Hundreds of years ago, two famous philosophers took opposite stances on the fundamental disposition of human nature. Confucius stated that human beings are naturally good, and should develop their good nature. Xunzi argued that human beings are naturally evil, and that good deeds are a result of restraining our naturally evil selves. Fast forward to 2013: Are human beings naturally good or naturally evil?
We have all heard the cliche “everybody has a little bit of good inside of them.” Even the most evil people, for example Adolf Hitler, accomplished some good things in his life. What is the source of our “good”? Do we do good things because they are the right thing to do or are we good because we seek attention and approval from others? What part of our good is an innate disposition and what part is influenced by environmental factors? For me personally, I would say all of the above. I know that there are times I do good things because it feels like the right thing to do, and there are times I do things for attention. There are situations where my instincts tell me what the right thing to do is, and there are instances when I have to rely on what my parents taught me to know what is good.
Most people would accept that everyone has some good inside of them, but what about evil? I think a strong case can be made that we all have a dark side whether we know it or not. The question is, is this evil side part of who we really are or is it a corruption of good from external factors around us? There are times where I have the urge to do something wrong in order to make something right or to make a personal gain. We all have certain temptations that we must control at one time or another.
Am I a good person or am I a bad person?
My conclusion is that everyone has both some good and some bad in them, but the ratios of each are different in everyone. Some people may be 99% good and 1% bad, some might be 50% good and 50% bad, and some might be 99% bad but 1% good. I think what determines are good and bad actions are a combination of both innate disposition and environmental factors. This is my personal theory, we will never really know for sure.
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