Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 18th, 2021

Natural Tendency Towards Vice or Virtue?


Natural Tendency Towards Vice or Virtue?

the first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said ‘This is mine,’ and found people naïve enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”
Rousseau criticized Hobbes for asserting that since man in the “state of nature . . . has no idea of goodness he must be naturally wicked; that he is vicious because he does not know virtue”. On the contrary, Rousseau holds that “uncorrupted morals” prevail in the “state of nature” and he especially praised the admirable moderation of the Caribbean in expressing the sexual urge despite the fact that they live in a hot climate, which “always seems to inflame the passions”.
Rousseau asserted that the stage of human development associated with what he called “savages” was the best or optimal in human development, between the less-than-optimal extreme of brute animals on the one hand and the extreme of decadent civilization on the other. “... Nothing is so gentle as man in his primitive state, when placed by nature at an equal distance from the stupidity of brutes and the fatal enlightenment of civil man.”
It is believed that man shows a natural tendency towards virtue. For instance, if a child watches a movie, s/he will favor the hero and feels a strong sense of antipathy towards the villain uncontrollably. Moreover, a child, who is not taught the vice and virtue, hates horror movies and the villains in them. If a child’s rights are trampled upon, s/he knows that the violator is like the villains in movies who has to be punished for his misdeed. If we just consider the Afghan children, they like the national army for their sacrifices and loathe the militants for their inhumane acts. The code of ethics and moral practices are honored by public. In short, a man of virtue and morality is highly appreciated in a society.
In addition, man feels a natural orientation towards beauty. The rose’s sweet perfume, the beauty of waterfall, the charming face of a gorgeous girl, etc. will attract you deeply. On the contrary, one naturally evinces a sense aversion to an ugly scene. A child, who bears a pure nature, discards unattractive toys and holds the pretty ones.
It is the innate character of a man to be contemptuous of decadent lifestyle and moral turpitude. It is believed that you hate a gory film or a scene fraught with carnage and violence. A wicked act will compound the ugliness of a villain or a perpetrator. An infamous individual who is detrimental to social norm and moral decorum will be as pariah in a society. Hence, man, I believe, is innocuous and innocent in the state of nature. Why men are largely involved in violence and bloodshed trampling upon moral values?
Man is not born wicked and vicious rather he bears a sense of virtue. However, succumbing to worldly temptations, lust, power and financial interests, or believing in wrong ideologies divert them from the positive state of nature and force them in crime and corruption. Since the malevolent individuals are unable to resist the charms of idols on the surface of earth, they yield to their physical and sexual desires. Therefore, they break the religious values, moral taboos and social norm so as to satiate their desires meanly. Such people who glorify violence and moral corruption taint the reputation of all men on earth. Then, the erudite and philosophers deduce on the basis of one’s cruelty and crime that man is malicious, cruel and so on in the state of nature – where there is no moral taboos, government and law and order. I deny the idea that only legal prohibitions lead to moral inhibitions.
I believe that man is a moral animal, who naturally abhors violence and cruelty. Man feels a strong sense of spiritual thirst and seeks to quench it in one way or another. One’s conscience will be mollified through nurturing virtue. As a result, history shows that every tribe in every age had their own idols to worship. They sought to fill their spiritual vacuum this way. In case of natural disasters, people felt being sinful and resorted to the idols to subside their anger.
From the dawn of history, when Cain murdered his brother, man was divided into virtuous and vicious creature. Cain yielded to his megalomania and egotism and fell for the worldly charms and satanic enticement. However, Abel paid no attention to mundane pleasures and sought to satisfy his spiritual needs via religious and moral practices.
The historically notorious individuals such as Cain, Pharaoh and Nimrod, etc. were not born malicious but they surrendered to the evil. Therefore, those who are largely involved in violence and genocide, saddening mothers by shedding the blood of their loved sons, orphaning the kids, killing innocent women and children, raping the hapless girls, etc. they either believe in wrong ideologies or succumb to mundane temptations and to their bottomless lust for sexual and physical pleasures – most of them fall into this category.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan and freelance writer based in Kabul. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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