Tuesday, 7 June 2016
Human Nature And Change
The phrase "human nature" has become a cliche meaning, essentially, "selfish, violent, unchanging and unchangeable." Anderson does not join in this slander! He presents human diversity. His and Karen Anderson's Gratillonius is a model of social leadership and foresight. Nicholas van Rijn is self-interested but morally constrained whereas other League merchants are unprincipled gun-runners.
In Changes, I summarize my view of "human nature." Human beings change their environment, changing themselves in the process. Therefore, there is nothing unchanging anywhere within us. I should add that human beings are essentially social. Therefore, cooperation, most basically expressed through language, is more basic than selfishness. Some societies encourage individual selfishness; others do not. But much of our behavior is contextual. We do not (have to) fight for the air that we breathe but might well fight for the last oxygen cylinder if we were stranded in a space station. I argue against any proposition along the lines of "In any society, there will always be those who..." There will not always be anything!