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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Human Nature: Philosophic POV


Human Nature:
Philosophic Point of View





Dylan White
Philosophy 1030: Co-Philosophy
November 26, 2014
  





          Three philosophers and a college student: Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Stuart Mill, and myself; these four minds combined into one paper observing human nature. Each philosopher is prevalent in his own right, and all have contributed to the betterment of philosophy. When a person looks back on the history of philosophy, that person will notice every one of these men as a noticeable figure that turned the ideals of formerly accepted philosophies to that of the modern view of philosophy.
Descartes was an influential philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment and these philosophers will be observed around him in chronological order. Originating from France, René Descartes developed a method to determine exactly what it is he could know for sure; this method is known, as the Method of Cartesian Doubt.[1] Another name for Descartes is the “Father of Modern Philosophy” due to his break with traditional Scholastic-Aristotelian philosophy and the creation of the mechanistic sciences.[2]
Human nature for this purpose will be considered the freedom of a person. A couple of the philosophers here discuss how free people are to make their own decisions and one mentions their reasoning for doing so. There are other philosophers not mentioned here that believe the same thing. One may go as far as to say that it is the decisions a person makes that makes them free instead of their freedom offering them the chance to make decisions.
            This is applicable to real life because people exist, and if they did not then these words would not even apply to reality. Determine that for a moment: without people then there would be no one to write this, nobody to read it, and no person in the past to come up with these ideas to be discussed. Simply put, the reason it is applicable is because there are people for it to apply to. Furthermore, it applies to life because there are statistics that show how relevant this is to life.
Beginning with motivation, leading to government enchainment, and finishing with being born free, it is almost as if the philosophers planned to be born in a sequential order developing this thought in a building fashion. This sequence forms one of the best thoughts that could be formed by different people over the course of several years. Starting with Thomas Hobbes, moving to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and ending with John Stuart Mill, there are few philosophers who can hold a candle to these men.

First, Hobbes discusses the motivation of a person to do the things that they do. Motivation is thought of as the reason people determine their freedom. Suppose someone is motivated to go take a nap instead of going to class, then that person determines he or she is free to go nap whatever consequences they incur due to skipping class.
Hobbes is a pre-Cartesian, English philosopher, who was born in 1588[3] and influenced by the world before Descartes’ arrival, who came along eight years later. As the fitness-frenzied man that he was, he lived to be ninety-nine where the average age for his time was thirty-five.He lived a long life for his time—he must have been very wise. He lived his whole life trying to stay fit and better himself, playing tennis well into old age, walking up a hill quickly until he was out of breathe, and singing in secluded areas to exercise his lungs.3 Finally, he was a politician who saw that people were greedy for power on a daily basis. 
He believed everyone was greedy for power over others.[4] Of course, today it is easy to agree with him when one observes political campaigns, corporate fraud, and the like. Look no further than this class and run scoring to witness the power struggle. Moreover, there is a more recent development that even little ones choose careers in order to have power over others. According to “wewomen.com,” children between the ages of five to eleven changed their top two choices for careers from teacher and banking/finance to sportsman and pop star in 2010 showing that over the past twenty-five years they changed to choose a career for the power they have over others.[5]
Politicians surrounded Hobbes so one may go as far to argue that the company he kept biased his point of view. Plus, there are people that claim some people are not as greedy or power hungry as Hobbes makes them out to be. It is difficult to attain both power and respect, claims Harvard Business Review[6], and “it is much safer to be feared than loved.”[7] However, this is not a large enough number of people that are neither greedy nor power hungry to matter.
Many politicians are thought to be corrupt and selfish, and if that is true, then Hobbes may very well have been biased to this issue. When a person stands in dense woods, the only things that person can see are the trees that surround him. Hobbes forest was in politics and the only thing he saw was the corruption and the greed, if the rumors of politicians are correct.

Next, Rousseau expresses his belief that people are slaves to their government. People are slaves because they allow themselves to be chained by the government, and that is because they are greedy and hungry for power over others. Cities corrupt people and monetary objects cause even more problems, says Rousseau.[8]
Rousseau was a post-Cartesian, Swiss philosopher who wound up helping to inspire the French revolution.[9] He did not enjoy the attention he received; he preferred to be alone in nature.[10] Alternatively, the Catholic Church was not a huge fan of his; it had banned several of his books for being unconventional.[11]
He believed “‘man was born free, and everywhere was in chains,’” and that envy and greed grew out of living together in cities.[12] Although Rousseau was no anarchist, he believed government had too much power over the people. Anarchists believe in an unruly world without laws or government, which he appreciated, but he realized the dangers of that occurring.
In contrast, could everyone, without a government, get along peacefully? Is it possible that with his ideas, we could have a “Purge” movie society? No. Anarchy is believed by many people to be the worst possible thing to happen; conversely, what Rousseau is suggesting is that the human population be released from the grasp of cities and governments with power and have a collective sovereign such as a democracy or a republic. 
A man who enjoyed being alone, Rousseau felt peaceful while in nature and anxious while in the city so he was not fond of the city. Another name for his idea is known as the General Will, which is the will that is best for everyone as a whole and not each individual person.[13] So, he should assume that the United States is the most perfect place on Earth at the moment, even though it is far from perfect. 

Continually, Mill deduces that people are to receive freedom. Nobody should be governed unless they are doing something they should not be doing. This is what he decided would bring about the most possible pleasure. Being allowed very little as a child, he wanted to prove that he was not just what other people wanted him to be.[14]
Yet another post-Cartesian philosopher, this one descends from Britain and was largely influenced by his father who followed the beliefs of John Locke who thought children’s minds were blank slates.[15] This devotion to Locke led Mill’s father to force him into concentrating on academics and staying away from the other children.[16] When Mill got older, he was consider somewhat of a genius and became a campaigner against justice, an early feminist, a politician, a journalist, and a Utilitarian philosopher.[17]
He believed one should be free to make his or her choices without the interference of society. His deduction is known as the Harm Principle; all adults should be allowed to do whatever they want as long as no one is harmed in the process.[18] More so, Mill did not believe it was just government that was parenting other adults; Mill believed that the majority of the population decided what is right and wrong and everyone is guided between what society determined to be the correct thing to do.[19] 
On the other hand, a parent(s) that believed in controlling a child to a certain degree to keep them from getting hurt reared them. He suggests in this case that paternalism is fine when it is focused on children and only children.[20] One good example that the genius, Mill, himself makes is: if geniuses are guided by society, then they will not have the opportunity to blossom like they ought to and will not offer the world their brilliance.[21]
Mill was a sheltered child with no opportunity to meet kids his own age. “Though he never really got over his strange childhood and remained lonely a bit distant throughout his life,” he was still “a prodigy.”[22] Because of his intelligence and his closeness with Jeremy Bentham[23], he was able to create the Harm Principle, thus significantly impacting not only the rest of society, but future generations as well.

Then, as I began philosophy I had an idea of what my thoughts on the world were. Believing people to be evil creatures that should be avoided at all costs, I was reclusive. Reading about these three philosophers led me to believe differently.
Influenced by the Christian religion, and constantly seeking to change and adapt, I learned quickly from these three men. They have strengthened me in my faith, affected my attitude towards humanity, and won me over with their convincing theories. 
Believing we have the freedom to make our own choices, but often times those choices are selfish and greedy for power over others, is the new outlook I have developed from studying these intriguing philosophies. When a person decides to do something nice for someone else, odds are they do it because they believe they will get something out of it. It is simply human nature.
Alternately, the Christian religion teaches that we are to be filled with the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This opposes the altered philosophy that I created from the cumulative philosophies of the three philosophers: Hobbes, Rousseau, and Mill. All Christians who allow themselves to be filled with the Fruits of the Spirit are not greedy nor are they in search of power over someone else.
So many people are Christians in word but not in thought or action and they do not have, nor want, the Fruits of the Spirit. Plus, there are many people who are from other religions who espouse a similar belief as that of the Fruits of the Spirit, however, a few of them and many other people choose to be greedy for power over other people; this is due to human nature. 

In conclusion, I have found that these philosophers have created a culminated philosophy that sums up the reality of human nature and decision-making. One becomes motivated to do something, then realizes that he or she is entrapped by their government and society, and lastly notices that he or she has the power to form their own path. Coming to this conclusion, one can truly forge their path and make a difference in the world.
            On their own, these three philosophers are seen as odd, or slightly life changing, but when you put them together you get something more. Hobbes, Rousseau, and Mill describe different views that when put together are a precise explanation of human interaction. Without these three, we might not be as observant of our own freedom.
            Hobbes believed everybody was greedy for power over others; Rousseau believed the government figuratively bound its people; Mill believed we were free to make our own choices. Oldest of the three, Hobbes held the motivation, and being a politician he felt he knew what motivated people. Freedom fighters, Rousseau and Mill, held the discussions on freedom and how it is stolen and that we should strive to get it back.
            Jean-Paul Sartre says that all choices that are made are our own and our responsibility, and we have the power to choose to not be greedy for power over others and to not be bound by our government. He also says that it is our own fault if we do not make the choices that we want to be made. Coming to a close on this paper on human nature, the decision to be free is ours, reach out and seize it.
            Everything that is done is done with the thought in the back of the mind to get something out of it. When someone is asked for a favor, they accept it, and accomplish it because they believe they will receive something in return. Do not be deceived by your friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, colleagues, or strangers; all people freely choose to be greedy and overpower one another.


Bibliography



Keltner, Dacher. The Power Paradox. University of California, Berkley. December 1, 2007. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/power_paradox (accessed December 1, 2014).

Skirry, Justin. Rene Descartes (1596-1650). http://www.iep.utm.edu/descarte/ (accessed December 1, 2014).

Surprising statistics - When I grow up... The career choices of today's children.http://www.wewomen.com/children/when-i-grow-up-the-career-choices-of-today-s-children-d31105x64325.html (accessed December 1, 2014).

Warburton, Nigel. A Little History of Philosophy. London: Yale University Press, 2011.

Warburton, Nigel, and David Edmonds. Philosophy Bites Back. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Wiesenfeld, Batia M., Naomi B. Rothman, Sara L. Wheeler-Smith, and Adam Galinsky. Why Fair Bosses Fall Behind. July 2011. https://hbr.org/2011/07/why-fair-bosses-fall-behind (accessed December 1, 2014).





[1] Warburton, Nigel. A Little History of Philosophy. London: Yale University Press, 2011, 63.
[2] Skirry, Justin. Rene Descartes (1596-1650). http://www.iep.utm.edu/descarte/ (accessed December 1, 2014).
[3] Warburton, A Little History, 57
[4] Ibid., 58.
[5] Surprising statistics - When I grow up... The career choices of today's children. http://www.wewomen.com/children/when-i-grow-up-the-career-choices-of-today-s-children-d31105x64325.html (accessed December 1, 2014).
[6] Wiesenfeld, Batia M. et al., Why Fair Bosses Fall Behind. July 2011. https://hbr.org/2011/07/why-fair-bosses-fall-behind (accessed December 1, 2014).
[7] Keltner, Dacher. The Power Paradox. University of California, Berkley. December 1, 2007. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/power_paradox (accessed December 1, 2014).
[8] Warburton, A Little History, 106
[9] Warburton, A Little History, 106
[10] Ibid., 105
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid., 106
[13] Ibid., 107
[14] Warburton, Nigel, and David Edmonds. Philosophy Bites Back. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, 157
[15] Warburton, A Little History, 138 
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid., 139
[18] Ibid., 141
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Warburton, A Little History, 142
[22] Ibid, 139
[23] Ibid., 138

2 comments:

  1. "Suppose someone is motivated to go take a nap instead of going to class, then that person determines he or she is free to go nap whatever consequences they incur due to skipping class." Hmm. "Determines" here just means "thinks" or "concludes"? Hobbes was a determinist, meaning in part that what people think or conclude is itself determined by events beyond their control. Freedom isn't really an issue, though of course it may still seem so. But that would be an illusion.

    "Look no further than this class and run scoring to witness the power struggle" - ooh, I hope our little game didn't feel too much like a "power struggle" to you! It was just supposed to be fun and motivating.

    Maybe pop stars and "sportsmen" have more power than teachers and bankers, but I doubt it.

    "So, he should assume that the United States is the most perfect place on Earth at the moment, even though it is far from perfect." Huh?

    "When a person decides to do something nice for someone else, odds are they do it because they believe they will get something out of it. It is simply human nature." You haven't met genuinely nice, selfless people? I have. They're good role models, as you go about constructing & expressing your human nature.

    "Do not be deceived by your friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, colleagues, or strangers; all people freely choose to be greedy and overpower one another." I do hope you have better encounters in the future!

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  2. I see that you've replied, Dylan, but inexplicably in the comments section for someone else's post. Come see me next semester if you'd like to pursue this conversation. And I do sincerely hope you'll have occasion, in the future, to revise your opinion about greedy power-mongering humanity. There really are a lot of nice people out there waiting to meet you.

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