My inquiry question for this semester is: Is humanity inherently “good” or inherently “bad”?
As I have previously mentioned in my last post, I will be addressing the moments and at what kind of situations we are seemed to be inherently evil. Additionally, I will explain how Thomas Hobbes, an english philosopher, came up with the idea that we are seemingly naturally wicked.
Humans are seemed to be both good and evil, but there are some beliefs which are regarded as evil. First of all, we consider minorities and the vulnerable less than humans. An example for this came from a study which found a group of students who displayed less neural activity associated with thoughts when looked at pictures of the homeless or drug addicts, compared with higher class individuals. There was an another study that showed people who are opposed to Arab immigration were likely to rate Arabs and muslims as less evolved than average.
Another reason why we are believed to be evil is because our belief in karma is real, assuming that the persecuted of the world deserve their fate. The luckless consequences of such beliefs were first demonstrated in now a classic research from 1966 by the American psychologists, Melvin Lerner and Carolyn Simmons. Their experiment included a female learner who was punished with electric shocks for wrong answers. They subsequently rated her as less admirable and pleasant when they heard that they would be seeing her suffer again and peculiarly if they felt powerless to lessen this suffering. This research has shown our willingness to blame the poor, victims of rape, AIDS patients and others for their fate. (1) A psychology professor from Yale once said that the cruelty we do to one another, rotten terrible things we do, are in fact because we recognize the humanity of the other person. We see others as blameworthy, morally responsible, as themselves cruel, as not giving us what we deserve, as taking more than they deserve. So we treat them horribly precisely as we see them as moral human beings. Instrumental violence proves the fact that we are cruel, as there are some end they want to achieve but since people are in the way, they kill them as not human. This happened in the Nazi concentration camps, where people were reduced to machines, treated like animals for labor. However, in concentration camps, it is degrading and humiliating, and it is torturing people as we think they deserve it. It is the pleasure of dominance over another person. (3)
Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher, was in fact one of the evidence which assisted in proving that humanity can be cruel. He didn’t think that we’re naturally evil, but instead we are not constitutional in living together in large scale political societies. Unfortunately, we’re not instinctively cooperative and don’t work together for the common good like bees or ants. In fact, we are naturally self-centred and look out for ourselves first and foremost. Humans care about their reputation, as well as our material wellbeing, and our desire for social standing leads us into conflict as much as competition over scarce resources. He stated that we must submit ourselves to an authoritative body with the power to enforce laws and resolve conflicts in order to live peacefully together. Hobbes called it the ‘sovereign’, and he declared as long as the sovereign preserves peace, we shouldn’t question its legitimacy for it leads back to the state of nature which is the worst possible place we could find ourselves. (2)
Thank you for reading and I look forward to seeing you next.
- Aeonmag. (n.d.). The bad news on human nature, in 10 findings from psychology: Aeon ideas. Aeon. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://aeon.co/ideas/the-bad-news-on-human-nature-in-10-findings-from-psychology
- Douglass, R. (2022, January 13). Hobbes vs Rousseau: Are we inherently evil or good? IAI TV – Changing how the world thinks. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://iai.tv/articles/hobbes-vs-rousseau-are-we-inherently-evil-or-good-auid-1221
- Illing, S. (2017, December 14). Why humans are cruel. Vox. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/12/14/16687388/cruelty-border-immigration-psychology-human-nature
Hi Tiffany! You have come up with a really intriguing topic and it makes me ponder different ideas and opinions from different angles, I have heard people say two different and opposites things, and they have reason and at the same time, they do not have them. People can be unpredictable with their actions and/or what they say, but really in deep, they can also surprise us. Overall, that one never gets to truly know someone even though one spends years and years spending time with them. However, it is wise to be an open-mind, people have proven that they can be cruel, but also proven that they can make up for it, being supportive and having mercy with one another.
People can surprise you either in a good or in a bad way.