Blog post #4: Is humanity inherently “good” or “bad”?

My main inquiry question is: Is humanity inherently “good” or inherently “bad”?

My fourth blog post will comprise all the evidence and how or who came up first with the idea based on the points which were made that proves humanity is originally good.

First of all, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, plays a part of the role in the French Revolution as his treatises and novels inspired the leaders of the French Revolution and the Romantic generation. However, since he was not only a political theorist, but a philosopher as well, Rousseau had a strong belief about human nature and how human beings are good by nature but are rendered corrupt by society. (1) Rousseau proposed that the development of society had changed human nature itself, destructing our natural goodness. In our society, we became obsessed with egotism and the praise from our peers. Rousseau states that amour propre, unlike amour de soi, which targeted at the survival of the individual, but amour propre aimed at one’s comparative worth. This made us be inherently competitive, focused on being noticed and standing out among the crowd. However, amour propre might seem like a pathological form of self-love, but he argues that it’s not inherently harmful. It becomes harmful when it’s “inflamed” where rather than living for ourselves, we tend to go through a state of “being-for-others”. This competition makes us seek superiority over others when it gets worse. An example of this nowadays would be social media, it is known for being unhealthy to continually check, but it is often still done compulsively. (4)

One of the reasons to look at how humanity is inherently good is through experimenting babies. An ingenious experiment carried out at Yale University in the US used a kind of a puppet show, where a stage of a scene features a bright green hill, and three puppets were cut-out shapes with wobbly eyes, each in their own bright colours. What displayed then was a shape trying to climb the hill, struggling up and falling back down. Next, the other two shapes got involved which one of them was helping the climber from below, pushing it up. However, the other one was hindering the climber, pushing back from above. What happened next after the show, infants were given a choice to reach either the helping or the hindering shape. After, it looks like they were more likely to reach for the helper. The purpose of this experiment was to prove that with their pre-cultural brains, they had expectations about how people should act. They don’t only interpret the movement of the shapes as resulting from motivations, but they choose helping motivations over hindering ones. (2)

Another reason why humanity is good is that humans not only enjoy positive interactions, we also need them for our well being and mental health. Additionally, humans loves to hug as it is an efficient way of relieving stress. When we hug someone, the body releases hormones like oxytocin, which is the same hormone that helps new mothers bond with their babies, therefore helping to lower blood pressure. (3)

References:

  1. .Condy, E. M. (2017, April 28). How and why does Rousseau argue that man is naturally good or evil? Medium. Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://medium.com/@NoelleCondy/how-and-why-does-rousseau-argue-that-man-is-naturally-good-or-evil-e755714b75e3#:~:text=In%20the%20Social%20Contract%20Rousseau,the%20society%20becomes%20necessarily%20evil.
  2. BBC. (n.d.). Are we naturally good or bad? BBC Future. Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20130114-are-we-naturally-good-or-bad
  3. Wojno, R. (2020, October 15). 9 reasons why humans are inherently good. Goodnet. Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.goodnet.org/articles/9-reasons-humans-are-inherently-good
  4. ~ 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. (2022, March 26). Rousseau on human nature: “amour de soi” and “amour propre”. 1000. Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://1000wordphilosophy.com/2021/09/27/rousseau-on-human-nature/

4 Replies to “Blog post #4: Is humanity inherently “good” or “bad”?”

  1. Hi Tiffany!

    I started to wonder about this too. I think about how people are rude towards homeless people because people think they are uneducated and are homeless because they were not able to get a job. But there are moments when humanity is still good. Such as distinguishing what is wrong and right. I like how you are letting me know that there is still humanity in our world. Showing how we enjoy positive interactions to have good mental health and well-being. There are a few people who are inherently bad but the majority of the world’s population we have good humanity. We just don’t want to show it because we want to follow societal trends or listen to what our friends like or dislike.

    Thank you for creating this post I was able to understand whether humanity is inherently good or bad.

    -estella

  2. Hey Tiffany, love the connection you made between amour propre and our own use of technology. I saw that you were quoting Rousseau, and i myself had a little phase with philosophy books and really recommend you give the philosopher Nietzche a chance. One of his most famous books “beyond good and evil” really compares the differences between being ” good” and “evil” and how different cultural orders make different assumptions and therefore morals regarding what is evil and what is good.
    Also I love how you gave proof of your findings by explaining the experiment and its results! really helps a lot with understanding the concept of good and evil 🙂
    https://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/beyondgood/
    here’s a link to the summary of the book if you want to give it a try!

    good luck!!
    – Sanam Moazed

  3. Hello Tiffany ,
    it was really interesting reading about the study conducted on the baby’s and their “pre-cultural brains” and how instinctively they chose the “good” option , thus implying its our culture that makes us “bad” people. I wonder why our culture/society makes us inherently bad people? I look forward to reading your next blog post!
    -Sammie

  4. Hi Tiffany! I love your topic! I love exploring philosophical matters and this is super interesting. No one could truly tell if humanity is good or bad, it’s just a matter of perspective and morals. Which one do you think is more likely: humans being born evil and nurtured to be good, or humans are born either good or bad depending on their fate?
    Excited for your last post!
    -ronnie

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