Human Nature and Its Future

“In much of the 20th Century, there was a widespread denial of the existence of human nature in Western intellectual life, and I will just present three representative quotations. ‘Man has no nature,’ from the philosopher Jose Ortega y Gassett. ‘Man has no instincts,’ from the anthropologist and public intellectual Ashley Montagu. ‘The human brain is capable of a full range of behaviors and predisposed to none,’ from the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould. | I think, however, that in recent times there has been a rediscovery and a reacknowledgement of the idea that humans have a nature as well as a history.” Steven Pinker

Human Nature and Its FuturePresident’s Council on Bioethics)

The first question from the audience raised important issues about the public understanding of science, especially when the public at large is asked to make policy decisions (by electing representatives with particular stands on issues relating to bioethics). Jim, who suggested the link, rather cheekily asks, “Could we breed journalists?”