Featuring: Slavoj Zizek, Rowan Williams, Tamar Gendler, Richard Wrangham
Whether we see humans as essentially good or essentially selfish and violent has been central to our politics, our account of society, and our vision for social progress. But is this very distinction itself a mistake? Recently, Harvard scientists have shown humans to be both the kindest and most malevolent species on the planet. While figures like Hitler and Stalin though responsible for tens of millions of deaths were also remarkably empathetic in aspects of their private lives.
Should we give up the idea therefore that humans are either inherently good or bad and conclude that all of us are both at the same time with potentially profound consequences for our political beliefs? Or is it vital to retain the distinction to alert us to danger and to drive personal and social change? Or more profoundly, are the categories of good and bad themselves the underlying error and unhelpful, and even dangerous, ways of categorising human behaviour?
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