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Free Essays On Human Nature

Human nature refers to the characteristics of mankind. This means ways of thinking, feeling and acting which humans have naturally.

What these characteristics are, what causes them and how fixed human nature is, are good questions. They among the oldest and most important questions in western philosophy. These questions affect ethics, politics and theology. Human nature is a source of advice on how to live well, but it also puts limits and obstacles on living a good life.

The complex implications of such questions are also dealt with in art and literature, while the humanities inquire into human nature, and what it means to be human.[1]

Theories of human nature[change | change source]

Many great thinkers have had definite ideas on human nature, but some ideas have lasted better than others. An example of this is the best-selling college textbook which first appeared in 1974 as Seven theories of human nature.[2] The seven theories were those of:

  1. Plato
  2. Christianity
  3. Marx
  4. Freud
  5. Sartre
  6. Skinner
  7. Lorenz

Thirty years later the selection was of ten theories: [1]

  1. Confucianism
  2. Hinduism
  3. Buddhism
  4. Plato
  5. Aristotle
  6. The Bible
  7. Kant
  8. Marx
  9. Sartre and
  10. Darwinian theories of human nature.

Aristotle[change | change source]

Aristotle, Plato's most famous student, made some of the most famous and influential statements about human nature.

In his works some clear statements about human nature are made:

  • Man is a conjugal animal. 'Conjugal' means living together, building a household (oikos). A clan or small village could still be run by the head of the family.[3]
  • Man is a political animal. By this he meant an animal with able to develop complex communities the size of a city or town, with a division of labour and law-making. This type of community is different from a large family, and requires the use of human reason.[4]
  • Man loves to use his imagination (and not just to make laws and run town councils). We love to look at things, learn their names, and think about them.[5]

For Aristotle, reason is what is most special about humanity compared to other animals, and is what we achieve at our best.

Much of Aristotle's description of human nature is still influential today, but the particular teleological idea that humans are "meant" or intended to be something, has become much less popular in modern times.[1][6]

Biological theories[change | change source]

Humans are mammals, and have developed by a process of evolution. It follows that what is called human nature is inherited, and had been the product of natural selection.[7] We are not blank slates;[8] our mental life and behaviour has ancient roots. This is the question of nature vs nurture, and the subject-matter of evolutionary psychology.[9]Ethology and sociobiology has also looked at these issues from the perspective of human evolution and heredity.[10][11]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.01.11.2Stevenson, Leslie and Haberman, David L. 2009. Ten theories of human nature. 5th ed, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-536825-3
  2. ↑Stevenson, Leslie 1974. Seven theories of human nature. Oxford University Press.
  3. ↑Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics VIII 1162a; Politics1252a.
  4. ↑Aristotle, Politics1252b.
  5. ↑Aristotle, Poetics1148b.
  6. ↑Aristotle. The Politics of Aristotle: with an introduction, two prefactory essays and notes critical and explanatory. Clarendon Press, 1887, 189–190
  7. ↑Edmund O. Wilson 2004. On human nature. Harvard University Press.
  8. ↑Pinker, Steven 2002. The blank slate: the modern denial of human nature. New York, N.Y: Viking. ISBN 0-670-03151-8
  9. ↑Confer et al. 2010. Evolutionary PsychologyAmerican Psychologist.
  10. ↑Nobel Prize page for 1973 Medicine Award to Tinbergen, Lorenz, and von Frisch for contributions in ethology.
  11. ↑Alcock, John 2003. The triumph of sociobiology. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195143836

Human Nature


Human nature is a fascinating concept. It refers to those things inside of you which are natural and instinctual. These might include survival as well as a drive for sex and even spirituality. Signs of your human nature can be found through non-verbal communication such as body language.

“Your eyes says it all”, is what a guy would use to woo a girl. But every part of the body gives out information about what you are feeling and your current state of mind, no matter who you are. Body language reading or judgment is very important in all fields and aspects of life and can benefit you socially as well as professionally.

Some key aspects of body language we usually know by default. I am sure you would be able to tell by the expression of your girlfriend’s face and posture that she did not like the gift that you gave her. She never had to tell you that. It is all on the face. Eyebrows risen up would signify anger or contempt feelings towards a person. You should try and notice your professor when the class does not seem to listen to him/her. The look will tell you all. A smile also is an important aspect of a person’s body language. I am sure we all are able to recognize that it is a fake smile and the other person is not pleased to meet you. This is signified by a lack of movement in the eyes with a smile whose curves face downward instead of up. But when you see a natural smile it does feel good and comforting.

Even the posture of a person would tell you a lot. You should notice the shoulders of a sports person; they are always held up, stating that he is a proud person and up for the challenge. But, a person who has lost at a game or made a loss in a venture, his shoulders would be drooping signifying that this person is sad and would need some motivational talk from his dear ones. This would even be true for a person who is heart broken in love. The state of mind shows clearly in your expressions and even in the way you walk and stand. Knowing to interpret deeper meaning of lesser-known actions would be extremely beneficial for everyone. It offers a better understanding of human nature and all that we really are.

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