Reasons For Being Bad

POLITICAL PHILOSOPHERS have generally agreed on one important thing: People in a state of nature are not, in the usual sense of the word, “good.” This is not to insist that people are bad but rather that the human animal cannot be relied on to behave well.

Because virtually all men, women, and children live in groups, and because some men, women, and children are bad some of the time, the overriding question is how bad behavior can and should be constrained. Freud wrote that primitive peoples lived in groups “ruled over despotically by a powerful male” and that only later, along with the beginnings of religion and social organization, was the “paternal horde transformed into a community of brothers.”1 It is ...

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