Human Nature in Literature and History Essay

Pages: 3 (1168 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies - Philosophy

Human Nature in Literature and History

What is history and why is it important? History is the continuum of events occurring in succession leading from the past to the present and even into the future (Wordsearch 2010). History is important because it is what shapes both humanity and the events and trends that surround culture and civilization. It gives people an understanding of why things are and why people behave the way they do. It also helps to understand how and why people perceive others. History is in us and around us. Parents teach their children about their family history so it helps them understand who they are -- the very nature of humanity. The idea of personal history has even become part of popular culture. Instead, history is a combination of trends, facts, figures, people, dialog, and brush strokes that are continually interpreted. History helps us understand who we are, where we have been, and where, we might go -- strategically or tactically. George Santayana, a 19th/20th century philosopher and novelist, in his book The Life of Reason wrote about progress, about common sense, and about the manner in which humans can enjoy a self-actualized life. In this book he separates humans from beasts by their capacity to understand and embrace change, famously quoted as "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (McCormick 2003, 144). Within the broad range of history, though, and as we take on the responsibility of becoming global citizens, we must ask ourselves why historical interpretations of human nature seem to vary over time and place.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on Human Nature in Literature and History What Assignment

One would think that defining human nature -- what it is to be human, would be relatively easy. It is, however, quite complex and certainly dependent upon a number of factors: in the modern world, for instance, human nature seems to be often the path of least resistence. Prior to the Medieval Period, the idea of the individual/self had numerous permutations. For instance, the concept of self became quite elaborate in Ancient Greece and Rome, in which the idea of humanism took on new meaning as it was debated from Plato and Aristotle through Livy and the later Roman Poets. For example, in the Greek myth of Prometheus, and individual is seen as responsible for his own actions, and has the free will with which to decide upon those actions. They actions may be helpful or harmful to society, yet there is enough faith in the individual to allow freedom of will -- regardless of consequence. Socrates chose death rather than dishonor in an individual decision, and while the famous Oracle at Delphi was used as a predictor of the spinning web of the Gods within the human realm, even Plato agreed that there was an individual's self role, even though there was a higher sense of belonging to the State and ultimately to the will of the Gods (Roochnik, 2004).

This Promethean archetype is alive and well in Albert Camus' The Guest. For Camus, decisions and choices have consequences and the ultimate consequence, of course, is death. Death, however, is not simply a random event -- a chance happening. Instead, Camus' existentialism shines through with the thought that all humans eventually die, and that after you are dead (non-existent) life is immaterial. The work is heavily influenced by Camus' views on French colonialism and the historical nature of Algeria -- what happens to an intellectual who refuses to take a strong side in the conflict -- who can… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Human Nature in Literature and History" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Human Nature in Literature and History.  (2010, July 30).  Retrieved October 17, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Human Nature in Literature and History."  30 July 2010.  Web.  17 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Human Nature in Literature and History."  July 30, 2010.  Accessed October 17, 2021.