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A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass$
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Neil Roberts

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813175621

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813175621.001.0001

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“The Human Heart Is a Seat of Constant War”

“The Human Heart Is a Seat of Constant War”

Frederick Douglass on Human Nature

(p.252) 8 “The Human Heart Is a Seat of Constant War”
A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass

Nicholas Buccola

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter reconstructs what Frederick Douglass thought about human nature to deepen peoples understanding of the foundations of his political morality and to counter criticisms of liberal views of human nature. It lays out the base critiques of the liberal view of human nature in modern Western political thought and shows how Douglass viewed the competing tendencies of human beings in order to form a nuanced idea of human nature. Going into the debates in the liberal community, it cites the differing opinions of Thomas Jefferson, Reinhold Niebuhr, and John Locke. With a focus on the dualities that make up Douglass’s view on the subject, this chapter shows how his view shaped his experiences and the way he interacted with the world. The dynamism that makes up Douglass’s idea of human nature makes it a viewpoint to be taken seriously and reflects the tensions inherent within the subject.

Keywords:   Frederick Douglass, human nature, humanity, liberal, liberalism, political morality, politics

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