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Charles Darwin's theory of evolution has changed the nature of the discussion, supporting the proposition that mankind's ancestors were not like mankind today.Still more recent scientific perspectives—such as behaviorism, determinism, and the chemical model within modern psychiatry and psychology—claim to be neutral regarding human nature.
Aristotle developed the standard presentation of this approach with his theory of four causes.
Every living thing exhibits four aspects or "causes": matter, form, effect, and end.
However, the particular teleological idea that humans are "meant" or intended to be something has become much less popular in modern times.
For the Socratics, human nature, and all natures, are metaphysical concepts.
This in turn has been understood as also showing a special connection between human nature and divinity.
This approach understands human nature in terms of final and formal causes.In his works, apart from using a similar scheme of a divided human soul, some clear statements about human nature are made: For Aristotle, reason is not only what is most special about humanity compared to other animals, but it is also what we were meant to achieve at our best.Much of Aristotle's description of human nature is still influential today.By this account, using one's reason is the best way to live, and philosophers are the highest types of humans.Aristotle—Plato's most famous student—made some of the most famous and influential statements about human nature.In both Aristotle and Plato, spiritedness (thumos) is distinguished from the other passions (epithumiai).The proper function of the "rational" was to rule the other parts of the soul, helped by spiritedness.However, the existence of this invariable and metaphysical human nature is subject of much historical debate, continuing into modern times.Against this idea of a fixed human nature, the relative malleability of man has been argued especially strongly in recent centuries—firstly by early modernists such as Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.Debates about human nature are related to, although not the same as, debates about the comparative importance of genes and environment in development ("nature versus nurture").The concept of nature as a standard by which to make judgments is traditionally said to have begun in Greek philosophy, at least as regards the Western and Middle Eastern languages and perspectives which are heavily influenced by it.