Concepts of human nature is a topic that has continued to raise philosophical debate for centuries. It is an array of characteristics that are said to happen naturally. Whether it is a feeling, a way of thinking, or one’s instinctual actions that essentially constructs what it is to be human. I believe that the true essence of humanity lays primarily in a person’s ability to reason.
Humans are perceived as intellectual beings with an immense capability for reasoning. I believe that human nature is based around the process of their ability to reason because it directly guides a person’s action. The reason is a metaphysical, yet distinctive quality that all humans possess. It is the ability of consciously interpreting all things by organizing and validating facts, and then implementing logic. Most thoughtful decisions you make, you must use first use reason. For example, reasoning is the basis of which logical people comprehend sensory information from the environment around them. They can conceptualize ideas concerning beliefs of what is right and wrong with reason. Although what may be “good” or right in one culture could be considered wrong in another, we all have the ability to reason and determine that idea within cultural relativism. Humans have both functions and senses as well as a mental structure that makes us unique. When implementing your senses and intellect you are using reason. Whether it be theoretical or practical reason, it can construct your virtues in life and help you direct you on what you should do for your time here.
In just the short time we have had in class, I feel like it has definitely influenced my way of thinking. Not one opinion or reasoning has to correlate with your own. And you may never find one specific belief, ideology or religion that coincides directly with your own philosophies. That is the best thing about philosophy, because there is no one perfect or right way of thinking. Personally, I resonate with a few specific concepts over an array of different topics that we have already covered. One approach to human nature that stood out the most to me and has influenced my own way of thinking is the ideologies of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. He believed that the human soul was built on three parts; “reason”, “spirit,” and “appetite”. Plato considered reason to be the most significant part because it was able to control the primal tendencies and impulses. Reason to him guided a person to their actions. He claimed that “it is our reason that ought to control both spirit and appetite. But each has its proper role to play, and there should ideally be harmonious agreement between the three aspects of our nature, with reason in overall command.” (91) Plato believed that in society people with the most advanced ability to use this moral wisdom, or reason were the best-fit to rule. Some people may argue with Plato that the reason does not always determine human actions. Sometimes basic impulses and emotions can influence a person’s thoughts and action. This may bring upon harm to themselves or over even others. There are certain instances of “crimes of passion,” when taken over by emotion. Such as in a moment of rage or jealousy a person can kill someone letting go of all reason. In Plato’s dialogs he talks of the chance that the “spirit” and “appetite” could control a person’s action. This resembles the three parts of the soul not coinciding in harmony. The soul must allow reason to rule alongside with spirit and keep one’s appetite in control. When going over Plato’s thoughts on reason it is clear that human nature will thrive when they can maintain control over physical temptations, which guides them into making rational decisions. I believe that a person’s ability to reason is what truly makes them unique and provides them with the choice to behave what is best depending on the certain situations they may be in and overall dictates what is right and wrong conduct in society.
Overall it can be quite challenging to define the concept of human nature. There is so much that can make up who we are and why we act in the way we do. People may want to use thoughts of human nature as an excuse for actions they may implement. The true makeup of humanity lays primarily in a person’s ability to reason. Depending on how they choose to use this intellectual reasoning will be a construct on what can affect all of humanity. The American philosopher Henry Miller said, “Man has demonstrated he is master of everything — except his own nature.” We may be imperfect beings, but what separates us from animals is by using reason to strive to be good and make thoughtful choices and actions.