• The Abyss
    Are we bound to human nature and, if it exists, are we capable of manipulating or surpassing its terms?
  • Gnomon
    It would help to know what raised the question in your mind. Some context would narrow the range of answers. With no frame, I'll just focus on "Human Nature", which was discussed in the topic : Human Nature : Essentialism. That topic was raised by a book which assumed that humans have an immortal soul, making an "intrinsic difference" between Human Nature and Animal Nature. The Soul concept implies that Human Potential extends into the supernatural realm of Eternity. Otherwise, we could limit our discussion to stay within the limits of space-time.

    Although my worldview has a place for an immaterial Soul-like function, that I call the "Self", I don't presume to know what happens after death of the physical body. I could guess, but here I'll just say that humanity has already demonstrated some of its amazing potential to change the world to suit human needs and wishes. The most obvious difference is in the rate of evolutionary change that has accelerated since the advent of human culture. My personal view of that applied potential is illustrated in the Cosmic Progression Graph.

    Many animals, such as ants and termites, leverage their power in the world by evolving group minds. But their ability to change the environment is still limited by their weak brain-power. But humans have already created a primitive global-mind --- a non-physical organism --- that we call "Civilization". With its associated advances in technology, civilization has reached the point where it has the potential to destroy the world (nuclear war, global warming). But so far, we have postponed the full negative consequences of misused potential. Nevertheless, if we continue to progress more and more rapidly, without catastrophic repercussions. humanity may artificially evolve a completely new species of androids or robots. But, I'm not completely sold on that sci-fi techno-dream.

    Whether those man-made brains are capable of consciousness, is debatable at the moment. But assuming that the upward curve of technology is matched by sufficient advances in ethics, the sky's the limit --- limited only by the expected Heat Death of the universe. Borrowing from Teihard deChardin, I have designated that far-off ultimate end-point as the Omega Point. That's not exactly the same as the new heaven & new earth prophesied by some Soul proponents. But it's radically different (superior?) from anything we can even contemplate today. How's that for Human Potential? Or, do you think we are headed for the Abyss? :wink:

    Cosmic Progression Graph : http://bothandblog3.enformationism.info/page28.html

    Human Nature -- Essentialism : https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/7298/human-nature-essentialism/p1
  • David Mo
    are we capable of manipulating or surpassing its terms?The Abyss

    It depends on what you mean by "human nature". In a classic sense, nature is what makes a thing that thing. Assuming this definition, man cannot go beyond the limits of human nature without becoming something else. This is Nietzsche's doctrine of the superman, for example.
    If you are asking whether this overcoming is possible, it also depends on what you understand by "concept", especially that of human nature. I think concepts are conventional. They are more or less rigid ways of ordering the world, but never absolute. Moreover, the limits of concepts are not always precise. So the question to be asked is "What is man?"

    Science fiction has explored vagueness by creating many interesting paradoxes. Stanislaw Lem's Solaris, for example, is decidedly philosophical.

    In my opinion, overcoming human nature is possible because human nature in the strong sense doesn't exist. I prefer "human condition". It is more flexible.
  • The Abyss

    I am prone to agree with you. The vagueness of the term ‘human nature’ was merely to provoke a little extra thought amongst interlocutors.

    Personally, I view a human being through the eyes of biology. For me, human nature is merely the expression of this biology which is thus impossible to overcome.

    While we may be capable of overcoming basic urges, the conscious mind that enables this degree of reflection and rationality is, none-the-less, part of human nature; thus, much like yourself, I do not see much validity in the proposition that one could be capable of overcoming that very nature.
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