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Discuss The View That Understandings Of Politics Are Always Based On Conceptions Of Human Nature.

2072 words - 8 pages

Understandings of politics have been greatly affected by different conceptions and models of human nature. Examples can be found in political ideologies such as socialism, liberalism and anarchism. Therefore human nature as a debate for discussion is very important.In this essay I will discuss what conceptions of human nature there are and how significant they are in relation to our understandings of politics. I will focus mainly on political ideologies and their different ideas of human nature and behaviour. This is because almost all political doctrines and beliefs are based upon some kind of theory of human naturePolitics in simplistic terms is the relationship between the individual and society because it involves the interaction of human beings among each other. Human nature is what is innate, inborn and natural in human life as opposed to social experience and environment. This is where some divisions occur in conceptions of human nature.The question arises whether or not human nature is shaped only by biology or society as well (i.e. external forces). There are those who believe that humans can behave in ways that deny or contradict their 'true natures' and those who don't. It is important to note that models of human nature are normative, i.e. assumptions that cannot be scientifically proven such as what is 'human essence.'An important debate about human nature is what makes human 'natural'. Is it given or fixed by birth (biologically and genetically determined) or is it influenced and structured by social experience (i.e. experience of the world and growing up within a social environment). This put simply, is an argument between nature and nurture.Those who advocate the nature argument claim all aspects of human nature can be explained by biology. Charles Darwin, the founder of the theory of evolution, wrote how each species went through a series of random genetic mutations some of which gave them the chance to survive and prosper, and others that became extinct.However it was only until Herbert Spencer wrote his book 'The Man Versus The State' was the term 'survival of the fittest' used to explain human nature. This gives rise to how it is in our nature to compete amongst each other, in order to survive, in an endless struggle between human beings. Therefore real issues such as wealth and poverty could be explained through biology. This conception was picked up in both classical liberalism and fascism that I will now explain.Classical liberals viewed humans as being materially self-interested with the desire to obtain wealth and status. Others such as J.Bentham put forward a utilitarian view that humans have a desire for happiness and pleasure while avoiding pain and suffering. They acknowledged differences in natural ability and supported meritocratic methods of distribution of wealth on the basis of fairness in hard work etc. They therefore rejected forms of state intervention on economic and social life.Fascism is based on Charles...

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