Throughout this book, and indeed throughout political theory, there is a recurrent theme: the relationship between the individual and society. This is touched on by almost all political debates and controversies - the nature of justice, the proper realm of freedom, the desirability of equality, the value of politics, and so forth. At the heart of this issue lies the idea of human nature, that which makes human beings human. Almost all political doctrines and beliefs are based, at some level, on a theory of human nature, sometimes explicitly formulated but in many cases simply implied. To do otherwise would be to take the complex and perhaps unpredictable human element out of politics. However, the concept of human nature has also been a source of great difficulty for political theorists. Models of human nature have varied considerably, and each model has radically different implications for how social and political life should be organized. Are human beings, for instance, selfish or sociable, rational or irrational, essentially moral or basically corrupt? Are they, at heart, political animals or private beings? The answers to these and other such questions bear heavily on the relationship between the individual and society.
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