ADVANTAGES

You may have noticed that I have not explicitly discoursed much on the third term in my title, human nature. It is at least as problematic as science and the humanities. Indeed, some Marxists have claimed that it is only an ensemble of human relations, while others have written excellent books rebutting this reading. Althusserians, deconstructionists, Lacanians and postmodernists have reduced human nature to a hook onto which inscriptions and on which constitutive forces act. I defy you to make it go away. It is, of course, a subject of debate in every newspaper and periodical, and I once collected titles of a large number of books on my own bookshelves with the phrase in their title. It is what we wish to fathom in deciding what we are up against in ourselves and others, what we can hope for, what we may even achieve: part biology, part socialization, part striving. For me it is (you may find this limp) a mixture of good and bad, loving and aggression, but all my studies and clinical work and family life have taught me that it can to a degree be shifted for the better, as Freud once put it, from unbearable misery to ordinary human unhappiness. My own views are close to Freud's tempered pessimism, a sort of stoicism, but let's keep on trying. In the last of his New Introductory Lectures he claimed to have no weltangschauung or world view, while vehemently attacking leftist views on human nature. I -- and I trust you -- do not suffer under the delusion that I am free of ideology, but discerning its role and picking and choosing among the philosophies of human nature available to us is a task which is never-ending.

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