Human Nature

Topics: Social contract, Thomas Hobbes, State of nature Pages: 5 (1818 words) Published: May 13, 2012
Throughout history the debate has always arisen about what is human nature. Is it in our nature to be good or is it our nature to be evil? Many philosophers have joined the debate taking stances on either end of the spectrum, while some try to pose alternative answers. Thomas Hobbes believes man’s nature to be bad. He claims humans to be naturally selfish, like animals we are driven by our own passions. Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. believed that man is naturally good. They believe man’s nature to be a state of harmony but instead evil results from people’s ignorance. Through the intellectual discourses of philosophers many convincing points have been made about the essence of human nature. However, despite their valid points, none have managed to create a sound argument for their belief over other proposed beliefs.

Body 1- Human Nature is Bad
In Thomas Hobbes state of nature all men are equal and are able to act freely for there is no formal government in place to curb human actions. However, with no government or superior power in place, there are no consequences for any actions that people perform. Hobbes believes that because man is naturally bad, when in his natural state he will act greedily and selfish. People will do as they please to satisfy their own needs and desires; including stealing from, or killing others. Hobbes classifies man’s natural state as being in a state of war; one in which men are all trying to kill one another for their own personal gains and survival. In this climate of chaos there are no structured goals, but what drives everyone is fear. The fear of not being able to eat will drive man to fight with one another for their food and nourishment. Then the fear of being attacked by someone and possibly killed will drive man to protect themselves by fighting people first. They will also fight others to set an example and hopefully scare off future potential threats. As a result of this “war of every one against every one… every person’s life in this natural state would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Hobbes, p.283). Hobbes believes that Man’s nature of evilness will be the cause of his eventual destruction. He claims that the only means to combat this is to have a sovereign rule that can adjudicate and suppress man’s evil tendencies. Man is incapable of being good on his own and needs an authoritarian ruler to control his actions for the betterment of society. Xunzi

Body 2 – Human Nature is Good
In Mohandas Gandhi’s “Ghandi’s Message to All Men” he describes humans natural state to be one of harmony and peace. Ghandi, and avid teacher for peace believed that we should never stoop to involvement in violence. “I object to violence because, when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary, the evil it does is permanent” (Ghandi, p.413). Your means creates your end, so by using violence, your end result will be destined to be inclusive of violence as well. If you kill hundreds of people to prove a point, then in the future when someone else wants to prove a point they too shall kill hundreds of people. Violence begets violence and a different method is needed to prevent the ignition of future violence. Instead of trying to destroy your enemies, Ghandi proposes that we convert them to peaceful ways by returning their evil with good. He believes this forgiveness to be for those that are brave, and that this message of nonviolence commands respect and will eventually prove successful. “If we take care of the means we are bound to reach the end sooner or later” (Ghandi, p.413). Ghandi believes man to be capable of performing such acts of love towards mankind because our natural state is harmony and peace. He believes everyone to be capable but it just needs to be brought out of the individuals. “It is when the mass mind is unnaturally influenced by wicked men that the mass of...
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