human nature

1. the psychological and social qualities that characterize humankind, esp. in contrast with other living things.
2. Sociol. the character of human conduct, generally regarded as produced by living in primary groups.
[1735-45]

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Fundamental dispositions and traits of humans.

Theories about the nature of humankind form a part of every culture. In the West, debate has traditionally centred on whether humans are selfish and competitive (see Thomas Hobbes; John Locke) or social and altruistic (Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim). Recent research in genetics, evolutionary biology, and cultural anthropology suggests that humans may be both, and that there is a complex interaction between genetically inherited factors ("nature") and developmental and social factors ("nurture"). Basic drives shared with other primates include food, sex, security, play, and social status. Gender differences include greater investment in reproduction and child-rearing among females, hence less risk-taking; and concomitantly less investment and greater risk-taking among males. See also behaviour genetics; Homo sapiens; personality; philosophical anthropology; sociobiology.

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Universalium. 2010.

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