Friday, 22 December 2017 11:53

Essential (inborn or innate) human nature Featured

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The debate whether human beings are naturally evil or they are made evil by extraneous factor dominate social sciences. I believe that human beings are good naturally and strive to do good but through the interaction of internal and external factors, humans commit to doing evil things. A look at most of the societal values that have been formed throughout the history indicates that virtues and morals have been inscribed in our existence. Every society has a culture that defines what is good and what is based. A common denominator in most of these cultures is need for society members to do goo and avoid evil. For example, almost all societies despise murderers and have punitive measures to reduce murders. Most communities hate thieves, rapists and other evil doers. When a child is being brought up, it is the hope of parents that their children will grow to be a response and good person. No one wishes their child to be evil. However, one may argue that the presence of law and social norms is an acceptance of the evil nature of human beings. Through laws and norms, the society may be acting to tame the evil nature of its race. Human beings are inclined to free pain, achieve basic, psychological, physical and social needs. During the interaction process, the selfish nature of human beings is seen in their ambitions to achieve great good for themselves disregarding others.  The instinct to survive informs some of the decisions and characters people assume. For example, harsh economic situation may force a person to become a thief to meet their basic needs. Psychological disorders may predispose someone to act out of norm or cultural values. Similarly, a mental disorder may predispose someone to repeated crime or serial killing. If human beings are naturally evil, why then do we all have evil people? Why do we condemn rapists, why is everyone united against killers, and why do we have a legal system to restrain those with pursue to be violators of the good nature of humans?  

 Why do humans commit evil?

“As innocent as a new born baby.” This is a common simile that indicates the nature of humans when they are born. They are born free of an evil and through the interaction with the society; they learn evil things and become evil.  There is not one who is born evil although some innate characteristics may predispose someone to evil.  As a human being develops, they learn from the environment and persons around them. According to the social learning theory, a child starts to learn by imitating. Extraneous factors such as the socio-economic situation, psychological and physiological factors interact to mould the character of a human being. For example, a child brought up in a violent neighborhood where crime and substance abuse is common is likely to engage in the same activities.  However, it is not 100% certain that being in a violent neighborhood makes one violent. There are defiant and violation of norms. A child may be born in a violent-free environment, but other factors mold him or her to be evil. As stated above, the instinct to survive and meet human needs may cause the evil-free nature of human beings to dissipate. The selfish nature of children presents a classical example of how everyone is inclined to meet personal needs. With effective modeling and social learning, the egocentric and selfish nature of a child disappears as the socialization process influence character. It is the process of achieving these needs that human interacts with evil.  The motivation to do evil can be evaluated from social, economic, psychological and even philosophical aspects.  The strive to earn a living in an environment with scarce resources creates competition. Unhealthy competition without good distributive measures leads to inequality and the prolonged inequalities results into strive.  Socially, lack of socialization skills may lead to loneliness and isolation and low self-esteem that may lead to antisocial behaviors. Psychological and biological factors may interact to make someone evil.

Structuring early childhood

Early years of life and development are vital in shaping the character of an individual. Aristotle insisted on the importance of early upbringing in the formation of virtuous character. He stated “it is not unimportant, to acquire one sort of habit, right from our youth; rather it is crucial, indeed all important” (Elmar & Michael, 2001).  Therefore, the home and school environment during this development stage should be poised to nurture a child to be a good person.  The environment should be modeled to ensure the child can repel egocentric urges, to socialize with others and to respect. According to psychoanalytic theory formulated by Sigmund Feud, any form fixation at this age has a lifelong impact on an adult. It states that childhood memories and events, most in the unconscious mind, influence the character of an individual (Perrett, & Roy, 2002). This explains why the analysis of serial offenders indicates troubled childhood as a common factor.  Childhood environment should provide freedom to explore but also rules to guide interactions. The first five years present a good time for the parent or caretaker to teach child obedience to rules. It is through such early modeling that a child will learn to respect laws in the future.

The environment should nurture the good in human. Parents should take the leading role in ensuring children interact with an environment that teaches them morals of the society. Parenting behaviors should provide a role model for the child to imitate including the values they want the child to have in the future. An environment punctuated with violence, and abuse, hatred and other negative factors should be avoided. Love from parent is essential in the socialization process. Failure to show concern and care for the child from a parent may create mistrust and hatred from the child. The pre-school and early school life should be used to promote positive interactions with other human beings.  Although these five years are fundamental in ensuring a child has the right blueprint for the future, parents and the society should extend the nurturing process until a child is mature. Extraneous factors that threaten the good nature of humans should be controlled.  Just like trees that can be easily shape when young and hard to change when, so are  children who are easy to mould while young but difficult when old.


Elmar J & Michael J (2001). The problem of evil in early modern philosophy. University of Toronto Press.

Perrett, Roy W. "Evil And Human Nature." Monist 85.2 (2002): 304. Academic Search Premier. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

Singer, Marcus G. "The Concept Of Evil." Philosophy 79.308 (2004): 185-213. Academic Search Premier. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

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