A friend of mine used to be a real asshole. He was rude, self-centred and boorish. At a certain point, he decided this attitude wasn’t working for him, and he chose to behave in a more pleasant manner. He’s been a nice guy for years now. “Deep down, I know I’m an asshole,” he says of himself, “But since I don’t act like one, doesn’t that mean my nature has changed? Am I still an asshole or not?”
Different philosophers have different things to say about this issue of True Nature. Plato would probably hold that in the absolute realm of ideas, his Asshole-ness is a fixed given. Aristotle might argue that True Nature is what someone is “meant to BECOME” – so was my friend meant to become an asshole, or someone who chose not to act like one?
The best thing I have heard about True Nature comes not from a philosopher, but from a children’s book author. “It is our CHOICES that show what we truly are, far more than our ABILITIES.”
Can you guess who said this?
It was Professor Dumbledore, speaking to Harry Potter, when he wonders how much of the Dark Side he has in him, seeing how many talents he has in common with his dreaded enemy Voldemort.
So ask yourself: what are the choices that shaped your True Nature?