Nature AND Nuture: The Dichotomy of the Human Soul
The basic building blocks of our personality are within our genes. But “genetic predisposition is not destiny.” (1) How we are raised greatly effects how our genes are expressed. For better or worse, humans are chemestry. Much of what we eat, drink, breath or otherwise physically encounter can effect our chemical makeup. This is why medications work. The same is true of personailty. We start with predipositions to many personality traits, but our environment greatly determines which of those traits are developed and which are allowed to atrophy. The more scientists explore this topic, the more the evidence reveals that the answer is “BOTH”. Genes are the foundation of who we are, but the nuturing we recieve in our lives is what is built upon that foundation. Humans are complex. When trying to figure out what makes us tick, there are no easy or clear cut answers. But it would seem that “Nurture complements Nature and that Nature’s gift of rich Human Potential is realised through socialisation and education.” (2) “We are persuaded that General Human Nature is a rich and decisively defining source of inherited, in-born, Human Potential and that, in full accordance with the directions sign-posted by that naturally arising potential, Human Beings are conciously and unconciously nurtured by their families, and conciously and unconciously educated and socialised by their societies, into following socially accepted routes towards living their individual lives as simultaneously materialistic, spiritual, ethnic and intellectual fellow citizens.” (2) While our genetic makeup does hold a powerful influence over us, it is important to remeber that we are creatures greatly effected by our families and the societies in which we are raised. Why is it that religious beliefs are (generally speaking) grouped by way of geography? “If we accept the principles that: A) People construct their own reality.” (2) This is based upon their genetic predispositions and ethnocentric tendicies “B) Social Influence pervades all Social Life.” (2)People generally desire to be accepted and thus strive to fit themselves into acceptable social roles. However, even those individuals that desire to rebel or be different then the social norms must shape themselves in contrast to the society from which they desire to diverge. Thus, with either individual, they are trapped into social infleunce. “It can surely be suggested from a Social point of view, that human minds and their workings are of truly immense influence in events. The workings of our Human minds may well tend to reflect nature (natural, instinctual, existential promptings) as well as nurture (education and cultural indoctrination).” (2) Thus, “What effect the environment will have on an organism depends critically on the details of its evolved cognitive architecture.” (2) We evolve both as individuals and as social organisms. Our lives today are greatly shaped by the level of technology present. People 1000 years ago would struggle to conceptualize their world in the contexts of car transport and computerized information systems. The availablity of information (a social structure) greatly changes the way in which we view our world and think about ourselves within that world. Yet, fundmental aspects of human nature have not changed. Shakespeare’s resonating power is held in his ability to continue to speak to our human nature even now. He has transcended time through his insights into the fundementals of human character. The fact that people today can so strongly identify with writers of long passed eras strongly suggests prevailings of human nature. We love, we fear, we laugh and cry; often in response to the same things that Shakespeare was writing about. Yet the expression of these fundmental (biological?) basics of humanity are expressed in a much different context today. Our societies (and the influences they have upon us) have changed. After all, no work is ever written in isolation from the times in which it was written.
Picture by Lydia Marano. See more of this artist’s work here: http://www.imagekind.com/MemberProfileGalleries.aspx?MID=6e8dad73-49bb-43db-96c4-a0dd8d5928c3
Some good sites on the topic:
(2) http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/psychology/nature_nurture.html (This site is bursting with incredible amounts of information and is greatly worth spending the time to browse there.)