Originally posted by gosseyn
I think we have different ideas about what "human nature" means.
I think so, too. By "human nature", I mean any set of innate behavioral responses that appear in humans and are not limited by culture.
Greed is not limited by culture - it is in our nature to horde the things we believe are valuable and to protect these things by active exclusion of
All cultures have some monetary or barter system where objects are assigned a value. It doesn't matter if the currency is goats or abalone or gold -
this is a human behavior.
Interestingly, it is not an exclusively human response to currency. Scientists at Yale trained a group of Capuchin monkeys to use currency, and they
began to use it in the same manner as humans do: they traded currency for food and then sex, were angered by stingy monkeys, gambled, and stole money
from their friends when the opportunity arose.
I don't think "greed" is in our nature, but is only a behaviour that can appear under specific conditions. We are not greedy for stuff that
is present in abundance, regardless if we need that stuff for our survival or not. Here are 2 example : the air we breathe and sea water. We need
breathable air for our survival and yet we don't stock breathable air, and even if I am in a crowded place, I know there is enough breathable air for
everyone. We don't need sea water for our survival, and it is present in abundance, thus no one is greedy about sea water. In those 2 examples, the
conditions for greed to appear are not met, and subsequently there is no greed for breathable air or sea water, until the environment/conditions
The only reason ocean H20 and normal 02 are not commodities is because there is no way for humans to control these. There is no "source", so there
is no way to bottleneck access to it.
It's not by accident that there are so many "from the source" bottled waters. It's not by accident that people who live in a city must pay for
their natural gas, water, and even some pay taxes to operate fireplaces. These natural resources have become commodities because someone looked at
them and said, "I can put a fence around this and make people pay me to have access to it."
The real question is : what do we think we need ? And this is a question about cultural environment. In a society where scarcity is
artificially maintained, and where greed is almost celebrated, there will be greed.
What 'I think I need' and what 'We think We need' are two very different questions with two very different responses. (For me, anyway.)
The culture I live in celebrates greed and cutthroat behavior. I do not subscribe to this set of behaviors or its companion philosophy. As a result, I
do not enjoy the same benefits as other people in the culture. This is my choice.
Yet, I do not accept the norms of my purported culture because my personal nature does not match that of the culture - I am innately uncomfortable
with the norms of the culture I was born into. The nature of "we" is not the nature of "I". There is a difference. However, many people are
conditioned not to recognize this distinction.
"We" need whatever we believe is valuable: money, sex, gourmet meals, iPhones, fast cars, big houses, pretentious degrees, diamonds, to feel
superior than other humans, etc.
"I" need enough food not to starve, water, air, the ability to think, a garden, and love.