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The Socratic school was the dominant surviving influence in philosophical discussion in the Middle Ages, amongst Islamic, Christian, and Jewish philosophers.
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.
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.
Aristotle developed the standard presentation of this approach with his theory of four causes.
Every living thing exhibits four aspects or "causes": matter, form, effect, and end.
Socrates is said to have studied the question of how a person should best live, but he left no written works.
It is clear from the works of his students Plato and Xenophon, and also by what was said about him by Aristotle (Plato's student), that Socrates was a rationalist and believed that the best life and the life most suited to human nature involved reasoning.
Arguments about human nature have been a mainstay of philosophy for centuries and the concept continues to provoke lively philosophical debate.
Human nature is traditionally contrasted with characteristics that vary among humans, such as characteristics associated with specific cultures.