“Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.” - Walter Sobchack
This is part 1 of a series I plan on my overall views on the Questions of ethics and morality. I believe basic amorality this should be the foundation of everyone's views, and not enough people give this enough thought. I decided to split in multiple posts because I think there are several issues to think about, and also I wound want to bore my readers.
Let's start with The Big One. What is human nature? How immutable is it? Does it evolve in time or can one change it at will? Do some things never change? Hell, if I knew all that, I’d be teaching at Oxford. But a few thoughts, nonetheless … So let us tackle the issue.
To try and fully address the never-ending discussion of nature versus nurture in human development would be rather superfluous at this time and achieve little, as it is as old as philosophy and yet to be resolved.
Long story short personally I do not think that at this point in time anyone can say more than it’s a combination of both, and how much of each varies from person to person, society to society, time to time, in unknowable ways. Further than this the sociologists can investigate, although being sociologists, they are highly unlikely to find anything worthwhile, but hey at least it keeps them occupied.
Personally I believe there are some elements of human nature that are clearly innate, genetic. They may change over long periods of time with the evolution of humans, but not in the short term and not directly through education or experience. This is the nature part.
By human nature I do not mean characteristics of this or that individual, but general characteristics of most humans. Individual differences between humans are a different matter. This is to do with what the immutable part of human nature is, basic facts like response to incentives, wishing to increase satisfaction and decrease unease, wanting security and a good life, needing friends and family.
One may grant that some things about human nature are not necessarily positive and should be understood and fought against by each of us – bias, tribalism etc. But they are real and ignoring them does little good.
Of course there are elements which greatly differ between individuals and which are also biologically determined – height, athleticism, intelligence, personality, socializing. They are, off course, are a clear combination of nature and nurture, meaning they can be influenced and shaped by nurture, but not completely. In basketball you are either an explosive athlete or you are not, no amount of training will make you Russell Westbrook.
Some people will never be quantum physicists, professional athletes, brain surgeons or spies. Or Victoria’s Secrets models, which is what I always wanted to be.
The issue can be highly charged, with many abusing such ideas for various discriminatory reasons – you can smell a racist when he tells you he is interested in Human Biodiversity or HBD for short and I hope it is clear there is a quite the difference between believing there is some variation in humans and being a racist or chauvinist asshole. The guilt is on all sides of the spectrum both the ones who are so called far right and claimed some people are just inferior and don’t deserve a better life, and some of the so called left who say people can’t help themselves, can’t make it without paternalistic help of the state. The result is the same - remove agency and free will, and introduce something akin to protestant predestination, be it from God or The State.
One should not be afraid to admit there is some human difference. Indeed the division of labor is based on human difference. Each of us finds that niche that suits our natural talents best, and by specializing in that particular thing we can most effectively serve our fellow man and in the process ourselves. Our fellow man, likewise, specializes in what he is best suited for, and we in turn benefit from the fruits of his specialized knowledge and skill.
Everyone has something unique to contribute, although they may occasionally need a bit of help to flourish. Voluntary help, that is. But more on that in following posts, same time same channel. Unless off course it is a different time.