Exploring the Interplay Between Nature, Culture, Duty, and Relativity

Lucas Charbonnier

Hatched by Lucas Charbonnier

Jan 05, 2024

3 min read


Exploring the Interplay Between Nature, Culture, Duty, and Relativity


The relationship between nature and culture has long been a subject of philosophical inquiry. Can we truly separate humans from their natural instincts and essence through culture? Similarly, the concept of duty raises questions of its absoluteness or relativity. This article aims to explore the common points between these topics and delve into unique insights, ultimately presenting actionable advice for readers.

Nature and Culture: A Dichotomy or a Fusion?

In examining the essence of humanity, one must consider the role of culture and its potential to detach individuals from their natural state. According to Rousseau, humans possess two primal sentiments: self-love and compassion. The concept of perfectibility suggests that humans have the capacity to progress or regress based on their experiences. Therefore, culture acts as a catalyst for human development, enabling individuals to fulfill their innate potential.

The Role of Education in Shaping Humanity:

Education, distinct from mere conditioning, plays a crucial role in the growth of humanity. Through interactions and learning, individuals can cultivate their natural qualities and reach their full potential. In this sense, culture becomes an essential tool for the completion of human nature, allowing individuals to shape themselves and their environment.

The Illusion of Nature vs. Culture Distinction:

Attempting to separate the innate from the acquired in humans proves to be an impossible task. Humans are driven not only by basic instincts but also by their ability to transform and refine their actions. The existence of a fixed human nature is debatable, as Sartre argues that each person must define their own essence through choices and actions. In this view, individuals have the freedom to shape their moral compass and define their own version of duty.

Absoluteness and Relativity of Duty:

Kant's concept of duty as an absolute imperative suggests that ethical obligations should be universal, formal, and unconditional. Acting out of duty means considering the possibility of everyone else acting in the same manner. On the other hand, there are also relative duties tied to societal roles and responsibilities. These duties are influenced by societal norms and can vary across different cultures and contexts.

The Sociological Perspective on Duty:

Sociologically, duty is seen as the internalization of societal rules through education. These duties are relative to each society's values and beliefs. For instance, the duty to respect others' property aligns with a society founded on the concept of private ownership. This categorical imperative places obligations upon individuals that are unconditional and not subject to excuses or conditions.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace the interplay between nature and culture: Recognize that culture complements and enhances our natural instincts, allowing us to reach our full potential as individuals and as a society.
  • 2. Foster a holistic approach to education: Encourage an education system that goes beyond mere conditioning and focuses on nurturing individuals' natural qualities, enabling them to shape their own essence.
  • 3. Embrace the complexity of duty: Understand that duty can have both absolute and relative aspects. While universal ethical obligations are crucial, it is equally important to consider the context and societal norms when fulfilling our responsibilities.


The dichotomy between nature and culture is not as clear-cut as some may believe. Instead, they intertwine and influence one another, shaping humanity in unique ways. Likewise, duty presents itself as both absolute and relative, reflecting the intricate relationship between individual values and societal norms. By embracing these complexities, we can navigate the intricacies of our existence and make informed choices that align with our own nature and the needs of the world around us.

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