Environmental Problems and the Grand Old Theory of 'Human Nature'

Helen Kopnina
  • Journal of Ecological Anthropology, January 2013, University of South Florida Libraries
  • DOI: 10.5038/2162-4593.16.1.4

Human nature and (un)sustainability

What is it about?

While the notion of ‘human nature’ has been devaluated from the status of ‘grand theory’ to a marginal anthropological debate, I argue that it deserves to be resurrected in order to comprehend some of the explanatory gaps inherent in other theories. Industrialization signifies a turning point in human history, which in combination with certain ‘universal’ human traits led to recent environmental problems. Such universals include, but are not limited to, the propensity for technological innovation, the desire to elevate one’s status, and preoccupation with social justice.

Why is it important?

While the notion of ‘human nature’ has been devaluated from the status of ‘grand theory’ to a marginal anthropological debate, I argue that it deserves to be resurrected in order to comprehend some of the explanatory gaps inherent in other theories. Industrialization signifies a turning point in human history, which in combination with certain ‘universal’ human traits led to recent environmental problems. Such universals include, but are not limited to, the propensity for technological innovation, the desire to elevate one’s status, and preoccupation with social justice.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.5038/2162-4593.16.1.4

The following have contributed to this page: Dr Helen Kopnina