Is it possible to identify some property or a set of properties that necessarily, all and only humans have? Is this what we mean when we speak of ...

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There has been a lot of skepticism concerning human nature; regarding if there even is any sort of underlying essence to being human. Existentialists predominately argue against the idea of essential traits and any innate abilities. Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) says in his 1946 lecture “Existentialism is a Humanism”: “… There is no human nature, because there is no God to have a conception of it. Man simply is. … Man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself. That is the first principle of existentialism.” In saying this, Sartre proposes the idea that existence precedes essence. Existentialism though, in John Locke’s (1632-1704) view allows for certain innate faculties of the mind such as “Perception, as it is the first faculty of the mind … it is the first and simplest idea we have from reflection, and is by some called thinking in general.” Locke is one of the primary Empiricists who argues against the ideas of Essentialism, but he too has allowed for the proposition that the human mind has to have certain natural faculties. Even though the majority of humans do display these qualities, these intrinsic qualities are not essential for humans to have. But if we widen our view to extrinsic qualities, it is easier to find a universal and essential trait of being human. The Darwinian approach to human development follows the idea that species biologically evolve. This does not allow much room for the traditional idea of “human nature” as there cannot be ever-present and universal traits that are essential. This though, has an exception, which is that the lineages of a species must have been born from a pervious generation. This allows for the idea that Lloyd and Crowley summarise in Essentialism and Human Nature (2003), “if... ... middle of paper ... ... 2014]. Furbank, P. N. 2014. Altruism, Selfishness, and Genes. [Online] Available at: http://www.threepennyreview.com/samples/furbank_su08.html. [Accessed 04 May 2014]. Harper, D. 2014. Online Etymology Dictionary. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=humane. [Accessed 20 April 2014]. Locke, J. 2014. Locke's Essay: Book I - Table of Contents. [Online] Available at:http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/locke/locke1/contents2.html. [Accessed 22 May 2014]. Journal article Hull, D. L. 1980. On Human Nature. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, 2(1): 3-13 Rensch, B. 1957. The Intelligence of Elephants. Scientific American, 196(2): 44-49 Web article Lloyd, E. A., Crowley, S. J. 2003. Essentialism and Human Nature. In: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. [Accessed 19 April 2014, from VUW Blackboard]

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