Nature of an Animal…But of a Human

When people think of the true, unsullied, fundamental nature of humans, one usually conjures up an image of a perhaps feral child who has spent their life living in the wilderness, away from the tethered structure of society. However, what is interesting to me is that when thinking of animals, we consider the state of the natural to be that of the animal already inside a structure, within their ‘society’ and not without. We do not try to separate the animal from their colony in order to gauge their true nature, yet it is what we do for humans. Thus, is it that the feral child in the wilderness, who has grown up without a name, without a nuclear family, without the imposed notions of education and then a job, is, in fact, unnatural? Or that they are not the correct conclusion of a ‘not natural’ human? That the normal shape of a human being’s life is to be part of a communal structure, and to be impacted by other humans while working together with them? After all, that would make sense, as our relationships and interactions with people build up society: it influences opinions, politics, how we live our personal lives, and more.

Let us take two opposing views on fundamental human nature, or otherwise the state of nature: those of Hobbes and Locke. Hobbes famously thought of the state of nature without governance as a vicious, lawless state from which human beings were extremely unlikely to survive and prosper. Locke gave a theory with a religious twist and believe that humans in the state of nature were still obligated to one another and some sort of order would still exist. He stated that all would be well because every human is born and progresses in the fact that they are God’s property and lead their lives to end up with God again, which meant that their lives would still have some sort of direction that united them.

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