The good, the bad, the 50/50

Is basic/typical/average human nature:

  1. more good than bad?
  2. more bad than bad?
  3. exactly 50/50?

By this I mean are people more inclined to do good, to do bad or exactly 50/50.

Opinions. Thoughts. Mindless musings.

P.s. - This is stemming from Good & Bad & Atheiests (Oh my!)

What more could you expect from somebody who lets people kick him to the head?

The question of good or bad is purly perception. A society decides what is good and what is bad. What one society decides is good may be evil or bad in another society.

The line between good and evil runs, not between men, but through every man.

Yer pal,

When deciding questions of good and evil, it seems as though intent is 3/4 of the determination. For example it is not considered evil to run over a kitten because it was sleeping under your tire and you didn’t see it, but it might be considered evil to tie a kitten to the railroad tracks.

With this in mind, while I feel people more often do the wrong thing than the right thing, I think generally they believe what they are doing is right, and thus not evil. That doesn’t necessarily mean its good though - and I’m not sure its appropriate to consider good and evil opposites of one another.

Here’s my take:

10% Bad
10% Good
80% Heads up their ass

I agree with kknick34

10% evil
10% good
90% mindless inanity devoid of the passion of either

Hell is Other People.

That extra 10% is extra credit.

Hell is Other People.

Is that why people watch the news so that they’ll know what to think and what opinions to have?

I am the epitome of good. All others, because they are different, are evil. Thus I am going to heaven, people who want to be like me are going to purgatory with a chance of going to heaven, people who don’t want to be like me are going to purgatory to stay, and people I don’t like are going to hell. Everyone I don’t know will be judged on a case by case basis when I call myself to heaven.

Saw you coming this way, Glitch, and I figured I’d follow with my own 2¢.

I think it’s an interesting question, and I believe the answer lies in the evolution of man.

Consider that man is a social animal; the advancement of the species out of the caveman era was dependent on cooperation. It does not seem likely we would have evolved to this stage if the tendency toward anti-social behavior had become prevalent, so it would seem we are genetically programmed in at least some basic ways to be cooperative. This is part of what I understood David to be saying in the thread to which he posted the link in Good & Evil & Atheists.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule, or aberrations. The aberrations in this case would be sociopaths.

I think, in general, people will try to do good, though intention is the key. You know, as in, “God save us from good intentions!” :slight_smile:

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

Man is not a social animal - man is a political animal. Sociopaths are not abberations.

Large groups of people are something to be feared due to the drastic change it causes in the individual. It is group mentality that is evil.

Hell is Other People.

Individual human nature is only one factor here; individually, most humans are mindless sheep, little sponges that absorb their attitudes and values from their social environment and then espouse them, unquestioned. Having said that…our individual nature is to desire autonomy (we hate being coerced), we want to be liked, and if things are going our way we are more inclined to be “likeworthy” than abrasive to each other, although for various selfish reasons we can be quite willing to hurt each other.

Socially, our nature is such that we are interdependently social in a way that no other non-insect species is. There are dozens (possibly thousands) of ways to pack us together in a social arrangement, each with consequences for how individuals will perceive their own selfish interests and whether or not those perceptions will lead us to hurt each other more often or less often.

The hypothetical ideal would seem to be the minimally coercive, maximallly co-equal mode, in which being a voluntary cooperator and an all-around likeable person has the highest potential for causing others to do well for you. Systems that utilize other motivational forces, whether positive (bribery) or negative (punishment), dilute the power of reputation as good person / good cooperator and make it more likely that attending to these other factors and forces is the best route to achieving what one wants for one’s personal selfish old self. Money is one example; avoiding political persecution for failing to hate those you are supposed to hate is another.

Most non-cynical politics is an attempt to formulate the ideal means of packing folks so that we are maximally encouraged to treat each other nicely rather than stab each other in the back. In its institutionalized form, most organized religion places the emphasis more fully on individual conduct, as if we would attain the ideal system if everyone as an individual would just be nice to each other for a change. Utopian movements are usually an attempt to inspire people to be nice to each other by giving them a vision or diagram of the ideal social system in which being nice to each other would generate these benefits; as with religion, there is the belief that if everyone had the vision and was “one of us”, the world’s wickedness could be ended; but unlike most religion, the inspirational content pertains to a scheme for how to pack us all together. This is what the 60s (and the early 70s which were part of the 60s for all practical purposes) were to many of us.

Designated Optional Signature at Bottom of Post

Well, not much of a Great “Debate” I guess.

Personally, I agree with Quixotic (hope I got that right) and AHunter3. I think basic human nature is to be cooperative and good.

What Quixotic said makes a lot of sense to me, that we can show that basic human nature is positive because of what does exist. If basic human nature were non-cooperative we wouldn’t have formed the society we have. Therefore, our early ancestors must have recognized the benefits of cooperation and this helped form basic human nature. Of course, other animals cooperate as well, does that imply then that their basic nature is good?

What AHunter3 says sounds entirely true too. A basic human need is to be liked and fit in. Therefore, we will try to be like the rest of the people in our social environment to some degree.

So, does anybody want to take the basic human nature is to do evil/bad? Come on there has to be somebody out there who believes this. :slight_smile: We promise not to flame you too much.