On the Malleability of Human Nature

Even if we doubt that studying examples of egalitarian societal structures can tell us about the “true” nature of humans, what it can show us is that our nature is extremely malleable and adaptable to the society we construct around ourselves. With that in mind, shouldn’t we intentionally create a society that encourages the best in us? And, to start, shouldn’t we believe that it is possible?

Myths, misunderstandings, and limiting beliefs about human nature have been used to cultivate cynicism about our society’s potential since the dawn of civilization. Critical thinking, open-mindedness, and healthy skepticism can free us to imagine and implement a better world for ourselves. This starts with releasing superstitious attachment to conclusions we’ve long clung to about human nature, by looking at the immense anthropological, psychological, and physiological data that tells us that the “innate” competitiveness, greed, violence, and other traits to which we attribute the status quo are not a necessary condition for humankind.

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