Human Nature – Part II

While I am currently using this blog as a mean of procrastination from studying for a midterm, I find it paradoxical that I can also use it as a means to demonstrate my learning. Indeed, one of the first lesson of my class on public policy and social chance concerns itself with the work of Noam Chomsky, an intellectual giant/genius, political activist, and a political anarchist.

His definition of human nature deals with three aspects, in opposition to the mainstream view that human nature maximizes self-interest (Hobbesian tradition). These three aspects are rationality, (moral) modularity, and creativity. While rationality is an integral part of the human core, its rejection of emotional rhetoric leaves us no recourse to a model of human cognition that deals with phenomena outside rational analysis (that is, the limits of rationality in that it cannot claim certainty, i.e. valid vs. true in Aristotelian logic). Therefore, we must introduce modularity as the input systems of the senses (namely, language and intuitions) that provide a capacity for moral judgments. Chomsky believes that morality is actually a biological feature of the human make-up that explains human behaviour. Finally, creativity as connected to language and human mental organization rests on our perfectibility or individual  self-development (Mill). In fact, creativity is the product of restraints and consciousness of our freedom within these constraints.

Such articulation is genius as Chomsky seems to express here the premises for every philosophical reflection I have developed. I have often regarded Kant’s emphasis on the a priori cognitions of the mind to prove we have some kind of concrete assurance of reality in the phenomenal world, but I had always felt that the synthesis of empirical data with the categorical organization of the mind was somehow incomplete, as it seemed like a mechanical operation of the human faculties. A priori cognitions only hinted at the creative aspect and ingrained moral senses humans seem to possess. Reason apart from sensory experience is merely adequate to come to VALID logical conclusions, such as we may find in pure mathematics (my favourite example: the imaginary numbers that we are able to find but do not actually exist), but is inadequate to produce TRUE  conclusions, which demands the necessity of Chomsky’s other two aspects. In Chomsky’s definition, we find the perfect explanation of the second Kantian Categorical Imperative, that is to treat sentient beings as ends, not means.

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