Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote: “Man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains”. Human nature is the concept that there are a set of characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and behaving, that all “normal” human beings have in common (Buller 428). Less than two decades have passed since psychologists scientifically started defining the human nature other than God’s creation; thinkers such as Hegel, Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, and Sartre.
Darwin developed the theory of evolution, showed us that in fact, we are the descendants of the plants then subsequently animals living on earth long ago and evolving through the time. Genetics also proves the reality that our genetic information (DNA) isn’t much different from animals or plants. This illation sparks a fundamental question; what truly makes us different from the animals? This question clearly doesn’t have just a single answer, some would say being able to talk makes us different, some may say culture and communion are the true ways an individual is interacting with the environment although there is no doubt about language being the tool we use to have advanced communications; the factor distinguishing us from the animals.
Marx describes the human nature as “Gattungswesen” meaning “species-being” in German. He believed that under capitalism people are alienated and is in contradiction with the aspects of human nature. He envisioned the possibility of a society that permits a human being to express their human nature and individuality and he called it “communism”(even though several other definitions for communism has been developed since which are not entirely on the same wavelength as Marx). In some respects, Freud’s vision of human nature was far more stunning than Darwin’s theory of common ancestor.
Humans are beings with innate urges for sex and aggression. Each individual’s behavior is influenced by unconscious mental processes. Freud changed the view of human nature from a rational being to a complex animal with primitive drives, desires and emotions which can be hardly under the control of the repressive society.
One of the most recent views of human nature was published in a book named Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge by Edward Osborne Wilson. In his book, he pointed out that it is the time for the cooperation of all sciences to explore the human nature. He defined human nature as a collection of epigenetic rules: the genetic patterns of mental development. Cultural phenomena are products, not part of human nature. Music, for example, is not a part of human nature, but our appreciation of music is. This art appreciation and fears such as incest taboo can be studied by the methods of reductionism. Until now these phenomena were only part of psychological, sociological and anthropological studies.