Human nature: Six things we all do

WHAT sort of creature is the human? The obvious answer is a smart, talkative, upright ape with a penchant for material possessions.

But what about the more subtle concept of human nature? That is more controversial. Some deny it exists, preferring to believe that we can be anything we want to be. They cannot be right.

Although we exhibit lots of individual and cultural variations, humans are animals, and like all animals we have idiosyncrasies, quirks and characteristics that distinguish us as a species. An invading alien would have no trouble categorising us but, being so close to our subject matter, we struggle to pin down the essence of humanness.

Nevertheless, the task may not be beyond us. Anthropologists have identified many “human universals” – characteristics shared by all people everywhere, which constitute a sort of parts list of our species. What if we were to use these to examine the human animal in the same way we would study any other?

As the following articles reveal, what emerges is a suite of characteristics that encapsulate our nature – and a rather peculiar one it proves to be. If you thought you knew what humans were like, then think again.

Being playful  Skills

All mammals play – but no other species pursues such a wide variety of entertainment or spends so much time enjoying themselves.

Being scientific  Knowledge

Humans are constantly sorting the world into categories, predicting how things work, and testing those predictions – the essence of science
BEHAVIOUR

Being legislative

Chimps stick to simple behavioural norms, but we humans, with our language skills and greater brainpower, have developed much more elaborate systems of rules, taboos and etiquette
FEEDING

Being epicurean

<b>Epicurean</b> <i>(adj) Loving food and finer things (Image: Image Broker/Rex Features)</i> Compared with other animals, the feeding behaviour of humans is exceedingly odd. Where they just eat, we make a meal of it
SEX

Being clandestine

<b>Clandestine</b> <i>(adj) Secret and concealed, often for illicit reasons (Image: Image Broker/Rex Features)</i> Nothing is quite as puzzling as our predilection for clandestine copulation. Why do humans have sex in private?
COMMUNICATION

Being gossipy

<b>Gossipy</b> <i>(adj) Tending to talk about others <br/>(Image: APAimages/Rex Features)</i> Language has shaped our nature profoundly – and arguably, our way with words reaches its apogee in gossip
New Scientist, 23 April 2012 by Bob Holmes and Kate Douglas:
http://www.newscientist.com/special/human-nature?cmpid=NLC|NSNS|2012-2304-GLOBAL|humannature&utm_medium=NLC&utm_source=NSNS&utm_content=humannature

Ievērojami, ka šajā ‘zinātniskajā pētījumā’ iztrūkst 2 būtiskas un ļoti svarīgas cilvēku īpašības, kas veido un nosaka (vai vismaz būtiski iespaido) to, kas notiek visās mūsdienu sabiedrībās: vajadzība sevi apliecināt un vajadzība ņemt arī tad, kad tas izdzīvošanas nodrošināšanai nav nepieciešams.

Izskatās, ka šādas nepilnīgas ‘zinātnes’ iespējamais skaidrojums varētu būt tas, ka sociāle slāņi, kas nosaka, kādus pētījumus finansē un ko atskaitēs raksta, piebremzē sabiedrībā ‘nevajadzīgu’ domu izplatīšanu par tādām primātu īpašībām kā alkatība un izrādīšanās, bez kurām iztiek tikai nedaudzi minēto instinktu nesēji.

Visa cilvēces vēsture ir nepārtraukta cīņa par materiālo labumu sadali, bet raksta autori to nav ieraudzījuši.

About basicrulesoflife

Year 1935. Interests: Contemporary society problems, quality of life, happiness, understanding and changing ourselves - everything based on scientific evidence. Artificial Intelligence Foundation Latvia, http://www.artificialintelligence.lv Editor.
This entry was posted in All Posts, Human Evolution, Understand and Manage Ourselves. Bookmark the permalink.

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