The second pessimistic response related to human nature starts from the premises that evil is in the essence of man. As a supplement to this theory is the thesis of the Chinese philosopher Hsyn Chu5F that human nature is malicious and it has to be cultivated in order to acquire the category of goodness. He endeavours to prove that man is born with the innate tendency towards gaining something and has a preference for sensual pleasures. But beside these inceptions of evil, man simultaneously possesses intelligence, which enables him to become good. According to Hsyn Chu, moral relations are a product of culture and civilisation. They are not gifts of nature but an achievement of the spirit. Hence, moral laws are again set as something objective, something given from outside.
The pessimistic judgements of the scientist Thomas Hobbes went so far that he a priori believed in the power of human uncontrolled instincts and he described the natural state of humanity as “a war of everyone against everyone”6F. Hobbes realised that three principal motifs lead to such a state of affairs: rivalry, suspicion, and fame. The first reason, after him, leads people to attack other people for profit, the second for security, and the third for gaining reputation. For the purpose of substantiating his viewpoint on human nature, he quotes the facts of the historical experience from long time ago but also from recent time. He gave as an example the behaviour of primitive peoples in many regions in America or the modern civil wars, which present what human nature is like at places where there is no joined ruling power to install fear.
This Hobbes’ vision on human nature was later taken over by Freud, who developed it in his classic work, Conflict and Culture. According to Freud, “man is not a timid creature that needs love”7F. Those who are close to man are not only helpers and sexual objects but also objects that serve to satisfy aggression, use their work, and inflict pain upon them. As far as historical experience is concerned, in support of his and Hobbes’ visions on human nature, Freud referred to the examples of the Huns and Mongolians, i.e. he talked about Jingis Han and Timur Lenka, the crusades, and the horrors of World war I. Hobbes and Freud believed that human nature exists, i.e. that there are certain biological constants determining human’s aggressive deportment. This would mean that the human kind is not morally neutral, but by nature necessarily immoral and malicious. From this point of view, culture is not a sum of forms among which the values of the non-defined biological accoutrement of man is patterned, but a corpus of repressive measures for taming the natural evil in man. “Culture demands sacrifices,” said Freud, “therefore man finds it difficult to feel happy within it”8F.
Several variants of this dismal view on the world can be found in the speculations of socio-philosophers from19 century, Max Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche. They are both in favour of the thesis that every human being fights for his good, without taking care of the welfare of the other members in the society. As maintained by them, altruism is an illusion or a temporary state when people are faced with a common enemy. The relations between people are based on the collective apprehension and hatred, and not on love and friendship. Strife is interwoven in human nature, whose stems are placed deep in the past and it results in survival of those who are most perseverant. At the same time when these theories were generated, the sociologist Herbert Spencer literally applied Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in social life and brought into being his own Theory of Social Darwinism. This theory is even nowadays approved in the works of some modern philosophers, among which the most famous is Ein Rend.
The only point of contact among all the above-mentioned theories as Nikola Milosevic9F emphasised in his article Disputes on Human Nature is the denial of human freedom. And it is a constituent element of human nature. All these cases are dealing with a radical deterministic attitude towards human nature. In some of the theories the role of determinants is taken by cultural forms, and in others by the elements of biological factors.
The third significant historic attempt for solving the problem of human nature is in the form of a distinctive anthropological optimism. The problem of morality was considered by the oldest philosophy acts. The ancient Chinese philosopher Menzie (371-289 year BC)10F claimed that human nature is good. He was distancing himself from Confucius’s assertion that every man is born wise. Just the reverse, man attains wisdom by maturing. Menzie stated that there are good elements in human nature but he is aware of the existence of neutral elements, which if uncontrolled can lead to evil. The elements that can become evil are instincts, typical of animals, and he believes they are not part of human nature. According to him, every man possesses four elements intrinsic to human nature. These are the feeling of sympathy, which is the origin of all human philanthropy and altruism, the feeling of shame and disgust, which is the beginning of righteousness, and the feeling of righteousness, which is the start of wisdom characterised by modesty and compliance.
This perspective was dominant in Ancient Greece as well. In this sense morality is immanent to man, comes from him, and is an expression of his nature. Plato11F defines morality as a harmonious functioning of all elements of human personality i.e. it is a true expression of man’s self. Morality is a product of human nature itself. It is a result of the mutual links between the crucial parts of human nature, reason, spirit and wish. Hence, a good man is the one whose reason governs his wishes, whereas with the evil man, wishes govern reason. Plato, Aristotle, and Ancient Greeks in general found two important elements of morality in human nature. They are the wish as a biological component, and reason as a specifically human component. They always positioned reason beyond wishes and passions. Also they identified morality with the control of reason over wishes.
For this attempt of interpretation, the theoretical opus of Erich From is paradigmatic. In truth, in some of his articles he tended to mollify his optimistic notion of human nature, defending himself from sentimental optimism and recognising the potential of evil in man. He said that man is neither good nor evil. “If one believes in man’s goodness as his only potential then one will either encroach upon severe distortion of facts or will sink in bitter disappointment. However, if the approaches of extreme anthropological pessimism are accepted, there is a danger of being cynical and blind regarding the many possibilities of the good in one’s self and in others”12F.
5. Fung Ju-Lang, Istorija kineske filozofije, Nolit, Beograd, 1977, str. 167.
6. Hobs, Tomas:
7. Frojd, Sigmund, Nelagodnost u kulturi, Odbrana dela, Novi Sad, 1969, str. 318
8. Ibid, str. 322.
9. Milošević, Nikola: Sporovi o ljudskoj prirodi, Književne novine, Beograd, 1990, str.55.
10. Fung Ju-Lang, Istorija kineske gilozofije, Nolit, Beograd, 1977, str. 168.
11. Валтер Стејс, Судбината на западниот човек, Култура, Скопје, 1991, стр. 39.
12. Erik Fromm, The Heart of Man, Perennial Library, 1971, str. 157.10.