TED Conversations

Ryan Alexander

This conversation is closed.

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.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jul 3 2012: All humans do have a foundation, who they are in terms of their human nature. Humans are animals after all. We have desires, urges, we hunger and do what we need to in order to survive. That is innate to each of us. But humans are special in the sense that we can choose whether or not we listen to our hunger and urges, unlike other animals. Who we are is what we ourselves determine. Sometimes it isn't about nature or nurture. Sometimes it is just about the individual. Nurture and nature are factors but I believe they are only small parts.
    Our life experiences can influence our behaviors but at the same time each person reacts differently to the same experience. The book 'The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother', is about how different parenting is needed for different children. We are all different. We all do different things with our nature and nurture to create a unique person.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.