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The nature versus nurture
debate or controversy

The nature versus vs. nurture debate or controversy

picture of Rodin's sculpture - 'The Thinker' The nature vs nurture debate is one of the most enduring in the field of psychology.
How far are human behaviors, ideas, and feelings, INNATE and how far are they all LEARNED?
These issues are at the center of the ongoing nature versus nurture debate or controversy.

In the 17th century the French philosopher René Descartes set out views which held that we all, as individual Human Beings, possess certain in-born ideas that underpin our approach to the world.
The British philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, on the other hand, emphasised the role of experience as fully contributing to behavioral development.

Does human psychology start as a blank slate?

Locke set out the case that the human mind at birth is a complete, but receptive, blank slate ( scraped tablet or tabula rasa ) upon which experience imprints knowledge.

Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper void of all characters, without any ideas. How comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from EXPERIENCE.

John Locke : Essay Concerning Human Understanding : Hernnstein & Murray, 1994, p.311

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In his work English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture, which discussed the influence of genetics and environment on a person's development and which was originally published in 1874, Francis Galton, a second or half-cousin to Charles Darwin stated: "[Nature and nurture are] a convenient jingle of words, for it separates under two distinct heads the innumerable elements of which personality is composed. Nature is all that a man brings with himself into the world; nurture is every influence that affects him after his birth."

Whilst Galton was specifically giving consideration to scientific genius, and concluded that it was to largely down to nature and was heritable, since the days of Descates, Hobbes, and Locke, the empirical " nuture " approach has possibly tended to prevail in terms of the wider argument about how people relate to the world - but the debate is far from being settled.

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General Human Nature?

The nature vs nurture debate and our path-breaking discovery of a consensus which
suggests that Human Nature, not only exists ~ but also, has three principal aspects.

nature vs nurture and human potential for materialism spirituality and ethnicity
Is "Human Being" more truly Metaphysical than Physical?

In Philosophy "Metaphysics" is the branch of Philosophy dealing with "being": how things exist, what things really are, what essence is, what it is 'to be' something, etc.
The word comes from a "book" of some thirteen treatises written by Aristotle which were traditionally arranged, by scholars who lived in the centuries after Aristotle's life-time in the fourth century B.C., after those of his "books" which considered physics and natural science.

The principal subject of Aristotle's thirteen treatises is "being qua being", or being understood as being.

At the heart of the book lie three questions:-
What is existence, and what sorts of things exist in the world?
How can things continue to exist, and yet undergo the change we see about us in the natural world?
And how can this world be understood?

It may be that for want of other terminology directly suited to reference such elusive subject matter the term MetaPhysica, (in Greek it means "after physics" or "beyond physics"), was adopted in relation to Aristotle's "book" of "metaphysical" treatises.

speculative representation of aspects innate Human Nature

Here at Age-of-the-Sage there is a fascinating in-depth coverage of a potentially far-reaching consensus concerning the ways in which several World Religions, Plato and Socrates, Pythagoras, Shakespeare and Modern Psychological Science all tend to suggest that the Human Mind or Psyche is not a 'blank slate' and that Human Nature actually has Three Principal Aspects.
We must surely pay close attention any demonstrable consensus between historically accepted sources of this caliber and modern science!!!

Plato was a pupil and friend of the greek philosopher Socrates. Amongst the many works attributed to Plato's authorship is his "The Republic" wherein is set out a series of discourses that allegedly took place between Socrates and a number of other persons who variously arrived and departed as the discussions continued.
It is in this record, made by Plato, of "Socrates?" philosophising that most intriguing themes are developed in relation to the affairs of the Ancient World during the Golden Age of Classical Greece:-

...can we possibly refuse to admit that there exist in each of us the same generic parts and characteristics as are found in the state? For I presume the state has not received them from any other source. It would be ridiculous to imagine that the presence of the spirited element in cities is not to be traced to individuals, wherever this character is imputed to the people, as it is to the natives of Thrace, and Scythia, and generally speaking, of the northern countries; or the love of knowledge, which would be chiefly attributed to our own country; or the love of riches, which people would especially connect with the Phoenicians and the Egyptians.
This then is a fact so far, and one which it is not difficult to apprehend.
No, it is not.
But here begins a difficulty. Are all our actions alike performed by the one predominant faculty, or are there three faculties operating severally in our different actions? Do we learn with one internal faculty, and become angry with another, and with a third feel desire for all the pleasures connected with eating and drinking, and the propagation of the species; or upon every impulse to action, do we perform these several actions with the whole soul.

Socrates à la Plato's Republic : Book 4

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The potential implications arising from the day-to-day operation of Tripartite Human Nature are only amazing:-

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that:-

" is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots,
whose flower and fruitage is the world..."

If the visualisations of ~ Human Nature ~ presented earlier can realistically be said to help to display what might be called ~ Typically Human ~ "Bundles of Relations and Knots of Roots" the following visualisation may equally intimate similar three-directional truths about the "Human World" to which such "Bundles of Relations and Knots of Roots" could well tend to give rise by prompting people to feel, and to act, in ~ Typically Human ~ ways:-

Human Societies themselves may be formed both by nature and by nurture

Immanuel Kant wrote that:-
"Whatever concept one may hold, from a metaphysical point of view, concerning the freedom of the will, certainly its appearances, which are human actions, like every other natural event, are determined by universal laws. However obscure their causes, history, which is concerned with narrating these appearances, permits us to hope that if we attend to the play of freedom of the human will in the large, we may be able to discern a regular movement in it, and that what seems complex and chaotic in the single individual may be seen from the standpoint of the human race as a whole to be a steady and progressive though slow evolution of its original endowment."

Immanuel Kant
Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View

Or to quote Emerson more fully:-
"In old Rome the public roads beginning at the Forum proceeded north, south, east, west, to the centre of every province of the empire, making each market-town of Persia, Spain, and Britain pervious to the soldiers of the capital: so out of the human heart go, as it were, highways to the heart of every object in nature, to reduce it under the dominion of man. A man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots, whose flower and fruitage is the world. His faculties refer to natures out of him, and predict the world he is to inhabit, as the fins of the fish foreshow that water exists, or the wings of an eagle in the egg presuppose air. He cannot live without a world."
From Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous Essay ~ History

  "There is one mind common to all individual men....
....Of the works of this mind history is the record. Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history. All the facts of history pre-exist as laws. Each law in turn is made by circumstances predominant. The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn, and Egypt, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, America, lie folded already in the first man. Epoch after epoch, camp, kingdom, empire, republic, democracy, are merely the application of this manifold spirit to the manifold world."

From Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous Essay ~ History

"...The soul looketh steadily forwards, creating a world before her, leaving worlds behind her. She has no dates, nor rites, nor persons, nor specialties, nor men. The soul knows only the soul; the web of events is the flowing robe in which she is clothed. ..."
From Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous Essay ~ The Over-Soul

Robin Collingwood wrote:-
"History is for human self-knowledge ... the only clue to what man can do is what man has done. The value of history, then, is that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is."
R. G. Collingwood

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Our site features an extensive sub-section about history and about the famous historians who have helped us to try to understand it.

"Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results."

"History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future."
Robert Penn Warren

The European Revolutions of 1848

Perhaps the most informative amongst our pages about history are a series
which consider, in some detail, The European Revolutions of 1848

The European map before the revolutions of 1848
The European political map above, agreed at the Congress of Vienna of 1815, saw some changes,
(principally due to the emergence of Belgium and Greece), before the Revolutions of 1848-1849.

The European Revolutions of 1848

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We feel that the truths featured on our pages cannot but be relevant to all interested in the nature vs nurture debate or controversy.