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Human nature in Sigmund Freud's book titled 'Civilization and its Discontents'

The view of human nature

Sigmund Freud views human nature as being influenced by the pleasure principle. This involves the fact that human beings are compelled to engage in activities that are bound to bring pleasurable satisfaction. This is because the instincts of human beings are formulated in such a way that the pleasurable actions are very much appealing thus one involuntarily engages in them. Similarly, civilization brought about a criterion that is very useful in taming the pleasure seeking instincts by ensuring that rules and laws are enacted to control wrongdoings in the course of satisfying the pleasures (Freud, 1989). Consequently, in the pursuit of gratification and pleasure, human beings are faced with the harsh reality of life on earth as society is deemed to avail all sorts of environments. When this happens human beings lay more effort on civilization as a way of obtaining relief from the reality. However, it is not always that civilization will yield satisfaction as discontentment is common in addition to endless mental problems towards improving the present (Freud, 1989).

The view of why people behave as they do

People behave the way they do in an attempt to seek gratification from their actions or as a way of maintaining a safe distance between themselves and the harsh society. This phenomenon makes human beings more inclined towards engaging in actions that will make them heroes in their own class. Moreover human beings behave the way they do as a result of civilization which has brought about a certain degree of repression of their primitive thoughts that were aimed at pleasure seeking. Such include aggressive human behaviors and when civilization is availed alongside governing policies, the primitive instincts are inhibited from expression. Therefore, fear of being in the wrong especially where other human beings are concerned tends to instill insecurity among them hence restraining their behaviors (Freud, 1989).

How the view of human nature affects their actions

The repression of aggressive behavior is put in place as a way of enabling human beings to live together harmoniously in societies bearing in mind that human beings are social creatures. Hence this view of human nature aspiring to satisfy their instincts and civilization working towards repressing the feelings brings abut a connection as humankind has to obey the rules so as to stick with other members of society (Smith, 2007). This is also demonstrated by the fact that one has to give up so many pleasures to remain respectable in society. Therefore, when human beings are made aware that a price will be paid for disobeying the requirements of the present civilization, then they tend to tame their otherwise aggressive behaviors. Thus the view of human nature does affect their actions especially in terms of decision making (Freud, 1989).

Human behavior; free or determined

In his arguments, Sigmund Freud illustrates human behavior as being determined as there is no free will to do as one would wish because there will be a price to pay for wrongdoings. Consequently, society is known to shape and determine how human beings should behave such that those who fail to meet the demands of society are banished (Smith, 2007). The issue of civilization working towards repressing some of the aggressive behaviors that have severe impacts on other human beings also demonstrates that human behavior is determined. The human conscious is another factor that determines their behaviors as it forever seeks satisfaction and because there is no free will, discontent is attained. If behavior was free then any man who was dissatisfied would exercise his free will to obtain satisfaction regardless of the magnitude of destruction of society (Freud, 1989).

Edward O. Wilson in his book 'On Human Nature'

The view of human nature

Edward Wilson views human nature as a being influenced by the genetic make up of the individual. The nature that is exhibited by mankind is rooted deep within his genes such that from the time when he is conceived, the path of his nature is clearly laid out in front of him. This explains why the genetic makeup is modified at times to avoid or to exclude situations where the nature of man may be compromised. Edward gives the example of absence of incest among human beings which is as a result of increasing the chances of genes to be more effective. This is because incest may lead to degradation of genes due to lack of compatibility hence the genes come up with a strategy to reduce any occurrence of extinction of man (Wilson, 1979).

The view of why people behave as they do

However, even though human nature is determined by the hereditary factors, their behavior according to Edward Wilson is developed from instinct. Through instinct human beings are able to analyze their thoughts and figure out what is beneficial as well as what is destructive. After analysis the human instinct directs the individual to abandon what will destroy them while give more cognition to what is productive. Instinct enables individuals to avoid hurt or loosing parts of the body by evading any physical confrontation with other human beings.

However, behaviors such as being friendly which bring about feelings of love and appreciation are highly encouraged. Nevertheless ones genetic components play a big role in behavior as human beings tend to engage in certain activities so as to promote gene fitness (Smith, 2007). This is in line with the fact that parts of the body that are rarely used often tend to degenerate thus for the genes coding these parts to remain relevant, man must engage in a variety of behaviors involving the assigned section of the body. For instance if man fails to use his hands exclusively during physical challenges, then the hands may become obsolete hence violence which will lead to a brawl makes the genes coding for the hands more fit (Wilson, 1979).

How the view of human nature affects their actions

According the Edward Wilson in his book 'On Human nature', the view of human nature affects their actions especially based on the aspect of altruism. Altruism is common among mankind due to the fact that human genes are constituted in a way that man cannot live in solitary. Thus the benefits derived by one individual are shared by all and so are the hardships. This demonstrates the fact that everyone wants to be associated with a hero in terms of procreation and friendship. Similarly, human beings are always striving to be like other heroes who are termed as 'role models'. This phenomenon encourages aggressiveness so that chances of the hero's genes being transferred to another person through reproduction. Similarly, the benefits derived from a hero during war ensures that his/her family member's lives are spared thus genes are preserved (Wilson, 1979).

Human behavior; free or determined

Human behavior according to Edward Wilson is therefore determined by their genetic constitution which brings about altruism. Our genes determine what should be habitual behavior and what should be done sparingly in order to promote genes which enable us to adapt to life in society while at the same time reduce occurrence of genes that lead to self destruction. The spirit of altruism is another determinant of human behavior as in a bid to be useful in society human beings tend to engage in activities that will benefit all. Selfishness is therefore locked out during such altruistic gestures (Wilson, 1979).

B.F. Skinner's view of human nature in the book 'Walden Two'

The view of human nature

Skinner illustrates human nature as being due to the environmental situations we live in as well as our immediate surroundings. The individuals in Walden Two have been able to exhibit positive human nature that is void of any misdemeanors as all necessities in life have been availed. This is depicted in the fact that calmness and happiness is present among all community members as their demands are catered for in addition to having their lives planned by someone else. Consequently, there is someone who is controlling all that which is done by the human beings hence one only needs do what is expected and everything else falls in place. Hence Skinner views human nature as flexible and it can be tamed depending on who has control over the life of the human. If the control is assigned to someone in authority, then everyone is capable of exhibiting the same human nature especially if similar control is exercised (Skinner, 1948).

The view of why people behave as they do

People behave the way they do because of certain laws and restrictions that are laid out by society. Presence of regulations limits ones capability to get to the extremes in terms of aggressive behavior as the possibility of punishment may be too overbearing. Similarly, the Walden Two society owes so much to each other as everything in the community is shared hence to sustain the unity; members are obliged to behave appropriately as per the laws. Consequently, another view could be that the individuals in Walden Two behave that way as they have been deprived of any privileges of making their own decisions. This makes them exhibit favorable behaviors to please their governors (Skinner, 1948).

How the view of human nature affects their actions

The view of human nature does affect their actions as the promise of a reward or punishment enables an individual to choose their actions carefully. For instance the people in Walden Two are made to give birth at an early age and subsequently present the baby to the communal baby care center. As the law requires all to give birth in their teenage years and to treat all children in the baby care centers equally, then everyone behaves this way without questioning. This is because their society has trained them to behave that way without fail. Lack of any other option on how the individuals can carry out their actions makes them oblige to the conditions that have been laid out.

Human behavior; free or determined

In this respect human behavior is not free but rather is determined by the prevailing conditions that have been set to run the society. Without the rules and regulations, everyone will have the free will to do as they please because they will not be answerable to anyone. However, presence of a recognized authority shows that everyone has to behave in a certain acceptable manner otherwise they are subjected to punishment or banishment. The other determinant of human behavior as per Skinner's views is the shared responsibility which makes an individual obliged to please their neighbors otherwise there will be no one to help them rear their children. This way members invest in others so that they reciprocate therefore benefiting everyone. Consequently, in such a scenario, everyone analyzes the behavior of the other to avoid disappointments whenever unwelcome behavior is exhibited.

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