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LINK There’s no philosophy of life without a theory of human nature | Aeon Essays

What exactly does science tell us about the idea of a human nature? If we take evolutionary biology seriously, then we certainly should reject any essentialist conception of it, such as Aristotle’s. There is no immutable, clearly defined ‘essence’ that characterizes human beings, and only them, within the whole animal world. From Charles Darwin onward, the scientific consensus has been pretty clear: we are but one species among millions on Earth, members of a not particularly numerous branch of the tree of life, endowed with unusually large and structurally complex brains. Our particular lineage gave origin to the species Homo sapiens at least 300,000 years ago, resulting from a long evolutionary period, which unfolded over millions of years from the point of divergence from our most recent common ancestor with the chimpanzees, our closest phylogenetic cousins.

zblaze 7 May 11

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"There is no immutable, clearly defined ‘essence’ that characterizes human beings, and only them, within the whole animal world."
My book, Saving Gaia, refutes this. The subtitle is "Rational Darwinism." More emphasis should be given to the long geologic time periods humans spent as canopy dwellers from the Miocene Epoch on to the recent. We are close to the orang and gibbon in sentiment. We love being near or in arboreal settings. Humans didn't become omnivores until Ardipithicus descended from the trees around five million years ago.
We are much more comfortable and at home in a tree house than we are in a massive skyscraper. Wood and leaves are closer to our DNA than glass, aluminum and concrete big cities. Our artists and poets point this out. Check out Allan Ginsberg's "Howl.'


Wow, that is an excellent comment.


I don't think there can be a single "ONE" unified theory of human nature.


This is really confusing. What does Aristotle have to do with evolution, biology, or science for that matter? He had no concept of these thing, because they did not exist in his time. What is 'essence, I'm confused on that topic.

Ah but, evolution, biology, and science did exist in his time. Folks just hadn't named or discovered them yet.
From the article; Aristotle thought that the ‘proper function’ of human beings was to think rationally, from which he derived the idea that the highest life available to us is one of contemplation (ie, philosophising) – hardly unexpected from a philosopher.


I disagree with Aristotle as humanity is best defined by lifelong nurturing of family members over a decade longer than any other species and evolving from families & tribes are medical and nutritional arts that is extending longevity past 7 decades

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