Who Are We? Theories of Human Nature

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2005-07-21
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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What is our nature? What is this enigma that we call human? Who are we? Since the dawn of human history, people have exhibited wildly contradictory qualities: good and evil, love and hate, strength and weakness, kindness and cruelty, aggressiveness and pacifism, generosity and greed, courageand cowardice. Experiencing a sense of eternity in our hearts--but at the same time confined to temporal and spatial constraints--we seek to understand ourselves, both individually and as a species. In Who Are We? Theories of Human Nature, esteemed author Louis P. Pojman seeks to find answers to these questions by exploring major theories in Western philosophy and religion, along with several traditions in Eastern thought. The most comprehensive work of its kind, the volume opens withchapters on the Hebrew/Christian view of human nature and the contrasting classical Greek theories, outlining a dichotomy between faith and reason that loosely frames the rest of the book. The following chapters cover the medieval view, Hindu and Buddhist perspectives, conservative and liberaltheories, Kant's Copernican revolution, Schopenhauer's pessimistic idealism, and Karl Marx's theory. Freud's psychoanalytic view, the existentialist perspective, the Darwinian view, and scientific materialism are also discussed. Pojman concludes with a discussion of the question of free will,ultimately asserting that each one of us must decide for ourselves who and what we are, and, based on that answer, how we shall live.

Author Biography

Louis P. Pojman is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the United States Military Academy.

Table of Contents

The Biblical Views of Human Nature: Judaism and Christianity
The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)The Concept of Human Nature: Rules for Successful Living: The Prophets'' Message: Summary for Hebrew Bible: The New TestamentChrist and the Concept of Human Nature: Jesus'' Radical Message: Humanity is Made to Love: Paul''s Vision of Human Nature: Justice and Responsibility (Mt. 25:14-30): Summary for New Testament
The Greek Tradition on Human Nature: The Sophists and Socrates
The Rise of the SophistsSocrates'' Simple Moralist View of Human Nature: Knowledge Is VirtueSocrates'' Moral Philosophy: Virtue Is KnowledgeSummary
Plato''s Theory of Human NatureThe Theory of FormsPlato''s Theory of Recollection and A Priori KnowledgeThe Ascent to KnowledgeJustice and Human NatureThe Allegory of the Cave and the Meaning of LifeSummary
Aristotle''s Theory of Human NatureIntroductionPlato and Aristotle
The Nature of EthicsA Political Person
The Functionalist Account of Human Nature
What is the Good Life?
The Ideal Type of HumanSummary
St. Augustine''s Theory of Human NatureAugustine''s Life and Early ThoughtEvil and the Free Will DefenseAugustine''s Doctrine of Love as the Essence of Religion and EthicsThe Doctrine of the Great Chain of BeingSummary
The Hindu and Buddhist Theories of Human NatureHinduismHistory and Main Ideas: Metaphysics: Epistemology: Theory of Human Nature: Morality, Dharma, and the Caste System: Bhagavad Gita: Conclusion to Hinduism: BuddhismLife of Buddha: Buddha''s Teachings: The Four Noble Truths: Conclusion to Buddhism
Classical Conservative and Liberal Theories of Human Nature: Hobbes and RousseauThomas Hobbes: A Conservative Theory of Human NatureIntroduction: Hobbes'' Account of Human Nature: Humans as Machines: Hobbes'' Account of Morality: The State of Nature: Conclusion to Hobbes: Jean Jacques Rousseau: A Liberal Theory of Human NatureIntroduction: Human Nature Is Good: The Social Contract: The Noble Savage and EmileConclusion to Rousseau: Summary: A Comparison Between Conservative and Liberal Perspectives
Immanuel Kant''s Copernican RevolutionThe Kantian Epistemic RevolutionKant''s Moral Theory: The Categorical ImperativeKant''s Transcendental Apperception: The Elusive Self: Freedom of the Will: On God and Immortality: Summary
Arthur Schopenhauer''s Pessimistic IdealismIntroductionThe World as IdeaThe Will to LiveSalvation from the Sufferings of ExistenceMoralitySchopenhauer, Sex, and PsychoanalysisSummary
Karl Marx''s Theory of Human NatureIntroductionTen Marxist ThesesSecularity and ReligionA Manifesto for a Revolutionary ProgramConclusionSummary
Sigmund Freud''s Theory of Human Nature: Pansexuality and Psychoanalysis
The Trinity of PersonalityId: Ego: Superego: SexualityConsciousness and the UnconsciousDreams as Wish Fulfillment: ReligionCivilization and Its DiscontentsRival Psychoanalytic TheoriesSummary
The Existentialist Theory of Human Nature: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and SartreIntroductionThree Theses of ExistentialismAn Assessment of ExistentialismSummary
The Darwinian Theory of Human NatureIntroduction: The Shaking of the FoundationsDarwinian EvolutionEvolution and EvilSocial Darwinism and Sociobiology Evolution and EthicsSummary
Human Nature in Contemporary Theories of the MindDualistic InteractionismThe Classical Dualist Theory: A Critique of Dualistic Interactionism: MaterialismFunctionalism and Biological NaturalismDualism RevisitedSummary
The Paradox of Human Nature: Are We Free?
Free Will and DeterminismLibertarianismThe Argument from Deliberation: The Determinist''s Objection to the Argument from Deliberation: The Libertarian Counterresponse: Agent Causation: Objection to Arguments from Introspection: The Argument from Quantum Physics (A Peephole of Free Will): The Argument from Moral Responsibility: Metaphysical CompatibilismSummaryConclusionWhat Is The Truth About Human Nature?Do We Have Free Will or Are We Wholly Determined by Antecedent Causes?What Is Our
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