Examined Lives

Coming Next: Thursday, March 18, 12-1 EST

Are We Humans Fundamentally Selfish? (Session 7)

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The idea that we humans are profoundly selfish has deep roots. The view makes an appearance in Plato’s Republic, where it provokes an inquiry into the nature of justice. The idea was incorporated into Christian theology and shaped the dominant institutions of Medieval Europe. Then Enlightenment thinkers like Thomas Hobbes picked it up and built the conceptual frameworks that underlie what we call modernity. And more recently, of course, Richard Dawkins has argued that we are built by selfish genes.

New developments in the biological sciences, though, suggest that we might have underestimated human niceness. It now appears that prosociality—friendliness—is also deeply human. Join us as we examine some profoundly influential pictures of human nature.
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