By Saqib Ali Ateel
Nature vs Nurture theories have wasted a lot of energy by mothers. Plato is considered the first to realize that you are made up of not only flesh but also an intellectual soul.
The issue may be much older...
In Greek Mythology, when gods created man, they endowed him with divinity. However, the man started challenging them. They feared his potentials and decided to deprive him of the might.
"Where to hide the divinity?" was the big question
They considered heights of icy mountains, limits of shining stars and pits of the earth. But every place was accessible to man's capabilities.
Then they decided to hide it within the man himself.
Since then the man has been climbing icy mountains. He has navigated deep seas. He has traversed moon. His machines have even touched Mars. But he is still looking for his 'lost paradise'.
Man, it is inside you!
Your Child's Personality. It is 'scientific' to ask how it comes into being. Is it inheritable? Is it natural? Is it outcome of environment? Have you any will to change their behaviors or are you bound to follow what dictates?
Nature vs Nurture theories focus upon these issues. The new discoveries in genome and quantum physics have revived the debate. But the abstraction continues to intensify.
Nature VS Nurture Theories
There are three distinctive schools of thought.
1- Personality is Natural:
This group believes that a child's personality is result of evolutionary process. Your child inherits behaviors due to complex interaction of genes. They control their behaviors. So you or they don't have a free will to act otherwise.
2- Personality is Nurtured:
This group argues that children don't get their personality inherited. Their mind is a blank slate at birth. It is their environment, education and culture that make up their behaviors. There are differences on the issue of 'free will' to change their behaviors.
3- Personality is Spiritual:
This group claims that their personality is result of neither nature nor nurture. It is a gift of some deity. They are split on the issue of 'free will'.
Nature vs Nurture Theories and Evolutionary Psychology
Darwin's theory of evolution led William Hamilton, George Williams and many others to the idea of personality evolution. They proposed that like physical organs, their personality is result of natural selection for survival of the fittest. You do as your genes dictate.
They suggest that fear of death, fear of injury, fear of snakes, shyness, addiction, criminality and sexual orientation are main examples of inheritable behaviors. Steven Pinker includes religiousness, liberalism and conservativeness in the list. William Paley considers cognitive capabilities, temperaments and cheating behaviors inheritable.
However, there is strong criticism on this approach.
1- There is no single universal behavior which can be proved evolutionary. Even fear of death, that seems natural to all, is overridden in crusades, suicides and suicide bombings.
2- A child is made of 25,000 to 30,000 genes. They are merely twice to the number in a fruit fly. Chimpanzees share 95% of your genetic characteristics. However, they don't share even 10% of your behaviors.
3- People don't differ in behaviors as they do differ in skin pigments. Extroverts, introverts, optimists, pessimists, criminals, liberals etc are found in all societies and cultures. Even identical twins (with 100% similar genes) and fraternal twins (with 50% similar genes) behave differently in most of the cases.
4- No genome scientist has related genes or a set of genes with any kind of behaviors.
5- There are a good number of living organisms and fossils which suggest intermediary stages to the physical evolution. However, no such intermediary stages are available for personality evolution.
Nature vs Nurture Theories and Physics
The discoveries in physics have always provided new meat to the nature vs nurture theories. The conclusions of Newton and Einstein helped the people to believe that future events can be predicted with the help of true knowledge of matter and natural laws. This led psychologists to suggest that your future behaviors can be predetermined. The whole mechanism of psychometrics follows this hypothesis.
However, quantum physics has changed the situation altogether. Evidence proves that you can't make two (almost) simultaneous measurements of observables correctly. For example:
1- Position and momentum of a particle
2- Position and direction of a particle
3- Time and frequency of a sound wave
4- Wavelength and magnitude of a sound wave
The list goes on...
The quantum physics has shaken determinism. So much so the scientists have to devise ''Heisenberg uncertainty principle'' which challenges that any physical event can be predicted precisely in time and space.
Do you think that particles are too small to affect big events?
What would happen if Hitler had died in his young age of cancer, which can occur with a slight genetic mutation?
Nature VS Nurture Theories and Reality
''What was the first cause?'' Aristotle had asked centuries before
It has been proved that the universe is not result of infinite series of collaborating causes and events. There was a first event; the big bang just 13.7 billions year ago. What was its cause?
There can be only two answers:
1- There was no preceding cause, or
2- There was a first Causer
When you affirm the first statement, you agree that there might be other events which don't have preceding causes. The birth of personality is one of them.
However, if you agree with the second statement, then you are siding with the spiritual school of thought.
What About Environment?
It plays a very important role in the making of your behaviors. However, any behavior that he acquires is amendable. Secondly, it is not only environment that influences him, the vice versa is also true. You can count hundreds of names of people who influenced their environments, cultures and societies.
The best advice is to believe in their personality. Teach them to use their free will to develop and refine their behaviors. Utilize all out capabilities to collect small successes daily to build bigger ones in future. Their way of thinking and style of doing things shall determine their destination.
Meanwhile, let the counsels of nature vs nurture theories continue with their confusing debates.
Saqib Ali Ateel provides information on personality, intelligence, aptitude and testing at http://www.personality-and-aptitude-career-tests.com/art
Edited by SearchMothers.com