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Propensity to Evil

By Veronica Emilia Nuzzolo,  Ph.D., CADC

good versus evilThe sixteenth century Puritan belief of original sin, the ideology that children are born evil and need to be civilized through harsh punishment and authoritative parental control,,

“Tabula Rasa” “blank slates,” Philosopher John Locke’s opposition to authoritarianism, the concept that human characteristics are attained through learning,,

Jean Jacques Rousseau, innate goodness, the rejection of Puritan belief, the rejection of Locke’s theories, the concept of inherent goodness. 

Innate goodness, the existence of evil, neither can be denied,, biblical concepts provide explanation for the existence of good and evil, but what secular concept can explain the existence of good and evil personalities.

Freudian theory, the unconscious, sex and aggression, attempts to explain but is not a predictor of behavior. Freud believed that all people are innately bad, the unconscious mind governs behavior and ones behavior is determined by the id, the ego, and the superego. The id (the pleasure principle), is dominant when we are born and the suppression by society of the animalistic instinct causes frustration and creates the  destructive, cruel, and selfish personality.

Refuting psychoanalytical theory, behavioral theorists suggest that innately good or bad is a learned characteristic. People are described in terms of the basic way they behave, behaviorists such as Watson and Skinner theorize that the first learned experiences in life are those that will shape the individual regardless of the unconscious mind or biological components. Behavioral theorists concur with the blank slate theory of development, and believe that one can be taught, molded, learn whatever one is introduced to, indicating that being innately good or bad is an outcome, a learned behavior.

The humanistic perspective, the “Third Force” unwilling to embrace Freudian or Behavioral theory, reject the theories of determinism, the unconscious instinctive forces, behaviorism, good behavior must be learned,  and believe in the innate goodness of humanity. In response to previous theories, humanistic theorists such as Rogers and Maslow contend that people are capable of and can increase self-understanding, good or bad, through the individual perception and interpretation of experience.The major premise of the Third Force is that people are basically good, people have an innate need to better themselves and the world, the premise of individual self-worth, the ability to overcome the negative aspects of life, and self-actualization.

Good versus Evil

Do we have a propensity to evil, are we born evil, or are we born inherently good?   Are personal beliefs of good versus evil just myths, or are we simply products of Darwinian theory and billions of years of evolution.

Humanistic theories reject the Christian belief that people are born evil.  Maslow stated “as far as I know we just don’t have any intrinsic instincts for evil.” (i) Carl Rogers stated, “For myself, though I am very well aware of the incredible amount of destructive, cruel, malevolent behavior in today’s world, from the threats of war to the senseless violence in the streets, I do not find that this evil is inherent in human nature (1982) (ii).”

The humanistic perspective continues to focus on the belief that development and innate good consist of elements comprised from the environment, the relationship between nature and nurture. Rogers (1982) “I see members of the human species, like members of other species, as essentially constructive in their fundamental nature, but damaged by their experience.” (i) This external factor, the environment, the world outside of the individual and all it entails.  This experience, this belief that social influence is a major contributing factor in development, the component that allows choice. The “Belief of Perfectibility of the Race” as Godwin suggested, that there are no innate principles, and therefore no original propensity to evil, he considered that “our virtues and our vices may be traced to the incidents which make the history of our lives, and if these incidents could be divested of every improper tendency, vice would be extirpated from the world.” (iii).

The theory of  choice the ability to possess free will.

And in the end… developmentalists will reject all religious, secular, and philosophic views of development, including the theory of free will.

Beginning with Baldwin the study of development is now pursued through new scientific methods. Baldwin suggested that traits are determinants of personality limiting one’s ability to have free will. This theory of determinism suggests that a person’s behavior is biological and that one genetically inherits traits, and that these biological traits will determine specific characteristic responses, personality.

Biological and trait theorists support the scientific process and contend that biology, genetics, hereditary traits, determine an individual’s development. From this perspective growth and development and your personality is genetically hard wired and determined for you. Biological and trait theorists continue to defend that innate good is a biological, inherent trait. Innate Good, predetermined, a biological trait that one may or may not possess.

Is this an affirmation that a propensity to evil exists within human nature?

References:
(i) Welch, D., Tate, G.A., & Richards F. (1978). Humanistic Psychology (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1978), 11.
(ii) Rogers, C., (1982) “Notes on Rollo May,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology (Summer 1982): 8.
(iii) Godwin, W., (1793). Enquiry concerning political justice and its influence on modern morals and manners. London.

How to cite this article:
Nuzzolo, V. E. (2016).  Propensity to Evil.  Retrieved from, https://risetoshinetoday.org/2016/03/01/tabula-rasa/


118 Comments

  1. yusuf kezimbira says:

    Its a very interesting article that digest different views of psychology and leaves a question to decide on what the real determinant to the evil? In my view all new born babies are born with such nice sweethearts. but where the evil comes from is first of all according to the psychoanalytic theory, the unconscious part of the mind that governs the mind makes the person act according to the ego. And also the humanistic theory approves it that we by what we see. children adopt a behavior which they see when growing. like i grew up in a family where my father used to smoke, and i started smoking at 7 yrs thinking smoking smoking was right. Though my cousin who grew in a religious family ended up being a priest. This prove that fact people’s behavior are influenced by learning. Regarding with Badlwin, biology shows that a person behaves as a result of biological traits that are inherited from their family genes. Most of the talented soccer players have a strong background behind that could me the great grand father that was very talent at soccer. this confirms to my understanding that behavior that humanistic approach can diverge someone’s id and also improves one’s biological traits hence being the great determinant of behavior.

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  2. svasquez01 says:

    I agree with behaviorist such as Watzon and Skinner theorized that one can be taught, molded, learn whatever one is introduced to, indicating that is innately good or bad is an outcome, of a learned behavior. I also, believe that well all have a individual inner evil for example, murderers, a lot of them had families, grow up with a loving family, great schools, never got in to trouble with the law, and all of the sudden they murder someone. I think is because their unconscious was already thinking of harming someone else, and the only reason why the individuals did not committed the crime earlier during their young years is because they didn’t want to be looked bad or judge, that is why they bled in with everyone else. Overall, I do believe as we get older we learned from others and we start to mold in to someone we did not know it even existed within ourselves.

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  3. smven17 says:

    This article is interesting. What I understood from this reading is that, theorists, humanistic and individuals who study development can agree with one thing, evil exist, except that everyone has a different period of when evil is developed and shown. My opinion, my view about this article agrees a lot with the humanistic perspective the “Third Force”. I strongly believe that an individual can decide what action to take whether good or bad depending on his or her perception and interpretation of an experience. The reason I share the same thought with the Third Force is because of an experience my mother had when she was young. My mother was beat daily by my grandmother 3 to 4 times a day and when she had my siblings and I, she never hit us. Although she had an up-close encounter with evil her younger years, she had the experience that allowed her to decide to improve her life. She knows what its like to be beat and she had the choice to do the same with us, but instead she opted to change and pave a new road for herself.

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  4. Abdi Abera says:

    The way we learn is, what we see in our environment, a thing we experienced in our society, what we watch at home or at school may change the behavior of each person and help us to do good or doing evil things. For example, a person whose family is smoker will become smoker at some families and a person who have a gang friend will become gang in some places. Also, a person how struggle for his life, he/she can become a successful. similar to as we like a person who likes us and we hate a person who hate us. Loving, helping, caring, volunteerism, positivity is a good doing. But, killing, hating, pushing people doing wrong thing is an evil doing. So, goodness is for self, if we good for other, somebody will good for us when we are in problem. When I explain about the trait how they force on the behavioral change, it’s a thing that we got inheritance from our family half chromosomes from both. Mean we shared half of trait from both. But behavior is individual/personal, and learning will change behavior as my opinion

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  5. According to the article “Propensity to Evil”, people used to think that children were born evil and they needed to be punished and authoritative parental control. A long time ago, people used to have different beliefs about religion which clearly separates good and bad things. However, I think that people used to have too much importance to religion because it was the best way to have an entire control of peoples thoughts and behaviors. There were a lot of beliefs that doesn’t exist anymore because now we have more access to information and education. There are people who still having beliefs but not in the same level than years ago. This article makes me think about catholic religion, they think that the Baptism has to be in the first two years because it’s the only way to take the devil off of the baby. In my opinion, propensity to evil is just a myth to make all people believe in that and make them obedient.

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  6. This article was interesting and understanding. Half of my family is Catholic and the rest are Christain. I learned throughout my years that as you are born, you are born as a sin and that’s why most parents baptize their babies because they believe in this religious fact and continue it. I do agree with Watson and Skinner and disagree with Freud and the Purtitan belief. Watson and Skinner believed good and bad behavior are learned behavior and this is true because kids will look up to how adults are behaving and cause kids to get inspired on how they act depending if it’s good or bad, but then it all reflects on their culture, religion, or environment they come from. I believe people aren’t born evil, people are only evil to me if they envy someone or something and they want or need to act a certain way. Every behavior and characteristic is learned and developed and you yourself can be the only one who changes your personality.

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  7. Monique dos Santos says:

    This article is very interesting, and can bring different opinions.
    In my case, I agree with Watson and Skinner the behavioral theorists which good or bad behavior is a learned trait at a certain time. Although, I believe that each person has their own personality that reflects either good behavior or bad behavior regardless of their culture or your first teachings. Exist many families of good teaching and behavior, but some of them learn something wrong on the “street” and I believe these already have a fragile personality for evil that end up having bad behaviors. Example: one family with five brothers, they learned the same things, but they are totally different. Why some of them take different ways from others? I believe that is difficult to find a theory for this situation. In the same time that I believe that there are no evil people, in another time I believe we all have a little evil inside us, but some can develop and take action without thinking about consequences.
    It is a hard to understanding. Sometimes what may be bad for me, may not be to others.

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  8. Sayomi (Grace) says:

    This article was an interesting read. I like the breakdown of the different belief systems of the different theories including psychoanalytical theory, behavioral theorists, humanistic perspective, etc. Growing up, I understood good and evil from a religious perspective. I was taught that we’re born into sin and that good and bad characteristics are inherited; in other words babies are conceived through sin and inherit the sins from their parents. However, though born into sin and prewired with good and bad characteristics, we learn to apply them as we see fit through our life span. I translated being born into sin as being born into a sinful world in which good and evil are learned characteristic that people choose at apply (depending on their moral beliefs) when they see fit. With that said, I side more with the behavioral theory and agree that “one can be taught, molded, learn whatever one is introduced to, indicating that being innately good or bad is an outcome, a learned behavior”. I believe the saying that you are a product of your environment and that everyone have good and bad characteristics. Depending on individual moral belief system, one can choose to be good or bad. I also think it’s a reward system or some type of reinforcement that triggers the decision to be good or bad. If you’re good to others, good things come to you. I agree with Carl Rogers statement-“Carl Rogers stated, “For myself, though I am very well aware of the incredible amount of destructive, cruel, malevolent behavior in today’s world, from the threats of war to the senseless violence in the streets, I do not find that this evil is inherent in human nature (1982) (ii).” Though I grew up understanding that good and bad characteristics are inherited from bloodline, I’ve come to understand that you are the product of your environment and that instead of these characteristics being inherent, they are outcomes of learned behaviors and people utilize them when see fit especially when it’s beneficial.

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  9. Personally I liked this article a lot, it opened a lot of questions to me. But in a psychological perspective I believe babies are born on a clean slate, a clean empty brain. Our Good or Evil side will be developed based on what we learn thru life. Absolutely agree with Bandura, and I truly believe we learn a lot thru observation/imitation. Because of that is expected to see a child that is raised in a Good family to become a good adult, being a person of faith, honestly or hard worker, all behaviors absorbed alone his life and experiences. In my culture we say .. ‘ LIKE HIS/HER FATHER” or MOTHER, this expression refers to point that children learn thru observation and copy parents and in occasions children are mirror of the adults. When you are teach good, you are prone to act good. On the other hand a child that is raise in an abusive family environment has big chances to become an aggressive adult, also believe that a child that grew, experienced, testified a suicidal event will be prone to suicidal thoughts. Good or evil behavior is acquire thru learning and experiences. I had hear of a case where the family ask themselves, how come this” teenager” already, not a baby,is doing this or that? (bad things..) he comes from a good family?
    The family as a whole can be a good family but the adult or adults that raised him had prove not be so good or honest and now the kid is acting nothing else than like a mirror. Again, we are good or evil thru learning not thru nature.

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  10. khaled Sakande says:

    It’s a very interesting article, from my understanding in the sixteen-century people thought that children are born evil and have to punish them to civilize them. But biologically must have some genetic from a family member

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  11. lillyanamayo says:

    Personally, I completely disagree with the Puritan belief that all people are born evil. I lean towards the “Tabula Rasa” or “blank slates” concept that human characteristics are attained through learning. The environment kids are in (environmental factors) greatly affects the type of adult they are eventually going to be in the future. For instance, if a child comes from an abusive family that neglects the child, the child is more likely to become an abuser themselves (evil with bad decisions). Additionally, as stated in the article, social influence is also a major contributing factor in development. Growing up in a strict Catholic family, I was taught that children are baptized as a way to make a child holy, and take their evilness (sins) away. This Puritan belief, of children being born evil, is still being taught by the church, and branches of christianity. However, I believe that people are born with a blank slate, since they do not have enough knowledge to be determined as evil or good. However, children can quickly pick up on both good and evil behaviors, as shown in today’s society.

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  12. Jeremiah Rodas says:

    The article does a good job of showing you possibilities of why humans have good and evil and whether or not you are born with it but does not force any idea on you. To me i believe that humans learn what is a good and what is evil as they grow up through societies teachings but we as people have a some sense of greed or desire which would make us do actions we may not even be aware are evil at first and vice versa for the innate goodness which follows the humanistic perspective. The idea of being born good or evil does not sound right to me and makes it seem like a person cannot be changed regardless of anything else and while difficult to change a persons habits and perceptions on life it is evidently possible with the proper help and a good environment for the person.

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  13. Clarisse says:

    The article is interesting on the humanistic theories because it reject the fact that people are born evil and that true , for me people cannot be born evil in the way that when we grow we learn how to behave about the life we develop good innate then we all have to attend the self actualization but we need to achieve that by the learning which is theory of behavior .

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  14. Cindy Victor Lacombe says:

    I believe that everyone is entitle to their own belief and behavior base to certain situation. ”The Blank State” as John Locke’s says, can be attributed to new born. They come to us blank and they learn all we give them. They will develop the capacity to reproduce everything they have seen, heard and learn through peers. Now choosing to be good and evil to me have nothing to do with Puritan beliefs. Freudian Theory to me is absurd, so I will not even look at that theory.

    Humans differ from animal in all levels, because we evolved way more than them. We do not act upon instinct, animals do. This is why i do not understand the fact that some people have snakes, lions, tigers etc for pets. This is crazy to me because one day this so call pet will arm you no matter what.

    People in general are in war with themselves to always be better and do better in life so therefore if someone do bad it’s all on them. Maslow Hierarchy is clear about that . We go through all of those stages to reach the highest capacity of who we can be.Good versus bad has nothing to do with how someone was raise and brought up. No parents chose to give their kids a bad education, being bad as everything to do with Observational Learning. We reproduce by imitation and do what we have observe from the outside world and even from people close to us.

    ” Propensity to evil” or “Inherently Good” does not exist to me is all about learned behavior.

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  15. JESSICA BRUNS says:

    Previously I don’t agree with Freud Theory, I feel like he treat people as animals and we are not. We are rational, we know exacly what we are doing. In my opinion children born with a blank characteristics and start to learn after that. Feelings, emotions, attitudes bad or good. In my mind nobody is 100% good or bad, everyone in life have done something bad, also, the bad for some, can be good for others. I agree with the theory “Belief of Perfectibility of the Race” as Godwin suggested, he said “our virtues and our vices may be traced to the incidents which make the history of our lives”. For him everything depends about our history in life, your incidents, your influences, and your choices. Every action has a reaction.

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  16. Harman P Singh says:

    I personally believe that the behaviorist’s theories make the most sense; everyone is born without having a single idea of what’s in the world and cannot understand everything at once. A child is born basically with a clear mind and constantly learns after being born. They analyze the environment and is taking note of everything that is going on. Freud’s theory seems very possible, however since we cannot know what a baby thinks before it is born, I cannot agree with his theory being true. The same thing goes for the humanistic theory. I believe it makes the most sense that someone is born with a clean slate. The drive when a child is born to survive is different, however. When one is born they strive to live and will go through any means to prevent their death from occurring. This is when Freud’s theory may be considered to be true, because someone may do anything to be able to survive.

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  17. cmfenelo says:

    This article describes diverse aspects of psychologists theorists. To cite one of them, Humanistic theorists such as Maslow and Rogers content that people are capable of and can increase self-understanding, good or bad. I recall from my history class that Jean Jacques Rousseau stated: “Human are born good, it is the society that corrupts them.” I do agree with this statement. We all know that babies are born innocent, meaning “pure” and naturally know how to fill in their physical needs like sleeping, eating, crying, urinating, pooping, etc. However, as they grow up, they learn from their parents and observe from the other people in their environment. I agree with the behaviorists, Watson and Skinner that stated: “Behavior is observable and learned.” As a result, when they grow up, they can choose to be good or turn evil. I believe that no one is born evil, some people choose to turn evil depending on their experiences or their beliefs.

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  18. cmfenelo says:

    This article describes diverse aspects of psychologists theorists. To cite one of them, Humanistic theorists such as Maslow and Rogers content that people are capable of and can increase self-understanding, good or bad. I recall from my history class that Jean Jacques Rousseau cited: “Human are born good, it is the society that corrupts them.” I do agree with this statement. We all know that babies are born innocent, meaning ” pure.” They do not have any idea about what life is and naturally know how to fill in their physical needs like sleep, eat, cry, urinate, poop, etc. However, as they grow up, they learn from their parents and observe from the other people in their environment. I agree with the behaviorists Watson and Skinner that stated: Behavior is observable and learned. As a result, when they grow up, they can choose to be good or turn evil, depending on the choice they want to make. I believe that no one is born evil, some people choose to turn evil based on their experiences or their beliefs.

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  19. Debbie Ross says:

    Interesting article, I believe in the blank slate theory of development; one can be taught, molded, learned whatever they are introduced to which means that whether good or bad, it is a learned behavior. I disagree with the Puritan belief. Children only learn what they have seen or experienced. This does not mean that if a person is evil that they had experienced evil, it does mean that due to certain circumstances and choices at particular times, people react to their environment at that time. A good person may make a bad decision and/or a bad person may be inclined to think and do things rationally at times. It all comes down to where a person is, or who is in their company. Peer pressure and negative thoughts may steer a person to do the wrong thing in different situations. Rogers and Maslow both are opposed to the believe that people are capable of and can increase self-understanding through perception and interpretation of what they experience. People want to obtain self-actualization by becoming better for themselves and achieving all that they set out to.

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  20. kdhernandez11 says:

    First time ever learning about “Tabula Rasa” I do agree that human characteristics are attained through learning when Humans are born we are born without knowing anything ,as children grow up they learn about the good and the evil, children are like sponges they learn how to act , how to perceive thing, how to be good, and sometimes how to be bad Which would be the evil part, as the Philosopher John Locke’s stated what we see and hear, is what we learn and will project. In the environment that we grow in most of the times converts us in the people we turn out to be. Also with behaviorists such as Watson and Skinner and their theories that the first learned experiences in life are those that will shape the individual regardless of the unconscious mind or biological components. I believe that we don’t biologically learn to be bad or evil, we also aren’t born to be good we are taught those values. As far as a child being born evil as how the Christians believe I disagree with that belief after so many years it shows that we as humans aren’t born evil but born With “Blank Slates”

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  21. Lydia Li says:

    After learning about the Puritans belief, it is fair to say that psychology has come a long way. Personally, I agree with the behavioral theorists’ theory and the humanistic perspective since when a baby is born, they are neutral and have what’s called a ‘tabula rasa’ (blank state); having no bias or view on the world. However, as they grow older, their opinions and ideologies are all influenced by their models or what they learn from the people around them. From a humanistic perspective, one could change themselves as they learn from their own experience, which will change or replace his/her ideologies that they learned from others (Behavioral theorists’ theory) because people strive to be the best versions of themselves and so by changing themselves based on their own experiences, they will think that they are becoming a more improved version of themselves. Furthermore, the humanistic perspective also mentions how “no one is born evil” which is very accurate because depending on the environment, the people around him/her, and many other factors, are all causes that could turn a perfectly unprejudiced and fair minded baby into a baby who is very prejudiced and biased.

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  22. Fernando L Sousa says:

    Defiantly an interesting read. I agree with and disagree with some of these theories about behavior and when it is learned and what makes a person “evil”. Such as Freud believing all people are born evil and driven by the unconscious, sex and aggression to me that sounds almost animal like driven by pleasure by the ID. I would like to think we as humans have qualities that separate us from the animal kingdom such as morality. Personally, I like the Behaviorist theory of childhood and early experiences forming shaping each individual. If you look at statistics, I’m sure you can easily find a correlation with let’s say early childhood trauma be it physical abuse or even sexual abuse directly linked to drug abuse down the line. I also agree with some of the Humanistic theory aspect specifically experiences shaping our behaviors Such as don’t treat people bad it won’t make you feel good keeping it that simple can be a taught and very valuable component of just being human while keeping is simple. I really didn’t agree with Baldwin as well Let’s just say Hitler’s grandchild wouldn’t be inherently evil just because of who the grandfather was. Good and Evil are defiantly learned human experiences in my eyes while there are tons of atrocities happening all over the world there is still tons of good. I wouldn’t want to ever believe someone is just stuck and couldn’t change from the ex-con to the ex-smoker and even the person in recovery sober. To me that’s what the whole human experience is about just seeing our flaws and trying to be better and not repeating them.

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  23. Olivia Filipowich says:

    The article was very objective. That’s the first thought that came to my mind while I was reading it. I appreciated an unbiased evaluation of the different theorists and what they believe to be true. Eventually conceding that, academically, there will never be a definitive answer to whether humans are innately good or innately evil.

    I understood this article the same way I understand other theoretical debates on psychological topics, with an added biblical component. The Freudian theory explains but doesn’t predict. He thought people were born “bad”, but are governed by the infamous Id, Ego, and Superego. Then there are the behaviorists (Watson, Skinner, etc), who believe everything is learned even “innate” characteristics. Humanists reject everything stated previously, but believe people are innately good. Humanists emphasize that the development of inner goodness corresponds to the environment, along with nature versus nurture.

    My personal view on good versus evil is that humans are born innately sinful. Our goodness and our moral compass come from God alone. I think as a whole human beings are very self-serving and everyone is capable of evil, in one way or another. I believe that how the Bible lays out original sin, and dependence on God for redemption is the absolute, unwavering truth. But I can appreciate the academic discussion, on such a philosophical, thought-provoking topic

    I also would like to say that the definition of evil needs to be clearly stated when having this kind of conversation because what one person may think of as evil, may be different from another person’s ideals. So rather before I ask the questions “do we have a propensity to evil, are we born evil, or are we inherently good?”… I simply need to ask “what is considered evil? And what is considered good?”

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  24. Navy says:

    This remind me of a show I watch called supernatural. The mother was carrying Satan “Lucifer” baby. The angle “Castiel” were protecting her from Satan because this baby was Lucifer first kid and the baby is very powerful. Castiel was there for her until Lucifer killed him while she were giving birth. Dean and Sam the hunter tried to kill Satan before he get to the baby, but the plan didn’t work out. The mother gave birth to Satan baby and she died right after he was born and she named him Jack. Sam ran inside the house to check on the mother and the baby, but of course the mother didn’t make it because the baby was to powerful and had taken all his mother energy. Sam found Jack the baby in a different room in a dark and Jack was not a baby. He developed fast. Jack looked like a 16 year old kid. Sam was shock and tried to confront him, but Dean came in and tried to shoot Jack and Jack got angry with yellow eyes and knock them out with his power. Later in the show, Sam did what he could to teach Jack the good value in humanly. If Satan had taken Jack in the beginning, Satan will teach him how to do bad things in humanly and use his power the wrong way. It really depends on how parents or anyone teaches their babies to be. But this was an awesome article to read.

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  25. I found this very interesting, i never heard of “Tabula Rosa” but i agree that babies are born a blank slate and everything is taught and learned by parents, families, and events that happen through out ones life. I believe humans cannot be predicted from infant stage of life through religion and or science. As we learned in class as babies we know two things eat and poop pretty much so where someone could get evil out of that to me is outrageous, that to me is the most pure innocents there is in this world. As far as theories go i am a firm believer in observational learning as far as child development goes which shape ones personality totally. My final thought as far as are children Born good or evil i am going with a blank slate and behaviors and personality are developed and learned over time.

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  26. JingRen says:

    Without a doubt, I disagree with the Puritan belief of original sin, and agree with John Locke’s theory, “Tabula Rasa.” Locke’s idea was first introduced to me in my history class when we were talking about the state of nature. The Puritan belief reminds me of Hobbes’s idea – humans are naturally selfish and quick to fight. However, I believe babies are born with a mind like a blank slate. The blank slate gets filled up with the things a person experiences during their life. Therefore, nurture is important because it shapes an individual’s personality and behavior. Environmental factors play an essential role in a child’s development, such as an individual’s family and friends. For instance, if the child is from a loving family with caring parents and supportive siblings, that child is most likely to be a delightful person with good decision making. Also, growing up, we always hear our parents telling us not to hang out with certain types of friends. That has to do with observation learning. Children are innocent, but they make wrong decisions because they see what others are doing around them, and they do the same out of curiosity without understanding the consequences.

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  27. sanunez27 says:

    I agree because I know that when a baby is born they don’t know much. A lot of our behavior is learned from the family we were born in and the environment we are in. Environment has a lot to do with the good/evil simply because depending on what you grow up witnessing it can effect your behavior or the way you think. Also the family you are born into teaches you what they believe is “right” and “wrong”, they teach you their morals, values and expectations. They teach you their perspective on life, etc. But I do believe that it is impossible to actually tell what makes a person “evil” or “good” because everyone grows up differently. Take siblings for example, they grow up in the same household, go through the same ups and downs and one sibling may grow up to continue to struggle the way they did growing up while the other decides to study because they don’t want to struggle the way they did growing up. I feel like its mostly based on the individual and how they handle life. Not everyone handles things the same, some take life harder than others.

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  28. aymarasoto says:

    “Tabula Rasa” “blank slates,” Philosopher John Locke’s opposition to authoritarianism, the concept that human characteristics are attained through learning. To think that babies were born evil for me is just nonsense.

    I do definitely agree with this because I feel that babies are born innocent and evil free, as they grow, they start developing who they are and will be thru the parent’s guidance, good and evil are shown in our circle (family, friends or even religion) Many factors can make a person be good or bad or even have both in them, I can see how nature and nurture can make someone incline toward good behavior or evil behavior. Also reading about the Biological and traits makes me understand how some traits are hereditary and how those can determine how a child will develop but also that wont define them as a person.

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  29. willjoseph21 says:

    The term ‘Idea’ as defined by Locke does not have its usual sense. We think of Ideas as very close to ‘concept’. Locke, however, defined Idea as whatever is the object of understanding when a man thinks. Ideas are treated as sensory images. Locke pursues to demonstrate that all human knowledge is based on experience. As a Christian, this position is in sharp contrast to my religious beliefs and also with other major philosophers of his time, namely René Descartes, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, Henry More and Leibniz. If Locke does not deny that humans are born with innate faculties or natural tendencies, such as perception and reason; however, he denies that God imprinted specific ideas and principals in our mind at birth.Arguing from the base of his own experience Locke challenges religious and political standards with his everyday language, illustrated with classic and biblical allusions easy to read and understand.

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  30. Hiba says:

    There could be many reasons why someone behavioral and views are set. Two words that I felt summed up the entire article were, Nature and Nurture. Based on my own experience, I believe the environment that a person lives in and the type of nurture was received would determine the majority of the behavioral and cognitive thinking. For instance, my first child spent his first four years being very friendly, quiet, and generous to all around him. He was very selfless.

    My son’s nature and nurture immediately had changed after his sister was born. She began to take away some of the attention and shared some of his space and as she grew, she began to share also his toys and have some of her own. My son began to show a sign of jealousness and selfishness. My son’s behavioral and attitude change did not occur because of any evilness he had when he was born nor to any genetical or biological genes he possessed or didn’t. His behavioral and cognitive thinking had changed because of his experienced a change and he did not like it compared to what it was before. He lost some of the attention and nurture, and that is why I agree with Carl Rogers’ Humanistic perspective “that development and innate good consist of elements comprised from the environment, the relationship between nature and nurture.”

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  31. ojune4 says:

    I think that the theory of “Tabula Rasa” by Locke accounts for the majority of learned things from infancy and that we are born neither good nor evil. Before babies are even born they are learning in the womb and able to hear and recognize voices and words. I do not believe that humans have complete free will and instead, that we are faced with conflicting characteristics from genetics and nature vs nurture. From a biological standpoint, there are genetic characteristics that we can inherit that we can not help, such as a mental disorder. But a person has a choice (which can be considered free-will) to get help and medical support for their condition. I believe that the nature vs. nurture theory is related to this because people are affected by their environment and that can help them make good choices or bad ones. If the nurture part, your environmental influences are negative and nobody is trying to help you develop as a child, then it may be more difficult to make good decisions that will move you along towards self-actualization. Though this is not always the case, there have been many times when people have against all odds managed to better themselves and rise above their bad situations, which shows they have strong free-will and intrinsic drive to better themselves. But I do not believe that we are born inherently good or evil because it is too subjective to categorize people that way.

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  32. Netra Kumari Bhattarai says:

    I believe that babies are born as blank slates, and start to built who they are, there belief thought life with their experiences. we as human beings, learn what it to be good and to be evil. we learn what we should and shouldn’t doing whether we learn by being taught or just by our own experiences. i consider the family as the primary school of a human being, since they are the people with whom we spend more time and educate us. However, there are acts that clearly in society we all know are bad or negative. some as children they are born as angels with no evil, what parents teaches them that is what they will know and practice. children learn wrong things from friends and practice it, they know it is wrong but they do it to keep their friendship. no one comes out of their mother’s womb hating other races, but as they grow up it’s most definitely a learned mentality, usually one where a child has little room to think for his/herself about they really fell.

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  33. Jessica Loiseau says:

    I have never heard of the term “Tabula Rasa” but I do believe that children were all born this way. No one is born with the notion that they are either good or evil. I agree with Skinner and Watson that “the first learned experiences in life are those that will shape the individual regardless of the unconscious mind or biological components”. I believe that good and evil characteristics are learn behaviors. I also agree with the humanistic theory that “people are capable of and can increase self-understanding, good or bad, through the individual perception and interpretation of experience”. Depending on what you surround your child with they can inherit those traits. I do believe that social influence is a major factor in development. A lot of children want to do what they see others doing. If they feel like an action is “cool” whether it’s good or bad, they mirror these actions. I do not agree with biological and trait theorists that “support scientific process and contend that biology, genetics, hereditary traits, determine an individual’s development. From this perspective growth and development and your personality is genetically hard wired and determined for you.” I have a sibling and we both carry different characteristics. If this theory were true, I believe that all children born in the same family will carry the same personality traits. No one is born good or evil. We all are born with “blank slates” and our environment and the things we learn shape us and that determines if you’re “good” or “evil”.

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  34. cxrojo says:

    personally, I believe in the humanistic perspective,“The humanistic perspective continues to focus on the Believe that developments and innate good consist of elements comprised from the environment, the relationship between nature and nurture. ”As individuals no one born good or evil. everyone as a human being learn from others. Everything that we know and what we do is learned. Being a person good or evil depends of what other people that are around you have been taught you. Also, it depends in what kind of environment are you living because depending on that, you have to react with good or evil. Also, a child is born without any knowledge, even when they born, they do not have an idea what good and evil means. At that time our models are our parents and we always do and are what we see that they do or say. Also by the time pass everything that is learned is though experiences and choices that we have to make, which ones makes us to change our behavior.

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  35. Hamza Benmensour says:

    I find the previous belief that babies were born evil as a very foolish statement. I believe that many adults felt insecure about their evilness and wanted to feel better by blaming children who are innocent to make themselves feel better. Like many I have never been introduced to the term Tabula Rasa however I certainly agree with it. Throughout the years I have seen posts on Facebook or Instagram about how babies are not born racist because they play with children regardless of skin color. However, as they grow up their parents might restrict their playtime with kids of other colors and they will learn to discriminate against anyone with that skin color. This is the same concept we’ve seen in the article we are born pure and innocent and throughout our lifetime we learn a lot of things that might make us “evil” or “good.” And no one is born evil regardless of anything and everything is learned.

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  36. nsujit says:

    This article describes the human characteristics with different perspective of theorist and their different theories of human behavior. I was not familiar about the Puritan belief of original sin and children inherited evil . I think “Tabula Rasa ” the Latin word when translated to english means “clean state ” actually defines the learning behavior as human characteristics .The theorist like Freud and Puritan and their theories on human characteristics doesn’t make any sense to me personally. I believe on the behavioral theory .Some phenotype characteristics can be dominant and expressed as heredity but these cannot be used to prove a theory.
    I think there is nothing good or evil,it is moment of time that makes anything good or evil. Anything good for someone could be evil to another for example if a child learns martial arts it is good for his /her health and for self defense, but can be evil if he/she misuses it.When, we go back to the theory of evolution, we evolved from animals. So, we have some of it instinct as a recessive characteristics which under certain circumstances can be expressed. Thus human behavioral cannot be explained by theorist or any theories. Behavior are characterized by learning and sometimes inherited.

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  37. Alejandra Castillo says:

    I personally, think that is impossible to believe that we are born with evil. What I do believe is that everything evil and good is learned in the course of life. It depends on what kind of environment the children grow up in. they will experience situations that will make them be Good or bad. I don’t believe that evil is biological. The genetic tendencies towards aggressive behaviors do not imply that there is a gene of evil because that would mean that the entire family would be evil. It is not something that can be inherited or carried in the blood as a single gene that causes everything. If it were really true that we are born evil, what is the effort in raising a child or the need to educate someone? … There are evil people and that can not be denied … it is difficult to say whether they were really born evil or was their environment and upbringing that gave them those characteristics.

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  38. Hussein Hussein says:

    I never heard of the term “Tabula Rasa,” but now that I know what it is I agree that people are born with clean slates and that they learn about everything they know because a child is good from when he is born but rottened by the world and people don’t just come out of the womb and are already bad. Evilness is learned behavior passed down from generation to generation. Humans don’t know what good or evil are when they are born they learn it from their surroundings and we keep on learning what is the difference throughout life. Christian beliefs that people are born evil are extremely false because nobody could be born evil and I cannot believe that Christian long ago would believe that their child from god was evil. Additionally, I believe in what Biological and trait theorist think “support the scientific process and contend that biology, genetics, hereditary traits, determine an individual’s development.” This is true because the chromosome passed on from your parents can determine how the child comes out and if they function properly.
    HUSSIEN HUSSIEN

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  39. KENNY LUONG says:

    This is interesting to me because I never knew that there were so many theories to inherent traits that babies have. Previously, I was only aware of the concept of Tabula Rosa and partly the Freudian theory of sex drive and determinism, but I never knew that Puritans believed that children were inherently evil. This is especially alarming to me because how can anyone look at a baby or a child and assume they’re evil! Literally, just look at a baby’s face, and I dare you to tell me that they look evil, it is simply not possible. For me, I believe that humans cannot be reliably predicted based on religious or even scientific knowledge. We really don’t have enough information about each individual to know what their intent is. However, I do agree with Maslow’s principles. Humans are still animals, we need food and we have an increased drive for food and other needs when our bodies are out of balance, thus showing different or altered behaviors. But on the complex side, such as emotions or personal goals, I believe it is truly impossible to predict if someone is evil or good. After all, everyone may have different definitions of “good” or “bad”.

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