The debate over nature versus nurture is not a recent one, as it dates back to Ancient Greek theories. The debate has risen and fallen throughout the centuries and, today, genetics is gaining increasing influence over individual differences. English scientist Francis Galton coined the term, which meant “nature or nurture,” arguing that inherited factors are responsible for many differences in IQ. Throughout the centuries, the debate has continued to be an important topic, despite increasing research on genetics.
The question of whether a person’s personality is innate or the result of environmental factors has been the subject of endless debate for centuries. Philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle have each proposed different theories on the topic. While some believe that most of our habits and traits are genetic, others maintain that the answer depends on our environment. In either case, the issue of whether a person’s personality and habits are innate or the result of environmental factors is at the heart of the debate.
In contrast, Plato supports the theory that human behavior is a combination of innate and environmental factors. For example, he supports the idea that women should not be expected to be kings and to do work that involves physical activity. Similarly, he believes that women should be given guards and lighter work than men. In the long run, women have been considered less capable workers, and cultures have raised them in ways that discourage them from working.
Nevertheless, Aristotle also opposed some of Plato’s teachings and may have challenged him openly. Moreover, when Plato died, he was not appointed to head the academy. He left Athens to pursue his own studies, traveling to the island of Asia Minor. He spent two years studying there. Eventually, Plato was able to make a lasting impression on humankind.
The Nature versus Nurture debate is an old one, and its arguments have endured across different eras. Aristotle and Plato were prominent supporters of nature over nurture. Later, the Enlightenment brought philosophers such as John Locke and Emanuel Kant to the side of nature. Ancient psychologists were more concerned with the acquisition of knowledge. Today’s psychologists tend to focus on issues such as mental illness and personality.
The origin of human behavior has been a hot topic since the ancient Greeks, and the arguments have never slowed down. It has been known for a long time that humans are largely self-indulgent and pleasure-seeking creatures. Humans have a deep need to experience pleasure and to place a high value on desirable things, while ignoring the unpalatable. Both views are largely contested by modern philosophers.
Aristotle’s philosophy of nature began with the concept of “essence,” a defining characteristic of what a thing is. For instance, the essence of water would include its molecular structure. A species’ essence would include its ancestral history, and the soul and self-consciousness of a human would be its “soul.” Acting according to one’s nature is the most ethical and wholesome course of action.
Sir Francis Galton
Sir Francis Galton’s philosophy of nature and nurture was influential in the evolution of modern science. During the 18th century, Galton was a geographer and meteorologist, as well as a travel writer and explorer of southern Africa. His two essays on the nature of human intelligence and character both focused on the differences between genes and environment. He explained the difference between Social Learning Theory and Genetic Inheritance Theory, and wrote about the Bobo doll experiment and twin studies, defining the key concepts of nature vs nurture.
The concept of nature versus nurture was first conceived by Francis Galton, a Victorian polymath. During the mid-1800s, Galton coined the term “nature versus nurture,” referring to the influence of heredity on the development of human traits. Chomsky later proposed a theory called Universal Grammar, which claimed that children are born with the skills and aptitudes to learn.
The idea that nature trumps nurture was the basis for eugenics, which promoted a genetically superior society. Galton envisioned a system where the best people could marry and have children without a trace of criminality. In other words, eugenics was a way to promote human intelligence. In a sense, eugenics was a kind of eugenics, but one where the benefits of genetic superiority outweigh the costs.
In his TED talk, world renowned psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker discussed the controversial theories of nature vs. nurture. He argues that human nature is more complicated than evolutionists believe and that the role of culture and heredity is overstated. However, the question of why some people are more gifted than others is a polarizing issue. The debate is a controversial one, with both sides believing that nature plays a major role.
Though Pinker has paid lip service to the idea that nature and nurture influence behavior, he failed to offer a logical conclusion. His conclusion that some genes are influenced by environment only lends weight to the nature side of the debate. He cites several studies that support his point, but fails to mention a study that questions the dominance of genes. For example, mice carrying the Huntington’s chorea gene have a one-hundred percent chance of developing chorea.
Many critics of Pinker argue that the human mind is plastic and acquires characteristics through experience, not birth. The blank slate argument is controversial because it enables discrimination, eugenics, and genocide. However, proponents of the theory are concerned that the concept of nature and nurture is unjust. A fundamental flaw in the theory of nature vs. nurture is a fundamental stumbling block to the pursuit of progress.
Historically, the debate over the role of nature versus nurture has been tainted by racism and eugenics. The debate has implied that race is a prerequisite for most traits, and heredity was used as a scientific justification for discrimination. However, works published in the United States since the 1960s have argued that nature is more important than nurture, despite many controversies.
In a famous interview with a journalist, a prominent psychologist addressed the issue of nature vs. nurture. While it is true that genes are the most important factor, environmental factors also play a large role in shaping personalities. Identical twins are often more aggressive than their counterparts, despite sharing the same genetic makeup. While this aggression is likely caused by the environment, it is important to note that their identical traits are largely determined by their environment.
Another famous example of this phenomenon is the study of identical twins. Galton studied 20 pairs of twins from two different families and found that identical twins grew up with dissimilar traits and did not develop as closely. His research also confirmed the notion that nature is a greater factor than nurture in determining a child’s development. In this way, twins are a perfect study subject for the philosophy of nature vs. nurture
Regardless of whether a trait is entirely hereditary or not, environmental factors do affect the risk of the disease. Research shows that healthy lifestyles reduce the risk of developing various health issues, such as colon cancer, breast cancer, and heart disease. Similarly, children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop cancer. However, both theories have their strengths and weaknesses. Hence, a clear and concise definition of nature vs nurture is necessary.
In the philosophy of nature vs nurture debate, the role of environmental factors in shaping a person’s traits is disputed. The debate revolves around whether environmental factors play a larger role in shaping a person’s traits than genetic factors. Some scientists contend that environmental factors are more influential than genes, but others argue that genetics are important, but environment and upbringing are equally important. Moreover, some genes are not activated or turned on unless certain environmental factors are present. For example, genetics may influence the taste of alcohol, but environmental factors are also important.
Another area of research that challenges the nature vs nurture debate is the study of epigenetics. This field shows how environmental influences alter genes and other DNA. Thus, the debate over nature vs nurture involves the relative contribution of these factors to human behavior. The two factors are known to influence cognitive and physical traits, as well as psychopathology. However, genetic factors are only a small part of the puzzle.
The debate between the concepts of nature and nurture focuses on the relative contributions of genetic inheritance and environmental influences to human development. Plato and Descartes both proposed that some behaviors and qualities are inborn and cannot be changed by environmental factors. On the other hand, nativists claim that the vast majority of our behaviors are a result of our innate biological makeup and experiences. While both sides are correct, the nature vs nurture debate is a complex and polarizing issue.
Although it is often confusing to compare the role of environment and genetics, it is generally accepted that these two influences play a critical role in the development of an individual. Both environmental factors and parental nurturing have a significant role to play in human development. While nature and nurture can sometimes compete for influence, they often work in tandem. Moreover, individual differences do not necessarily stem from the genetic code or the development environment, but from the messy process of development.
The debate between nature and nurture is still ongoing, and is based on evidence that both factors have some impact on human traits. A memory match game is one of the best ways to engage students in discussing the nature vs nurture debate. The students are asked to identify keywords related to the two concepts and match them with the words on cards. This activity also encourages students to compare their results and draw their own conclusions.