Human Nature

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Human Nature

  • Being a human is challenging. Human life is a journey through time and space with many obstacles: injury, disease, constant uncertainty, and relentlessly difficult interactions with other humans. Each human is the reincarnation of a long lineage of ancestors. Species memory, perceptual skills, needs, drives, feelings, desires and behaviors are built in and begin operating in utero. Humans evolved from primate ancestors and retained features of mind and behavior that have been present in animals for hundreds of millions of years. Urges, desires, designs, feelings cry out from within and often surprise us as if we were the hosts to wild animals and spirits within that refuse to be identified or tamed.
  • Rather than viewing society and culture as real things, an observer can recognize that humans live in groups that repeat and modify innate behaviors to produce prolific variations on a few underlying themes that are common to all societies. A smart observer will consider the grouping characteristics of humans and discern basic patterns and problems underlying the apparent complexity of modern civilization. The organization of society begins with small local clusters that link family groups into clans that are more or less cooperative units. Clans associate, forming bands that tend to affiliate with other bands forming tribes, looser affiliations that occupy larger geographic areas. The band-tribal structure emerges from ancient animal groupings.

    Human behavior can be understood in relation to the whole spectrum of primate behaviors and social organizations. Humans appear to have an eclectic combination of primate tendencies with elaboration of features such as tool making, symbolic reasoning and spoken language. Linda Stone suggested that: “Primates are a natural grouping of mammals that includes prosimians, tree-dwelling animals such as lemurs and tarsiers, monkeys, apes, and humans. Some of the physical characteristics that distinguish primates from other mammals are binocular vision and the grasping hand with mobile digits and flat nails. Evolutionary trends characteristic of the Primate Order are most pronounced in humans and include prolongation of gestation of the fetus, prolongation of the period of infant care, and expansion and elaboration of the brain. An important feature in the social life of many nonhuman primates is dominance and the formation of "dominance hierarchies."… a dominant animal wins aggressive encounters with others and usually has greater access to resources such as food, water, or sexual partners.“

    Patterns of organization, rules, and institutions that regulate human behavior are in flux and will continue to be unstable. As human populations expand and interactions become increasingly complex, innate abilities are stretched and distorted. The ability of individuals to relate to other humans remains limited and limits the effective management of enlarging groups. Managers and leaders do not become smarter as the organizations they lead become larger. It is axiomatic that organizations that exceed a threshold number become dysfunctional. It is matter of empirical study to recognize group size thresholds, and too little is known about the cognitive limitations of leaders.

    At the level of the largest organizations, small groups decide on policy and procedures that effect many nations, even the fate the entire species. International negotiations often involve numbers of people in crowded assembles such as the United Nations. When crises arise and critical issues need resolution, the best results are often achieved by small groups who intervene above and beyond the complexities of rules and the rituals of large assemblies and work out a deal. Individuals can make deals and settle disputes when other more complex and impersonal negotiations fail.

    The tendency to impose rules and policies from the top down is, however, risky because individuals and small groups cannot understand the needs, values and beliefs of large numbers of local groups. World-wide policies will tend to fail since they emerge from limited understanding and ignore the tendency for humans to relate most strongly to a small local group. At the deepest level, humans discriminate and select only a few humans out of many to trust and share time and space.

    In modern urban communities, humans of many descriptions come together to learn, work, and play. They pass through a common space every day. Strangers are ignored or actively avoided. A ride on an elevator reveals a remarkable innate resistance to interaction with strangers. Most humans feel tense and awkward in an elevator and avoid eye contact with other riders. If you override this strong tendency and say something to your fellow riders, the tension builds, and everyone is focused on getting out of the elevator as soon as possible

  • Human Nature is a 21st century portrayal of anthropology, neuroscience, philosophy, sociology and psychology - disciplines that need to be integrated as they are in this book. The topics are essential to understanding human nature, its origins and its problems. You could treat each topic as module of a larger system that develops emergent properties as the modules interact. Each reader discovers the features of human nature in himself or herself and then discovers similar features in others. After you understand more about the dynamics of close relationships, you can look at larger groups. You can continue by applying your insights into human dynamics to governments, countries and international affairs. Other Persona Digital books describe the same dynamics but emphasize different vantage points and concerns.

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    Print Book Read Topics Download
    Human Nature
    The Good Person
    Pieces of the Puzzle
    The Sound of Music
    Surviving Human Nature
    Language & Thinking
    I and Thou
    Emotions & Feelings
    Neuroscience Notes
    Human Brain
    Children and Family
    Intelligence & Learning
    Religion 21st Century

    Persona Digital

    Human Nature is the first volume in the Psychology & Philosophy series, developed by Persona Digital Books. We encourage readers to quote and paraphrase topics published online and expect proper citations to accompany all derivative writings. The author is Stephen Gislason and the publisher is Persona Digital Books. The most recent date of publication is 2017