Small Summer Philosophies #3



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.


From 'Philosophy - a Discovery in Comics'

So ask yourself: what are the choices that shaped your True Nature?

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About the Author

Margreet de Heer
Margreet de Heer
Margreet de Heer lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with her husband Yiri T. Kohl. A long time ago, she studied Theology at the University of Amsterdam, but through divine intervention she ended up as a comic artist. She worked at the famous comic store Lambiek from 2000 until 2005, and wrote a book about Dutch comics together with Kees Kousemaker. Since 2005 she is a full-time comic artist producing a wide range of work, from children's comics in magazines to cartoons at business conferences. In 2007 she started making philosophical comic "reports" for newspaper Trouw. This resulted in a book edition in 2010, soon followed by graphic novels about religion and science. 'Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics' and 'Science: a Discovery in Comics' are published at NBM. 'Religion: a Discovery in Comics' is coming out in October 2015.

2 Comments on "Small Summer Philosophies #3"

  1. Nice blog, Margreet.
    On the subject, difficult to cover in a blog.

    What is it, the conscious “I? If I know that, is that the same as knowing thyself? And is that important? Why? Is it necessary to know thyself to do good deeds? I think not. You only have to know what “good deeds” are.

    On the “I” as consciousness (what I think I am) and the “me” as unconsciousness (what goes on in my fenomenological apparatus -or brain and senses if you want to call it that- and their relationschip everybody should read The User Illusion from Norretrander. Yes should! I know nobody does, but I will keep saying this. :-)


  2. I see four questions here:
    What is it that you call “you”?
    Can you change what you are?
    Is what you “are” in the sense of what you begin with, your true nature? (or that what you become?)
    And the nature/nurture question about behaviour of course, when you decide that learned behaviour is not true behaviour.

    Analyzing and reducing (unravel) questions is the main activity in philosophy.

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