Mankind’s troubled history of blaming human nature for bad behaviour

Mankind’s troubled history of blaming human nature for bad behaviour

What are we left with if we throw out human nature?

National Post

TORONTO — By invoking human nature to explain sexual abuse in the military, Canada’s top military man, General Thomas Lawson, walked a familiar but dangerous philosophical path.

“It would be a trite answer,” he told Peter Mansbridge this week, evidently realizing his comment was going wobbly before he even said it. “But it’s because we’re biologically wired in a certain way and there will be those who believe it is a reasonable thing to press themselves and their desires on others,” he said.

“It’s not the way it should be,” the general added, as if to say: It is just the way it is.

From the Garden of Eden to the modern metaphors of genetic fate and “hardwired” brains, the concept of human nature has long been associated with bad behaviour. It conjures images of animal desires held in check by flimsy civilization, and is typically brought up when people…

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