Thursday 12 January 2023

Is Human Nature Fixed Or Malleable?

On the Right we often talk about human nature, we assume that it exists and that the people that we are conversing with understand what we mean. But many of us have also noticed that on the broad Left human nature is regarded very differently. We regard it as constant and unchanging and they regard it as something malleable as something that can be changed and even perfected.

Does human nature exist and if so just what is the nature of human nature?

Human nature is the part of us that distinguishes us from animals, because they also have natures. A nature is the way we behavour and the way that we do things. A cat has a nature and that nature is different to a moth, which also has a nature. All living things have natures and that includes humans. Sometimes you will hear the argument that human natures doesn't exist because we are just meat machines or automatons, we don't control what we do but instead some other force controls us. Our emotions, the chemical reactions within our body or maybe some external force. This idea is an extreme and rare position and I think it's rare for a reason. Most people accept that human nature exists but they disagree upon it's nature, is it fixed or malleable?

People can be promiscuous or asexual, they can be violent or pacifist, they can be strong willed or weak willed. People can also change from one thing into another thing. Which leads to the idea that human nature is malleable, that there is no fixed human nature. But it has also been observed that people follow the same patterns, that changing from one thing to another is a part of this. It is not outside of human nature but instead is consistent with it. Which must mean that human nature is fixed. But if it can change how can it also be referred to as fixed and unchanging?

The answer is that human nature exists within a range and that most of that range is narrow. For example most men will go to war, but we really notice the extremes, those who will not go or those who excel at war. That extends to every human activity and behavour, everything exists within a range and that range can be narrow, most of us are alike, and at other things it can be wide, our differences matter. Which gives the illusion that human nature is malleable, that it can be changed and that it can be perfected. 

Which it cannot be.


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