Looking Beyond Assumptions

Humans are the most complex species on the planet. Coming up with an accurate and sustainable explanation for the way human nature works is nearly impossible. Many of the myths about human nature are based widely on popular assumptions. These misleading assumptions hold humans back from their full potential. They restrict us to behaving how it is assumed we should behave.

Agustin Fuentes, a professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame wrote an interesting article on this. The article titled “Busting myths of human nature” describes what Fuentes calls ‘the big three’ myths.

The race myth states that humans are divided into races and it acts as a baseline for how we act toward others. This also molds what we expect from others and what we think we can achieve for human equality. Fuentes then asks if race is a social construct and how that would then change our outlook on it.

The myth of aggression reassures that nature and nurture are different things. The assumption of humans is that our aggression (mostly in men) is going to come out in the worst of times such as a social crisis. If we look at our aggression as being part of our potential, not part of our nature, we can have a completely different way of living together.

The myth that men and women are different by design and that we are just naturally opposite highly constricts us. All of the possible ways we become human are ridiculously limited by this notion and it makes it harder to co-exist and grow together as people.

I believe this is a great way to view these aspects of life in an anthropological way. Looking at these myths in the way that Fuentes has explained can really allow us to make meaning of race, gender, and aggression beyond the simple assumptions that guideline them.