and peace from, allowing them to live with instead of war, the pleasures of industry, invention, culture, exploration: all the things that make life worth living (Hobbes 42).

This is evidenced by our culture, where most men and women are able to go about their daily lives, enjoying all the pleasures in our society, while our government protects each of its citizens from threats. The only thing we as citizens have to do in return is follow the laws of the government. Another Philosopher, John Locke, took a view that was opposite of Hobbes. In his work “Of the State of Nature,” Locke feels that since humans were all equal, left to their own devices, they would be able to establish their own form of government that they themselves could control.The argument made starts off in a form similar to Hobbes idea of two men having the same goal, yet in Locke’s situation, one man invades another’s rights, and the man who was invaded is allowed to exact his own revenge on the other for the wrongdoing.

Later, Locke points out that men cannot judge their equals due to many factors, so “God hath certainly appointed government to retrain the partiality and violence of men”. The idea actually goes back to Hobbes’ own understanding of human nature, such that some governing body must control humans, be it a state, a commonwealth, or government, however different each is.Still, the major claim of Locke’s is that man understands the need for some form

of society to rule over him, where Hobbes’ man only gives up his rights to prevent war and live with peace. Inherently embedded in Locke’s mankind is a “do unto others…” attitude as illustrated by this sentence: “ How should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire, which is undoubtedly in other men, being of one and the same nature? Hobbes says the complete opposite of this idea, with every man simply out for himself, doing anything and everything to attain what they wish.

To trust all men as being honest and following a “do unto others” credo does not seem too wise, especially when men continue to fight everyday, and show a nature that does not reflect that of Locke’s understandings. In an audio program from NPR, an Iraqi Soldier returning from Iraq provides a good example of the evil nature of humans. The soldier, Sam, was having trouble adjusting when he returned from Iraq.More specifically, he had post-traumatic stress disorder, which caused him to “freak out” whenever he saw a person that looked like a Muslim. To help himself, Sam decided to join the Muslim Student Association (MSA) club, where he was be surrounded by people of Middle-Eastern descent (18:30).

By putting himself in the society of which he was most afraid, Sam was able to assimilate himself into the culture of the club, and understand that others in the club were persecuted because of their appearances.Because Sam was able to see that the others in the club were just normal people, he was able to become part of the community and

share the group’s understanding of their culture. With his new understanding of the Muslim culture, Sam was able to see the real people he thought he was afraid of, not just the image of what he thought about Muslims. Sam was able to overcome his prejudices against all Muslims by understanding the culture of the Muslim Student Association.

When in Iraq, Sam had to fight Muslim people because they wanted to fight him.Hobbes would describe this event as the diffidence of humans and striving for the same goals (43). In the MSA, Sam becomes of the club, which allows him to stop feeling the need to defend himself, and instead enjoy life and its many pleasures, including industry, arts, religion, and all the other things that make a culture what it is, which is just what Hobbes believed. The pleasures previously mentioned, such as the arts, industry, and religion, make up the culture of a specific society, and all influences the values each culture holds dear.In the view of Hobbes, it is stated that during times of war, “there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture on earth”(42).

It can be understood that the people existing in such a time would have to give up all elements of their culture in order to fight and attempt to win. Without the government, there would be no ability to even develop cultures, since each warring person is against every other, and cannot even have socially accepted norms of battle, leading to the idea that nothing in such a war is unjust (Hobbes 43).In the story from NPR, Sam was able to

understand the culture of Muslims through the MSA club, and see how major and subtle differences made the Muslim culture and his culture so similar, and yet unique at the same time (Lustig 84). Without the ability to produce a culture (and subsequently, values, beliefs, and norms of that culture), we as a people would be unable to communicate, be it through the use of verbal codes (234), our orientation to the world (102), or our social relations (96). Verbal codes, according to Lustig and Koester, “cultures provide preferred ways for people to organize and convey thoughts and feelings (235).

Even if someone speaks English, if they do not assemble the words into a sentence that makes sense, it may just sound like they are saying a bunch of words that really have nothing to do with each other. IF no one understands another, interaction with others is fairly limited, and communication is really out of the question. Next, our “World-Orientation” is seen as rather separate from others in the World, so we as U. S. citizens look at other people as different simply because they are not exactly like us (102).

Much hostility between U. S. citizens and other nation’s citizens occurs mainly from the views of U.S. citizens that think they are different from others, and therefore also better. Finally, Lustig and Koester describe “social relation orientation” as “how the people in a culture organize themselves and relate to one another” (96).

U. S. citizens often have very open social relations, and are able to address their professors on a first name basis, while other cultures in the world require respect for elders (97). All these

elements may determine whether something is acceptable or not, but can only be understood based on the view of cultural values one holds to be true.

Works Cited

  1. Devil in Me, The. ” Ira Glass. This American Life. Chicago Public Radio.
  2. 7 Sept. 2007. Hobbes, Thomas. “Excerpts from Leviathan. ” Enduring Questions for an Intercultural World. Ed.
  3. Barbara Rolleston. Berea, OH: Baldwin-Wallace College, 2006. 40-47 Locke, John. “’Of the State of Nature’ from Two Treatises of Government.
  4. ” Enduring Questions for an Intercultural World. Ed. Barbara Rolleston. Berea, OH: Baldwin-Wallace College, 2006. 48-52. Lustwig, Myron W.
  5. and Koester, Jolene. Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication across Cultures. 5th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2006.
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