Page 1 of 11 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 103

Thread: Is Human Nature Determined by Our Material Conditions?

  1. Top | #1
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Birmingham, Alabama
    Posts
    1,687
    Archived
    4,109
    Total Posts
    5,796
    Rep Power
    70

    Is Human Nature Determined by Our Material Conditions?

    https://isreview.org/issue/82/marxis...d-human-nature

    In another thread, someone posted a picture of Engels holding his book, The origin of the family, private property and the state, and pointing out that what we view as human nature depends on our material conditions. I was intrigued and had never considered this. I always assumed that what we meant by human nature was something eternal that exists across different societies. So I googled the issue and found this article from a socialist website. I found it an interesting article and thought I would throw this out for criticism and discussion. Is what we think of as human nature then not really set, but is it dependent on how society is organized and what our material conditions are?

    One of the criticisms of Marxism I’ve seen from others is that it contradicts human nature. But if human nature is not so set, then the question becomes whether human nature could thus be altered in a way that socialism becomes feasible. If human nature is malleable, then do we always need a profit motive to be productive? By socialism, I mean the ownership of the means of production by society as a whole, rather than by shares of stock by individuals who thereby benefit from the profits of the enterprise. In true socialism there’d be no profits and all would share equally in work and what is produced. I’m not sure how human nature could be altered so that ideal would work. I think the article does have a point that in our distant past, we were probably very socialist in our organization. But our society is no longer a hunter gatherer society and we are not going back to that. (See my post in Nature and Science about Agriculture which also spun off from reading this article.)

    Still the basic question remains, is human nature truly malleable, set by our material conditions? Or is it something more eternal?

    SLD

  2. Top | #2
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    California
    Posts
    3,643
    Archived
    4,797
    Total Posts
    8,440
    Rep Power
    59
    Quote Originally Posted by SLD View Post
    https://isreview.org/issue/82/marxis...d-human-nature

    In another thread, someone posted a picture of Engels holding his book, The origin of the family, private property and the state, and pointing out that what we view as human nature depends on our material conditions. ... Still the basic question remains, is human nature truly malleable, set by our material conditions? Or is it something more eternal?

    SLD
    So the theory is, if only Engels had been raised in a society that had "passed beyond class morality" he wouldn't have been a genocidal racist?

    Here's a competing theory on the topic: Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

  3. Top | #3
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    seattle
    Posts
    4,719
    Rep Power
    11
    I'd say material conditions manifest which aspects of human nature manifest.

    I was at a friend's house for dinner and they had a rug rat. Another couple was there with a rug rat.

    The two kids were sitting upright on the floor toe to toe pulling back and forth on a toy.

    Fighting over possessions before they could talk.

  4. Top | #4
    Formerly Joedad
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    PA USA
    Posts
    4,912
    Archived
    5,039
    Total Posts
    9,951
    Rep Power
    73
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    I'd say material conditions manifest which aspects of human nature manifest.

    I was at a friend's house for dinner and they had a rug rat. Another couple was there with a rug rat.

    The two kids were sitting upright on the floor toe to toe pulling back and forth on a toy.

    Fighting over possessions before they could talk.
    Without survival there is no human nature to discuss. Those rug bugs were merely manifesting generations of natural selection for behaviors. But nature is constantly offering up new recipes for what it means to be human, so those behaviors are not set, they change based on what the environment dictates.

  5. Top | #5
    Contributor DBT's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן ǝɥʇ
    Posts
    8,636
    Archived
    17,906
    Total Posts
    26,542
    Rep Power
    69
    An interaction of genes and environment. We are shaped by our environment, culture, outlook, values, language, education, etc.

    Quote;
    ''Human behavior is affected both by genetic inheritance and by experience. The ways in which people develop are shaped by social experience and circumstances within the context of their inherited genetic potential. The scientific question is just how experience and hereditary potential interact in producing human behavior.

    Each person is born into a social and cultural setting, family, community, social class, language, religion and eventually develops many social connections. The characteristics of a child's social setting affect how he or she learns to think and behave, by means of instruction, rewards and punishment, and example. This setting includes home, school, neighborhood, and also, perhaps, local religious and law enforcement agencies. Then there are also the child's mostly informal interactions with friends, other peers, relatives, and the entertainment and news media. How individuals will respond to all these influences, or even which influence will be the most potent, tends not to be predictable. There is, however, some substantial similarity in how individuals respond to the same pattern of influences, that is, to being raised in the same culture. Furthermore, culturally induced behavior patterns, such as speech patterns, body language, and forms of humor, become so deeply imbedded in the human mind that they often operate without the individuals themselves being fully aware of them. ''

  6. Top | #6
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Oregon's westernmost
    Posts
    10,729
    Archived
    18,213
    Total Posts
    28,942
    Rep Power
    52
    No expert hat on here. We are evolved social animals with strong component of empathy equipment. Of course we're products of our environment and we are products of our nature. Parsing not recommended. Package deal.

  7. Top | #7
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    seattle
    Posts
    4,719
    Rep Power
    11
    Culture does vary in terms of say aggression.

  8. Top | #8
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Oregon's westernmost
    Posts
    10,729
    Archived
    18,213
    Total Posts
    28,942
    Rep Power
    52
    ... and progesterone, estrogen, testerone balance.

  9. Top | #9
    Veteran Member PyramidHead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    RI
    Posts
    3,874
    Archived
    4,389
    Total Posts
    8,263
    Rep Power
    56

    Must have been some kind of android or alien

  10. Top | #10
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    1,406
    Archived
    3,946
    Total Posts
    5,352
    Rep Power
    60
    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    I'd say material conditions manifest which aspects of human nature manifest.

    I was at a friend's house for dinner and they had a rug rat. Another couple was there with a rug rat.

    The two kids were sitting upright on the floor toe to toe pulling back and forth on a toy.

    Fighting over possessions before they could talk.
    Without survival there is no human nature to discuss. Those rug bugs were merely manifesting generations of natural selection for behaviors. But nature is constantly offering up new recipes for what it means to be human, so those behaviors are not set, they change based on what the environment dictates.
    The rug bugs manifest the behaviors of rug bugs, not humanity. Nature in the form of humans offers up new recipes for what it means to be humans. So, rephrased: humans choose what it is to be human.

    How do kids serve as an example of what human nature is? Is the assumption that they're somehow "human nature" in it's more 'pure form' that is not yet 'suppressed' by culture?

    That they don't have the same impulse control and degree of enculturation that adults have is exactly why they're a crap analogy for humanity. It makes them more an example of what a not-yet-human is, because one of the most defining traits of humans is how dna and biological evolution don't make us everything that we are. Our culture can modify that, and our choices inevitably modify culture.

Similar Threads

  1. Everything after time T is determined
    By rousseau in forum Natural Science
    Replies: 78
    Last Post: 06-17-2019, 07:21 PM
  2. Human nature
    By untermensche in forum Other Philosophical Discussions
    Replies: 72
    Last Post: 03-22-2019, 12:19 AM
  3. Human Nature and Having Children
    By rousseau in forum Natural Science
    Replies: 43
    Last Post: 12-09-2017, 10:11 PM
  4. Replies: 12
    Last Post: 11-17-2017, 06:34 AM
  5. Is the mind material or non-material?
    By DBT in forum Other Philosophical Discussions
    Replies: 304
    Last Post: 07-02-2014, 08:11 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •