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Are Human Beings Good? Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 424

Essay

The question over whether humans are intrinsically good or bad can only be answered if the concept of morality is defined and understood. Often, morality can only be understood with reference to cultural values, religion, and one’s perspective and outlook on life. In his seminal novel Death in the Afternoon, Ernest Hemingway opined: “So far, about morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after” (Hemingway, 1932, p. 4). It is important to discern what the meaning of morality is before deriving a conclusion over the goodness of human nature. No universal morality system exists because the conception and definition of morality varies on an idiosyncratic basis according to temporal, geographical, and cultural contexts. To many people, morality refers to the guidance of an individual’s conduct by religion, personal upbringing, and/or culture. Indeed, renowned philosopher Alfred Whitehead argues that morality refers to what the majority has an affinity for while immorality pertains to what the majority possesses and aversion towards. It is thus interesting to appropriate these perceptions of morality to the issue of whether or not humans are intrinsically good or if they behave in certain ways according to their own interests shaped by the values that have been inculcated into them by their parents or their mother culture.

Human beings seemingly are a combination of good and bad and have the potential to let one inclination overtake the other. An individual can have a sense of morality and may act out in a certain way that is rendered correct or moral because of his or her religious beliefs, although such actions discursively frames that person as narrow-minded, selfish, and an overall bad person. This question thus clearly cannot be viewed in dyadic terms as a result of how profoundly externalities and belief systems shape human actions. At the very core, human beings know right from wrong, yet during desperate times, such judgment gets clouded. As such, while humans are intrinsically good, they also maintain the potential to evince badness if they act on their impulses and engage in nefarious behavior.

References

Hemingway, E. (1932). Death in the afternoon. United States: Scribner’s Sons.

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