Definition of Human Nature

What is Human Nature?

To make real change happen – to participate in a genuinely creative adventure – is to believe that we can go beyond what is and what we imagine is possible. But to do this is not easy. We, as humans, do not have some core essence to ourselves that is fully walled off from the world around us and immutable to change. We are fully embodied, embedded beings who are wholly made by our world as we participate in the making of this world. And this means the radical critical practice of reevaluation, reconsideration, and reinvention involves us and who we know ourselves and our world to be. 

The important insight in this regard is that we have, as the anthropologist Marshall Sahlins argues, “watery souls” and as much as we feel our true self is fixed and ahistorical – things can and will change:

“In the co-evolution, the development of culture would have to be complemented by the deprogramming of genetic imperatives or what used to be called instinctual behaviors. The effect was the organization of biological functions in various cultural forms, such that the expression of biological necessities depended on meaningful logics. We have the equipment to live a thousand different lives, as Clifford Geertz observed, although we end up living only one. This is only possible on the condition that biological needs and drives do not specify the particular means of their realization. Biology becomes a determined determinant.

So again, who are the realists? Would it not be the Fijians who say that young children have “watery souls,” meaning that they are not full human beings until they demonstrate the mastery of Fijian custom? We have seen that peoples round the planet have some such similar idea. The idea is that human nature is a becoming, based on the capacity to comprehend and enact the appropriate cultural scheme: a becoming, rather than an always-already being.”
~Marshall Sahlins 

For the sake of a future that is different from the past, we have no choice but to start our journey from where we are and who we are today. And to do something different, we then need to first experimentally know and refuse who we are, how we define creativity, and how we develop practices.

on What Is Innovation, and How to Innovate

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