Humans: Good or Evil?
This question has been asked over and over throughout time. Are we, as a human race, naturally inclined to good or evil? Some people might not care either way, but the philosophical query has always fascinated me.
In Dungeons & Dragons, an “evil” person is someone who acts according to his/her own interests above others, and a “good” person is someone who acts for the benefit of others first. In this game, you choose when you create the character which alignment your character is. Similarly, in Harry Potter, Slytherin house is the house of characters who are willing to do anything to get ahead and almost all our villains hail from that house. I guess I always thought, like D&D characters and Harry Potter, some people are good by nature while others are evil.
This question has been examined by many philosophers and theologians. The doctrine of original sin, for example, says that all people are born with a natural tendency to sin, but can overcome it with the help of grace. Hobbes believed that people were naturally selfish but pressures of society kept them in check. This is a similar idea to what the show Revolution portrays; In a world without law, people behaved abominably towards one another and any order, even a corrupt one, seemed a better option. Other theorists, like Rousseau, believe that people naturally will put others first.
A recent study done by researchers from both Harvard and Yale found that first impulses of humans tend to be more inclined to help others over themselves, but if the same individuals are given 10 seconds or longer to think about it, they begin to change their minds and opt to help themselves at the cost of others.
Does this mean that people who are more critical thinkers are inherently more evil? The best villains are usually the smartest, but there are very logical heroes as well. Regardless of the conclusion you draw from this evidence, it’s interesting to think that in the first split second, we are all good.
Question: Do you think humans are good or evil at their core? And how would you define good vs evil?