What is the Nature of Man?


We live in a world that perpetuates warfare, greed, and the deplorable degradation of human rights.  These facts are hardly disputable and are experienced by every country in the world.  The question, therefore, is why are the conditions so terrible when they truly do not have to be?  It begs the question, what is the nature of man?

Depending upon who you ask, you will get many different answers to the question.  Various religious institutions and atheists alike will argue that we are progressing as a species and becoming more advanced.  My question would be…are we really?  Chris Hedges, in his book “When Atheism Becomes Religion” states,

There is nothing in human nature or human history to support the idea that we are morally advancing as a species or that we will overcome the flaws of human nature.  We progress technologically and scientifically, but not morally.  We use the newest instruments of technological and scientific progress to create more efficient forms of killing, repression, economic exploitation and to accelerate environmental degradation.  There is a good and a bad side to human progress.  We are not advancing toward a glorious utopia.


We have the technology but we have no idea when or how it should be used.  The United States will dictate to the world who should be allowed to have nuclear weaponry, yet they are the only country that has ever used it on another country.  Why is the U.S. any better judge than anyone else?  It is a microcosm of humanity itself.  We, as people, believe that everything revolves around us and our existence.  The resources of the world are ours to consume and if we destroy the planet attaining these resources, well then so be it.  As Americans, we live in a country completely consumed by greed.  We have hundreds of billions of dollars spent on wars that most people have no idea why we are fighting, yet we underfund our schools and have a grossly inefficient and costly health care system.  We spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a presidential election while people starve in the streets.  So, what is the nature of man?  Is it survival of the richest?



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9 responses to “What is the Nature of Man?”

  1. stephenpruis says :

    So dour, The (if I may call you by your first name) … there are many signs that we are becoming more “civilized” primary among them is the continuing decline in violence in human societies. Most people are shocked to find out this is so because they only look at the news as a source of general information. (These are the people who came up with “if it bleeds, it leads.”) Check out Steven Pinker’s latest book “The Better Angels of our Nature.” Per capita violence is on a historic decline, so it is not just temporary.

    There is also scientific indications that our intellegence is increasing, so evolution continues, socialy faster than biological, I believe.

    Are things getting better politically, or are we just still trying to take advantage of one another collectively? This is very hard to answer, but the overall better standing of women globally has all but stopped the debate on the world population explosion, so maybe things are better than they were (in general if not in specific).

    We still haven’t learned to live without the opium of religion, but things may be looking up there.

    So, feel better?

  2. lowerarchy says :

    Your respondent above says ‘per capita violence is on a historic decline’ but fails to explain why global arms sales are on an historical high. I’ve just finished postgrad studies on threats to global security and we learned that major conflicts may be down but small-scale problems are very much increasing. Perhaps he might explain why the US is arming the world? Is this an example of the ‘scientific indications that our intellegence (sic) is increasing’?

    What does the phrase ‘overall standing of women’ mean? If he were a woman he might realise this is seriously condescending to the billions of females still abused and treated as second class citizens.

    Ordinary people are not the problem – it is the power elites, and their apologists, who live off the backs of average folks and justify this with various myths. Ordinary people do not make wars – nations do.

    Anthropogenic climate change is still denied by lobbyists paid for by energy companies. The oceans are increasingly polluted. Species become extinct at an increasing rate and billions are hungry and marginalised. Food is manufactured for profit rather than health and most people have no say or stake in their societies and therefore their futures. I could go on.

    The real rise in intelligence stems from all the ordinary folk of the world who struggle to live their lives free from the discrimination and abuse brought about by governments, military/industrial empires and corporate vampires.

    When the few do not dominate the many then perhaps we can be said to be evolving.

  3. thejumbledmind says :

    An article from the NY Times today regarding the myth of the male decline… http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/opinion/sunday/the-myth-of-male-decline.html?hp

  4. waltervstolzing says :

    I think the point is to see both sides of the current human evolution. That humans are evolving is completely true in my opinion. The question is whether this evolution will aid or harm the species. Noam Chomsky has referred to the fact that survival becomes increasingly less common as species get more intelligent. I think this is what is happening now. It is almost as if the human species hangs over a precipice because of the power of its intelligence; there is a certain godlike status, by which the whole race could easily be destroyed. At the same time, there is an awakening and growing sensitivity among people about world issues. This is due to globalizing technologies such as the television, internet, etc, which fosters sympathy to other cultures, ways of life, etc. So can the more sensitive people make a change in the self-seeking ideologies of nation states? I sure hope so.

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