Sunday, December 22, 2013
The Nature of Human Nature II
I know, I write about all of these weird philosophical topics a lot. Human nature is one that I constantly find myself coming back to over and over. I have this deep-rooted desire to understand everything, especially why I am the way that I am and how I fit into the larger structure that is human civilization.
I have been reading several books lately, among them is How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill. I've been enjoying it thoroughly so far. At one part of the book the author mentions something in passing that really struck a chord with me and I immediately took it and applied a different context to it.
The author had mentioned how emotional the Irish were, and how their emotions that they had back them have not changed and we still feel the same way today. That was an epiphany of sorts for me. This entire time I have been looking at the answers for human nature as a cognitive or behavioral function. But it occurs to me now that this is folly. Our behavior, as individuals and as a society, changes over time. Our thought processes, individually and collectively, also change over time as we learn new things. But our emotions remain constant. For thousands upon thousands of years the emotions of the human spectrum have not changed.
We are gifted with a wide range of emotions; angst, fear, love, hope, anxiety, despair, sorrow, joy, grief, sadness, pride, depression, fury, terror, jealousy, happiness, regret, euphoria, anger, faith, rage, remorse, pity, compassion, peace, a broad, wonderful, beautiful range of emotions. The despair and terror that we feel today are just as powerful and overwhelming as our ancestors who lived hundreds of thousands of years ago.
I suggest, that human nature is not defined by specific actions that we take individually or collectively, but rather by the range of our emotions. Simply put; human nature is to feel. That is the curse and the blessing of the human condition. Whether the feelings be good or bad, slight or overwhelming, it is those very feelings that let us know that we are alive.