In various occasions, I heard the self claimed moralists said: “We should rise above our human nature”. Whenever I hear that, my stomach cramps. I always like to protest. Of course, this statement assumes that our human nature (some time it is called animal nature) is fundamentally bad, and civilization means departure, as far away as possible, from our own human nature, into something higher, something divine. When people say things like that, I don’t know what they are thinking about the human nature. Maybe they think about killing and manslaughter, maybe they think of Hitler’s death camp, or perhaps they are imaging some filthy sexual vice scenes, or some “sinful” behaviors like cheating and stealing. For them, human nature is a terrible thing. We have this original sin. If we allow it to roar, the earth will become a hell, civilization will collapse. Thus, for them, the number one task of civilization and the institution of morality is to fight the beast of human nature, contain it in the darkest corner in our soul. This sounds like a lofty goal. But to me, this is a wrong goal. A goal which is against our own interest.
Yes, there are aspects of human nature, like the stealing, cheating, killing and all the other violence, which are in conflict with modern civilization. But even these behaviors are evolved as our tactics to survive. Prehistorically, they are “lovely” tactics. Our modern civilization should not be defined as the opposite of human nature, instead it should be defined as a better way to serve our human nature, to serve our human nature as a whole, and to serve the most essential human natures. Our civilization is a massive social structure characterized by its high degree of labor specialization (with its benefits of high efficiency) and commercial trading on top of the specialization. This new social order (in contrast to the prehistoric small tribal life) has significantly increased our productivity and efficiency, thus can satisfy our essential human nature (human needs) much better than prehistoric life style. Unfortunately, this new social order requires us to collaborate in a massive scale with mutual trust and social order, instead of cheating and killing of each other. Thus, our “lovely” surviving tactics of killing, stealing, and cheating, which are the products of million year evolution, might no longer be appropriate. Our evolution process is too slow compared with the social and culture changes, and we have not yet completely evolved into model citizens. But I am sure, compared to our hunting ancestor ten thousand years ago, we are much more tame. We don’t want to kill someone on the street without good reasons. We still cheat and occasionally steal a bit, but what is the big harm? Sometime it might even serve some social needs. It has been said that you cannot survive a single day without lie. The big human tragedies, like the Hitler’s death camp is more a result of civilization went wrong, rather than a result of basic human nature.
What important is that through out all these changes, our essential human natures have not changed. These essential human natures and needs include: food, sex and intellectual curiosity. These essential human natures are the basis of our human, they define us. Without them, we are nothing. Satisfying these human needs are the only way to serve our well being, to reach our happiness. The purpose of civilization is to better serve our human being, to satisfy our human needs, it is not the other way around. We should not restrict our human nature just to follow civilization, just to abide the rule. Rule is to the service of man, not the man to the service of rule. Man is human nature.
The statement: “to rise above human nature” implies that there is something else, some thing above our human nature. But there is none. Human nature is the only thing we have, it is the center, it is the basis to define good and bad, correct and wrong. Beyond human nature, there is no direction. How do you know what they said (above human nature) is really above, not below. What do they use as the measure? There is only one thing they can use, that is God, the imaginary God. Yes, if you believe in God, believe in super nature, then everything related to out human selves is filthy, vice and none worthy. Restricting ourselves is the best way to follow God. God is above, is the direction, and what the Bible said is the direction. But what a pitiful life to degrade ourselves to such a low position. What is the fun of living? Why should not we kill ourselves? The trouble in religion is that we cannot even kill (eliminate) ourselves, since our soul will survive! I haven’t seen any recipe to kill the soul yet. A person with such a view will have a very low self esteem, lower than the life of ant. It is a fundamentally miserable life, because they are told to do everything against their nature. They distaste themselves, and cannot even kill themselves. For them, rise above their human nature is their daily struggle, because they are still human, they are merged in human nature.
As we said, God is an illusion, is imaginary. This concept of God has served us before, but it is time to abandon it now. The Bible was written by people, not by God. If there is no God, no deity, no divine, then there is nothing else except human nature. Human nature is at the center, not the God. There is no rise above human nature, because there is not even above. Human nature is the goal, is the thing we need to follow, need to serve. We should do things for the human nature, not against human nature, and not restrict human nature. As the possible conflicts within the set of human natures under the modern setting of civilization (labor specialization and goods trading), like the violence, we have to sacrifice the small part in order to better serve the larger and more essential part. But it is a sacrifice. We have to do it, not we want to do it. But the overall goal is to better serve our human natural as a whole, especially the basic natures, like the food, sex and intelligence. The goal is to make us happy, not to make the God happy.