Can Nature be the Standard for Human Behavior? Exploring the Relationship Between Science and Knowledge

Lucas Charbonnier

Hatched by Lucas Charbonnier

May 17, 2024

4 min read


Can Nature be the Standard for Human Behavior? Exploring the Relationship Between Science and Knowledge


The question of whether nature can serve as the norm for human conduct has been a subject of philosophical debate for centuries. In this article, we will delve into two distinct topics - the concept of natural law in modern society and the idea of scientific knowledge as the only form of true understanding. While these topics may appear unrelated, they both revolve around fundamental questions about the nature of human existence and the pursuit of truth.

Part I: Natural Law in Modern Society

1. Locke's Theory of Natural Law and Property:

John Locke, a prominent Enlightenment philosopher, argued that natural law extends to the right to property. According to Locke, individuals have the inherent right to acquire and possess property based on their labor and effort. This perspective suggests that our understanding of ownership and property rights is rooted in the natural order of things.

2. Hobbes and the Possibility of a Social Contract:

Contrary to Locke's viewpoint, Thomas Hobbes believed that human nature is inherently selfish and driven by self-preservation. However, he proposed the idea of a social contract, where individuals would willingly surrender some of their freedoms to a governing authority in exchange for protection and security. This concept implies that even in a society governed by laws, there is an acknowledgment of the influence of human nature on social structures.

Ancient Conceptions:

1. Harmony with Nature as Exemplified by Epictetus:

Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher, advocated for living in accordance with nature as an ethical stronghold against excess. To him, the most fulfilling human life involves accepting and reconnecting with the natural order within oneself. This suggests that there is a timeless wisdom to be found in aligning our actions with the inherent principles of the natural world.

Part II: The Relationship Between Science and Knowledge

1. Defining Science and Knowledge:

Science is the historical process through which humans seek to understand the world. It distinguishes itself from mere opinion by aiming for universality and objectivity. While opinions are subjective and influenced by social contexts, knowledge strives to be universally accepted as true.

2. Science and its Competitors:

While science is often considered the pinnacle of knowledge, other contenders exist. Plato argued for the possibility of "right opinion," where individuals can provide accurate information without scientific understanding. This challenges the notion that science is the sole path to truth. Tradition, religious discourse, and political authorities also attempt to assert their authority over scientific pursuits, sometimes dismissing science as unnecessary or dangerous.

3. The Specificity of Scientific Knowledge:

Scientific knowledge possesses distinct characteristics that set it apart from other forms of understanding.

  • a. The Scientific Method: The scientific method follows strict rules that allow for clear exposition of the conditions under which a result is obtained. This enables objective knowledge that can be universally valid. René Descartes' Discourse on the Method outlines four rules to reach the truth: accepting only what is evident, breaking down difficulties into simpler parts, treating them from simplest to most complex, and verifying the entire reasoning process.
  • b. Theory and Experiment: Science intertwines theory and experience to properly describe and explain facts. Theories organize these facts and establish relationships between them. Experimentation enhances theories by accumulating new results and refining experimental conditions for increased precision.
  • c. Overcoming Epistemological Obstacles: Scientific knowledge evolves through the critique and transcendence of preexisting opinions and knowledge. Science constantly seeks to surpass previous understandings by questioning and challenging what is known.


In exploring the relationship between nature as a norm for human behavior and the role of science in acquiring knowledge, we find common threads. Both realms acknowledge the influence of human nature on our actions and pursuits. While nature provides philosophical guidance, science offers a systematic and objective approach to understanding the world.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace the wisdom of living in harmony with nature: Take time to reconnect with the natural world and align your actions with its principles. This can bring a sense of fulfillment and ethical grounding.
  • 2. Foster a critical mindset: Engage in healthy skepticism and question preexisting beliefs or opinions. By embracing scientific principles of inquiry and self-reflection, you can actively contribute to the growth of knowledge.
  • 3. Strive for interdisciplinary learning: Recognize that knowledge is not limited to a single domain. Explore various disciplines and seek connections between them. This interdisciplinary approach can lead to unique insights and a broader understanding of the world.

In conclusion, the relationship between nature and human behavior, as well as the significance of scientific knowledge, are complex topics that intertwine in profound ways. By exploring these subjects, we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, our world, and the pursuit of truth.

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