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PSCI 2014 Human Nature I & II

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by: windwalkerr

PSCI 2014 Human Nature I & II PSCI 2014

Virginia Tech

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About this Document

These notes cover lectures I and II on Human Nature from 2.23.16 and 2.25.16 in Intro to Political Theory.
Introduction to Political Theory
Rohan Kalyan
Class Notes
PSCI, psci 2014, human nature, PoliSci
25 ?




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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by windwalkerr on Thursday February 25, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSCI 2014 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University taught by Rohan Kalyan in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 39 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Political Theory in Political Science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

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Date Created: 02/25/16
Human Nature 2.23.16 Human Nature II 2.25.16 Human Nature 2.23.16  Are human inherently equal & if so, in what ways & on what basis?  In what ways are human unequal?  What are/should be basic human goals/motivations?  Are humans rational & autonomous in choosing conceptions of a good life?  Are their ideas about human nature that most people can accept as minimal basis for political  agreement? St. Augustine  Believed that human nature couldn’t be perfected  Societies aren’t just  Concept of “original sin” descended from Adam & Eve o Our lives aren’t awry by coincidence   Idea of 2 cities: city of man & city of God o Man could never build the latter. o Too dependent on money & greed  Lived 354­430 AD o He lived and wrote during the steady decline of Roman Empire  Linear history of humanity o Nothing lasts forever  Creation  Fall of man (Adam & Eve)  Redemption  o Augustine wasn’t that hopeful for human nature. He believed that most people will  succumb to greed.  Original sin: concept that we can’t achieve perfection because of our origins  o Using free will to turn away from God’s will Herbert Deane on St. Augustine   Evil is absence of good, not the positive creation of God, therefore God is not responsible for evil  Human nature: egoistic, prideful, self­interested, disobedient, insatiable desires  Bifurcated world o City of god: eternal, peaceful, harmony o City of earth: corrupt, selfish, materialistic   **Humans need gov’t to contain sinful ways  Predetermination of the saved & damned, wealthy not necessarily righteous & vice versa  Hobbes (1588­1679)  Divine right of kings: kings chosen by God o Hobbes said that this was nonsense o Similar to Augustine, but w/o religion   Leviathan: strong authoritarian rule o like Augustine, but replaces God w/gov’t  men are by nature equal in strength & intelligence Human Nature 2.23.16 Human Nature II 2.25.16 o no one has major advantage over anyone else  from equality proceeds diffidence/insecurity/fear  from diffidence proceeds war o first for security, then glory & recognition  outside of gov’t; war of all against all (state of nature)  social contract: o fear of death, desire for commodious living, hope to work hard to attain material goods  pushes men to agreement o submission to rule of Leviathan is better than being out in state of nature o **Locke modifies Hobbes’ argument while retaining premise of cruelty of state of nature  Not as negative  o Locke writes after Glorious Revolution (1688) & Hobbes during exile/English civil war  (1642­1651)  Locke is slightly more liberal, whereas Hobbes will take any form of gov’t  Locke willing to overthrow gov’t if it isn’t doing what ppl want.  Hobbes = more reluctant  MacPherson “Early Liberal Model of Man” th th  Classical liberalism (18  & 19  century) inherits state of nature assumptions of Hobbes & Locke & shares some negative views regarding human nature from Hobbes & St.  Augustine   **instead of condemning human nature, liberalism values selfishness, egotism, &  competitive   Utilitarian conception of human nature arises w/ industrial capitalism & maturation of  liberal democracy   Preliberal democracy (Rousseau & Thomas Jefferson)  o New conception of man  Liberal democracy  o Man as utility maximizer, possessive individualism  Money = happiness/utility  Possessive individualism: whatever I’ve acquired is mine & mine alone, & I should  want more  Utility always trying to be increased  Happiness/pleasure measured by $$ o Pain = lack of $$ o Minimalist role for gov’t; gov’t shouldn’t interfere w/ your ability to make  money bc it causes pain  Freedom is absence of intrusion   Deal w/ inequality by expanding vote to satisfy working class  Marx “Estranged Labor”  Centers on idea of worker alienation  Industrial capitalism coincides w/ liberal democracy o Under liberal democracy, people are politically free but socially unfree o Liberalism protects liberal private property, but only the wealthy have it Human Nature 2.23.16 Human Nature II 2.25.16  Poor people have only labor power, which they own & sell for a wage  Only the capitalist class is both politically/socially free  Rely on unfree labor to get richer  Voting is therefore only there to placate the masses, who must choose between  rich representatives to be their voice  Alienation: workers alienated from means of production as well as final product of their labor o turns workers into commodities o must sell themselves to live  species being of humans is free; people live in inorganic nature Human Nature II 2.25.16 Marx on Human nature  Marx uses the term species being (essence of species) instead of “human nature”  Work is the essence of humans o He said that humans are always shaped by their social relations & that, to some extent,  humans shape their own nature o Bourgeois ideology (liberalism) theorizes human nature as abstract, ahistorical, &  individualistic  Against “human nature” bc term makes it seem like we never change  o Human nature isn’t static; it changes slowly over time  Humans are social animals before they are individuals  He makes the distinction btw humans & animals o Animals produce w/o planning or preparation o Human produce after thinking & planning  Humans “humanize” nature o They recreate & reconstruct nature w/ human characteristics  For their own ends (surplus production; more than we need)  Likely started w/ agricultural production o Humans are rewarded for hard work ( get out what they put in) o Humans find their meaning/happiness in their life activity (i.e. artisans, bakers, butchers,  shop owners  Product is theirs; unalienated labor, essence of our beings. They get to see the  final product after they make it   Under capitalism, labor becomes estranged/alienated o Worker detached from means of production (cog in a machine)  o Worker also detached from ends of production (final product)  Capitalism is most efficient system o Increases surplus accumulation through efficiency & exploitation of labor  w/ rising efficiency/technology comes more alienation  look at 1848 Europe as an example  humans constantly do things that they resist  shifting discussion from workers to consumers o Are we all just consumers? Human Nature 2.23.16 Human Nature II 2.25.16 Kropotkin “Mutual Aid”  human evolution driven by 2 dialectical forces: o individual self­assertion (**Western thought) o mutual aid (mostly ignored in Western society)  mutual aid: reduces struggle for existence in both animal/human society  poor people tend to celebrate mutual aid & interdependence much more than the rich, who tend to forget who helped them get to the top  believed people should help each other w/o gov’t telling them to Chang “assume the worst…”  an unorthodox economist   free market economists assume that humans are in it for their self­interest  o defines economic rationality; universal  while self­interest is primary driver of economic & political activity, it’s not only (or most  important) influence  ideologies of self­interest can self­perpetuate how people think about morality of “small town”  versus that of big city   Is this human nature or socialized behavior? If we assume the worst out of people, is that what  you get? Rawls “Rationality & motivation of Parties in Original position”  humans aren’t irredeemably self­centered, dogmatic, prideful, etc o they have at least capacity for genuine toleration & mutual respect (given correct­liberal­ institutions)  humans neither good/bad on others make their own life plans by acquiring social goods (income,  wealth, power, status, education)  Original position: abstract space/time when individuals rationally agree to sense of justice that  can contain negative consequences of individual pursuits.   **main point: humans are rational  Humans have rational sense of justice o Most want to live in at least partially equal world o Incentives for those who work harder, but to a limited extent Sandel “Procedural Republic & Unencumbered Self”  Argued in “America’s Search for New Public Philosophy” that democracy requires strong sense  of community & civic engagement  Argues that liberals like Rawls & Kant use abstract individualism (unencumbered subjects guided by rationality) as basis for moral law/justice  Humans aren’t abstract, unencumbered subjects o They are shaped by family, community, history, etc  These shape sense of justice  Liberalism fantasizes freedom & unencumberence, denies entanglement  Parekh “Conceptual Human beings” Human Nature 2.23.16 Human Nature II 2.25.16  Humans have universal traits, instincts, processes o Survival, nurturing, birth/death o These aren’t “human nature” o Humans are deeply socialized; no access to “natural human”  So diverse & complex, impossible to know what a natural human is since we are  deeply affected by nurture   Politics of human nature o Philosophers often think about certain conceptions of human nature to justify particular  social/political arrangement  Male/female gender roles justify inequality/oppression  3 levels of thinking of human nature as universal:  Common species  Cultural/social communities   Individual consciousness   Possible responses:  o cultural relativism → ignores what is shared  lots of similarities  o strong universalism → ignores what is distinct (monism) o weak universalism (minimalist) → ignores cultural meaning of universal  pluralist universalism:  o different cultures/societies define universal human instincts/traits/processes in distinct  ways o universal morality is not an abstract form (like in Plato) or rationality (like Rawls/Kant)  that comes from transcendent realm (heavens, abstract, theory) o pluralist universalism emerges from cross­culture dialogue 


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