Blank Slates Waiting to be Written On
The nature of man is a subject that dates back centuries, though it is one that is still highly debated today. Philosophers, sociologists, and even sociobiologists have brought evidence leading to various conclusions to the table, so the question still stands. Mencius said that man’s nature is good, while Hsun Tzu argued from the opposite side. Centuries later, John Locke published a theory relating the nature of man to a blank piece of paper, stating that man is neutral until he learns otherwise, and goes even further to speak of man’s need for a “social contract” with a proper government. During this same time period, fellow Englishman Thomas Hobbes also stated man’s need for government and a social contract with the people, but he did not believe that the people had the right to begin a revolution should the government not hold up its end of the contract. Still later, in the late 1990’s, Edward Wilson published his work, The Fitness of Human Nature, stating that man possesses both qualities that are learned, and characteristics that humans not only share with each other naturally, but with many members of the animal kingdom. He helped to establish Sociobiology, the scientific study of the biological aspects of social behavior in animals and humans, breaking ground in the debate of nature verses nurture. Personally, I agree with the theory put forth by both Locke and Wilson, that man is born a blank slate, and that his nature is inevitably learned, and built based upon the surroundings he is raised in, but that there are genetic factors at work shared by all humans, that can be considered human nature.
Though Mencius believed that all men were born inherently good, and Hsun Tzu believed they were all born evil, they made some excellent points as to the nature of man being shaped by his surroundings. Mencius once stated that “In good years, young men...
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