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New Meetup: What's the nature of human nature? Voltaire vs. Rousseau

From: Alexandra
Sent on: Monday, June 21, 2010 6:40 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for "Ideas that shaped history" discussion group!

What: What's the nature of human nature? Voltaire vs. Rousseau

When: Sunday, July 11,[masked]:30 PM

Laura's residence
949 N. Hill Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91104

What's the nature of human nature? Voltaire vs. Rousseau - two diametrically opposed points of view.

A century before Darwin?s theory of evolution, Jean Jacques Rousseau dared to suggest the unthinkable: Man is part of the animal kingdom. He maintained that his contemporaries? view of the ?human condition? was not natural for man, just as a tiger in the zoo, pacing back and forth in his small cage, is not in its natural condition. Rousseau looked with nostalgia at the ?noble savage?, and advocated, as much as possible, for man to return to nature.

This idea was not very well received. Voltaire, for one, was furious and found the idea insulting to the human race. Here is Voltaire?s reaction, in his own words: ?I have received, Sir, your new book against the human race? Nobody has ever used more intelligence in an attempt to turn us into beasts; reading your book gives one the desire to walk on all fours!?

Two and a half centuries later, the question is far from settled, and it probably never will be. What is human nature? To what extent is man part of the animal kingdom, if he is part of it at all? If we accept that we are mammals, what are the practical implications of this acceptance? Is it possible to realize that we are part of animal kingdom, and yet have morals? Or are we best described by the lyrics of the pop group Bloodhound Gang: ?You and me baby ain?t nothing but mammals, so let?s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel??

The debate continues? and while it continues, let?s not sit on the sidelines. Let?s jump in and fight it out like barely tamed beasts!

Come contribute your own opinion to the wealth of discussion. As there certainly will be people who strongly disagree with you, be prepared to defend your opinion respectfully and with well-thought-out arguments.

The meeting will take place on the second Sunday in July, 7/11/10, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Laura?s home. Don?t worry about the heat, as we plan to meet in the cool, air conditioned living room. Please bring some snacks or juice to share. Healthy snacks are especially appreciated! (i.e.: If you hesitate about whether to bring potato chips or veggie sticks, opt for veggie sticks! An exception is made for the Cheesecake King.)

To cover the cost of running this meet-up, a donation of $2 is respectfully requested.

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