Against human nature essentialism

Surely one of the defining characteristics of anarchism is rejection of human nature essentialism; be it the “human nature is inherently vicious” argument behind statism or the slightly less slanderous “human nature is inherently self-interested” argument behind market ideology.

About n8chz

पृथ्वी की उच्च किराया जिले में उद्यमिता कौशल अभाव
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8 Responses to Against human nature essentialism

  1. Human nature is inherently vicious and self-interested. A lone human being completely cut off from anyone else will become vicious and self-interested in order to survive.

    This is just a default, though. The fallacy is assuming that this regressive primal state has any bearing on how human beings behave when they organize a culture together. The closest thing to “human nature” that one needs to worry about is the fact that people need to feel like they have control over their own destinies. That’s it. Everything else is extremely malleable.

  2. berserkrl says:

    a) You can be a human nature essentialist without thinking that human beings have innate tendencies.
    b) In any case, plenty of anarchists have believed that human beings have innate tendencies. Should we just read them out of the movement?
    c) Market ideology does not assume that “human nature is inherently self-interested” in any substantive sense.

    • n8chz says:

      Innate tendencies I can live with. Automatic reflexes are another matter. ‘Tendency’ implies that, though perhaps improbable, unexpected behaviors are possible, i.e. escape from mechanistic expectations. So there is no “physics-like” element in the human “sciences.”

  3. berserkrl says:

    To Zacqary:

    You seem to be using “humans are naturally F” as equivalent to “a human would be F on its own without human interaction.” But by that definition, we’d be committed to saying “humans are naturally dead.” That suggests to me that “a human would be F on its own without human interaction” doesn’t adequately capture what “humans are naturally F means.”

    After all, people often say (whether correctly or incorrectly) “humans are naturally social,” and they surely don’t mean “a human would be social on its own without human interaction.”

    • The point I was trying to make is that culture is what makes human beings concerned with more than just survival and raw pleasure by any means necessary. We’re naturally organisms that want to be happy; that’s all. When you put more than one human being together, that goal can manifest itself in many different ways.

      • n8chz says:

        I can be at peace with being an organism that wants to be happy provided

        • I have the option of choosing goals to prioritize higher than happiness
        • Happiness itself proves to be more sublime than the stimulus-and-response mechanism that is standard equipment on most critters

        As for culture being a necessary condition for unleashing either alternatives to happiness or a non-reductionistic kind of happiness, I think I can live with that if culture includes subculture, and not just “received” culture à la Russel Kirk.

  4. Pingback: Can UBI be done statelessly? | In defense of anagorism

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