Power Point - Chapter two

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Unit 2
What is Human Nature?
 Is human nature essentially selfish?
 Freud, Hobbes, Schlick – people are essentially
 Psychological egoism – we can’t do any acts other
than the ones that we most want to do.
What is Human Nature?
 Is there life after death? Please see quote on page 52.
 Some assumptions:
 We all have a self – we are physical bodies that are
conscious and rational.
 Does the self have a purpose?
 Is the self related to, but different, from the physical
The Traditional Rationalistic View
 Reason is Humanity’s Highest Power
 Three defining elements of human nature:
 Reason, Appetite, Spirit – Plato
 Forms: Plato’s believes the forms are perfect and
 Aristotle believed we can know about human nature
if we had knowledge about our own world.
 For Aristotle, as Plato, the use of reason is the
purpose of human nature.
 What are some risks of this view?
Judeo-Christian View of Human Nature
 According to this view humans are made in the
image of God. The ability to love is the characteristic
of a human being. All humans are capable of this
ability regardless of their level of rationality.
 Loving, as well as serving, God is of upmost
 St. Augustine emphasized the nature of the will. We
have the ability to choose between good or evil.
Judeo-Christian View of Human Nature
 What are some potentially negative implications of
this view?
The Darwinian Challenge
 Darwin:
 Animals and plants are sometimes born by chance
with features that are different from those of their
parents that they can pass on to their offspring.
 Certain traits are sometimes passed down, which can
lead to animals gradually change into new species.
These laws work the same for humans, hence
humans may have evolved.
 What are some objections to this theory?
The Existential Challenge
 Existentialism is the view that we have no predetermined
essence. For Jean-Paul Sartre, humans are condemned to
be free.
An authentic human being cannot depend upon God or
society to justify their actions. They are condemned to be
free and to make their own decisions. They are responsible
for their own decisions. The realization that we have so
much freedom causes anguish. “We are terrified to have
such complete freedom. When we claim that something
external to us is the cause of what we are we act in “bad
faith”, which occurs when we pretend that we are not free.”
 Why is this a challenge to traditional views of human
The Feminist Challenge
 Why do you think feminists might challenge human
nature? What types of stereotypes have developed
regarding so-called “women’s nature”?
Plato believed that reason should rule over the
passions, emotions, appetites.
Aristotle claimed that women do not share fully in
Augustine argued that women are subordinate to
Is the feminist critique correct? Is the traditional
rationalist view sexist?
 One response might be to claim that women are just
as rational as men.
 Another might be to reject the view that reason is
superior. Ethics of care.
The Mind-Body Problem
How Do Mind and Body Relate?
Are the mind and the body two distinct things?
If so, how can a non-physical object interact with a physical one?
What is consciousness? Does it come and go depending on whether
or not I am asleep? Consciousness is individual. It has no shape,
color, weight and so forth.
 The Dualist View of Human Nature- Rene Descartes argued that
the mind and body are two distinct things. See page 76. If humans
are made up of two substances, then how an immaterial mind
impact a physical body, and how can a physical body affect our
mind? Descartes argued that they were able to interact through the
pineal gland. Leibniz believed that the mind and body don’t really
interact at all, but only appear to (clock analogy). while
Malebranche believed that God synchronized the two.
The Materialist View
 Hobbes argued that Dualism is wrong. There is only
one substance: the material body. The operations of
the mind are dependent upon the physical body. The
mind is just what we call the physical or chemical
processes in the physical body. This is often called
reductionism. It is the idea that we can look at the
same thing in two different ways, i.e. the color of red.
 How can a physical system, even a very complicated
system, produce mental phenomena that seem to
have no physical characteristics?
Mind-Body Identity
 J.J.C. Smart argues that states of consciousness are
identical with states of the brain. However, brain
states are publically observable, but mental states are
not. Moreover, a mental experience has no location,
no color, and no shape. So, how can brain states and
conscious states be the same, since they are such
very different things?
The Behaviorist View
 Gilbert Ryle held that mental activities could be
explained in terms of the activities that they are
associated with.
 What is Putnam’s objection to this theory?
The Functionalist View
 This view holds that we can explain mental activities
and mental states in terms of perceptual inputs and
behavioral outputs. Is this true?
The Computer View
 Turing vs. Searle
Eliminative Materialism
 We should just do away with our notion of
 What do you think about this view?
New Dualism
 New dualists hold not that there are two different
kinds of substances in the universe, but that there
are two different kinds of properties. These dualists
hold that consciousness is not a physical feature of
the world, but a nonmaterial property of it.
Is there an enduring self?
 Do we stay the same over time?
 Sometimes people say we have changed, what do they mean?
Have we really changed or are we the same person?
 If brains were transplanted between people, wouldn’t
we want to say that the brain, and not the body,
carried the self?
 Descartes believed we are the same because we have
the same mind throughout time. Do we? If not, then
are we a different person?
 John Locke argued that memory is what makes us
have an enduring self.
The No Self View
 Buddhism and Hume
 What do you think of these views?
Are we independent and self-sufficient
 The Atomistic Self – Kant, Descartes
 The Relational Self – Taylor, Hegel