CEFISES EH Seminar - Grant Ramsey - The Puzzle of Human Nature (June 17)

17 juin 2019

15:00 - 17:00

Salle Ladrière - Collège Mercier - Place Cardinal Mercier 14

The Puzzle of Human Nature
Grant Ramsey, KU Leuven HIW/CLPS


How should we understand references to ‘human nature’? On the one hand, we behave predictably: we can easily recognize typical human behaviors, aberrant behaviors, and behaviors impossible for our species. It seems like whatever patterns we are recognizing is part of our nature. Yet if we try to articulate our nature­—to, say, construct a list of behaviors belonging to our nature—then we run into problems. Diversity at the group level (cultural differences) as well as the heterogeneity that exists within each culture, weakens our ability to make robust generalizations about our species. This talk considers this tension between recognizing humanness, but running into problems trying to articulate it. The solution offered is to understand human nature not as a set of universal traits, but as the patterns by which the traits are distributed over life histories.