A Science of Human Nature

Three hundred years after the Enlightenment, the idea of a science of human nature is still new to some people. But in those days, it was practically all anybody ever talked about. If there were underlying laws that explained physical phenomena, what laws explained human behavior? Time after time, attempts to agree on the foundations of such a science have collapsed under heated debates about terminology, or this camp’s refusal to accept that camp’s discoveries, or — homophobia.

When Paul said that psychology’s biggest hurdle was homophobia, he didn’t mean that scientists didn’t like gay people. He meant that they were unable to fully investigate their own psyches for fear of the homosexuality they might find. For a science of man (the species) must start with the scientist’s examination of himself before he can ever be objective about other people.

Because many scientists continue to cling to an artificially impersonal model of objectivity, their view of human nature remains devoid of human content. During the last two centuries too much of social science has degenerated into politically fashionable interpretations of skewed statistics. How often do we hear that psychologists can tell you anything you want to know about the effect of dinner bells on dogs, that psychiatrists are used to suppress dissent, or that psychoanalysts are still vacationing in Disneyland? Even New Age psychotherapists avoid educating their patients when hand-holding and the sale of inter-class validation — remember medieval indulgences? — can get the bills paid about as well.

Many observers of this state of affairs have suggested that we need theoreticians with more backbone who aren’t afraid to say what they really think. The Ninth Street Center is proud to offer the collected ideas of Paul Rosenfels as a candidate for what may in the future come to be regarded as the foundation of a true science of human nature.

  • See a thumbnail sketch of Rosenfelsian semantics
  • See a Rosenfelsian glossary
  • See a timeline of polarity awareness
  • Read about Paul and William James
  • Read about Paul’s writing style
  • See my 1987 review of Ernest Becker’s Lost Science of Man