Good or Bad?
Whether human beings are instinctually good or evil in an elementary natural state is a question that has been boggling the minds of even the greatest philosophers. There is a spectrum of theories that support both good and evil within the human race, each with valid points that explains the range of our interests, being either for ourselves or for others. However, my personal stance is the sensible theory of Altruism. Past experiences and observations allow me to take the stance, and support the argument that humans are caring and genuinely good individuals and have the will and desire to help those around them.
Philosophers such as Mengzi (4th Century BCE) also known as Mencius in the West, explains how humans have an “innate sense of right and wrong, a natural sympathetic reaction to people in distress or pain and natural sense of propriety.” 1 His theory states that all human beings share an innate goodness that can either be cultivated through education and self-discipline or wasted with neglect and negative influences, but the inner good can never be lost altogether. Mencius uses the example of a man witnessing a child falling into a well, as an example for his theory of innate goodness within humans. “If a man sees a child who is in danger of falling into a well, then that man will almost certainly try to rescue the child.” 2 The witness is not saving the child for the gain of the parent’s friendship, or to gain admiration of the neighborly public, but for the sake of saving the innocent and for his own nature. This example not only supports the idea that benevolence and righteousness are more rational motives for human actions then that of desire for profit or personal gain, but because we are caught off our guard, the example proves the manifestation of our good human qualities. Mencius continues with the statement, “If a man is constantly subjected to negative influence, his character is bound to be affected...
Bibliography: 1. Paquette, Paul G., and Laura Ginni-Newman. Philosophy - Questions & Theories. Whitby, ON: McGraw Hill Ryerson Limited, 2003. Print.
2. Scott, Alex. "Mengzi (Mencius)." Angelfire: Welcome to Angelfire. 2004. <http://www.angelfire.com/md2/timewarp/mengzi.html>.
3. Chen, C. W. "Good and Evil in Chinese Philosophy." The Philosopher, Volume LXXXIV, 1996. Http://www.the-philosopher.co.uk/good&evil.htm. Web.
4. Schouls, Peter. "Locke, John (1632â€“1704) - The Tabula Rasa, The Role of Mathematics - Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society." Internet FAQ Archives - Online Education - Faqs.org. Web. <http://www.faqs.org/childhood/Ke-Me/Locke-John-1632-1704.html>.
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