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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    jing du

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    Jul 4 2012: thank you for your responses.sure we have a lot of natural behaviors which are sharing with animals ,and we developed many nurtural behaviors as individuals. and we also have some natural behaviors which inherit from the cultural behaviors ,like smile ,language ,walk ... i think all the behaviors motivated by genes' desire to survive and improve.

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