Can we not do better than “nasty, brutish and short”?

Reading about sexism in the tech industry, and helping my daughter deal with bulling at school, I find myself yet again despairing of human nature. Is human life inevitably “nasty, brutish and short”? What makes us so blinkered to the consequences of our actions, so disconnected in our thinking?

The internet and social media are often blamed for our failings but they are just a mirror. They don’t make us anything – they show us what we are. I remain hopeful that they are one of our few hopes of improving.

We are having our uglier behaviours held up to us for inspection. This feels uncomfortable and the first instinct is to hide them again. But we have to work through the discomfort and work things out.

2 thoughts on “Can we not do better than “nasty, brutish and short”?

  1. I think the key to change is more interaction. Hobbes declared that the life of man was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." Changing as many as possible of those factors for the better must lead to improvement in the others too. By contrast, Hume argued that the natural state of humanity is social:

    "But if it be found, that nothing can be more simple and obvious than that rule; that every parent, in order to preserve peace among his children, must establish it; and that these first rudiments of justice must every day be improved, as the society enlarges: If all this appear evident, as it certainly must, we may conclude, that it is utterly impossible for men to remain any considerable time in that savage condition, which precedes society; but that his very first state and situation may justly be esteemed social."


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