Human Nature: Mengzi (Mencius) Vs Us
Mencius explained human nature as the inbred tendencies that oppose the system of acquisition of man to act and think ethically. Human nature is the innate ability for man to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. He believed that the nature of human beings is innately wired to act morally without the aid of socialization.
Example given is a child’s ability who by default shows love and respect towards his parent and elders, is not acquired but rather possessed.
It is unnatural to act unwisely, shamefully, disrespectful and mercilessly.
To him, evil and bad behaviors are not the nature of man but are products of the circumstance within man’s environment. He explained this by illustrating the notion, about the natural ability for water to flow downward and not upward but if it is obstructed via striking or splashing or intentional forces it may stream upward.
So therefore, bad deeds are not originally the fault of man. He believes that man starts to construct destructive behaviours the moment he fails to tap into his natural ability to act righteously.
To Mencius, the rationale for why some humans act rightly and others, destructively is simply because, not every one has has unfold and develop to a full degree the innate capability of man to do good. Yes! He expressed his belief that the human nature are like seeds that should be fertilize by constantly applying the principles that governs it so as to breed the beautiful character that is planted in man.
He discovered and unfolded four tendencies of human nature. Which he termed the four beginnings and symbolized as the four limbs. They include:
1. Sense of humanity ( the tendency to show mercy or compassion)
2. Sense of shame ( the tendency to act righteously)
3. Sense of courtesy ( creates the tendency of decorum)
4. Sense of wisdom ( tendency to know what is right and wrong)
Do you agree with Mencius’s proposal of human nature? If yes, why. If no, why.
What creates the tendency for man to act uprightly is not the human nature but the human culture.
If it is inherently for humans to do good then all cultures of the world would be same. Thats is to say what may be considered good and upright differs from one person to another and from one society to another
For example, in the Christian community it is unlawful for a man to marry more than one wife, but in Islam, a man can marry four wives.
In the past, some society consider the killing of twins as a just act while in other communities, it is unjust.
In some of the western countries like America, sex before marriage is no crime, but while in Africa, sex after marriage is the norm and of a high value
Therefore, a human nature cannot tell whether it is wrong to do what is right or it is right to do what it is wrong. It is the culture of a particular community by which a child acquires as he or she grows that creates the conscience for distinguishing rights and wrong, and telling what is shameful and disrespectful etc
Therefore what guides and controls the the nature of man is the culture of man and not conversely
Do humans have the natural inkling to be good?
If we see someone crying by the road side, we have this natural tendency to be curious to as why, and show sympathy. The reason why we would act like that is because all humans have emotions. No one teaches a new born baby to cry when it is sad or angry or experiencing discomfort or to smile when it is happy. It is rather innate for us to submit to the subject feeling which is guided by the conscience we have acquired
For example, when we see a murderer crying, we direct our emotions from a state of sympathy to coldness towards him. Why? It is because our culture tells our nature what to do and what not to do
Do humans have the inkling to be bad?
According to Sigmund Freud, in one of the phases of psychoanalytical theory of human personality structure, he called the ID
The id is an unconscious innate character in every human being. The id works on pleasure principle. These are unlearn drives in man to do what will bring pleasure and satisfaction but avoid pain. These could be hunger, sexual drive, thirst etc
In the process of satisfying these drives, humans can go any length if not properly guided by acquired norms and values.
For example an person who is driven by sexual urges can indulge in rape, bestiality, masturbation and other sexual corruption to gain pleasure
So there’s an inkling for humans to be bad but it is not a natural one. It’s as a result of our innate and unconscious character to gain pleasure.
What is your human nature?
My human nature is my innate ability to behave right
What are you naturally tilt towards?
I am inherently tilted towards showing compassion