Race, Aggression and Sex: Assumptions of Human Nature

In his article titled “Busting myths of human nature”, Agustin Fuentes reflects on the ideas that there is no nature versus nurture (but more of a focus on potential versus performance), and that society needs to look past the assumptions formed of humanity, specifically the assumptions of race, aggression and sex.

The myth is that there are natural variations between humans of different races. Fuentes sees race as a social construct rather than a biological identity and it restricts human equality. Aggression is a human characteristic that “emerges whenever the grasp of civilization weakens”. By assuming aggression as an inevitable act, we are becoming subject to a society that accepts violent acts such as murder, assault and war. If aggression is viewed as human potential rather that human nature, it would not be as socially accepted because it would be something that is possible, but not expected. The third assumption regards defining gender. Genders have certain behavioral expectations and are “extremely limited by such a perspective.”  In order to avoid submitting to gender stereotypes, humans need to accept the fact that we are much more complex creatures than what is on the surface.

By reading this article, Fuentes helped me see that our society needs to observe actual behavior of individuals and not assume that behaviors are things subjected to stereotypes.  In order to debunk the myths of human nature, we all need to act as ethnographers -observers of our own societies -and see our surroundings with cultural relativism, straying from our beliefs about humanity that were shaped since childhood.