Re: What is human nature?

I think human nature is very adaptable. There are certain instinctual identities with one’s family, with one’s tribe, with one’s co-religionists. But that doesn’t necessarily translate into decency toward the other, however that’s defined, even if the other is your next door neighbor. And I think the challenge for the human rights movement is to overcome what are countervailing tendencies toward treating that other as the enemy; as a lesser human being; as somebody who can be used purely instrumentally; who doesn’t have to be treated with respect; who can be killed if necessary. That is also an element of human nature. And I think our task is to expand the concept of community sufficiently so that people are willing to treat large numbers of people with the basic respect that rights require, ideally at a global level – which is not easy because it’s hard to speak of the global community in any meaningful sense. But that obviously is the goal, so that all of us act as if everyone on earth has the entitlement to these same basic rights. But I don’t think that that in any sense is a natural inclination. It’s a possibility, one that needs to be nurtured by building up public morality; building up public expectations about behavior; building up institutions that reinforce those instincts or behavior, and gradually getting to the point where we can, with greater degrees of dependability and expectations, see people live and treat each other with respect for these basic rights. But it by no means is an inevitability.

Recorded on: 8/14/07

We are adaptable and instinctive, Roth says.

Understand your own mind and goals via bullet journaling

Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.

  • Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
  • The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
  • One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Car culture and suburban sprawl create rifts in society, claims study

New research links urban planning and political polarization.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
  • Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
  • People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Keep reading Show less