Whether human beings are naturally selfish or whether it’s the circumstances of their environment that make them this way is a complex question with no easy answer. It’s true that in some cultures, individualism and self-interest are embraced and encouraged, while in others they are discouraged. In any case, there is evidence to suggest that both nature and nurture have an influence on how people behave when it comes to selfishness.
Write an essay on whether human beings are naturally selfish OR whether circumstance is primarily responsible for these tendencies in a culture.
To begin, let us consider the biological basis for selfish behavior. Evolutionary biology suggests that humans evolved from ancestors who were highly competitive and sought out resources for their own survival. This evolutionary instinct may be hardwired into our DNA; studies have found that infants as young as six months old can display signs of selfishness when faced with limited resources such as food or toys. From an evolutionary standpoint, being somewhat “selfish” was essential for ensuring one’s own survival and procreating more offspring — traits which would then be passed down through generations. Thus, from a scientific perspective it appears that human beings may indeed be pre-programmed to act according to certain selfish impulses at times; however, these instincts can also be overridden by cultural influences like morality or religion which promote altruistic behavior over self-interest.
Of course, culture plays a huge role in shaping how individuals behave within society — including whether they choose to act out of selflessness or simply look after themselves above all else. Many different factors come into play here: religious beliefs/teachings often heavily influence how people perceive acts of charity or generosity towards others versus looking out solely for oneself; economic systems like capitalism tend to favor individual success over collective prosperity; political ideologies like authoritarianism encourage citizens to place loyalty towards the state before their personal needs; educational models such as meritocracy prioritize those who display intelligence and ambition ahead of those without these traits; social structures such as class divisions create unequal access to resources which encourages people from lower classes to focus on their own needs rather than giving back to those less fortunate than them…the list goes on! All of these things combined lead many individuals (especially those living in developed countries) away from prioritizing collective well-being over one’s own desires/needs – making them more likely take part in behaviors which could be considered “selfish” under certain definitions – even if deep down inside they don’t believe this is the right thing do morally speaking.
All in all, there are clearly both biological predispositions present within humans which can push us towards acting out of self interest at times – but simultaneously cultural conditioning also has a strong influence on our behaviors surrounding “selfishness”. Whether genetic makeup or environmental circumstance ultimately has the greater impact will depend largely upon the specific context one finds themselves inhabiting — yet either way both factors should definitely not be ignored when attempting answer this complex question about human nature!