A common comment I hear from my students post the human nature lecture is: "parts of it is philosophical and/or spiritual". Let me clear the philosophy mumbo jumbo first.
Human nature sits at the intersection of all 3Ps as shown below.
Let's break down each part.
Physiology is the study of how the human body works. It delves into the chemistry and physics behind basic body functions, from cellular molecular activity to the coordination of organ systems. It provides insights into the workings of a healthy body and what occurs when illness strikes. Simply put, physiology enhances our understanding of human systems and the body.
Psychology is the study of how the human mind works. It aims to comprehend mental processes, brain functions, and human behavior. Subfields like cognitive science, behavioural science, and neuroscience further illuminate the workings of the human mind.
Philosophy is the study of fundamental truth. It focuses on understanding the human nature and the world around we live in at its core. The word philosophy is a combination of two Greek words, philein sophia, meaning lover of wisdom. Wisdom is all about knowing the right things and doing things right. Though understanding existing reality can be overwhelming, philosophers excel in distilling the truth beyond knowledge and information and they precisely articulate reasons using the right language.
In my teaching career, I've observed that my physiology classes receive high ratings. Students often inundate my inbox with requests for additional resources to understand the human body, particularly the brain. Interest slightly wanes when we delve into human information processing, memory, attention, judgments, and actions. Usually after discussing cognitive distortions in a lecture, students approach me to inquire about a behavioural science career. The interest completely dwindles when we broach the subject of philosophy. I rarely receive inquiries about its depths.
As a teacher, I found this phenomenon fascinating as it offered an opportunity to delve into human behaviors at a meta level. It's true that there are many doctors, fewer psychologists/psychiatrists, and even fewer philosophers. This pattern led me to further exploration, where I found the answer in our brain physiology. Isn't it fascinating?
The human brain operates in a hierarchical manner. It prioritizes survival, which includes reproduction as a means of gene survival, followed by emotions, and finally, thinking. Noticeably, someone fighting for their life won't exhibit strong emotions in that situation. Similarly, a person experiencing intense emotions, such as loss, breakup, or grief, may find it difficult to think clearly.
The third level of thinking becomes accessible when the first two levels—survival and emotional needs—are met. This explains why philosophy, which requires high-level thinking, can be challenging for many. Often, our cognitive bias may dismiss it as unimportant to conserve energy.
However, those who transcend basic sensory and emotional needs can achieve rationality, objectivity, and thoughtfulness. They become concise and precise. As knowledge workers, you and I should operate at this third level frequently. Yet, we also have to deal with life's everyday challenges, and the struggle is real.
In summary, understanding human nature sits at the cusp of 3Ps. We usually don't cross level 2 (Psychology) and explore level 3 (Philosophy). To truly understand the human nature, it is important to deep dive into all three Ps.
🥂 to 3Ps!