The natural way of how one acts, feels and thinks refers to ones human nature. “Nature” refers to something us as humans have acquired naturally. We’re going to be focusing on if humans are born good or evil by human nature. Good, meaning morally right and evil meaning morally wrong or bad. Did we come into this world with a predisposition for good deeds, good thoughts and good intentions? Or are we inherently bad, destined for evil acts, and evil desires? Many argue goodness is inherited, while others believe it is acquired.
Some religious views, Christians for example tend to strongly influence the idea that humans are born with a predisposition to sinful behavior, but also have an inherently sinful nature. While some may believe this idea, others stand behind the idea that a good human nature is acquired by many other factors. Such factors include the upbringing of how one was raised. While others include uncontrollable factors such as society and the environmental surroundings. The issue I will be focusing on is, does one’s own upbringing greatly affect them being good or evil?
I believe the way one is raised, along with the beliefs that are instilled with, as an individual is what molds him/her into either being good or evil. When good parenting and discipline are carried out, the outcome of one being good is more likely. This type of upbringing provides one with the tools to rationalize right from wrong. With these tools, one can make a better choice when crossing that line from good or evil. Thomas Hobbes believed that humans are naturally born selfish. His approach to human nature implied that selfishness was an evil characteristic each person was born with.
His beliefs leaned toward the idea that humans naturally did what was best for themselves to survive, having no regard for others. This, he believed was carried out until other influences were met, such order or structure. Order and structure are just two forms of discipline that are early instilled in a good upbringing. While, Hobbes, believed humans are naturally born selfish, Rousseau believed humans were brought into this world naturally good. His stance on human nature leaned toward the idea that goodness is carried out up until evil influences are encountered, causing one to act outside of the “good” nature.
It is these outside influences that Rousseau believes taints the goodness of all humans. One’s upbringing can be very effective, should good parenting shelter their young from negative influences. John Locke’s stance on human nature was that humans minds were born blank without any notion of what’s good or evil. He also stated, “no one was born good or evil, but the society people grow up in also influences their morality. ” I like to agree with the latter. At birth a child is born innocent and pure, without any knowledge of good or evil nor right from wrong.
It is up to our parents or guardians rather to instill in us what they believe is good or evil, and right from wrong. If a child grows up in a household where the parents were openly racist to other minorites, then the child ultimately may take on those same beliefs. While Hobbes, Rousseau and Locke all carried different notions on how each person is naturally brought into this world, whether born good, bad or of a blank slate, each philospher in some way defends that outside factors influence the the good and/or bad of an individual.
One’s upbringing and home life is a big factor that brings on such change. It is a childs parental influences that ultimately effect what direction he or she will take. Although one’s upbringing greatly affects them from being good or evil, there are certain flaws in my stance that weren’t addressed. Such as, not all influences affect each person the same. For example, two siblings can be raised in the same structure and household, yet each one is effected differently; one being defiant versus one being obedient.
Another flaw in my stance is that not all family structures are the same. Some are raised in a single-family household, while others are raised with both parents. Lastly, economic factors can affect one’s upbringing. People of low-income households tend to live in areas often associate with crime and violence. Being exposed to such surroundings can negatively influence an individual. While all influences of one’s upbringing do not affect each person the same, the measurement of these influences could be the time spent in teaching these life lessons.
Although, not all family structures are not the same, that shouldn’t determine whether a child is good or evil. Being raised by a single mother, I know myself am able to rationalize what good or evil or the difference from right and wrong. While economic factors affect of low income households may not shelter those from negative surroundings, high-income households may also produce problems such as a child being spoiled and not learning responsibility. As long as positive values are instilled in each individual the other underlying factors will pose to be minor.
It is after we have gained knowledge and insight on good and evil that we as individuals are able to make our own conclusion before choosing go in either direction. Therefore being good or evil is not a matter of human nature, but matter of human choice. It is our choices that set ones identity from another. Once a positive and stable foundation is set forth, which usually begins at home he or is able rationalize what is good or bad. It is these tools that we gain from childhood that we use as guidelines for our adult lives.