Many people claim to know what human nature is and is not. They say that we are limited by our greed and selfishness; our tragic flaw. I disagree.
Definitions of natural are separated into those that distinguish between man-made things and those that refer to the innate and essential traits. If we differentiate "natural" from "man-made" when considering the nature of humans, then human nature would be non-existent because human action is "man-made", not natural. I will take the definition of natural to therefore be "Of or in agreement with the character or makeup of, or circumstances surrounding, someone or something" as given by Oxford Dictionary.
Humans are as natural as any other animal in the sense that we all obey the same laws; the circumstances surrounding our development are influenced by the same forces as any other animal. Although we are more complex, we still came from the same ancestors as every other living being, and are more similar to some than others. What differentiates us from them is nothing but the result of the natural course of history; the product of nature's influence on our development.
When labeling a characteristic of an individual animal as natural, is has to represent what the animal actually does, or what it has done. Since I am an individual animal, what is natural for me, what is in agreement with my circumstances, is EVERYTHING that I do. That means there is nothing in this world which is absolutely unnatural, because everything is influenced by it's circumstances and everything is in agreement with it's composition. Of course, every thing can be put on a spectrum of less to more natural depending on the frequency of occurrence, or which action is more likely to occur than another. What is very natural for me is my interest in learning; I have always been interested in obscure topics and still am now. What is less natural for me is consistency because I usually bounce from one thing to the next.
When applied to a species of animals, the same concept applies. Characteristics should be grounded in what that species has done. Since no set of words can account for the full complexity of the situation, characteristics are always relatively inaccurate and incomplete. So, to say that a species is "naturally aggressive", denies the reality of the individuals who are not, even though 70% may be, because species are not entirely homogeneous, but only relatively so.
As far as humans are concerned, there are some characteristics that are central to almost all humans over most of human existence, while there are some that are more recent and less widely seen. Example of these are the fact that humans almost always have lived in groups as opposed to individually, and the fact that more than 66% of humans own a cellphone. The majority of humans own cellphones, so is it in human nature to own a cellphone? Is it in human nature to live together if there is always a handful of people who live alone?
Point being, we should look at statistics; how often a characteristic manifests for how long, how much time compared to the whole, to fully understand the reality of a situation before claiming we know how humans or any other thing operates; what they can and cannot do, and using these notions to justify in what ways humans can live. Another way to look at it is this: based on historical tendencies, what is the likelihood that a certain trait will be replicated.
A common trait that is said to be natural to humans is that we are selfish and greedy. I agree that everything, including humans act in self interest. Even when we help our family, we are acting in self interest in a way, because if we did not help perhaps we would feel guilty, sad, shunned or even die, as would happen in small tribes that were depended on every member for survival.
In fact, depending on the classification of the first human, tribal existence accounts for roughly 80 percent of modern humans' existence. Then another 10 percent accounted for the early agricultural settlements before the first urban civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia.
So, can a society exist where people work together for mutual benefit? Of course, and it has been so for the vast majority of our past. In these cases, mutual benefit means individual benefit; life depended on the collaboration of all members in a generally egalitarian social organization. Furthermore, what prevents individuals from helping others more than themselves, if still they benefited? Nothing, as long as they benefit more by cooperating than working alone. If they did not benefit more, they would choose that solitary life. Some animals live alone because they can, humans generally cannot. The vast majority of humans have and do still work together and depend on each other.
So, what's to stop us from cycling back to our tribal, communal lifestyle if that is what's natural? It would be a major divergence from the current social organization, and since our lives are tied to a globally connected economy now more than ever, it must happen on a relatively global scale. Dramatic social change has always accompanied similarly large economic change, because they have to be compatible in order to function.
To sum up my point: no one 100 years ago could have predicted what society would be like today, just as no one can predict what it will be like in 10 years. Human existence and society has changed dramatically but a few things still hold true, namely that humans depend on each other, we all want the best for ourselves and those we care about, and that change is inevitable.