Is It Wrong to Speak of Human Nature?

It’s natural for women to serve the needs of men, who are naturally stronger, wiser, and generally superior.

It’s natural for one group of people to serve others, in subservient roles. As a corollary, it’s natural for another group to be served.

It’s natural for Western Europeans to colonize the Americas, Africa, and parts of Asia—and it’s natural for indigenous peoples to accept European rule.

All of these “truths,” and many others, draw from the concept that there is a “human nature,” and that that nature favors particular individuals and groups over others.

What’s more…

We “know” that humans, by nature, are subject to the “sins” of lust, greed, pride, wrath, envy, and sloth. 

We have learned that it’s human nature to objectify, steal, enslave, and murder.  It’s the nature of men to rape women, and the nature of women to undermine one another.

When we speak of human nature, then, are we accepting the premise that human behavior, as we know it from history and current affairs, is the natural and therefore unchangeable reality of human life?

If, in today’s political and cultural landscape, we are simply experiencing the outcome of human nature over time, perhaps the concept of human nature has served us poorly.

What’s your opinion?  Is the concept of human nature helpful? Or does it reduce us to a set of norms that have served us poorly over time?

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