People are Basically Good

What is the true meaning of this sentence:

People are basically good

That is the founding principle eBay was founded. Someone said it was John Locke (a person I am having strong interest in today) said that, although I suspect that. It is the base of many faith.

My naive question is: what is the true meaning of it? What is the philosophical meaning of it?

Anyone wants to point me to a good book about this?

6 thoughts on “People are Basically Good

  1. jqian

    In my opinion, it means that evil (bad behavior) is a result from ignorance, lack of understanding and lack of wisdom. People are born innocent, but due to imperfect living condition, they get corrupted and become selfish. Greed and desire are all fertilizers of evil.

    JS, I suggest that you not get too deep into philosophy of human goodness and its flip side, evil. Because if you get too deep into it, you may get transcended and never get out. That’s a glorious place to go, but only for people who are prepared to sacrifice their small selves while delving into it to find a bigger self.

    Here is a great philosophy book I recommend you reading:

    The Perennial Philosophy: An Interpretation of the Great Mystics, East and West (P.S.)

    http://www.amazon.com/Perennial-Philosophy-Interpretation-Great-Mystics/dp/0061724947/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265049701&sr=8-5

  2. synchro

    Stephen Covey said what distinguishes humans from other animals are four characteristics: self-awaremenss, imagination, free will and conscience. Hence the 7 Habits.

  3. jqian

    Stephen Covey is completely wrong. How does he know that animals are not aware of self? not imagining and not having free will and conscience? Some humans like Covey assumed that animals don’t possess the same quality as humans just because they are lower in the intelligent chain. One has to be an animal to fully understand animal. Animal has every character that human being has, just not as sophisticated as human being.

  4. Steven

    People are basically good, and behind every behavior there is a good reason. If you read many psychological books, you can understand this easily. People who did bad things may not realize the deep cause behind their wrongdoing,and if people realize it, they will definitely change to a better person. We may think we are hurt by other people or our life experience. Physically we may be hurt by an external object;financially we may be defrauded by someone; but emotionally we are hurt by our cognition(thoughts, beliefs, convictions), we are fooled by ourselves. When people commit wrongdoing,more often than not, they are misled by distorted cognition. People may think experiences play an important role in life, but by and large, it is not experiences, it is interpretation of experiences which matters much more.

    The other way around, if we know how a person formed his cognition from his experiences, experiences from his early life or even his past lives, we can understand him better. We will have a better attitude towards him, and in turn, he will have a better attitude towards you.

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