Man will only become better when you make him see what he is like. (Anton Chekhov). The levels of sophistication of science to date might not. Emotional amoral egoism is a neuro-chemically based theory of human naturedeveloped by the neuroscientist and philosopher Nayef Al-Rodhan and published. In Napoleon Bonaparte, at the heights of his power, set out for the most adventurous, and ultimately fatal, military campaign. Napoleon’s Grand Army of.

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In this shifting context, a clear, scientifically-based account of human nature is crucial to theorizing and developing policy. Neuroscience can and should inform policy-making because it can help us understand human nature with more insight than ever before.

Emotional Amoral Egoism and its Implications for Understanding Conflicts

This deficiency was first demonstrated when the USSR, having achieved nuclear parity, continued its build-up programme, prompting concerns that such strategic miscalculations were a symptom of the US strategy having been trapped in scientific and economic theorizing.

It is further bolstered by contemporary neuroscience showing that emotions are fundamentally material and the neurochemicals responsible for these observed states can now be specified and described with a high degree of sophistication, although much egiosm will be known in the future about their nature, diversity and mechanisms of action.

The Centrality of Emotion Human experience is mediated by emotions, and these emotions, in turn, are mediated by neurochemistry. Sign In Don’t have an account? This kind of social configuration is a fundamental tenet of a healthy pluralistic democracy. An optimist view of human history was also promoted by the epistemology of Enlightenment, which saw history as amorla progressive move towards a more rational world.

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This means that the state is never entitled to arbitrariness. From differentialism to a focus on ideology. The works of classical realists like Morgenthau sidelined much of the ideological component of political regimes, depicting inter-state affairs as obliging to a higher morality of state interests and survivability, which essentially meant minimizing risks and maximizing benefits.

Nayef Al-Rodhan is a philosopher, neuroscientist and geostrategist. While there is grain of truth in a number of these accounts, contemporary research, and neuroscientific insights in particular, adequately demonstrates that both of these extremes distort what is in fact the case, and that both share a common mistake: In contrast, for Hobbes, in the state of nature man was intrinsically self-interested, acting for his own well-being and in a manner strictly determined by natural, pre-existent desires and needs to avoid discomfort.


The notion of amorality implies that we are neither products of pure free will, nor entirely of genetics. Cognitive neuroscienceincluding social theorists from Weber to Bourdieu, has recognized that humans act, most of the time, habitually, not reflectively. Previous debates relied on observations and speculative arguments. The development of a moral compass is mostly the result of formative events and experiences, and is thus largely contingent upon external circumstances.

In this regard, I previously advocated the idea of a predisposed tabula rasawhich posits that the human mind is rather amoral as it does not have intrinsic conceptions of moral and immoral and is predisposed along certain evolutionarily-informed instincts that are necessary for survival in any given circumstance.

This book is entitled: The Structure and Aims of the Book 2. In this essay, I thus turn to neuroscience to look for answers to some of the enduring questions about international politics and governance.

The significance of individual, emotionally-driven acts, however, is not limited to negative cases of those responsible for wars or atrocities. It is also worth remembering that these kinds of emotional schisms also existed in Europe for Centuries leading to numerous wars from the Thirty Year War to the more recent two world wars. The Realist-inspired narratives have reflected an anthropomorphized view of the state, inspired from a narrow understanding of human nature.

With this understanding of our human nature, as emotional, amoral and egoistic, we must weigh alternative policies and approaches to social organization, especially given the emotional and deeply visceral nature of identity issues.

Further Reading on E-International Relations. When this error is recognized, it immediately becomes clear that circumstance and background conditions inform moral development to a much greater degree than previously appreciated.

Emotional amoral egoism

This nuanced perspective does not contradict the realist pessimism per se, or the possibility for egregious behaviour, amorral posits that emptional emotions are also possible and are part of the array of emotions and ammoral that characterize human nature.

Conflict resolution has already integrated a wealth of behavioural theories and models but these approaches often relied on scenario-building exercises and less on hard evidence from neuroscience. Nothing in neuroscience indicates egois we are born either moral or immoral; a more pertinent description is that human beings are innately amoral. Since at least Plato, this picture, which idealizes those with the greatest rational self-mastery, has been held up as the ideal.

I argue therefore that man is an emotional amoral egoist, whose traits are partially determined by the environment, partially by survival-induced instincts and that these are experienced emotionally. The role of emotions in international politics conspicuously transpires nowadays and has become concretized in inter-state policies and mundane routines, in fears and anxieties that reverberate through policies of differentiation and Other-ing.


Other historical examples can easily be cited, with both Napoleon and Hitler standing out. Next post Plurinational citizenship in the egolsm. The implicit tone of these perspectives optimistic vs. Submissions Join Us Advertise About. Placing dignity at the centre of governance can reverse that trend, creating greater social cohesion and an opportunity for humanity to flourish.

My philosophy of emotional amoral egoism sheds a different light on human nature.

My neuroscience-based theory of human nature as inherently emotional, amoral, and egoistic can be further extended onto emotjonal understanding of states and international relations. They thus serve to demonstrate that our neurochemistry is the lowest common denominator: Animism and Animatism 2.

This refers both to personal dignity, as well as to group identity. The state would thus be born as an aggregate volition of a certain group, with common allegiances, and mirroring their sensibilities.

Hubris is exaggerated pride, often combined with arrogance. However, the geoism of moral choices and actions are more diverse as material and idiosyncratic circumstances complicate state biases and actions.

This mistrust is often linked to vivid memories of the Crusades, Sykes-Pico, the Suez Crisis inand the more recent invasion of Iraq in For all the complexity of the international system and its historical contingencies, the neurochemical underpinnings of human nature are significant determinants of action across circumstances. Human experience is mediated by emotions, and these emotions, in turn, are mediated by neurochemistry.

The national interest in International Relations The IR dogma has predominantly portrayed the state as a rational entity, which irrespective of contexts, could not afford to be led astray by emotionality in its international interactions. The presence of this survival instinct thus cuts against the idea of a truly blank slate. However, more recently, given our understanding of the frequency and power of emotional influence this basic structure began to be challenged.

Cultural State of Affairs 3. Deepening and Widening Our Moral Communities 5.