Monday, August 07, 2006

What is a proper view of Man's Nature? Aha!

July 19

What is a proper view of Man's Nature?
Given the assumptions that Man is a being of self-made soul, is the Thucydidean view that civilization is only a thin veneer upon the savage nature of Man, easily scratched away by adversity, valid?

Is the enlightenment and Socratic view that Man is by nature good, and perfectible, if only he is exposed to rational education, valid?

Or is the view that Man is but a fickle opportunist, who with limited prognosticative abilities, puts upon the public nature he thinks will win him the most favor to come, valid?
Or the Religious view, that Man is fallen, and can never be improved, only forgiven and pitied, and must forever be enyolked to rigorous oversight by the clergy, valid?

The question is important, because we are investing our war-time strategy in a bet upon Democracy being able to bring a goodness inherent in Man, where he will be able to lift himself by his own bootstraps, and become civil, responsible members of civilization.

How much of Man's nature is fixed within him at an early age, if not at birth, and how much is it open to influence?

For myself, I think that it is something that in theory can be changed, but that it requires an astounding level of emotional impact (Wham!) to do it at all, and for it to last, that influence must be sustained over a significant length of time.

As we saw with 9/11, while an entire nation can be swayed and changed - for the vast majority of the population the effects will only last for a short time. Still, for those who felt the same level of impact - why were they changed for the long-term? The people who made massive changes to their nature & beliefs, came from all walks of life, actors, truck drivers, teachers, etc - as did those who were only momentarily moved, if at all.

So what theory can account for it? I think it may have to do with the gut reactions best expressed by “Ahh!... ah, ha-ha… Aha!”. I suppose I’ll have to elaborate on that some… more to come.

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