Two Orientations Toward Human Nature

1st Edition

Rony Guldmann

Published November 15, 2016
Reference - 238 Pages
ISBN 9781138265073 - CAT# Y314440
Series: Ashgate New Critical Thinking in Philosophy

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Our culture entertains a schizophrenic attitude towards human nature. On the one hand, egoism is held to be our most powerful motive, playing a crucial cultural role by explaining the appeal of capitalism and providing a foundation for individualism. By contrast much of the continental intellectual tradition speaks of wholeness and alienation, seeing human nature not as self-interested but as herd-like. Guldmann argues that this schism reflects two diverging conceptions of human agency, and that the attempt to locate human nature somewhere along a continuum between egoism and altruism presupposes a misleading picture of what it is to be a human being. The second, ’continental’ tradition is more illuminating because it recognizes that human beings are necessarily committed to some conception of the ultimately significant.


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