True human nature

All of this culture-speak recently has brought me to a realization about the nature of human beings.  (check out this recent article on animal morality)

It is our nature to consume.  It is our nature to consume everything available.  It is our nature to fight.  It is our nature to lie.

All of these things are our nature.  All are natural.  All animals do the things we do.  There is no separation between man and other animals, except in the ways we choose to express that common nature.

The question then is not “what is human nature?”  Human nature is animal nature.  Both are ultimately Nature’s nature.  We are not separte from Nature, except through artificial constructs.  As we’re starting (slowly) to learn, we are directly connected to the cycle of Nature.  There is no separation there.  Pollute, and ye shall be polluted.

The question is – “In what direction, to what end, do we exercise that nature?”

Any “law” points, automatically, to what is otherwise natural for us to do.  Laws are a social agreement, to force us to moderate ourselves, for the sake of society, for the sake of civilization.

For instance, let’s consider the 10 Commandments from the Christian Bible:
1. Have no other gods before Me
2. Worship no false idols/images
3. Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain
4. Remember the Sabbath
[Work 6 days, rest 1] – this one is “hidden” in there
5. Honor your father and mother
6. Do not commit murder
7. Do not commit adultery
8. Do not steal
9. Do not bear false witness
10. Do not covet anything belonging to your neighbor.

It is our nature to do all of the things we “shan’t” according to the 10 Commandments.  Otherwise we wouldn’t need “laws” prohibiting us from doing them.  We’d naturally not do them.

What’s the point?

Well, for one, remember that human beings are animals.  We’re not far removed at all from “the wilde beastes” (read Chaucer for true insight into human nature) that haunt the dark wood.  If you want proof, send me an email and I’ll send you the video file a friend just sent me showing Taliban members beheading “infidels” with what looks like a butcher knife.

The second point is this – when we become mindless, we descend into savagery.  And I don’t mean “savagery” as “poverty” or “third-world status.”  I mean we descend into a state where “third-world” even makes sense.  We descend into a realm of subjugation, of putting people into work camps and gas chambers…of putting animals into subjugation.

We’ve embraced the method of the mind so much, that we can’t turn back.  We have to continue on this path.  We’ve effectively destroyed any culture that didn’t rely on the mind-at-the-expense-of-harmony.

Recognize your nature and befriend it.  Don’t shun, deny, or ignore it.

We do this all the time.  It results in feelings of guilt or shame.  “I had sex with my neighbor’s wife” [not me, this is figurative!].  You are ashamed, you are guilty.  But why did you do it?  Because you couldn’t help yourself?  Or because you tried to deny that you could do such a thing, and ignored the impulse in you until it was too late?

I see the same tendency in people fighting to become “fit.”  They come to the gym and work out once a week, or twice.  Then go home and chow down on whatever is in front of them.  “I couldn’t help it.  I couldn’t stop myself.”

Yet you could stop yourself from working out every day?  No.  I disagree.  You couldn’t admit that it is your nature to want to eat everything.  To want to consume all around you.  To want to expand, to live.  And so, when the plate was put before you, you had already relinquished control through denial.

“I don’t want to eat everything I see…I just can’t help myself.”

The path of least resistance is also a natural law.

When you accept your nature, then it becomes your choice what law you live by, and how.  Then you can truly choose.

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0 thoughts on “True human nature

  1. What separates us from animals is free will. People make choices to be consumers, savages, ect. Not everyone makes those choices and so therefore I do not personally believe it is part of human nature in general. I think humans are way too complicated and diverse in nature to presume we are all one way or another. Especially when you travel to countries like Peru and seeing the indigenous people who are the opposite of consumers. They work their asses off everyday and nothing goes to waste. They utilize every part of the animal, land, vegetable, ect. They are the hardest workers I have ever seen. I wouldn’t say it is human nature to be lazy, have no self-control, wasteful….it is American nature.

    • Hi Autumn!

      I agree with you 90%…in fact, that’s what I was trying (badly) to say!

      I’m not sure about “laziness” (one of the “laws of Nature” is that all things follow the path of least resistance) as we define it. I think our definition of laziness is highly culturally-colored.

      According to Marshall Sahlins and others, traditional hunter-gatherer (and even early/traditional agricultural) societies enjoyed much more leisure time than we do. But their leisure time was rest from very physical work the rest of the time. And laying around wasn’t, therefore, considered “laziness.”

      But I think that’s your point – it’s a cultural construct.

      “Free will” is a difficult issue as well. I prefer to categorize the difference between humans and other animals by our ability to imagine and remember things to a greater degree than they can. We can remember the past, almost as far as we’ve lived it, and imagine a future, and compare what we’ve seen with what we want.

      I think that all animals have “free will.” Any animal (even human) ultimately is bound only (at base) by the laws of Nature – bodily mechanics metabolism and homeostasis, gravity, solidity, physics, etc. Other rules are arbitrary, and agreed-upon (the point I was trying, again poorly, to make about laws above).

      But knowing that we agree…why is it that we choose to build a culture that makes “savages” of people who live closely with the land?

      Why is Peru a “developing nation” (used to be “third-world”)? Seems well developed to me…at least, by the standards of the people you mention. They’re taking care of themselves, living, enjoying their lives.

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