A search for Abraham Lincoln's 1860 Cooper Union address turned up this question, which a philosophy professor once asked his class.

How would you have answered it?

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Without a context, knowing what is meant here by "human nature" is not as useful.

If human nature is, essentially, how humans act, then, if it changes, its changing to reflect how humans act.


Humans act differently in different scenarios though, with a huge cultural influence being involved.

One decade of terrible luck and disaster and the great-incredible- humanist experiment is gone. So no. Unfortunately.

Tabula rasa imprinted by the monkey god...

But over the eons one may assume changes have occurred. 

"How would you have answered it?"

I would have lied.

What is the question? 

is it...

Can the nature of an individual human change?


Can the nature of the human species change?

The answer, I think, is yes in both cases, but the time scale of course is somewhat different.

To say the very least.

That's a good point...given that we do not have a context as to when we are "human" vs "Non-human" to start the comparison.


Si, TJ. Did the nature of the last non-humans differ from the nature of the first humans? How can anyone know?

That was my reply but I stated it less clearly, ...with the limited ability a kid has after 12 years in Catholic schools. They didn't deny evolution; they denied only that non-humans (= animals) have souls.


Are you familiar with the thinking of Jean-Paul Sartre and his dictum "existence precedes essence"?

Let me explain (this is according to Sartre):

With all other creatures besides human beings, they are born with their essence (their nature). A dog has a dog essence. A fish a fish essence. A bird a bird essence, etc.

Humans on the other hand create their essence through their free will choices. Only mankind has free will, and each individual is like an unfinished novel or painting until the day they die. Only then is their nature truly established.

Obviously, according to Sartre. Humans as a species have no "human nature." 

(Now, I'm not a believer in free will, but any discussion of human nature without a discussion of Sartre's notion of "existence precedes essence" would be incomplete.)

Note Sartre's choice of two nouns favored by philosophers: existence and essence.

His dictum reads so much like a trite "life precedes living" that he might have been gaslighting a muddle-headed Catholic who'd read Plato.

Thank you for that obfuscation.

Catholicism and philosophers obfuscate.

Philosophy does the opposite of obfuscation by clarifying concepts and forcing folks to use well-defined terminology. Politicians obfuscate. Don't mistake confusion and misunderstanding on your own part for obfuscation on the philosopher's part.

It's popular for people who don't like philosophy or just can't get into it to trot out slanders like this to justify their attitudes. I'm sad that you've become one of them. 


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