Philosophy of Human Nature
Human nature is defined as the set of distinguishing characteristics that human beings display outside of the influence of culture. As a result, thinkers have long sought to answer some of the basic questions of the philosophy of human nature, pioneered by Socrates. Many theories in the philosophy of human nature have emerged since, through Darwin, Marx, and Freud.
Plato held that human beings were ration, social creatures, whose reasoning abilities were held in the soul. His philosophy of human nature states that men only become who they are through society, and that to truly achieve identity, we must live in an ideal society. Aristotle held much of the same belief, but maintained that both body and soul were essential parts of human nature. Rationality, for Aristotle, was what set human beings apart from animals.
Religions as well have opined on the philosophy of human nature. The Judeo-Christian tradition holds that humans are free-willed creations of God, and that freedom, a gift from God, is what gives man dignity. Buddhists, in contrast, hold that human nature is consciousness, and that ultimately the self is an illusion. Atheists, specifically existentialists, maintain that there is no human nature, and that existence precedes essence. This is largely the work of Jean-Paul Sartre; whose philosophy of human nature declares that we create our own nature.