Human Existence

Learning Goal: I’m working on a philosophy writing question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

  1. Do you think that human beings are by nature good, or do you think they are by nature evil? Support your answer with good reasons.

Template (as a starting sentence):

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Start with the opposite.

Some people say that human beings are by nature_______ because________ (write down some of the reasons they may give for this).

Then, give a rebuttal (Show the limitations of the reasons given).

Then, present own view and supply own reasons.

Ex: I, on the other hand, tend to believe that human beings are by nature______ because ______ (give good supports for your views).

Then elaborate.

  1. Do you think that human existence is inherently meaningful, or do you think that human beings have to create their own meaning? Defend your position.

this video may help for #2:

For the answer to #2, use the same template as #1.

#3 – no need for the template. (write answers after the answers to the 2 questions above).

All of us have been socialized (by our culture, our parents, our friends, and our educational system), to regard certain beliefs as true. They could be beliefs about love and friendship, beliefs about other people, beliefs about religious ideas, beliefs about the nature of happiness or the purpose of human existence, beliefs about friendship, sexuality, work, the nature or right and wrong (or good and evil), beliefs about the best way to spend one’s leisure time, beliefs about how to act around others, beliefs about what to value (such as fame or wealth or pleasure or connections with other people), and beliefs about what constitutes success or what counts as a good life. Look back to at your own personal history and ask yourself: are there any core beliefs that you accepted when you were younger, but you have now questioned (or modified or rejected or corrected), now that you are older? I’m not talking about trivial beliefs like the belief in Santa Claus. Of course we outgrow beliefs like that. I’m talking about more consequential beliefs, beliefs that shape you into the kind of person that you are (after all, your identity is shaped not just by your personality traits or your nationality or your gender; your identity—who you are—is also shaped by your core beliefs). So check whether you can identify some of the fundamental beliefs that you had when you were younger which you have now changed or replaced or rejected or corrected. Also, ask yourself: what made you change those beliefs? Was it your exposure to other beliefs? Was it your exposure to other people? Did the change come about because of particular experiences that you had? Was it because you thought about these beliefs very carefully and you noticed there was something wrong with them? And how do you see yourself now in comparison to the person you were when you were younger? Would you say that you are now better off as a result of the changes in your belief system?

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