15 november 2007


Over de slechtheid van de menselijke natuur


Hier is noot 30 van mijn commentaar bij Boek II van Aristoteles' Politica. Het blauw gestelde is van Aristoteles, zoals vertaald door Benjamin Jowett - en "These evils" heeft een algemeen en wijd bereik:

These evils, however, are due to a very different cause - the wickedness of human nature. (..)

This again (..) concerns an issue few idealists, few radical reformers, and few adolescents are willing to meet frankly and head on: "the wickedness of human nature". This needs at least two remarks.

First, it seems clearly true, on average, as illustrated by human history, which is fairly described by Gibbon and by Chamfort in these terms:

"History is little else but the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind"

"Presque toute l'Histoire n'est qu'une suite d'horreurs."

and which moved Hazlitt to the quite correct exclamation

If mankind had wished for what is right, they might have had it long ago.

Second, this is mostly explained by egoism and stupidity:

"Egoism and stupidity are the roots of all vice"

and also by the facts that all men only can feel their own needs and interests, and think their own thoughts, and that all sympathy or human kindness requires a certain amount of imaginary taking the place of another, while it also is a fact that the vast majority of men is not particularly well inclined towards men who are not a member of their own society, group, club, party, or family, and indeed are often inclined, also because the ideology or religion or morals of their groups allows or approves this, to exploit, abuse, lie to, or deceive foreigners, strangers and non-groupmembers.

And it should be remarked that, apart from sadism, malevolence and cruelty, all of which are quite human and quite common too, the common human traits of egoism, stupidity and chauvinism go quite far in explaining and underpinning the above first three quoted observations.

En weet u wat ik hoop, in ieder geval?

Dat spinazie-dominee Knol ničt zegt of schrijft: "Precies myn idee, mynheer!"

Ach ja, al die kleine genietingen waar een mens al geen genoegen in kan scheppen!

O... en "Nederlandse filosofie", "Nederlandse cultuur", "Nederlandse beschaving", "Nederlandse redelijkheid", "Nederlandse rationaliteit" - zijn dat geen oxymorons? Tennaastebij?

Maarten Maartensz


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