Adversarialism as Cultural
The mental models we reviewed in the first sections have had the effect of ‘essentializing’ human behavior. That is, they sought to explain our conduct in terms of a supposed human ‘essence’ or ‘nature’, whether inherent in the soul at the time of its creation, or developed over the course of our evolution and programmed in our DNA. ‘Essentialism’ consists of assigning certain characteristics to all members of a group, regardless of the context. It deems those traits to be permanent, unalterable and timeless, even if they have not been made manifest due to a lack of development or opportunity to be revealed. Essentialization ascribes features or properties to all human beings that we must necessarily have.
Fatalism and Determinism
Another matter of vital importance is that of fatalism and determinism. The notion of man as a rational animal has led to the determinism of believing that we are obliged to act in certain ways due to circumstances that we do not control. They may be internal, such as animal inheritance, genetic programming, inherent aggression, or innate selfishness; or external, such as the impersonal forces of our natural or sociocultural surroundings. Similarly, fatalism consists in believing not only that everything that happens to us in life is predetermined by fate or – in its theological version – by God, but also that human behavior is controlled by our inherent nature.
Personal and Social Transformation
We have seen that the mental models about human nature tend to be consistent with those regarding culture and society. We also know that our mental models determine our behavior, and that the effects of our actions are what shape our 'world’. Therefore, moving towards a more principle-centered world requires that we integrate two different processes. On the one hand, we need to change our mental models of human potential and modify our individual behavior accordingly. On the other, we need to change our mental models regarding social possibilities, in order to promote new forms of social, political and economic organization.
Naturalizing the Social Order
Mental models are not confined to our minds, but are reflected in the way we act, our normative practices, and our political, economic and social structures. If we believe that human nature is incorrigibly aggressive and selfish, it will seem natural to structure our social relations in the form of power struggles to promote vested interests, as observed in many Western-liberal societies. Read...(English)