Anthropology: A New Scope

Human Nature

The nature and temperament of man – his original creation, his fundamental existence – is one of the most important issues of anthropology. There is much debate whether man has a nature or not. There are three reasons upon which those against human nature deny its existence:

1-Man's psychological, instinctive, and mental forces and activities have been identified by various branches of science, and no sign of human nature has been discovered by any of them. 

2-If there were human nature, the various aspects of human existence would not suffer so much change and upheaval.

3-The diversity and differences among the individual and social behavior of human beings, is in conflict with the existence of a commonality called human nature.

However, if the human nature is defined correctly, the three problems mentioned above will vanish. The definition of the human nature is:

The human nature – the natural disposition of the human heart – is the natural, orderly flow of the forces inside man. Therefore, there is a nature for each of man's instinctive, mental and psychological forces, which also forms its natural, logical flow.

According to the above definition, each of man's powers and potentials are included in man's nature. In other words, the orderly, logical flow of every power and potential of mankind is called its nature. Now we can present counterarguments for the three problems we posed above:

First, we cannot deny their claim that human nature is not included among man's psychological, mental and instinctive activities, for those who believe in human nature do not intend to prove a separate, psychological reality or a body part which may be denied; every power man possesses, in its natural, logical course of action, is a part of human nature.

The second problem – stating that the changes man undergoes conflict with human nature – does not seem correct if we take into consideration the survival of human aspects throughout all the changes mankind has seen. For instance, thought, one of man's aspects, does not undergo change during all the ups and downs of man's life. Only the raw material or subjects related to human thought are interpreted.

Thirdly, the third problem – defying human nature based on the differences existing between individual and collective thoughts and behaviors – also appears to be incorrect, for if we are to recognize human differences as the criterion, we should not recognize any other of the human aspects, either. For example, do people not differ in their ideas? Are humans not different in the emotions and reactions they show in response to motivations and conscientious activities? Must we defy thoughts, emotions and the conscience?

As we have already mentioned, the human nature consists of the logical, orderly flow of each of the human forces. Now, by means of comparing it with each of the human forces, we can come to a more accurate analysis of the human nature:

1-Thought: Thought includes activities done on known things in order to discover the unknown, or activities done on the means in order to achieve a goal. If human thought acts logically and omits or selects the means correctly to achieve his end, he has moved on the path of his intrinsic nature; however, if he falls astray from the correct way of thinking, and behaves illogically, we may say that his thought has deviated from human nature.

2-Will: If the human will chooses and activates the useful motives, his will arises from a healthy, sound human nature.

3-Emotions and Feelings: If man's emotional behavior is rational in response to the stimuli that arouse his feelings and emotions, and do not fall for imaginations, flashbacks or scattered thoughts, his feelings will have a healthy human nature; the slightest distortion in the normal flow of feelings and emotions will harm them.

4-Selfishness: If acting on the path of self-preservation and aiming for human development, selfishness is compatible with the true, original human nature. Yet, when it falls into hedonistic pleasures, it deviates from the real course of human nature, and becomes self-conceit. 

5-Conscience: Conscience is one of man's greatest internal powers. If it acts legitimately, it will have a healthy human nature. For instance, if the human conscience proves him right and wrong, or makes righteous judgments and scorns and tortures man when he sins, it has moved on its rational path.

6-The Supreme Feeling of Responsibility: It can behave in two ways:

a)The Supreme Feeling of Responsibility toward People: In this case, man sympathizes for the joys and sorrows others feel, and considers love toward his fellow human beings superior to all other aspects of social life.

b)The Supreme Feeling of Responsibility for Man's Own Self-development: Man does not feel his existence in the universe is aimless; he is always in attempt to lead his existence to perfection.

Both forms of the supreme feeling of responsibility mentioned above can be in accordance with the human nature if man acts rationally.

All human beings generally have an original human nature, which is pure and has the potential to seek greatness and perfection. If man succeeds in protecting his pure nature from deviations, inculcations, and the pre-defined grounds of an unhealthy society, he can keep it pure and original. These verses from the Holy Koran imply the existence of the human nature:

فاقم وجهک للدين حنيفا فطرﺓ الله التی فطر الناس عليها لا تبديل لخلق الله ذلک الدين القيم و لکن اکثر الناس لايعلمون

"So set thy face to the religion, a man of pure faith – God's original upon which He originated mankind. There is no changing in God's creation. That is the right religion—but most people know it not."

                                                          (The Greeks, 30:30) 

صبغة الله و من احسن من الله  صبغة

"Having faith in God, and submitting to God's will on the way to development and perfection is in fact being colored by God – and who can color [human lives] better than God?"(The Cow, 2:138)


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