The Constrained vs. Unconstrained view of Human Nature

Well put, Joe.


I am not sure who first developed these ideas, but I first learned about them while reading Thomas Sowell’s book, A Conflict of Visions: Idealogical Origins of Political Struggles.  In short, Sowell explains that, while there are many different forms under each one, there are really only two primary ways to look at human nature.  He calls the first the constrained view.  It is constrained because it sees human nature as permanently flawed: fixed and incapable of change.  Thus, those who hold a constrained view of humanity try to make the best of things by taking the failings of our nature into account when they organize human activities.  On the other hand, the unconstrained view holds that man’s nature is malleable: it can be purposely directed.  In short, those holding the unconstrained view of human nature believe that man is capable of perfecting himself.  For these people, there are…

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