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Re: [existlist] human nature

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  • Edward Alf
    James et folks, you are right ... what we mean by human nature needs to be defined ... i may not be up to the task, but will give it a try ... i define human
    Message 1 of 39 , Apr 8, 2001
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      James et folks,

      you are right ... what we mean by "human nature" needs to be defined ... i
      may not be up to the task, but will give it a try ...

      i define human nature by those things that we tend to do in the same fashion
      ... im not connecting this to some specifics in the sense of whether or not
      one is to be a Muslim .... that is too specific ... i would not say that
      anyone was "wired" to become some particular thing ... human nature is more
      general ...

      it is general in the same sense as we have a common understanding of a
      "window" ... it is an opening which one is intended to look through ... in
      specifics it can be a victorian window or a bay window ... or a hole in the
      wall covered with clear plastic ... it can also be something which is absent
      and only an anticipation (empty intending, according to phenomenology) ...
      like a solid wall which you would like to have a window ...

      in any case, if we were to take religion, i think it would be safe to say
      that it is human nature to have an understanding of the outside world ..
      whether this be by Islam, or whatever is beside the point ...

      there is no absolute for "proper" human being ... that changes from
      generation to generation ... i would be open, however, to the argument that
      "love" is a constant ...

      i dont understand the comment, "there is no human nature, since there is no
      god to conceive it" ... how does Sartre know that a god did not conceive of
      it ... Sartre, after all, does not believe in god ...

      i agree that not everyone chooses order out of chaos ... or life over death
      ... or even acceptance ... but these are sufficiently common choices as to
      indicate a human nature ... even in Norse Mythology where defeat is seen as
      the ultimate end for mankind and for the gods, there is a desire to fight on
      against evil ... that is to live till this ultimate end ...

      i think we all understand the concept of "normal" ... yes, a person can
      define what is normal for him, but this is not the meaning of the term that
      we are using ... we are saying "normal" in the sense of something that is
      statistically common ... that given a situation there is good expectation
      that most people would follow a certain course of action ... this does not
      apply to the individual ... an individual may choose death over life and
      that is his/her choice ... but i dont think that we would say that this is a
      reflection of the "normal" response ...


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "james tan" <tyjfk@...>
      To: <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
      Cc: <suwei_22@...>; <lin.copland@...>;
      <derek21@...>; <sooklsf@...>;
      <cute_garnet@...>; <alvinc2@...>; <wenjia2@...>
      Sent: Sunday, April 08, 2001 10:51 PM
      Subject: Re: [existlist] human nature

      > eduard,
      > it is indeed good habit to define the term first before it is discussed
      > either for or against or whatnots, for the sake of clarity. semantic noise
      > is preferably reduced to the lowest level for intelligent communication. i
      > look through your mails and am still unable to ascertain as to what YOU
      > by the term 'human nature', and as such i am not sure if i'll be missing
      > your point concerning this interesting issue. eg. do you consider it a
      > nature to have two eyes instead of three? do you consider it human nature
      > need food or water to survive as a living organism?
      > by and large, there is a 'nature' if it refers to nature: human gives
      > to human; human has two legs; human gets thirsty; human gets tired. you
      > pretty much expect that humans will reproduce another humans that has two
      > legs, get thirsty, tired.
      > another way of looking at human nature is this: apart from the biological
      > nature, is there essence, so to speak, of how human should act in order to
      > be a 'proper' human being? is there a 'proper', that is? i have a staunch
      > muslim friend who told me: all humans are automatically born a muslim,
      > unless you choose to 'rebel' against it; of course, he is entitled to his
      > view, but would you buy it?
      > a motor car is made for a purpose, and that is the essence or idea of
      > car. to the extent that the production fit the idea, it is a 'good' motor
      > car. the *value* of the motor car depends on how well the object tallies
      > with the function it is invented for. is there a pre-established
      > or value or criteria of a human so that we may judge a human 'good' or
      > 'bad', maybe not human at all? what sartre has to say make good sense: in
      > this sense, there is no human nature, since there is no god to conceive
      > each human being is free, meaning that he is the author (and the
      > responsibility) of his own values, and they are created through his own
      > choices and actions. it is by his actions and choices that create 'good',
      > and not we do it because it is good (as if there is a pre-established
      > or what makes a 'real' human being). there is no human nature or instincts
      > that will compel man to act in certain way: man is pretty free to choose,
      > even death. a dog may see another dog and start to copulate, and though
      > man has sexual urges (human nature?), he is not about to do that; he knows
      > what is socially or culturally sanctioned behaviours and he is capable of
      > choosing to do it or not. the law never condemn a tiger for killing, but
      > holds a human responsible for murder; not that 'not to murder' is human
      > nature, but knowing what is socially sanctioned and what is not, the
      > freely went ahead to do it: he is responsible (unless he pleads insanity).
      > there is alternative for human, and he chooses. not everybody chooses
      > out of chaos, not everybody chooses life over death, not everybody seek
      > acceptance; you may say they are not normal, but base on what do you
      > understand by what is normal? statistically? the individual is not
      > necessarily guided by the 'crowd', and he alone defines what is 'normal'
      > him, uniquely.
      > james.
    • Edward Alf
      james, i understand what you are saying ... my view is that, from an existentialist position, the individual makes individual choices, specific to
      Message 39 of 39 , Apr 13, 2001
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        i understand what you are saying ...

        my view is that, from an existentialist position, the individual
        makes individual choices, specific to himself/herself ... what
        happens after that is another decision in relation to morals and
        ethics ... for example, if im really angry at someone, i might
        choose initially to murder him/her ... but given this choice, i
        have another to decide whether to implement it ... i may say that
        this is contrary to civilized behavior and thus will not follow
        through with the choice ... or i might say that i risk capital
        punishment and thus am risking my own existence and decide that
        the release of anger is not worth the risk ...

        the point is that the basic principle is the freedom to choose...
        regardless of what that choice may lead to ... once you add
        qualifications the freedom is limited ... that is the way in
        which i treat logic ... one step at a time ... it is like looking
        for a new car that i can use to drive to work ... i first look
        into the set of cars in general (as opposed to bicycles or boats)
        ... then i look into this set for a subset of cars that would
        provide me with basic transportation (Volkswagens versus
        cadillacs) ... my old boss used to refer to it as the salami
        principle .. one slice at a time ...


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "james tan" <tyjfk@...>
        To: <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Friday, April 13, 2001 10:57 AM
        Subject: Re: [existlist] ethics, morality, law, etc.

        > eduard,
        > if i think that murder is wrong, then i am choosing not only
        for myself that
        > murder is wrong, i am choosing for all mankind that murder is
        wrong. this is
        > the case in principle. this is logic. it is another story
        whether what i
        > think gets implemented or not. any disagreement with that?
        well, that is my
        > stance.
        > james.
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