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The Literary Truth Forum discusses human nature from the perspective of historical philosophy, moral philosophy, and literature.

How has human nature been formed historically (and prehistorically)?

Are human beings good or evil? What is the core of individual ethics, and how has it been discussed in the history of philosophy? How does individual ethics differ from social ethics? What is the so-called universal ethics?

What are the key concepts for understanding human nature, and how should they be defined? Which of the concepts are essential in explaining human nature, and which are merely descriptive?

For example: one the one hand “good” traits, as sense of justice, love of truth, honesty, self-knowledge, selflessness, benevolence, empathy, creativity – and on the other hand “bad” traits as envy, lust for power, deviousness, falsehood, self-deception, selfishness, self-love, complacency, etc.

Citations and contemplations

The forum gathers aphorisms, definitions, and various illustrative descriptions of the human being from, e.g., philosophers, essayists, fiction, movies, proverbs, myths, and religious literature.

Exemplary human destinies

Every nation has its own ethical history: what have truth and justice meant in different times and who have defended them and how in their times.

Who in the ethical history of your country (or the whole world) could and should be respected on that basis? What could we learn from their biographies, their nature, their destinies?

We can, and should, also learn from negative examples. But it is much more useful – and harder – to learn from people who have lived respectable lives. Or is it?


”Man is a mystery: if you spend your entire life trying to puzzle it out, then do not say that you have wasted your time. I occupy myself with this mystery, because I want to be a man.” – From F. M. Dostoevsky’s letter to his brother. (Konstantin Mochulski, Dostoevsky: His Life and Work, Princeton University Press 1971, 17.)

PHOTO: Portrait of Dostoevsky by Vasili Perov, 1872. Wikimedia Commons