What Is Human Nature?

It’s a basic question, one of the most basic of questions: What is human nature?

The best answer I have seen is Larry Arnhart’s. He has devised a roster of twenty natural desires, or twenty key innate motivations. It captures something of the complexity of human nature, since they sometimes work at cross-purposes. There may well be more than twenty, but these do seem like the most important ones.

Here is the roster:
Most people desire

  • to live a natural lifespan
  • to care for children
  • to identify as either male or female
  • to engage in sexual mating
  • to live in families
  • to have friends
  • to enjoy esteem or social status
  • to have reciprocal dealings with others
  • to have political rule or central coordination
  • to belong to groups and to advance their group interests
  • to live in a healthy life
  • to experience beauty in the human body
  • to own property
  • to speak and thereby to discuss and persuade
  • to develop habits of action
  • to deliberate about action
  • to see and produce crafted artifacts
  • to experience aesthetic pleasures
  • to have religious understanding
  • to have intellectual understanding

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Filed under human evolution

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