Human nature is one of those concepts that everyone talks about, but which always ends up being operational when one wants to reflect on constant themes in humanity. even if the
human nature is historical, history seems to repeat itself at will.
At the beginning of the Covid pandemic, it was common to hear journalists — the less capable — and marketers — blinded by the very exercise of the profession — raise the question of whether humanity would not leave
best of that period. Now we can see how ridiculous this hypothesis was. Two neurons are enough to never take her seriously.
In the history of revolutionary movements in the 19th century, human nature acted as a barrier to any attempt to deny the existence of similar ideas.
I am well aware that Marxist theory finds in its elegant concept of praxis the hypothesis according to which
social action transforms man. In fact, the new man that the Marxists and Soviets claimed to believe in comes from there. It does not seem to me that this has occurred, at least in the space of almost 200 years of social practice.
Of course, such believers can argue that true praxis never really existed. This argument would be similar to the claim of certain Christians that the kingdom of God never came to fruition because true Christian love never took place in the world.
I have the suspicion that movements such as anarchism, for which I have always had a secret sympathy, have failed precisely because of their misunderstanding of human nature. It was never able to live without some political tutelage to protect it from its own vocation for violence, envy, hatred, rancor and love for bureaucracy.
Even if we renounce the concept of human nature as such, authors such as Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) recognized that the different and contradictory ends pursued by different men and groups imply a high degree of persistence of a behavioral inertia in man that does not it seems to have changed in democracies to this day—or in any other political system.
The barrier I referred to above is exactly this inertia of the variable “human nature”. This variable, which tends to be invariant —as incredible as it may seem—, manifests itself above and below any thesis that presupposes its elimination.
Authors such as Hegel (1870-1831) believed that with time the rationality of the real would accommodate the imperfections of this human nature and that, in the end, everything would work out —Marx (1818-1883) was Hegel’s beloved son.
Hegel’s thesis, despite the German sophistication present in it, ends up looking like those maxims of optimistic wisdom that state that if things are still not well, it is because we have not yet reached the end of history.
Amazing how motivational speakers still haven’t co-opted the elegant philosopher into their menu of false-but-nice statements — and they sell very well, of course.
Already in the 21st century, John Kekes states that a major impediment to the elimination of human nature — he prefers “human condition” — as an obstacle to its denial as a given fact is that we are crossed by contingent elements, such as genetic inheritance, historical and geographical context. , economic limits —or the absence of them—, psychological and cognitive components, which impact our limited rationality. We go through life dealing with these elements that constitute and surpass us.
Finally, there seems to be a strong skeptical doubt regarding the human capacity to improve in terms of its moral horizon.
The imperfectibility of human nature remains as a suspicion that hovers over all proposals for utopias or major social transformations.
The Australian philosopher John Passmore (1914-2004) wrote a brilliant historical-philosophical work, “The Perfectibility of Man”, published in Brazil by Topbooks, in the Liberty Classics collection, in which he pursues the various theories about human perfectibility.
For the author, the clash between the theories that affirm the perfectibility of man or its opposite represents a struggle for the conscience of the human soul.
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