thousands of years, philosophers have argued whether we have a basically good
nature that is corrupted by society, or a basically bad nature that is kept in
check by society. Psychology has revealed some confirmation which might give the
old debate a twist.
nature has no natural inclination towards good nor evil
is worth mentioning that we are all born in a state of neutrality. The way we
react to certain situations is determined by experiences & learned
behaviors. Statistically it has been proven that a child raised in an abusive
household is 3 times as likely to repeat the cycle of violence in adulthood and
75% more likely to commit a violent crime against someone else. No one in this
world is perfectly good or completely bad, we all fall within this middle grey
area of scrambled morality. Usually majority of people are able to understand
the difference between wrong and right, which indicates that everyone has some
degree of good in them, however we are also prone to submit to things such as
jealousy and selfishness which implies that we all maintain some degree of evil
as well.(Bolin, 2006).
from Psychological Literature:
Each person is regarded
as fundamentally good according to humanistic theory. Humanism is considered as a progressive life
stance that, without supernaturalism, confirms our capability and obligation to
lead eloquent, moral lives proficient of adding to the greater good of humanity
This theory gives emphasis to the basic
goodness of human nature. It stresses on the natural tendency of self
actualization. An additional hypothesis
is then added – people are mainly good, and have an inborn need to make
themselves and the world better. The humanistic approach emphasizes the
personal worth of the individual, the centrality of human values, and the innovative,
active nature of human beings (Rogers, 1946). The approach is optimistic and centers
on noble human ability to overcome adversity, agony and anguish.
Both Rogers and Maslow considered personal growth and contentment
in life as a basic human motive. This means that each person, in different
ways, pursues to develop psychologically and constantly improves themselves.
This has been apprehended by the term self-actualization, which refers to
psychological growth, fulfillment and satisfaction in life. However,
Rogers and Maslow both describe different ways of how self-actualization can be
accomplished (Rogers, 1959).
Additional indication from psychology which tells us that
humans have good nature originates from positive psychology. Positive psychology is “the scientific study of what
makes life most worth living. Positive psychology is concerned with Eudaimonia, “the good
life”, reflection about what holds the greatest value in life – the aspects
that contribute the most to a well-lived and fulfilling life.
Positive psychologists have suggested numerous methods in
which individual happiness may be nurtured. Social ties with a spouse, family,
friends and wider networks through work, clubs or social organizations are of
particular significance, while physical exercise and the practice of meditation
may also contribute to happiness. Happiness may increase with growing financial
income, though it may plateau or even drop when no more improvements are made
According to Seligman and Peterson, positive psychology is
concerned with three subjects: positive
emotions, positive individual traits, and positive organizations.
Positive emotions are concerned with being content with one’s past, being happy
in the present and having hope for the future. Positive individual traits focus
on one’s strengths and virtues. Finally, positive organizations are based on
strengths to better a community of people (Seligman, 2009).
Ilona Boniwell, in her book Positive Psychology in a
Nutshell, provided the following summary of the present study. Happiness is
associated to optimism, hopefulness, extraversion, social networks (i.e. close
friendships), being married, having appealing work, belief or spirituality,
leisure, good sleep and exercise, social lecture (through lifestyle differences
and better coping methods) and individual health (what you think about your
health). Wellbeing is not correlated to age, physical charm, wealth (once basic
needs are met), gender (women are more often dejected but also more often delighted),
educational level, having children (although they add meaning to life), moving
to a sunnier climate, crime prevention, housing and objective health (Boniwell,
2012). All of this will lead to a good life and a good human nature.
Evidence from Islamic Resources:
According to the Quran, Allah “created man from a clot
of blood” at the same time he created the jinn from fire (96:1-3). Muslims
believe humans are the greatest of all creatures, created with free will for
the purpose of obeying and serving Allah. Muslims believe that all people are
born in Al-Fitra, a natural state of submission to Allah (Qur’an
20:122-23). True repentance from sin returns a person to this original sinless
state. According to Muslim theology, mankind’s chief failing is pride and
naturally begin talk of God’s love by quoting the Quranic verse, “He loves
them” (5:54), which is to say that God loves human beings. God’s love is adequate
to show that people are attractive, for “God
is beautiful and He loves beauty.” Human beauty, however, is of two sorts: inborn
and recovered. It follows that God’s love is also of two sorts, corresponding
to the two sorts of compassion labeled in the formula, “In the name of God, the
All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful.”
to Islam all humans are born according to fitrah (nature). They have a tendency
to uphold the oneness of God and have faith in the existence. In Quran Allah
direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. Adhere to the
fitrah of Allah upon which He has created all people. No change should there
be in the creation of Allah . That is the correct religion, but most of the
people do not know. (Surah ar-Rum:30)
This is further
supported by the hadith,
child is born upon natural disposition ie fitrah and then his parents convert
him to Christianity, Judaism or a fire worshipper.
(Bukhari 4775, Muslim 2658).
In Islam we say that a
person has both good or evil nature but due to the existence of al-fitrah in
every person it is inclined more towards good. Evil must be controlled and
freed from its influence.
In short, it expresses
us that humans have fundamentally a good nature and human is endeavoring
towards self fulfillment and self actualization.