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Does human nature exist?

It would seem that there are animal, vegetable and inanimate natures which determine how an entity is. Is there also a human nature? Does it aid or go against experience and logic to say that human nature does or does not exist?

As words can be used in different ways, I would clarify that the word nature is used in two ways; First, to speak of nature in terms of the commonality of all of existence. (The wind, the botanical world, the sun, biological processes etc. etc. ) This is not the sense of the word that I am asking of in this discussion.

The Second sense is to note what would specify something. This is the sense of the word for this discussion. It would be of subsistent quality(s) which adhere(s) as a specifying set of characteristics and define a being according to his capabilities and the purpose towards which he exists.

  • Sep 18 2012: I'm not even sure what this term "nature" means, but I would agree that there is something unique about humans--let's face it, we're weird!

    I wonder how many animals are on computers, talking about how they are different than us? I would say less than five. But seriously, we are unique in (as far as we know) the entire universe! How many calories/kJ of energy are we using up (electricity, food, etc.) just sitting here, typing out our thoughts on whether or not we are different than other animals? And get this--we didn't evolve to communicate this way! Odds are, our parents didn't teach us this behavior (my parents have trouble with checking their email at all!), we learned it through language! Finally, I would like to put forward: tan(Θ) = sin(Θ)/cos(Θ). Now find me a gibbon that can even begin hold a good conversation on that one!

    The point I'm trying to make is that at last, I've found a thread that seems to want to talk about how weird and unique humans are, and I find this refreshing. Sure, we fall into and have our place in the natural world, but we hold a unique place therein. Does this seem to strike a proper balance: A part of nature, BUT unique in nature?
    • Sep 19 2012: Your comments went further than any I have seen. They just seem...common sensical. It seems like so many people are losing the idea of the forest because he sees a tree, but then can't say what kind of tree it is and can't even say what a tree is.

      Yeah, I can relate to part natural and part unique. After all, we sure seem like animals in ways. But we are different too. I think it is that we have intelligence.

      And what you said about language...its true. That is our little way of 'evolving". I have never thought of that before. That we can do something without the force of nature giving it to us the way animals need instinct. Fascinating. Thanks for your thoughts.
  • Sep 17 2012: Human nature exists. This is obvious.

    And to each and every human, it is completely obvious what human nature is.

    And we all disagree with each other.
    • Sep 17 2012: Really? You can say it is completely obvious but no one can say what it is? If it were comletely obvious then whey would anyone disagree?
      • Sep 17 2012: A mystery, isn't it.
        • Sep 18 2012: Evidently not to you. You are able to state what no one else can know. Care to share your insight?
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          Sep 21 2012: Would you be hinting at self interest perhaps?
  • Sep 17 2012: Human nature is to survive. 'Survival of the fittest', as it's been coined.

    War, murder, annexing of land, disenfranchisement et cœtera are all examples of human beings acting out their 'animal instinct', if you will, to further their own DNA. It may not seem so simplistic on face value, with politics, religion, economy et al often obfuscating the fundamental goal. But, it always come down to one denomination of human being ensuring the furtherment of its own genes; over another's, if necessary.
    • Sep 17 2012: How then do I consider my beautiful grandmother in your definition? All of my life she prompted me towards gentleness for no other reason than to be kind.


      Is your definition how one should think of you, i.e. that you only mean to further your "own genes?" Is that why you answered this post? If not then, I would say that you fall out of the definition of human nature which you offered.
  • Sep 17 2012: its not safe to assume "yet". that human nature is different than animal or any other entity's nature.
    there is no political right answer to this question.,
    i don't think there is such thing as human nature . 'human nature" may just a language thing, like when you say 'barbaric nature", or "sophisticated nature" (or something like that!)
    if you really want to see 'human nature' then take a look at babies, or just HUMANS themselves.
    yes i understand how the world we created leads us to act, think, and function differently than if were to live in nature , and survive of nature. but when you think about it, humans have always designed a system in how to live. from old civilizations, to Indians, to the current day. and animals do that too bytheway. i know that maybe the human being, from long ago (when supposedly they didn't know much) , or the human being living in "a natural place" (survival man) may act and behave differently , nut even humans from today's world can find a lot of Things in common with those other humans. there too many ways to 'BE' like, for us humans to find a definite answer. im guessing we are a part of the universe, and there isn't an unique or different 'human nature" for us humans, OR the is no such thing as 'human nature" -and the term came to existence with something having to do with language.
    babies are an interesting to look at, for this subject.!
    • Sep 17 2012: From your reply, you denied three times that human nature exists. However, twice you offered that a baby can tell us of human nature. Perhaps you can elaborate on what you meant to say bc it is not evident. Did you mean to say that a baby shows nothing and therefore there is no human nature?

      In any case, to say that there is no human nature is to say that there are no humans. That we are the same as everything else? Does everything else have a nature?

      If you contend that there is no human nature, do you actually practice this ie. Consider of everything, or at least all animals, as though they cannot be grouped in any way? If so, do you tend to group animals as humans or do you group humans as though they are animals. Or do you even see a difference? If there are no natures, then how would you explain the human tendency to invent a word that denotes a human and another word that denotes an animal? Or for that matter, why would a word like nature even be employed?


      As words can be used in different ways, I would clarify that the word nature is used in two ways; First, to speak of nature in terms of the commonality of all of existence. (The wind, the botanical world, the sun, biological processes etc. etc. ) This is not the sense of the word that pertains to this discussion.

      The Second sense is to describe what would specify something. This is the sense of the topic for this discussion. It would be a subsistent quality(s) which adheres as a specifying set of characteristics and define a being according to his capabilities and the ends towards which he exists.
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    Sep 21 2012: I would suggest that human beings, have the bodies, and parts of the brains, of an apex predator species, tearing loose through all the known world, like dinosaurs. Layered on top of that however, we have a new dimension of creativity previously unparallel in the animal kingdom, and the physical structure to utilize that new creativity, to manifest almost anything that can be imagined in the material world. There's also 7 billion of us, so there's not enough room or resources for all of us to actually build all these amazing things we want.

    That is the nature of being a human being. The chaotic line that cuts between destruction, and creativity.
  • Sep 20 2012: Many times in these TED conversations, someone will begin or end an argument by using the phrase "its human nature." When used in this way, "human nature" is a model of humans and human behavior that we have consciously and unconsciously built in our brains.

    Consider the process of building this model. New born babies will respond differently to humans than to non-humans. (Human nature is obvious.) So to some small extent, our understanding of "human nature" is inborn. From day one forward every single interaction of a baby with a human contributes to building this model of "human nature." Some children who are raised in a completely positive environment will trust any adult. These children must be taught to distrust strangers. Children raised in very negative environments find it very difficult to learn to trust anyone. So at a very young age, our models of "human nature" can be very diverse. (We all disagree with each other.)

    So now we are scientific minded adults, and we are trying to discern what is the actual nature of humans. A big part of that challenge is to become aware of how much of our individual model is unconscious. Part of that challenge is to carefully define the terms we use. Part of that challenge is to recognize how small is our personal experience of humans, compared to the population of the globe.

    There are two basic aspects of defining the nature of an entity. First, what similarities do all humans share. Second, what are the differences between humans and other entities. We should be able to make two lists, and that would define human nature. Unfortunately, this approach is very frustrating when applied to humans, because humans are very diverse and have much in common with other animals. Computer programs and crows can solve problems that science once thought only humans could solve.

    One of the basic tenets of science is usefulness. Of what use is a definition of "human nature"?
    • Sep 21 2012: "So now we are scientific minded adults, and we are trying to discern what is the actual nature of humans. A big part of that challenge is to become aware of how much of our individual model is unconscious. Part of that challenge is to carefully define the terms we use. Part of that challenge is to recognize how small is our personal experience of humans, compared to the population of the globe."

      Well, now you start to lose me because if we seek understanding of what is unconscious then we seek understanding of what is inaccessible. I don’t think this is a part of human nature that we can speak about. It would be pure conjecture with no experience to stand upon. Yes, though. Defining is good.

      The smallness of our personal experience can be problematic because it can take many people and many discussions to amalgamate the knowledge. That said, even though all are taught by others, one small man can make a world of difference. Cf. great inventors, philosophers etc.
    • Sep 21 2012: "There are two basic aspects of defining the nature of an entity. First, what similarities do all humans share. Second, what are the differences between humans and other entities. We should be able to make two lists, and that would define human nature. Unfortunately, this approach is very frustrating when applied to humans, because humans are very diverse and have much in common with other animals. Computer programs and crows can solve problems that science once thought only humans could solve.

      One of the basic tenets of science is usefulness. Of what use is a definition of "human nature"?
      "
      I am seriously impressed with this paragraph. You are speaking of the nature of definition which is to offer the specific difference of an object in a particular genera. So the genera would be found in the similarities and the most specific difference would be found in the differences between human and other entities.
      I do not think it is so hard though, or frustrating. Try this on for human nature…Human nature is a rational animal. That definition would line up with reality and would insert well into the discovery of compatible ethical systems, metaphysical understanding and various philosophies of life such as politics.
      Now we do part ways with your last 3 sentences. First of all Crows nor any other animal every “solves” something unless what you mean is a pure use of the power of physical estimation whereby a crow, or a human for that matter, simply figures how to physically manipulate. I am thinking of the little toy with the metal ball that you have to get in all of the holes. There is no real reasoning involved. It is all estimation of balance and distance etc. So, a crow could do something similar . If hands were not needed
    • Sep 21 2012: . And it can remember to…hence maybe an obstacle of having to remember where a seed was planted. Animals have memory. But solutions whereby an understanding of something occurs is purely human.
      And as regards science, the tenet of usefulness should not be a tenet. That is a reduction of science and a modern development. All science first began in wonder with the world. To divorce the scientist from the idea of what something is, is to cause his work to be exactly what you suggest it is…an object of use which prejudices the observational motives of a scientist. Pure use is unreasonable. It is a dogmatic, predefined position by people who hold a nominalistic idea of reality. this is where the “usefulness” of human nature arrives. To know how to interact with it and what to expect from it. I will give you an example. A misunderstanding of the nature of irrational animals has led to the current craziness where if some people could, they would make it an imprisonable offense to kill an animal or its young. And, they would be all for extending rights to animals which are useless to that animal. However, they would have no problem in allowing the destruction of an unborn human.
      Another example is the reduction of something to how it may be used. An understanding of human nature prevents humans from being used because of the ramifications of what it means to be rational…which is, because of that rationality, immortal.
      • Sep 23 2012: Just a couple quick points.

        The comment about crows has an historical context. At one point thinkers thought that humans were unique in our problem solving ability, and suggested to define man as the problem solving animal. Since then we learned that crows, among other animals, can solve problems. Check out these videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=1RI7-fDLaqU
        I found that through Google, crow solves problem.

        Of what use is a definition of "human nature"?

        This question was meant literally. Once you have a definition of human nature, what will you do with it? For example, how do you expect to apply this knowledge to problems of politics or romance? How do you expect the definition to be helpful. If you have a good understanding of how the definition will be used, it will help you develop a better definition. (Some philosophical problems can be effectively approached from the perspective of an engineer.)
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    Sep 18 2012: There may be more nature to human nature than we once knew about. Medical studies have discovered that there are more healthy colonies of microbes in the human body and appear to outnumber human cells 10 to 1. They come in many varieties and may affect a variety of aspects of human health, ranging from pH balance on the skin to protection against tooth decay, intestinal infections, and sexually transmitted disease.

    An research organization has been funded to study this aspect of our human nature called the Human Microbiome Project (HMP). This project is focused on characterizing the microbial communities found at several different locations on the human body. http://commonfund.nih.gov/hmp/

    This TED video of Bonnie Bassler’s Ted Talk reveals how the symbiosis of Microbes and human beings is transforming our idea of what the human nature really is. I found it mind blowing.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/bonnie_bassler_on_how_bacteria_communicate.html
    • Sep 18 2012: Thanks, but the question pertains to human nature and not what grows on a human.
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    Sep 17 2012: The human animal is apart of nature, thus humans have a nature.
    • Sep 18 2012: Thanks. So what is his nature? The dead leaf next to me is a part of nature too. Am I the same as that leaf. Maybe see the definition I wrote of above.

      ...of subsistent quality(s) which adhere(s) as a specifying set of characteristics and define a being according to his capabilities and the purpose towards which he exists.
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        Sep 18 2012: So your question is, what is the absolute nature of human beings?

        Well I am no cognitive researcher or biological scientist, but like all nature, humans are built to survive and that supervenes into the psyche. So thoughts are limitless, while our ability to act on them are limited.

        [Edited] We have a lot of capacities, capabilities, patterns, personalities, intelligences, behaviors, abilities, etc, etc. But, how it all works together, well those answers are being illuminated more and more today. How we are built individually is only unique because we have this abnormal ability of metacognition - we can change our nature and who we are to a high degree to essentially become very different than the person we were - not entirely, but in a great deal of traits, mannerisms and cognition.

        When the nature involves anticipation of change and is constantly changing, that nature is difficult to measure.
        • Sep 19 2012: Nicholas thank you for your response. It gave me much food for thought. Here are a few responses to your ideas.
          If every act has an object, then what is the object of being a human. What is THE overarching object? While there may be many objects, I contend that the highest "most specific to that species' power “is the object that defines a nature as being that which is most specific to that species. That object, for a human, is to be rational . So, I contend that our nature is to be rational. We are animals too so I would say that human nature is to be a rational animal.


          I would take a little side track from you. I understand that many physical researchers are still learning of humans. But I would contend that because of the understanding of what it means to be a human is lacking that, indeed, we are only particularizing our understanding of “human” more and more so that every year we actually think of humanity as less and less human and more of some nonsensical amalgam of physical traits which we have no principle to join into (bc we think we will gain a unifying principle through empirical science)

          I respectively disagree with you on the idea that we can change our nature. I have never seen someone do that. I am going to do everything tomorrow that I do today ad infinitum until I am stopped by sickness or death. I do not see that we can change traits or cognition although we can function more aptly or less so depending on a host of variable. But those processes are set as per human nature. Manners change, yes, if you mean what we choose to act upon insofar as we can choose.

          I do not believe that nature is “difficult to measure” bc it cannot be measured at all. It has no quantity. It can be spoken of in terms of how well it functions. A human can choose to disregard his nature. So, for example, I can take a hallucinogenic that obfuscates my ability to rationally think and end up eating someone's face off. That act of drug use was irrational
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        Sep 20 2012: Perhaps a goal or striving point of humanity is/should be rational(ity) - indeed, I can get behind that knowledge claim. Buddhism says a lot about such a claim to understanding the 'mind'.

        However, I stand by my point in suggesting the meaning of our life is the same as all life... Survival. Now what our survival instincts does is create a metaphysical driving force to dominate the universe. This driving force overrides rationality. This survival force creates an innate desire to be the champion species (and all animals share this instinct). Being the best, is not rational - coexisting is rational, yet, obviously as human nature dictates in history and presently - we could care less about animals who differ from us (including when we identify other humans as different 'animals').

        Our nature being a vague sense of 'rationality' is more idealistic than realistic.

        Scientific research is the process of creating atomistic determinations about nature - to do so takes theory based on other theories and research. While you and I can make a theory of human nature, we should still rely on what science has to offer to justify those holistic ideologies.

        Now while you believe human nature cannot be measured, you also contend that it cannot change?

        Well usually what cannot be measured easily, is always changing in a manner that is beyond theory and evidence... So, I think you defeated yourself here. Just because our theory of the mind is incomplete does not mean it will not be completed and is not in the process of being completed.

        Of course we can change our nature.

        Look at personality theory - there is no unified, accepted and universal theory of how persona works, but we all agree there is in fact a personality to every human.

        If our nature has a persona, and we self actualize that personality, we can change our personality, thus we can change our nature.

        Thank you.
        • Sep 20 2012: “Perhaps a goal or striving point of humanity is/should be rational(ity) - indeed, I can get behind that knowledge claim. Buddhism says a lot about such a claim to understanding the 'mind'.”

          To be rational is not a goal. It is our nature through which we act. To act in accord with our nature would be the goal (and not predetermined) as humans are the only entity, living or nonliving, that have the capacity to act against their nature. (That could be another TED question.) I would like to read of what Buddhism states on the mind. Can you write on it? By the way, why do you place mind in quotation marks? And, of what use is Buddhism to your idea that human nature is about survival. Buddhism is about death…death to desire of anything…including survival.
        • Sep 20 2012: “However, I stand by my point in suggesting the meaning of our life is the same as all life... Survival. Now what our survival instincts does is create a metaphysical driving force to dominate the universe. This driving force overrides rationality. This survival force creates an innate desire to be the champion species (and all animals share this instinct). “
          So you are saying that the meaning of life (survival) is the same as human nature? But “meaning” is more than survival. It is a purely rational concept. If survival were our nature, then what purpose is knowledge? I propose that we would be better off as insects or bacteria if survival is our end. We should have been prevented from living (in a reductionist biological view of life) long ago.
          Did you mean to use the word ‘metaphysical’? Metaphysical means non-material reality and would not be part of any instinct which is a biological reductionism. And while on the word, ‘instinct’, since when does insinct create anything? Instinct is a predetermined, already present, nonrational form of knowledge which can only be disobeyed if superseded by a stronger instinct. It is meant only to interact with a physical reality. Instinct does not play a large role in the life of a rational animal as is a human.
          “Being the best, is not rational - coexisting is rational, yet, obviously as human nature dictates in history and presently - we could care less about animals who differ from us (including when we identify other humans as different 'animals').”
          Good, better, best are purely rational concepts. They do not exist outside of the mind. (Can you give me a pound of ‘better’ or an ounce of ‘good’?) They are concepts which apply to all that is true. And the more truth present, the more good I present in that thing thus the words of better and best. I would not say that we care less of animals. I would say that we understand and interact with animals according to a rational ordering. Part of that ordering holds that we may use
        • Sep 20 2012: the life of animals for our sustenance. But we also enjoy animals and even conserve animals for the sake of the world. Humans are not different animals. Human is one type of animal. Differences in humans do not go to the definition of human nature but are nonessential…so if a white human and a brown human are considered, they are considered apart from their skin color which is nonessential to the idea of human
        • Sep 20 2012: “Our nature being a vague sense of 'rationality' is more idealistic than realistic.”
          Well, if rationality is more idealistic than real, you and I are using idealistic processes to comment on the real. Doesn’t sound too plausible.

          “Scientific research is the process of creating atomistic determinations about nature - to do so takes theory based on other theories and research. While you and I can make a theory of human nature, we should still rely on what science has to offer to justify those holistic ideologies. “
          That might be what scientific research has become. That is not how it started. And it has become so bc of ideas like yours which divorce the science from preexisting truth. Science forgets that it relies as much as everything else on nonempirical, nonmaterial first principles which cannot be defined. As an example, in all this atomization you enjoin...the number one has no definition and cannot be atomized. It is the first principle of mathemeatics and as a first principle it is simply accepted. And the idea that atomistic determinations somehow arrive at truth is false. Note, for example, the inferior results of laboratory experiements to observation within the environment itself. We may rely on science to augement understanding. But, not before science relies on natures and truths. Science approaches the world in order to know more of what we know generally already through our minds. Truth is the first principle of science. Science is not the first principle of truth. And this first principle of truth I am speaking of is that something either is or it is not. Furthermore the science you are speaking of are the empirical sciences. Scientia is latin meaning “to know” – not “to measure”.
        • Sep 20 2012: “Now while you believe human nature cannot be measured, you also contend that it cannot change?”
          Exactly. It can only be avoided or embraced. No other animal can do that.

          “”Well usually what cannot be measured easily, is always changing in a manner that is beyond theory and evidence... So, I think you defeated yourself here. Just because our theory of the mind is incomplete does not mean it will not be completed and is not in the process of being completed.”
          If something is changing in a manner beyond theory and evidence then not only can we not measure it but we shouldn’t even know it exists. So, no, I did not defeat myself. I just have a deeper understanding into some of these definitions than I believe you do.

          “Of course we can change our nature.”
          Can you give me one clear example? I cannot connect the one you gave to an argument. What do you mean by personality? What is persona in all of this. What is a person and how does it prove that we can change our nature… and….in your whole way of reducing things…how does the idea of a person matter if we are only meant to survive. These should be extraneous ideas to biological survivalism.

          “Look at personality theory - there is no unified, accepted and universal theory of how persona works, but we all agree there is in fact a personality to every human. If our nature has a persona, and we self actualize that personality, we can change our personality, thus we can change our nature.”
          What does it mean to self actualize. That seems a redundant use of words. As a self I already act.
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        Sep 20 2012: Finding reason and understanding is the result of our survival. Again I would say the strive to be rational is just the result of our higher mental desire to survive. No longer just physical requirements to be satisfied (although they apply), but in fact psychological requirements. Whether those desires are knowledge and/or happiness is individualistic.

        Although this survival force permeates all life. The nature of how that force drives human psychological evolution is pure theory.

        Buddhism is primarily concerned with rationality... so my statement is collective from my understanding of the philosophy. Buddhist suggest desire is a central point of our Psyche. Yet even desire itself can be manipulated by interpersonal environments and experiences. To recognize how desires craft our lives is to kill the very essence of being human. Yet survival is still the force that produces everything... it is one thing to kill pieces of our Psyche to develop rationally, but it is another entirely to reject surviving.
        • Sep 20 2012: No, I would say it is the cause of our survival.Before we survived we had to have a means to survival. Hence it precedes survival as its cause. It also precedes survival as the purpose of survival which to perdure for the purpose of our nature...to know.

          I will get to the rest of your comment later
        • Sep 21 2012: Thank you for your response.

          “Again I would say thestrive to be rational is just the result of our higher mental desire to survive.”
          It may be that you say such, but it is illogical because reason is a higher order of existence than simple survival and nothing greater can come from what is less.
          “No longer just physical requirements to be satisfied (although they apply), but in fact psychological requirements. Whether those desires are knowledge and/or happiness is individualistic.”
          I don’t know what you trying to say

          “Although this survival force permeates all life. The nature of how that force drives human psychological evolution is pure theory.”
          What is a survival force and how does it stand apart from the operation “to live.” Also, I have no idea how humans have “psychologically evolved. “Can you give an example?

          .
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        Sep 20 2012: So how can a cause of our survival be the meaning? The cause being rationality. No that is idealism rather than realistic when pertaining to the human condition let alone our nature.

        Various points:
        *Metaphysical* does not mean - not physical ... It means beyond what we understand -or- what is beyond our understanding in/of the physical... Everything besides thought constructions have a physical nature.

        While you may strive to be rational, you must anticipate that our instinctual natures are irrational. Cognitive bias theory has craft a variety of dispositions suggesting just that, a long with Eastern thought traditions. What may be rational, is not necessarily apart of our decision making.

        Truth is not a yes or no entity... Truth is variable, has degrees, and is overall relative. Therefore there could be good, bad, partial, sometimes - truth.

        Although there are nonessential details in which separate human beings - when belief systems craft those subtle differences they become very real occurrences in separation. (Agreeing with the innate nature we are the center of the universe - anthropocentrism - as being an instinctual bias).

        **If something is changing in a manner beyond theory and evidence then not only can we not measure it but we shouldn’t even know it exists. So, no, I did not defeat myself. I just have a deeper understanding into some of these definitions than I believe you do.**

        ... No, it is obvious it exist - we are humans... Just because our theory isn't efficient right now only means we need better ones and not that something is impossible that is just ill-minded thinking.

        My last statement - Although I know we can measure our human psyche, it will take a great deal of effort... But at the same time I also think the ideal of suggesting there is no nature is far better to challenge people philosophically. But, we do have a real nature, what is the pattern to that nature is being illuminated more and more each day. You should do real research.
        • Sep 21 2012: How can a cause be a meaning? It is not idealistic in any sense of the word. It is a logical reality. And you are using the word meaning not I. And, you are using the word cause in only the 'efficient'sense of the word. What I mean is that you are considering cause as what immiediatly and directly precedes it. This is only one type of cause. However, it is considered the only type of cause by modern mind. It is called Efficient cause. so the efficient cause of the letter I am typing is, me! No one goes beyond this cause because we are steeped in nominalism..simplest answer is always the best. Not!
          But, there is another cause, isn't there. Yes, I am the efficent cause. I am doing it. But was there not an electrical circuit that was connected when I pressed the key. That caused it too. So, that is the material cause.

          Yet there is another cause. There is an act I wish to perform. What is that act? It is to convey something to you by means of typing. That is the formal cause....it is the motivation for the act.

          And, last there is even something else that is causing me to type. Yes, I desire to type and yes I am thusly pressing typing keys and yes the circuit is causing the typewritten text. But there is an ultimate reason that I wish to type and that is to communicate. This is the final cause.

          Now, here is the answer to your question. the final cause both directs an action towards it as its true end. And, it causes all of the other causes as the purpose. So, considered as the ultimate purpose for the act to begin, it is first in intention. Yet after it causes the start of the act, it is also the goal and to what all the other causes exist for. The Final cause it is before as the motivator and it is also at the end as the outcome. Before I type I want to communicate. Once I do the typing and all of the causes occur then I am oriented towards the thing that got me started. Thus final cause is both beginner and end (goal) of an act.
        • Sep 21 2012: Before you jump into the idea that this is ideal, test it out. Try to find one thing that does not have four causes. If you think you can find one, which you can't, send it my way. And if you cannot, there is nothing ideal about it. So I will concede to you if you can.

          By the way, can you use another word besides ideal? Ideal can mean something that functions as it is supposed to. I know you mean something that does not exist. Maybe you want to use the word fictional or nonexistent or errant. Or if you maintain ideal can you tell me exactly how you mean it?
        • Sep 21 2012: *Metaphysical* does not mean - not physical ... It means beyond what we understand -or- what is beyond our understanding in/of the physical... Everything besides thought constructions have a physical nature

          No, I believe you are a bit off. Metaphysical can mean either " behind or under"as in the truth behind an object or the truth that is under (supports) an object. Either way is compatible with the other. metaphsyical is not physical as you imply. However, it IS understandable in universal terms. As a matter of fact it is understanding in terms of the universal. No appeal to the universal, no comprehension and no abilty to reason. Period. A simple example of metaphysical reasoning is "exists vs does not exist."Truth also is a metaphysical concept.
        • Sep 21 2012: “While you may strive to be rational, you must anticipate that our instinctual natures are irrational. Cognitive bias theory has craft a variety of dispositions suggesting just that, a long with Eastern thought traditions. What may be rational, is not necessarily apart of our decision making.”

          If you do not mind, can you describe for me our “instinctual nature.” I do not believe we do much by way of instinct. I am hard pressed to think of something. I won’t get into “cognitive bias” and “eastern thought” because I think I need to know what you mean by instinctual nature.

          Its funny, I notice that when people come up against a difficulty in arguing, they turn to “eastern thought” or something like it…like Buddhism. I think it is an underlying use of syncretism… that everything is the same thing.
        • Sep 21 2012: "Truth is not a yes or no entity... Truth is variable, has degrees, and is overall relative. Therefore there could be good, bad, partial, sometimes – truth"

          Well, you’re lumping a whole lot together. Bad truth? I know maybe what you mean…like it is a bad truth that someone murders someone else. But that is only our way of speaking. In fact, truth is simply truth. We are infinitely more accurate if we were to characterize the act as good or evil and not the truth.
          Can you give me a strict degree of truth. Or can you give me a relative truth?
        • Sep 21 2012: **... No, it is obvious it exist - we are humans... Just because our theory isn't efficient right now only means we need better ones and not that something is impossible that is just ill-minded thinking.**
          The use of ignorance to prove a point is a fallacy of argument. I will restate your argument for you
          I posit that X exists.
          I have no access to X and no way of knowing that X exists
          Therefore X exists.



          **My last statement - Although I know we can measure our human psyche, it will take a great deal of effort... But at the same time I also think the ideal of suggesting there is no nature is far better to challenge people philosophically. But, we do have a real nature, what is the pattern to that nature is being illuminated more and more each day. You should do real research.**

          Ok, tell me in general terms how you propose we might measure our psyche. By the way, can you tell me what a psyche is as well? Seems like you are assessing the situation (it will take a great deal of effort) before you even know the nature of the situation.
          I think the best way to challenge a person philosophically is not to use sophist tactics but to appeal to reason and truth. After all, philosophy means love of wisdom…
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        Sep 21 2012: By ideal - I meant preferred or preferable.

        Nice lesson on the ancient four causes... but nothing that suggest human nature's meaning is rationality.

        Cause =/= meaning, rather, meaning = multiple causes

        Again, a meaning (the definition) of human nature cannot be a cause (explanation/reasoning). Rationality is the potential we have, not the entire actuality. Rationality is a cause as well as a result of our surviving evolutionary challenges. While being rational is a striving point, it is often not the case in our unreflected behaviors.

        Tags: Cognitive bias theory, groupthink theory, emotional intelligence, and evolutionary psychology paradigm

        Please, for your further research into the human neurophysiology, reference the above terms and phrases.

        Have a great one.

        *You should really investigate the meaning of metaphysical again...
        * Instinctual thought - check out the ideas behind - evolutionary psychology paradigm - plenty of examples there (I am no expert)

        I am actually uninterested in continuing conversation here as you appear to be set in your ways of thinking. Rather I know I do not know a great deal and seek out both alternative philosophies and scientific investigations.. as to be holistic even with the atomistic.
  • Sep 17 2012: I would go as far as stating that human nature doesn't exist, for everything in existence is part of nature and its resident forces. Humans could not survive without the sun, food, shelter, water; as plants would not survive without sun, water, soil, etc...

    Implying that human nature exists, would generate a sense of disconnection from the totality of nature that led us to evolve as we have. Survival is perhaps the 'nature' of the plethora of species inhabiting planet Earth. As for that term 'Survival of the fittest', I would dare say, that humans have long developed the technology and its possible applications as to shift that phrase into 'Survival of the most cooperative'. If we long to truly survive as a species, we must transform competition into cooperation. Some may have a pre-disposition for crime and violence, if raised in a detrimental, competitive environment.

    Do you somewhat understand what I am implying? The environment is the key factor in how a human will evolve. It is the stage wherein this individual will be acquiring sets of values throughout his/her life. And if we begin to suppose that human nature is to be 'greedy, selfish, etc.' we cease to observe and take into account the environment shaping individuals in a given culture. If we ought to be civilized, it is important to realize that we constantly act in a state of co-individuality, and connection to nature (species survival). There is an important point I would like to stress; when humans have what they need - food, shelter, water, relevant information, health, etc. - words like 'human nature' do not appear. We will ALWAYS have to abide to nature's laws and our interconnectivity to a cycle of life we are slowly, but surely, breaking in an act of arrogance on our part, thinking that we are exempt from natural law - we are not. Furthermore, existence has no purpose, but the one we venture to find in our lifetimes. 'Human' nature is thus a simple play of words to neglect social responsibility.
    • Sep 18 2012: So could not say that human nature is that which exists and survives on resident forces and evloves according to his environment ?
      • Sep 20 2012: Not quite, as I mentioned before, there is no such thing as human nature, because that would imply something inborn. Do you understand? We can talk about human behavior, but discussing human nature would be like discussing the lion nature: 'they are competitive'. Why? Because there is scarcity of food, and that takes us back to the subject of environment.

        I have learned a lot with the following lecture series: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNnIGh9g6fA

        Very helpful. Cheers ;)
        • Sep 21 2012: The nature of a human is that he is a rational animal. He is born that way. or, it is inborn. Show me something that contradicts that.

          so humans do not have human nature but lions do?

          A nature is an ultimate definition that goes towards the essence of something.
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    Sep 17 2012: Our feelings, our emotions, our experiences, our ideas, our desires, our thoughts, our temptations, our imagination; they are pointers to our human nature.

    That is why we can empathize; and sometimes we marvel at another's lack of empathy.
    That is why we we can sympathize; and sometimes we are appalled by another's lack of sympathy.
    That is why we can connect with another.
    And we love good stories because of our shared humanity.
    • Sep 17 2012: Is it emotions which specifically make us human? Animals have emotions too. But they do not have thoughts.

      Interesting comment about temptations. What exactly is a temptation? Does a temptation go against our nature?
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        Sep 17 2012: Emotions: One of the numerous things I listed.
        • Sep 17 2012: Right, I saw that. So you list emotions as what makes human nature in part. But animals have emotions too. That is why I am asking for clarification. Are you saying that humans and animals have the same nature? Or are you saying they have commonalities of a nature?
      • Sep 17 2012: Animals do have thoughts, just on a different level. That may seem difficult to imagine but every human has been on the thinking level of several animal species in their lives. A young child thinks like a chimpanzee.

        "Can you be more specific of what you are saying about animal thoughts? What do you mean by on different level?"

        The ability to grasp certain mathematical concepts, plan ahead, etc... (as a child you couldn't even imagine concepts you later learned). These are things our brains develop during childhood, chimpanzees stay on the level of a human child.
        • Sep 17 2012: Chimpanzee young seem a lot "smarter" than very young humans. Can you be more specific of what you are saying about animal thoughts? What do you mean by on different level?
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        Sep 21 2012: I would actually reverse that... Animals have only thoughts, humans have emotions... To an animal "That's edible... I go eat"... To a human " That's edible... but do I really feel like eating that?... I do have to watch my carbs"
        • Sep 21 2012: No, I believe animals have non -rational thoughts and emotions (desire for eaxample) . Such as they see a lobster dripping in butter and simply recognize it as edible but have no idea what it is in itself.

          Humans have rational thoughts (what is it?) and the same emotions as animals. So, I know it is a lobster, I want it but rationally speaking I should not eat it bc i am fat and it is not healthy to be fat which this calorie laden lobster will create more of..

          Hence our nature...rational animals.
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    Sep 17 2012: In rather similar environments, humans usually behave similarly.
    This is what human nature means.
    • Sep 17 2012: Human nature is to behave? Everything behaves.
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        Sep 17 2012: Yeah, but differently than humans, in similar circomstances.
        • Sep 17 2012: Cool. So what is human nature? Behavior that changes according to environment? Or is it something fixed?
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        Sep 17 2012: FIxed? That's the thing about living organisms. They respond to environments. Always.
        Different animals respond differently.
        Many animals don't mind loneliness and don't know what it means to be bored out of one's skull. We, among others, are very much affected by these. Because it is our human nature to suffer from loneliness and boredom. (loneliness releases stress hormones in humans, not in snakes : this is what "to mind" or "to be affected by" mean)

        Behaviour that changes according to environment?
        Yeah, this is what responses are about. "Human nature" covers the range of responses that our species is capable of, given a particular environment. It's idiotic to say that humans are either peaceful or violent. We know that it's human nature to be violent when such and such, and we know it's human nature to be peaceful when bla bla.
        • Sep 18 2012: So we respond, and we don't llike to be lonely or bored. And we change wigh our environment and sometimes we are violent and sometimes peaceful. THis is what it means to be a human? Responsive, disliking of loneliness and boredoem and alternatively violent and peaceful?

          You don't know anyone who is incapable of vioence? I do. I also know people who don't really mind being bored.
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        Sep 18 2012: "You don't know anyone who is incapable of vioence? I do. I also know people who don't really mind being bored."

        You friend must've been in the right kind of peacefull environment. I wonder how peaceful he or she would've been if abducted as a child soldier in Uganda. But I know, I know, we look at Nazis and think "I never would've done what they did." We shouldn't. Part of preventing horrors from happening is aknowledging that humans can do bad things, in certain dreadful circomstances.
        Whenever we speak of human nature, it goes without saying that there are exceptions. We decide that psychopaths and autists are abnormal, simply because they are a minority among us.

        Bordedom is interesting. It's related to food, believe it or not. Animals that rely on a single source of nutrition such as grass don't need to get creative about it. Bears hate zoos. They get bored. They're used to playing with the environment, looking for honey or garbage.
        Humans suffer from boredom. I'm taking your word for it and suppose your friend is an exception. In many respects freedom is the opposite of boredom.
        hmmm, yes...

        To be human means a lot more than just these instances. It also means that under certain conditions, we make love, we use sex as pair bonding, and not solely for reproduction.
        • Sep 19 2012: It is actually not my friend it is my grandmother who is not violent. She grew up in New Orleans.
          The question is what is human nature. Not what a particular emotional response is to a particular sit’n. That I believe would go to the nature of what an emotion is.
          How one chooses to act assumes that one first has the power to act in a certain way. Some choose to do nothing in the face of violence. Some do. But there is a reason either way. Reason connotes rationality. We do not rationally choose what we do not have the power to do power.
          I agree, yes, there are exceptions. But not exceptions to a nature. The exceptions are whether we choose to act according to our nature (which by the way animals cannot do). Thus, I contend that our nature is that we are rational animals with rationality being our overarching and guiding trait. Yet, as a human I can choose to act irrationally (in line with my animality). So I can choose to take a drug for the purposes of pleasure that obfuscates my reason and causes me to irrationally eat someone’s face off. (as hallucinogenics can cause). Both were irrational acts.
          It is ultimately irrational to separate the reproductive and emotional aspects of sex. To be human does not mean that we can change the nature of something else.
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        Sep 20 2012: You're right, we can't escape our nature. But we can escape the statistical majority. Sex change is not typicall human behaviour, yet it's still part of human nature as every else. And you know something? It's the same with other animals, at least complexe ones. We're taught about typical hyena behaviour, typical raccoon behaviour, But of course, other animals have just as much personnality as us.

        " ultimately irrational to separate the reproductive and emotional aspects of sex."
        Not really. Bonobos are being rational when using the intensity of sexual pleasure to deal with social tensions. Humans use it (typically) in a monogamous way to extend the honeymoon. Our high maintenance offspring benefit from that, since (at the time that we adapted to be this way) both parents were required in a household.

        " Thus, I contend that our nature is that we are rational animals with rationality being our overarching and guiding trait. "
        I'm not sure I understand what you mean . What's so special about our rationality vs chimp rationality? Are you familiar with this experiment?

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIAoJsS9Ix8

        If anything, humans are LESS rational.
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      Sep 21 2012: I would suggest that "In rather similar environments, humans usually behave similarly."... and it's absolutely wonderful and amazing... because in rather similar environments, animals, always behave similarly, usually, identically : )
      • Sep 21 2012: Yep. Perfectly true. Animals act of instinc alone and don't "know" a damn thing.
  • Sep 17 2012: "It would seem that there are animal, vegetable and inanimate natures which determine how an entity is. Is there also a human nature?"

    What exactly do you mean by "animal nature"? Animals have wildly varying cognitive abilities and experiences, from brainless jellyfish to spacefaring humans.
    • Sep 17 2012: By nature I would mean to ask if there is a manner of defining all animals at once and of defining human.

      E.g. a jellyfish is not a human. Obvious.

      But why? How do you know this apart from noting, e.g. that they do not look alike .

      Another way of approaching this would be to state that de facto we do not compare every particular of every animal with every particular of every human to know there is a difference in natures. This is our experience. What then is the nature of animals and is there a different nature for humans. If yes then what is it? If no then are the two the same? Or, are there no natures whatsoever?
      • Sep 17 2012: "By nature I would mean to ask if there is a manner of defining all animals at once and of defining human."

        Humans are animals and biologists have come up with definitions for what constitutes an animal and what does not: all animals are multicellular and their cells are easily distuingishable from those of bacteria,plants and funghi.

        "So the only difference between me and the dead bug is the internal and external arrangement of my cells?"

        Humans have cell types that bugs don't have (but mammals do), any doctor or biologist can immediately see whether a cell belongs to an animal (human or bug) or a plant.

        The human species is separate from other animal species because it can't produce viable offspring with them. There is however no scientific definition of what it means to be human that relies on terms like "thoughts" and "emotions" and it is very difficult to say whether extinct hominids such as neanderthals should be considered human or not.
        • Sep 17 2012: So, if humans are animals and animals are simply multicellular organisms distinguishable in some way then I may properly understand a human as a multicellular organism diistinguishable by having human cells?

          So the only difference between me and the dead bug is the internal and external arrangement of my cells?