I just attended a conference on “Rethinking Human Nature.” The purpose of the conference was to re-examine the fragmented assumptions regarding human nature that underlie the contemporary social order, and to explore more integrated and holistic conceptions of human nature that can serve as the basis for a more just and sustainable order. Among the many topics that were explored at the conference were:
the latent spiritual potential of every human being;
the two-fold moral purpose of every human being to develop their latent spiritual potential and contribute to the advancement of civilization;
the means by which individuals can be educated and trained to actualize their two-fold moral purpose;
the relational nature of the individual within an organically interdependent social body;
the relationship between one’s animal nature and one’s spiritual potential;
the biological evolution of the human body and the transcendent reality of the soul;
the role of self-sacrifice in the development of the self;
the importance of self-knowledge, or conscious knowledge of the human soul, as a requisite of spiritual development;
material and spiritual sources of human motivation;
the complementary roles of science and religion in releasing latent human potential for the advancement of civilization.
At this critical juncture in history, we would all do well to rethink inherited conceptions of human nature. The fragmented conceptions that inform so many social practices, social institutions, and social policies today are clearly proving inadequate.