There are several theories that attempt to define human nature. The five views of human nature are the simplistic view, the two-fold view, the three-fold view, the four-fold view, and the five-fold view.
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The simplistic view conceives human beings as basic biological organisms capable of thought. This sentiment states that, human beings are made up of matter and all functions, thoughts, and capabilities of humans arise out of the basic nature of matter. Biological and medical sciences propagate the perspective that humans are simplistic organisms consisting of matter. The simplistic view contends that humans are simple moving machines capable of producing sound.
Another prospect of human nature is the two-fold view. This perspective states that human beings consist of two components – body, and a second component, that is, the mind/soul/spirit. One of the proponents of this two-fold aspect, Plato, believed that the body and soul, even though they elements co-exist, once belonged to different worlds.
Plato stated that while the body was mortal, the soul was immortal. Another supporter of the two-fold view, Descartes, believed that, while the body was visible and tangible, the soul was intangible and abstract. The two-fold view promotes the notion of life after death, and the idea of pre-existence and post-existence for the soul. Because the soul is immortal, its existence does not end with the death of the body.
The third view of human nature is the three-fold view. This view holds that, humans consist of three components: the body, soul (emotions), and spirit (intuition). The spirit takes pre-eminence amongst the three components, and according to proponents of this view, is capable of detaching from the soul and body of the human being. The soul in this view is emotional while the spirit is intellectual.
In all the three views of human nature, the human body, as the conduit for the soul and spirit (in the two-fold and three-fold views), connects the three views. The two-fold and three-fold views build on the simple view of human nature. The simple position of human nature indicates the mortality of humans whose existence on earth is, but a journey that ends in death.
The two-fold perspective promotes the concept of immortality, whereby, the human soul continues to exist in an afterlife when the body ceases to exist through death. The three-fold view, on the other hand, while not explicitly advocating for the existence of the soul in another world beyond the physical earth, also detaches the soul and spirit from the physical body of humans.
The two-fold view is the view most prevalent in modern American society and is the view that I find most ethical. Many religions in modern day America, for instance, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all promote a belief in an afterlife in heaven (Hertel, 1980, p.172).
All these religions also give prominence to the existence of the soul, the human component that, according to the above named religions, detaches from the body and ascends to heaven upon death. Since most Americans are religious, the two-fold view is the most prominent view in American society.
The two-fold view of human nature, as espoused in religion, gives purpose and meaning to the lives of religious people and society at large (Miller, 2009, p.92).
I find this view ethical because, by portraying the purpose of life beyond earthly existence, living becomes a lesser burden, and the society benefits from the peaceful and purpose driven lives of religious people.
Hertel, B. R. (1980). Inconsistency of beliefs in the existence of heaven and afterlife. Review of Religious Research, 21(2), 171-184
Miller, L. (2009). Religion’s role in creating national unity. International Journal on World Peace, 26(1), 91-114