Human Nature

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Brovo, Apr 2, 2016.


What do you think of human nature?

  1. I'm generally optimistic about it.

  2. I'm not sure how to feel about it...

  3. I'm generally pessimistic about it.

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  1. A nice, abstract topic, with a couple of questions to kick start it below. As always, please keep the conversation (and any discussion therein) on the topic. That means don't attack each other personally. I know it's silly that I should have to remind you all of this, but, hey, it never hurts to have the reminder. :ferret:

    Are people generally good, or evil?

    Are people generally selfless, or selfish?

    Are people generally competent and self-sufficient, or do they need to be saved from themselves?

    Judging from the above questions, which is more important to you: Freedom, or Equality?
  2. I used to be way more pessimistic, and I know that my personal experience holds no actual statistical value. But out of my own experience, humans are usually kind and good natured. Sure, I'm not friends with everyone, but it's mostly about compatibility and chemistry, not because they're bad people. The problem is that awful people stand out more, when we should be able to focus more on the lovable people.
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  3. Since humans are a flawed species and I'm distrusting of humanity in general, I'm gonna go with evil.

    Definitely selfish. We have defense and survival mechanisms for a reason.

    Saved from themselves most of the time. People never change in positive ways unless a major tragedy happens to them or until they're near death. It never fails.

    Freedom. With freedom comes equality. Equal opportunity not equal outcome. That's what's most important. Freedom to make your own choices is the best form of equality a person can have.
  4. Are people generally good, or evil?

    Leaning towards good. We'd be a pretty terrible society if we didn't tend to gravitate towards cooperation, and I'd like to think most people are generous in one way or another. To paraphrase a John Stewart quote I adore,
    “The reason I don’t worry about society is, nineteen people knocked down two buildings and killed thousands. Hundreds of people ran into those buildings to save them. I’ll take those odds every f*cking day.”

    Apply that to a lot of situations and it still rings true. Push come to shove, people tend to be compassionate towards other peoples' suffering when they encounter it.

    Are people generally selfless, or selfish?

    Honestly, I think most people hover around the middle, and in some ways, they're selfish, other ways, selfless. I'd say it leans towards being selfish more often, because as the saying goes, you have to look after yourself before you can worry about other people. People also tend to not be nearly as charitable because it means going out of your way to do something, and humans are terribly lazy people.

    Are people generally competent and self-sufficient, or do they need to be saved from themselves?

    To paraphrase what I said in another thread, humans individually are brilliant, but as a group, we're collective idiots a lot of the time. I would like to think that people can learn to be competent and self-sufficient about anything if given the opportunity and necessity to do so, but largely as a society, I think people want to or need to be led around by the nose. I think people are at their best when they feel like they can't dump off responsibility on somebody else, and things will only get done if they themselves do it.

    Judging from the above questions, which is more important to you: Freedom, or Equality?

    Equality. While I greatly value personal freedoms, everyone being afforded the same treatment and opportunities is very important. As was drilled in my head during boot camp, you're only as strong as your weakest man, and I think that's true for society in general. Sometimes people need a hand, and can do great things if they're given the same opportunities as everyone else and are judged based on their merit, not social status/ caste/ colour/ religion/ whatever.
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  5. This one is difficult for me because I don't believe in a system of good and evil. I think that often when people talk about good and evil, they are really just talking about if they operate for the betterment or detriment of mankind. I think that it really isn't so simple because there are so many people we say are good that end up hurting us overall. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is, my answer to this question is basically that people usually don't think about the good of the group so much as they think about the propagation of value systems, which makes them inherently neutral.
    Selfish, but in a way that often works to the benefit of others. I consider myself an extremely selfish person, and yet I provide for others all the time. The reason why people can be viewed as selfless is often because they understand how thoughtless selfishness can only hurt themselves. As we become more intelligent and resource rich, we can start to see how we are all better off when we give to others. Similarly, we learn that mindless selflessness is just as destructive as selfishness. People, on average, are selfish in a good way.
    People need to be saved from themselves, but they also shouldn't be saved by other people. Really what we need is for aliens to subjugate us. I wish I was kidding, but people just tend to make really terrible rulers. We aren't as good as we need to be at metacognition, which is probably the most critical quality needed to lead. I actually think democracy tends to be a broken system specifically because of the metacognitive deficiency of the human race in general. The reason our systems sort of kind of work right now is because they make it easier for people with high metacognition to rise to the top ranks of society, they could do a lot better at promoting and developing this ability.
    Neither. Equality and freedom are completely overrated. Both are only approximations of what benefits us as a species.

    I propose something different. Rather than worrying about if people are equal or free, try to better the lives of everyone. Not hiring the black man who was more skilled for the job is not an equality problem. The problem is that now that company has needlessly decreased its efficiency. A slave being in slavery is not a freedom problem. The problem is that nobody can live to their fullest potential as a slave.

    We have a lot of human capital in the world, and we can't afford to waste it. By avoiding waste and creating systems that get the right people in the right places making the right decisions, everyone is better off. Anything that prevents us from doing this is bad. Instead of equality, have compassion. Instead of freedom, have self-awareness. Our goal is for every person on this planet to be living the best life they can. We have a long way to go from making that happen.
    #6 ☆Luna☆, Apr 2, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
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  7. People are social. They seek for their groups to survive. It is why a fireman will risk his own life to rescue a child out of a burning building. It is also why xenophobia is a thing. My judgement of this is a net positive. People are stupid, but not evil. To be evil they would go out of their way to cause suffering.

    Dependant on environments and norms in that environment. People are social animals and well, generally as they grow older or become parents, will attach less value to their own lives as opposed to that of younger generations. They also care for safety within their groups, be it for their selves or their children. Of all the times I dropped my wallet, it's almost always been an Arabic man who either picked it up for me or alerted me of it. This might sound strange, but in my country, Moroccans have a rather bad rep. Some of them let their selves be ruled by it, but these guys who helped me, on the other hand, generally want to to be viewed as good citizens rather than a separate group. Like, part of the whole, even if there are some forces dividing us.

    I have more examples and I could spend all day on this, but let's not.

    Without faith in the agency of others, you cannot claim agency for yourself. Exposure to ideas, not indoctrination.

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  8. "Heaven and hell suppose two distinct species of men, the good and the bad. But the greatest part of mankind float betwixt vice and virtue."
    - David Hume
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  9. My belief for the three questions is that it's in between or depends. To me, most are good while there are also some real evil people out there. There is more selfish than selfless out there and due to how much has changed, I believe that people used to be really self-competent, but as generations have passed, most have become really low to the point where they NEED help.

    As for Freedom vs. Equality, it all belongs to the same concept. Freedom breeds equality in my opinion. Crowds voicing their opinion can sway someone into changing their opinion on the matter. There's my two cents.
  10. Are people generally good, or evil?

    I am of the opinion that people are neither good or evil. People are very much the product of their environment, a blank slate, what is put in is what's put out. Babies and children are not quite the best judges of character. What a baby or child thinks is "good" is what gives it pleasure or satisfies its needs. "Evil", on the other hand, is what hurts them. It's not until later on, perhaps ages 7 to 9, to TRULY start to figure out "right" from "wrong". Human beings are rather imitative, and the blank slate derives a lot from his or her parents, but also from peers. There are exceptions to the rule, but someone raised in a more harsh environment will learn how to deal with life harshly and vice versa. For example, if an impressionable child sees Dad drink alcohol and beat on Mom - it has to be okay, after all, Dad does it and Mom says it's okay. If any of you are familiar with the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal, or the Stanford Prison Experiment - The Lucifer Effect is real. When in certain situations, anyone can be made to do very evil or immoral things without them even knowing it. If it seems like evil is the normal, like how the child sees domestic abuse, that child "learns" it's okay and that's normal and has a higher probability of being an abuser themselves. This isn't the rule and there are certainly exceptions to it, but I am of the opinion people aren't inherently good or evil. Rather, like a computer. What is inputted, the proper output is displayed.

    Are people generally selfless, or selfish?

    People are inherently selfish. Every single human being is in the business of staying alive. We eat, drink water, and sleep in the name of self preservation. It is NATURAL to survive. I also am of the opinion that there is no selfless good deed... at least pure selfless good deed. At its core, somewhere down the line, every action done by a human being has a self-serving purpose. Having said that, some actions are more selfless or selfish than others, but there will always be a degree of selfishness in every action, no matter how small. People are selfish. And in all honesty... that's okay.

    Are people generally competent and self-sufficient, or do they need to be saved from themselves?

    What constitutes competent and self-sufficient? Many people go through life without dying in some idiotic way, and that's kind of the basic idea of life is to live as long as you can. People are very competent and self-sufficient at face value. But is the person that eats themselves to death, leading to a plethora of medical conditions that could have been easily prevented, is that competence? Their self-sufficiency of sustaining their body with food now turned into a dependency into dialysis machines, high blood pressure medications and coronary heart disease leading to an early death. Where is the competence in that? It's a very rudimentary analogy, but in short, people need to be saved from themselves. The trick is, you can't be saved by someone else. It takes an internal desire to change, learn, and be competent.

    Judging from the above questions, which is more important to you: Freedom, or Equality?

    #11 Fentanyl, Apr 3, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
  11. Are people generally good, or evil?
    People are born neutral, and experience may bring us to goodness or evil. Most people are neutral. However, in an environment without consequence, most people can't be trusted. Same reason you can't trust dictators with unlimited power.

    Are people generally selfless, or selfish?

    People are generally selfish, though an exception would probably be family-people are often quick to sacrifice themselves for family.

    Are people generally competent and self-sufficient, or do they need to be saved from themselves?

    Generally competent, though there are exceptions.

    Judging from the above questions, which is more important to you: Freedom, or Equality?

  12. Aaahh the concept of good and evil is purely a human construct. What's good and what's evil changes with society too. So I don't think as a species we can be one or the other. But since I am an optimist moooost of the time, I think people want to be "good" and one day humans will evolve to figure out what the fuck that actually means.

    Selfish. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you can't take care of yourself, there is no possible way you can take care of anyone else. ...and of course, despite the optimism, people are kinda assholes. >>

    I can't answer this one. >:/ Who am I to judge whether someone else can handle their own business? We spend way too much time getting in to other people's stuff, and that creates a lot of situations where you can't know if someone is self-sufficient or not.

    FREEDOm. Always freedom. Freedom should always come out on top. So you can make choices and do what you want to do with your life without being oppressed, tormented, etc.
  13. I don't like simply restricting something so complicated to two alignment system. Hell, as horrible and stereotypical as it is D&D's system is miles better for this sort of topic than 'just' good vs evil.

    But to answer within the options this specific question provides? I'd have to say evil. And this isn't due to any of the big stains in history (Nazis, Crusades) or modern day (ISIS, Trump) but rather just how people operate everyday. But my reasoning as to 'why' I say this relates directly to the following question.

    Note: I also don't think the "People co-operate = People are Good" argument works, because that cooperation is a necessity to function at this level of society. And bad and "evil" people are not the mustache twirling "I'm EVIL! Mua ha ha ha!" types who do bad things for the sake of it. They have reasons, motivations etc. No matter how low a person has fallen, they will still do good acts like cooperating in a society if it benefits them. But that just means they have the common sense to survive, not that they're a good person.
    I find most people to be selectively selfless, but selfish at the core. A way I often describe it to friends is the "My Good Deed of the day" mentality.

    There are a lot of people who pride themselves on being good people. They take it as something to stand on and brag about, but that's exactly the problem. From what I can usually tell these people don't go good acts because of a desire to be good, they do it out of a desire to have the image of good. They want to pat themselves on the back and say "I'm now a good person", they want other people to view them that way, but then these same good people are also very quick to turn around and become extremely cruel people the second they feel they've either:

    a) Filled their daily good deed quota
    b) Dealing with some where it's socially acceptable to be a dick to them
    c) Dealing with someone where through bias/one sided thinking they can paint the other person as 'evil'

    And personally, being someone who has:

    1) Been the Autistic kid in school that students and teachers felt it fine to point at and say "No one likes them"
    2) Being in a Family where "If you're not with me, then you are my enemy" moral crusades are common place
    3) Having made my fair share of mistakes of before, needed people advice and help. And had both those willing to truly help take me through it, and those who simply expected one quick lecture to be the fix

    I've been exposed to a lot of people who are more than willing to be pretty awful to one another if they feel morally justified in doing so, or simply don't like or care for the individual in question. Which brings me to my second deal here. Something I usually refer to as "Pack Mentality", basically people who will pick those they are already close to, and be good and caring people as far as they are concerned. But with anyone whose an outsider? Forget it, outsiders get seen as trash, and people who inherently deserve to be shit on until they 'prove' they deserve to be respected. Where every person who does this always forgets that they are not above everyone else, so anyone else who uses the same philosophy would be forced to look at them and say "They're an asshole to me, therefore they don't deserve respect" and that circles around and snowballs into some rather big problems.

    And note I could very well also be one of these selfish people as well. The issue though? I can't see myself as an outsider, only as myself so my position is easily tainted and bias. But regardless as to if I'm also guilty or not, I've seen it enough in others to know full well it is a common issue that plagues the majority of people.

    TL;DR Through a combination of people just wanting to have the image of good, or only bothering to be good with certain people the everyday person gives themselves a lot of leeway to be self-centred and uncaring with everyone else. Which leads to say they are inherently selfish,
    It depends on where they are in life. Still growing up? Need to be saved, that's just the nature of raising offspring.
    If they recently went through a horrible life event, or been diagnosed with something like Depression? They probably will need the support of others to try making it through.

    If they are in a relatively healthy mental state though and all grown up? Usually I find they are self-sufficient, or at least as self-sufficient people can be in this society we built that relies on co-operation.
    I would want to say Equality, but I have to go with Freedom. Because Equality that lacks Freedom is basically shared slavery. We're all treated the same way, but no one is doing well. Because the second anyone get's even the slightest 'edge' every power is going to be charging in to rebalance the precieved 'privilege' and we'll never get anywhere because without the freedom for people to do what they want we'll be forever stuck in essentialyl PC/Social Justice crusades chasing over very minute if not non-existant problems.
    #14 Gwazi Magnum, Apr 3, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
  14. Clarification: Good or Evil to you. I'm aware that, with morality being subjective, interpretations of actions as good or evil are fluidic states based on your moral compass. You don't have to answer again, I just figured I'd quickly clarify that. :ferret:
  15. Even with this clarification, not much changes. My moral compass lacks an objective good and bad.
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  16. Oh in that case


    But then I have a friend who keeps care packages in her car to handout to random people she meets that looks like they need them, so really humans can be kind of exceptional. 8D
    #17 Diana, Apr 3, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
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  17. Are people generally good, or evil?
    People are generally in both spectrum's. Good people can do evil things. Why? Situation.

    Are people generally selfless, or selfish?
    Again, they are both. Even a selfish person can do something Selfless. Why? Situation.

    Are people generally competent and self-sufficient, or do they need to be saved from themselves?
    Generally Competent and Self-sufficient. Those that need to be 'saved', usually lack the life skills needed in order to succeed.

    Judging from the above questions, which is more important to you: Freedom, or Equality?
    Can't have one without the other. Without Freedom, laws cannot be written to create Equality, without Equality-- True freedom can't exist.
  18. I used to be fairly optimistic about people...

    But I have completely lost all faith in humanity....

    Seriously, they are beyond redemption.
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