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In Rousseau's Emile, or On Education, Rousseau wrote: "We do not know what our nature permits us to be".Since the early 19th century, thinkers such as Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, structuralists, and postmodernists have also sometimes argued against a fixed or innate human nature.
One part is specifically human and rational, and divided into a part which is rational on its own, and a spirited part which can understand reason.
Other parts of the soul are home to desires or passions similar to those found in animals.
of the Western conception of the nature of a thing.
According to Aristotle, the philosophical study of human nature itself originated with Socrates, who turned philosophy from study of the heavens to study of the human things.
In his works, apart from using a similar scheme of a divided human soul, some clear statements about human nature are made: For Aristotle, reason is not only what is most special about humanity compared to other animals, but it is also what we were meant to achieve at our best.
Much of Aristotle's description of human nature is still influential today.
However, the existence of this invariable and metaphysical human nature is subject of much historical debate, continuing into modern times.
Against this idea of a fixed human nature, the relative malleability of man has been argued especially strongly in recent centuries—firstly by early modernists such as Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
In both Aristotle and Plato, spiritedness (thumos) is distinguished from the other passions (epithumiai).
The proper function of the "rational" was to rule the other parts of the soul, helped by spiritedness.