This chapter evaluates the fundamental starting point in political theory: human nature. In doing so, it goes beyond conventional wisdom in International Relations. To understand conflict and to chart a way forward, we must re-examine our understanding of human nature. The two dominant theories of International Relations, Realism and Idealism/Internationalism, derived their intellectual origins from such contrasting and dichotomous views of human nature. One, exemplified by Thomas Hobbes, was pessimistic both about human nature and States. The other, exemplified by Immanuel Kant and to some extent Jean-Jacques Rousseau, believed in an innate perfectibility of humans, of States and the international society, which would evolve towards peace. Today, a growing body of evidence from neuroscience permits the re-examination of long-held claims about human nature and what it is that truly drives and motivates human behaviour. Neurophilosophy, the interdisciplinary field connecting findings from neuroscience and philosophy, is relevant for global security and for understanding what can propel good governance, peace, and security.
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