There is no Such Thing as the Essential Nature of Man

Topics: Science, Human, Religion Pages: 8 (2824 words) Published: December 4, 2007
There is no such thing as the Essential Nature of Man.

What is a human identity, why do we have an urge to separate ourselves from animals and seek individualism as a species? Is there such a thing as an essential nature of man? In order to determine this, we must first define what an essential nature is. The dictionary defines nature as: 1.The material world and its phenomena.

2.The forces and processes that produce and control all the phenomena of the material world: the laws of nature. 3.The world of living things and the outdoors: the beauties of nature. 4.A primitive state of existence untouched and uninfluenced by civilization or artificiality. 5.Theology. Humankind's natural state as distinguished from the state of grace. 6.A kind or sort: confidences of a personal nature.

7.The essential characteristics and qualities of a person or thing: 8.The fundamental character or disposition of a person; temperament: 9.The natural or real aspect of a person, place, or thing. 10.The processes and functions of the body.

The dictionary continues to define essential as:
1.Constituting or being part of the essence of something; inherent. 2.Basic or indispensable, necessary: essential ingredients.

When combined, they allow us to define an essential nature as the fundamental characteristics shared by all humans; they are inherent in all man, and not shared by the animal kingdom.

In the past, such a question was considered heresy. There was a clear-cut difference between men and animals and everyone accepted it. The main belief at the time was imposed by one culture, that of the Western Christian culture. The views of this culture were very religious, everyone believed in God, and believed that we were put on the earth by him. The Church enforced theses opinions strictly, and people who criticised these beliefs were considered heretics, and faced serious opposition, and risked execution. However scientific developments and new understandings of the world around us lead to the diminish of Religion as the main power, as they lost their grip on peoples beliefs, people now had a choice, not just religion, they could choose what they believed in. and with these new scientific developments came new theories and new ideas for people to believe in. the most famous of all these theories is Darwin's Evolutionary Theory. However, when it was first published, he faced great public out cry, although Religion had lost its dominating control over society, it was still important to the significant majority of people, and to question the creation account was still considered sacrilege. Although blasphemous, thousands of people still bought the book, showing people's urge to learn about them, and his book, the ‘The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection' was sold out very quickly. As times and social traditions changed, it became increasingly easier to exert ones own opinions, even if they differed from the ones held by the Church, and changes in attitude changed so that it became easier to criticise the held beliefs of the day, so much so that now, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. One fundamental reason why we, as contempory man, find it so easy to question religious beliefs and deny a nature of man, and our predecessors could not is because our societies and ways of thinking have changed. Before, people accepted the bible and everything that it contained as the truth, and they had faith that it was true. They also had very theoretical beliefs, such as the belief in spirits, ghosts, good and bad luck, and some very strange superstitions. This is because they had no scientific explanations for the world, and made up their own, which to them seemed perfectly sensible, but to us, form a better-informed viewpoint, seem unreasonable. Today however, we are empiricists live in an empirical society, our beliefs are based on what our senses tell us. A table exists because I can see it, smell it, taste...
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