SSI2 128

The Philosophy and Science of Human Nature

Is there a universal human nature, and if so what defines it? For millennia now philosophers have debated this question, proposing a number of starkly different accounts of human nature in the process. More recently scientists have gotten in on the action as well, bringing empirical results to bear on various hypotheses regarding what human beings are like. This course examines the interaction between philosophical and scientific approaches to the study of human nature. Topics include the following: Which features of human minds are innate? What is the relation between the language a person speaks and the way in which that person conceptualizes the world? What does evolution entail about human nature? Is the existence of free will compatible with various scientific findings regarding human beings? What are the moral and political implications of different views of human nature? Do men and women have fundamentally different natures? What is the relation between human nature and religion? The course examines works by Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, Marx, Darwin, and Mead, as well as many contemporary philosophers and scientists. Affiliate department: Philosophy.

Prerequisites: SSI2 enrollment requires completion of SSI1 seminar