The Nature of Things

1. What is the Nature of Human Nature?

By the ???nature of??? something, we are looking at the essential qualities or characteristics by which something is recognized. For example, the nature of fire is to burn. By simplification, ???nature??? refers to the ???purpose??? of something.

Before we figure out the purpose of why human nature exists, let us first determine what human nature is. According to the Wikipedia, ???human nature is the range of human behavior that is believed to be innate rather than learned. There is much debate over which behaviors are innate and which are learned, and whether or not this division applies equally to all individuals. This debate is also known as ‘nature versus nurture’.??? Sociologist believe that human behavior is neither entirely voluntary nor innate, and believe that it is the combination of the two.

This problem of distinction can be observed by the fact that most humans do not simply live by their self-centered instinct nor learned behavior alone, but make intelligent decisions which sometimes contradicts human nature itself. For example, a stranger might jump into the raging river to save a drowning person, risking his own life for someone he doesn???t know or even need to care about. This runs against the grain of self-preservation, a survival instinct built into most living organisms. As such, I believe that we cannot learn of one universal human nature, but of a human nature that is only relevant to each individual.

I see human nature as the intertwining of biological, social and environmental factors. It is this functional yet organic relationship which ultimately determines human behavior. The purpose of it seems to be to simply give individuals a sense of direction, without which, there would be little interest in the pursuit for life.

2. What is the Nature of Society?

According to the Wikipedia, a society ???is a group of people that form a semi-closed system, in which most interactions are with other individuals belonging to the group. A society is a network of relationships between people. A society is an interdependent community. The casual meaning of society simply refers to a group of people living together in an ordered community.??? The organizing function of a society is important for without it, there would only be complete and utter chaos where I would imagine individuals combating for their own independent needs. It would seem that the more efficient way to survive would be to organize and cooperate for the betterment of everyone in a society.

On an humanistic level, the society also represents a belief system which individuals subscribe to when they participate in it. From the agriculture-based, to the industrial-based, to now the informational-based society, societies evolve with the central idea of having efficient strategies for survival. For the modern day society, individuals subscribe to the ideas such as the government, economics and democracy. While it should be the interest of the people to believe in the social system, it should also be the society which listens to the people to tend to their interests. This interweaving between the individual and his or her society is something that is built in the very meaning of society.

Taking one further step back on an abstract level, societies likened to pockets of order in a galaxy of chaos. Within each society lies a subset of chaos as well as order. Now that we have seen how societies work, we can observe that the nature of society seems to be that of a balancing force. This institution of equilibrium makes life more livable by bringing order and reducing chaos to a more manageable level.

3. What is the Nature of Technology?

It is perhaps technology that helped defined us as a people of the human race. Since the very beginning of human culture, we had the idea of creating tools to help us better manage the world we live in. Technology could even be part of human nature, for it is embedded in the entire development of human civilization. It should be seen as an intrinsic part of a cultural system and it both shapes and reflects the system’s values. Like the individual???s relationship with society, technology would be the third relationship interweaved with both entities.

Technology can come in the form of physical as well as metaphysical tools, including language, rituals, and skills such as design, management and production. To define technology, it is likened to a tool which extends our abilities to change the world in many ways. It allows us to create things out of materials; to transport objects over distances; and to communicate beyond our human ability. While we typically see technology as helping us adapt to the world better, technology also shapes the world to suit us better. Since we do not possess the absolute truth about the world around us, it is we who can try to give meaning to our environment. However, as we try to develop newer technology to appreciate our world better, the results of changing the world are often complicated and unpredictable, which would lead to unexpected human gains or loss (e.g. natural fuel engines polluting the environment).

Ultimately, I believe that the nature of technology is very much like the nature of theory, which is to better understand and fully appreciate our subjective world in order to reach a higher possible level of equilibrium with our environment.