TED Conversations

Ryan Alexander

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Do humans have a "Human Nature" or are our behaviors motivated by our cultural backgrounds?

I have this conversation with thinkers all the time. In my opinion any beginning philosopher must identify their idea of human nature before they can move forward with their idea's about the world or about an ideal world.

Some individuals that I have talked to though have brought up the point of nature versus nurture. That possible fact that the ideas of the west that humans need instant gratification, are greedy and selfish may only apply to societies that allow this ideology to flourish and prosper.

So, I guess the real question is...is human behavior motivated by a universal "human nature" or is human behavior learned through culture? Are we really all that different?

I personally don't believe so.


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  • Jul 2 2012: Not everyone is self absorbed in nature, but, we do things that we want to do. We do things that interest us. Why would we do something someone else wants us to do if that is what you want to know. The reality is that sometimes you need a reason to do things for other people, it would make sense if you have free will right? There are reasons to be ethical and care for others. I will not justify them here as this is not the proper forum for me to get off topic, but, if people gathered enough information before making a selfish action, their actions might not be so selfish.

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