Innate goodness  

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"Nature made man happy and good, but society depraves him and makes him miserable." [...]

Innocence (1893) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau: Both young children and lambs are symbols of innocence. An allegory on innate goodness.
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Innocence (1893) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau: Both young children and lambs are symbols of innocence. An allegory on innate goodness.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Innate goodness, essential goodness or inherent goodness refers to the trait of goodness humans supposedly possess in the state of nature. According to philosophers such as Rousseau, in prehistoric times, the world was inhabited by noble savages whose human nature was good, but who was corrupted by society.

In the popular imagination, children is naturally innocent. An opposing view is the existence of innate cruelty.

Views which see humans as inherently good

  • According to John Locke, humans in the state of nature have perfect freedom to order their actions according to the laws of nature. Locke agreed with Thomas Hobbes, that people could do so without having to ask permission to act from any other person, because people are of equal value. People only leave the state of nature when they consent to take part in a community in order to protect their property rights.
  • According to Pelagius, humans in the state of nature are not tainted by original sin, but are instead fully capable of choosing good or evil.
  • According to social determinism and biological determinism, human behavior is determined by biological and social factors, so people are never truly to blame for actions generally considered "bad" nor truly credited with actions generally considered "good."

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Innate goodness" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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