Mansi asks: Are people inherently good or evil?

January 31, 2011

Good vs Evil by umerr2000 Mansi asks: Are people inherently good or evil?I’ve had this discussion many times with friends and have always arrived at the same conclusion: people are inherently good as long as they are not being harmed.

I’ve always had to add that caveat because I don’t think any of us would follow the philosophy of “turn the other cheek” if not socially conditioned or religiously instructed to do so.

It’s just not human nature to hurt oneself.

Self-protection is coded into our brains. And I believe that it is only when someone threatens our safety, or of those we love, do we become violent — or evil.

I don’t believe in God, so the whole notion of hell and heaven doesn’t appeal to me. But I do believe that the way we’ve been raised, our socio-cultural setting, and our personal life experiences go a long way in determining our beliefs.

I didn’t witness the holocaust or the World Wars but I have seen enough horrifying images from the wars that have taken place in the last decade to know the monstrosity that human beings are capable of. How can we be like this if we’re fundamentally good?

Child rape isn’t sanctioned, or taught, by society but child rapists exist. How can that be if human beings are inherently good?

Because somewhere down the line I think someone screwed up — there are bound to be some childhood experiences that tweak that wiring so hard and so permanently that it results in such abomination.

It’s impossible to raise a child without letting it be influenced by or subjected to social norms. But, hypothetically speaking, if a newborn were left to fend for itself, its only instinct would be self-preservation … it wouldn’t go out of its way to do evil. But if we rip out all that we are “taught” what kind of a person are we left with then?

I don’t think it’s a black and white question given the hypotheses involved, but I know everyone leans one or the other. So, which side are you inclined to take? And, what’s your rationale?

Mansi asks: Are people inherently good or evil?

Come, share your thoughts.

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2 Responses to Mansi asks: Are people inherently good or evil?

  1. sajeev kumar menonNo Gravatar on March 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    I believe that people are by nature are good. Good and bad are relative terms. One mans food is another mans poison. Our intrinsic nature (soft, agressive & lethargic), environment and circumstances affect our responses to external stimuli.

  2. ChrisNo Gravatar on January 9, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    People are good and evil.


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