The concept of nature as a standard by which to make judgments was a basic presupposition in Greek philosophy. Specifically, "almost all" classical philosophers accepted that a good human life is a life in accordance with nature.
On this subject, the approach of Socrates, sometimes considered to be a teleological approach, came to be dominant by late classical and medieval times. This approach understands human nature in terms of final and formal causes. Such understandings of human nature see this nature as an "idea," or "form" of a human. By this account, human nature really causes humans to become what they become, and so it exists somehow independently of individual humans. This in turn has sometimes been understood as also showing a special connection between human nature and divinity.
The existence of this invariable human nature is, however, a subject of much historical debate, continuing into modern times. Against this idea of a fixed human nature, the relative malleability of man has been argued especially strongly in recent centuries—firstly by early modernists such as Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the latter of whom stated:
|“||We do not know what our nature permits us to be. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile||”|
Since the mid-19th century, thinkers such as Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Sartre, structuralists and postmodernists have also sometimes argued against a fixed or innate human nature.
Still more recent scientific perspectives such as behaviorism, determinism, and the chemical model within modern psychiatry and psychology, claim to be neutral regarding human nature. (As in all modern science they seek to explain without recourse to metaphysical causation.) They can be offered to explain its origins and underlying mechanisms, or to demonstrate capacities for change and diversity which would arguably violate the concept of a fixed human nature.
Read more about this topic: Human Nature
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Famous quotes containing the word history:
“When the landscape buckles and jerks around, when a dust column of debris rises from the collapse of a block of buildings on bodies that could have been your own, when the staves of history fall awry and the barrel of time bursts apart, some turn to prayer, some to poetry: words in the memory, a stained book carried close to the body, the notebook scribbled by handa center of gravity.”
—Adrienne Rich (b. 1929)
“America is, therefore the land of the future, where, in the ages that lie before us, the burden of the Worlds history shall reveal itself. It is a land of desire for all those who are weary of the historical lumber-room of Old Europe.”
—Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (17701831)
“I am ashamed to see what a shallow village tale our so-called History is. How many times must we say Rome, and Paris, and Constantinople! What does Rome know of rat and lizard? What are Olympiads and Consulates to these neighboring systems of being? Nay, what food or experience or succor have they for the Esquimaux seal-hunter, or the Kanaka in his canoe, for the fisherman, the stevedore, the porter?”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)