The Question

Submitted by Ken Watts on Tue, 08/28/2007 - 11:50

"What is the nature of human beings?"

"You are always asking complex questions, rife with assumptions."

"What assumptions am I making?"

"You tell me. What was your question?"

"What is the nature of human beings?"

"And what does the question assume?"

"That human beings exist?"

"Yes. And?"

"That they have a nature."

"That is not an assumption."


"It is many assumptions. Think. Separate them out."

"That it makes sense to talk of the nature of humans?"


"That all humans have a single nature."

"Good. And is that assumption true?"

"I suppose that is part of what I'm asking."

"And the answer? Do all humans have a single nature?"

"Well they do and they don't."

"Give me an example."

"Most humans can see, but some are blind and still human, and among those who can see some can see better than others."

"You are beginning to think. Another example."

"Some humans can concentrate better than others, some can sing better than others, some can think better than others..."

"Go on."

"Kindness. Most humans are kind, but some are kinder than others. And there are sociopaths, for whom kindness may not even exist."

"And these humans who are kind. Are they always equally kind?"

"No. They are sometimes kinder, and sometimes less kind."

"So you have made another assumption?"

"That... that individual humans always have the same nature."


"Then there is no such thing as human nature!"

"Just when you were doing so well."