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Philosophy to Psychology: Nature Versus Nurture

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Philosophy to Psychology: The Question of Nature Versus Nurture

Bernard Stevens

Lux Ferre University

Senior Research

April 26, 2011


What influences more, society on the individual or collective individuals on society? Is society, thereby the individual, constructed by a set of pre-existing material conditions, or a pre-existing social condition? The philosophical origins of the question of nature versus nurture, are steeped in the ancient Greek philosophers nomos-physis debate in which the question is man the product (his actions) of conventional law or natural law? If so, is it possible to be balance of both, as suggested by Plato’s construction of the kallopolis (ideal city) in The Republic. For centuries, in Western Philosophy, the debate of which has dominion over man, nature or nurture, has been key to the establishment of many disciplines in the arts and sciences such as sociology, philosophy, and biology. Research suggest in ancient Greek civilization, the debate was termed as the Nomos-Physis debate, in which Plato challenged and/or expounded upon Pre-Socratic philosophers beliefs as to which rules man. The core subject matter is not, as in Psychology, a debate of which determines the personality traits of an individual per se, but whether or not man acts according to the laws of nature (Physis) or laws of man (Nomos). Though it appears psychology is not the essence of the ancient question of nature versus nurture, what is to be understood is that, in this debate implications of modern forms of psychology are embedded in its roots.

Plato’s The Republic, though an unlikely work to cite for psychological implications is rich of the material which psychology strives to answer. Most notably is the hypothetical society proposed in the work, which he suggested is that in the construction of an ideal polis (city/nation) in order to have “philosopher-kings”, they must first be identified in childhood, then reared in such a way as to make them optimal “guardians” or rulers of society. What is implied, psychologically, is that both biology and nurturing aspects play a role in shaping a person into being that which he or she becomes. Furthermore, the biological implications are further implied, when in the sustaining of the city and the best possible citizens is that the most fit, the most intelligent (or those best in their crafts), etc. who are the ones who are to bear and reproduce children, as opposed to those who are not to have a society of the best. He even inputs his observation on the misunderstandings of biology that, though two parents may have optimal traits in their being, the child may not inherit the same traits. The prime achievement of the book was not solely the finding of what just or justice is but the method by which one will know. This method arrives at the Theory of Ideas, which is the metaphysical a-temporal and a-spatial realm where a thing is without form and is the basis, not cause, of the form of things as we perceive them through the senses.

Aristotle followed Plato, though he rejected Plato’s idea that the Realm of Ideas is reality, he asserted that what we perceive is all we can know and that is reality for us all. He continues further, as Durant (2009) suggests, that “[matter] in its widest sense, is the possibility of form; form is the actuality, the finished reality, of matter . . . form is not merely the shape but the shaping force, an inner necessity and impulse which moulds mere material to a specific figure and purpose; it is the realization of a potential capacity of matter (pg 56)”. This excerpt suggest people can will to be what they are and work towards the potential of what they can be, whether they are aware or unaware of the will they possess. It is further supported by Durant’s quote of Aristotle when he says “we cannot directly will to be different from what we are”, but adds to claim that he explicates that we are capable of choosing the environment we are in by which we can mould ourselves to be that which we desire (pg 58). This parallels Plato’s idea that we are shaped in who we become by the nature of our being, yet also influenced and molded by the environment in which we find ourselves.

Sir Francis Bacon, one of the philosophers to follow after Aristotle during the Renaissance took a behaviorist approach to understanding man by stating “philosophers should diligently inquire into the powers and energy of custom, exercise, habit, education, example imitation, emulation, company, friendship, praise, reproof, exhortation, reputation, laws, books, studies etc.; for these are the things that reign in men’s morals; by these agents the mind is formed and subdued”, suggesting man is a product of circumstance and his environment. Reverting back to the question of conventional law versus natural law, man acts in accordance, from Bacon’s social- psycho view to conventional law, which Thrysamachus states in The Republic is “the advantage of the stronger (Grube, pg 14)”. So, the men who have the power to make the laws are the ones who have power over man, regardless of natural law, which for Plato is unknown to any ruler who is not a philosopher, and thereby mans environment or society constricts his maximum potential for free will.

Baruch Spinoza is also bred during the Renaissance era and like Plato, believes in a realm of fixity lying behind the forms or shapes, even events which pervade the moments of one’s life. He elaborates on the idea of the Theory of Ideas, by stating that that which we perceive is the conception of an underlying reality or essence of a thing (pg 131). What separates him from Plato is that the essence of thing can be defined contextually, such as when Spinoza says “the nature of a triangle, from eternity to eternity, that its three angles are equal to two right angles”, where as Plato would argue triangularity is without such definition, but it is by the virtue of triangularity that a triangle is a triangle, and perceived in reality as being with the definitive form, though in its essence it is not (pg. 132). To add to the debate, Spinoza asserts, according to Durant that “the universal laws of nature and the eternal decrees of God are one and the same thing.” This adds to the debate by stating that man is formed by the essence of what he is, which is determined by God, giving way to a sort of deterministic outlook on the expressions of man. Spinoza confirms this by stating “the decision of the mind, and the desire and determination of the body . . . are one and the same thing (pg. 135).” He shatters the separation of mind and brain (matter of the mind), suggesting they are infused into one another, and that one acts because of the body and perceptions of one moment to the next give credence to the decision made at any given moment. In other words, the world is very mechanistic, current decisions are based on prior decisions which are based on some impetuous inherent in the form or underlying reality of the individual or thing. What this suggests is a behaviorists approach to understand man, as the behavior of man and his essence are inseparable from one another. To clarify, for example, if a man committed a crime his chances of going to jail increases, and if he is caught and convicted of the crime, his freedom is limited to the confines of the jail. Though he may be free to roam within the jail, he is still confined to the physical space that is the jail, and is not only subjugated to common law, but the law of the system in which he confines himself. His impetus to commit the crime is a summation of prior experience expressive of the will. The situation of imprisonment that results is restriction on his choices in his free will; likened to any other decisions, choice is believed to be limited to the confines of particular situations which are the outcome of prior choices.

Next is Immanuel Kant, in opposition to John Locke who suggested we are born with a tabula rasa (blank slate), Kant asserted that knowledge can be known a priori and we learn all knowledge through experience. This idea is supported by Plato’s Meno, in which Socrates has a boy use mathematics to solve a problem, though the boy has not had previous experience with mathematics before. Kant then opposes David Hume who asserts, based on false premise according to Kant, that there is no soul or science, is a false conclusion, for if this were the case how is necessity to be explained (pg. 201)? He continues and addresses the problem of experience being the only criteria for understanding and gaining knowledge by saying “[experience] tells us what is, but not that it must be necessarily what it is and not otherwise.” This in turn, gives value to the argument of the Nomos-Physis debate, while men may be constrained in knowledge by that which they experience, there is something internal which gives man empowerment to either be more than that which experience allows or other than that which experience says man can be; that is to say, we are governed by an internal law, yet operate within the confines of written law.

Schopenhauer follows Kant elaborating on the idea of this internal empowerment and he gives it the name of Will. That is, as is quoted by Schopenhauer, “[accordingly], most existences are without consciousness; but yet they act according to the laws of their nature, -- i. e., of their will. Plants have at most a very weak analogue of consciousness (pg 239)”, which supports nature or Physis in the debate. He continues, in contrast by stating that “so all construction in nature resembles that which is guided by the conception of an end, and yet is entirely without it.” What he asserts in this supposition is that mans will, as well as the will of any other living thing has a will to preserve life, and avoidance of its end by all means; this will faces the reality of death, yet continues in spite of it.

What followed from the philosophers who took the behaviorist approach to understanding what the underline cause of individual being were led to a study of society, rather than the individual. To note, in Plato’s The Republic, the main character Socrates takes the same approach when trying to find justice in man, he magnifies him equivocating him to the city/ society in which he is reared. Through this magnification man is analogous to the city, and the virtues and vices in the city are to be found in the man, giving credence to the importance of conventional law over man. In Irving Zeitlin’s book on social theory, he quotes Giovanni Vico who wrote during the Enlightenment period as saying “[governments] must be conformable to the nature of the governed; governments are even a result of that nature (pg 7)”, once again giving favour of an interplay between Nomos and Physis in the outline determinants of any given man. Montesquieu, who was one of the first to synthesize the philosophy of history and society, stated “I began to examine men and I believed that in the infinite variety of their laws and customs they were not guided solely by their whims. I formulated principles, and then I saw individual cases fitting the principles . . . the history of all nations being only the consequence of these principles and every special law bound to another law, or depending on another more general law (pg 8).” Again, the interplay between natural law and conventional law seem to be in affiliation with one another as if each is subjected to the other. Nonetheless, Montesquieu argued that how one views society is determined by the role one plays in it or the job one occupies, in turn influencing his or her character (pg 11). More to the point, as in the mathematical game of 24 whereby one is to seek the answer of 24 using multiplication, division, subtraction, and addition, it can be suggested that one sees into things that which they will, rather than that which is, which was an idea offered by Hume. Though not explicitly stated in Montesquieu’s quote, it assumes that initially ones character is molded by the class he or she is born into, then the job one fulfills or occupies, but what is not explained by Montesquieu is the ascent or descent from one class to the next. Rousseau offers an explanation of the variability of individuals by stating men act by their own volition, and though they made be governed by conventional and/or natural law, man himself must interpret the law (pg 17). Furthermore, in agreement with Montesquieu, Rousseau believes that conventional law can depart from natural law, which would counter the behaviorist perspective, because though a man feels one way in his heart, he may be compelled by the laws that govern the state to act contrary to those feelings. In Rousseau’s conception of the ideal state he believes, according to Zeitlin interpretation of his Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, that there must be “a perfect balance between man’s needs and the resources at his disposal (pg 19)”, suggesting what rules man’s body is his needs, the acts by which he obtains those needs are restricted to doing so within conventional law.

The approach of the Romantic-Conservative philosophers sought to counter the freedom of man to pursue that which meets his needs, as the term can be ambiguous and mistaken for wants, and made the stand that laws are granted by divinity of the state, not by man. Notably, Edmund Burke believed that laws were mutable and organic, changing with society, and that there existed no unchanging immutable laws; furthermore, the State and Individual are in a partnership in which there is no separation (pg 48). Radicalized by Hegel, he put emphasis on the importance of nationalism, also emphasizing that conflict is necessary in achievement of an ideal state, birthing his idea of dialects (pg 50-52). In other words, social laws should be and are organic, and that the conflicts resulting in the change of these social laws over time are towards some greater ideal state, as mimicked in our own Constitution.

This movement of social philosophers is then followed by those labeled as Traditionalist who sought to maintain laws and conditions as they were by placing emphasis on a union of Church and State. One of the most notable traditionalist, Louis de Bonald, argued there is only social man, not a natural man, that any natural laws were the result of God (the Church) and State (pg 54). He is expounded upon by Joseph de Maistre who suggests that if what Rousseau called “natural man” existed outside of society, he would not be man (pg 60). Auguste Comte, following Saint-Simon (labeled as the founder of Sociology), believed in a union of God and State, but emphasized in the social organism, the parts (men) and the whole (society) should have a harmony whereby the parts should be able to adjust to natural social laws (pg 84). In other words, there is a natural law to collective of individuals that supersedes, each individual; therefore, social law or conventional law, has dominion or is the only one in existence, as opposed to a natural unchanging law. So, in opposition to the Plato and Aristotle, there exist no Physis, only Nomos for these social philosophers. From what they observed of the Enlightenment thinkers that came before them, the individual mind should not be left to formulate or interpret laws, but the function of the State which governs the society to do so.

Following these social philosophers is the founder of Communism, Karl Marx whose idea of freedom in men stems from belief in a continual inexhaustible potential in man, which is being limited by the social system of society (pg 147). From this perspective, we observe that in the nature of Man it can be inferred that he is infinitely perfectible, as viewed by Plato; yet, there is such an effect of conventional laws that obstruct natural laws or natural dominion over man. Neither Marx, nor Plato had a definitive definition as to what Man is, though the possibilities were to be unlimited and not confined to any one idea which contrasted another in constructing a definition thereof. Furthermore, Marx’s view on the relation of natural law to conventional law as interpreted by Zeitlin suggest of his critique on humanity in Marx’s words when he says, “[man] creates the world in the sense that he produces his tools and external objects with the materials of nature, thus modifying nature, his means of acting upon it, and his relations with his fellow man.”

Emerging from the social theories of Marxian influence is Emile Durkheim who attests that if man were to pursuit their own interest, as the utilitarian’s suggests, it will create disorder for “nothing is less constant than interest. . . today it unites me to you; tomorrow it will make me your enemy (pg 357).” As a result, the malleability of the child should be left up to the state, for while there are some things inherent from one child to the next, the one thing that is not, is law; therefore, conventional law is that which governs man, and it is his interaction with other men, as a result of these conventional laws that shapes him.

The Theory of Ideas is important because its misinterpretation over centuries gave support to the credence of modern conception of God notably that of Christianity, in which the form by which we are is granted by some divine authority, but moreover the matter which we are is of His doing as well. This leads to the Existentialist conception of Free Will or Fate, because if we are not who we are as we move from one moment to the next by our own accord, then we are fated to be that which we become by virtue of our Fate; on the other hand, if there does exist Free Will, then we are free to become that which we will, in abilities of our form. This extends the nature versus nurture debate by suggesting encoded in our metaphysical beings, our physical being is fated to experience the things which occur in ones life, or man has the capacity to be that which he wills outside of his fated perimeters, which could utterly shatter the idea of God.

Jean Paul Sartre was one of the most notable philosophers known as an existentialist who tackled the question of free will versus determinism attacking Kant and Descartes, not on grounds of God in the conventional sense, but that there is an metaphysical essence to man, prior to existence; or, an Idea of man prior to being. He asserts that according to those who came before him they believe “God makes man according to a procedure and a conception. . . (Solomon, pg 207)” He continues to imply that these philosophers believe that man has a nature designed by the conception of God which It ordains for man, implicating that every man and woman in existence must fit the nature Man, the universal idea of that which governs the make-up of man and woman (pg 207). Sartre is in opposition to this idea that mans essence comes before the existence of man, by stating that “man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself (pg 207).” This assertion of man creating or willing himself to be that which he is, removes any natural law or form that governs man as asserted with Plato in man resulting from some arrangement through matter towards the Ideal form of man. He adds to his argument of the free will of man by stating that he is limited by environment, “much more than he appears to make himself man seems to be made by climate and the earth, race and class, language, the history of the collectivity of which he is part, heredity, the individual circumstances of his childhood, acquired habits, the great and small events of his life. (pg 239)” This implies that not only by conventional law, but by environment and biology man is who he is, removing metaphysical implication, shifting the idea of natural law from metaphysical to physical.

Following Sartre is Maurice Merleau-Ponty who agrees with him, but differs by saying that man has a sort of will, as Kant suggest, but the effects of our will is limited by our abilities, for if a crippled man, desired or willed to save a drowning man, he would fail (pg 280). However, he asserts that if a man has ability to save the drowning man, then the man is free for he has the ability to execute the will (pg 280). He continues that freedom sets its own limitations, for if we are free to make an act, the act must be limited within a field of possible choices; alternatively, using the example of the drowning man, if one has the ability to save, one can either execute the save by several outlets which could be saving him his or her self, obtaining help from appropriate personnel, or abstaining from either of the previous two (pg 281). To add, the confines of the choice are governed by the situation of the drowning man. Furthermore, like the socialist of the eras before his, he states that: “I am not an individual beyond class, I am situated in a social environment, and my freedom, though it may have the power to commit me elsewhere, has not the power to transform me instantaneously to what I decide to be (pg 286).” This is significant, because it denotes that man has the possibility to act on intention or will, and though a man may decide to change his character, it is not something that can be done at an instant, but must be organic and progressively done over time, while operating within the confines of his biology as well as his social being.

What is observable through the historic and organic process of the transformation of the debates of Nomos versus Physis, to God versus Society, to Man versus Environment, is the psychological essence of each questions lies ready and waiting for a ripe moment in which this field of study was to be uncovered and the physical study of the human mind or psyche explored. This shows the early questioning of thought and mind, and as to whether it is the metaphysical, matter or both.

The essential question of the psyche seems to be routed in first trying to understand whether the chicken or the egg came first, or more relevant did man or the idea of man come first, then implying if man existed in this metaphysical form prior to his material existence is man what he is by virtue of that pre existing form, or the society or environment in which he is nurtured. Furthermore, in establishing whether he is what he is by virtue of a pre-existing form, man must try to discover the limits which sets his pre-existing material form to find the way which he will best govern himself and society. The problem comes from a lack of balance between the two, nature and nurture. The misunderstandings or rejections of Plato give way to the extremist who assert that God is the cause of why things are the way they are, to those who assert that God is of no influence, with the exception of making a distinction between things (i.e. man as different from plant), society and environment is the sole determinant of man.

Then, there are those who seek to find a medium or balance between the two, stating that the biology of man is the result of virtue of the form and its interaction with the environment. For example, if a baby is born with fetal alcohol syndrome, the interplay of the rest of his life is determined by his mothers active choice to drink while pregnant, which in turn effects the environment the baby is cared for, thereby having a lasting effect on the child’s abilities. Hence, at this point the child becomes immediately limited, in childhood cognitive abilities, unless by some unaccounted force (extraneous variable for which causation cannot be explained) the child is born unaffected by the mothers habits. The questions that follow become intrusive, as to why did this child whose mother drank once during pregnancy produce a child with fetal alcohol syndrome, as opposed to the child whose mother drunk a great deal during pregnancy, not develop any such notable symptoms or defects. The question reverts back to a philosophical one of determining whether each man is developed by virtue by his pre-material existence and its influence with the environment, or is it by chance that there are causes, such as genetics that have not yet been discovered. The problem then leads to two further questions from the latter choice, which is: how does something become genetic, and/or was Hume right in asserting we can never know causation, for we don’t have all extraneous variables known and controlled for in any given experience.

From this, the psychological introspection as to understanding what is the cause of mans being, from personality to biology should be extended to finding a balance between the two, or a synthesis of both. Hegel asserts “the individual mind can comprehend only aspects of reality; the acorn, however, becomes what it can become; it unfolds into an oak tree (Solomon, pg 50).” What Hegel is suggesting, is though man as a child can be nurtured to conform to conventional law and the environment in which he is reared, he will become an adult by virtue of being a man, and will be an adult based on the experiences that come before; however, what can be gained from this is the observation of oak trees, for has one ever seen two that look exactly the same? No. Why? The reason is the environment, the time period, natural occurrences, exposure to sunlight, unobstructed growth, etc, has lead each plant to become what it is, and this is observation of a thing that has low capacity for free will, action, conscience; whereas man has high capacity for free will, action and conscience, it must be understood, that man has the ability to change his environment at anytime, where a plant or tree does not. This will, along with the dimensions of the being whether metaphysical or biological, coupled with environmental influences must account for the shape or character of the man.

To summarize, there has been enough evidence presented, to argue that there must be a synthesis in the sciences between nature (biology) and nurture (environment/ society), free will and determinism, State (the various forms) and God (the various forms), and Nomos (conventional law) and Physis (natural law), because each of the two over time have been in polar opposition within each, and the synthesis brought about a discovery of a new science striving towards the truth. Philosophy is the synthesizing process by which the differences are speculated, but the experiments and methods are the means by which each is explored a new one emerges. What is suggested as a result is a synthesis, a further blending of these sciences to understand how each plays an effective role in the other. As with the theory of ideas, when the complexes are synthesized to simplexes, we should stop and not try to further divide them, but unify them as to understand how the applications thereof can be efficient and effective in society.


Durant, Will. (2009) The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the Great Philosophers

of the Western World. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Plato, and G. M. A. (1992) Grube. Republic. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.
Solomon, Robert C. (2005) Existentialism. New York: Oxford US.
Zeitlin, Irving M. (2001) Ideology and the Development of Sociological Theory.

Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.…...

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...Nature versus Nurture Cindy Dean ECE 205: Introduction to Child Development Instructor: Alan Reitman August 3, 2014 Nature versus Nurture The topic Nature versus Nurture has always been a difficult topic in the scientific world. These problems of levels to which environment and inheritance influence behavior and development in a person. Nature is an example of behaviors due to inheritance. These methods of behaviors are founded on the genetic make-up of an individual as well as influence of the growth and development of that individuals’ all through their life. Another example of nurture is the causes by behaviors that are environmental. This includes the guidance from the individual’s parents, family, siblings, friends and all additional knowledge that individual revealed during their life. Nevertheless, these hypotheses of beliefs provide the inherited genetic framework, received from our parents it is the unique factor in our behavioral characteristics. Nature and nurture are two opposing viewpoints that created a whole army of ideas, guesses, and opinions in psychology. The difference between nature and nurture are not enough to put one corresponding to the other. Behaviorist surroundings is the positions that skills and genetic characteristics are passed on from one generation to the next is called nature. For example, if a person’s father and their maternal grandfather are both good at sports, then more than likely they will inherit the gene.......

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Nature vs Nurture

...Nature vs. Nurture There is an issue that has been conferred upon by philosophers in the past and still so by scientists today. This issue is whether heredity or environment plays a greater role in the determining or shaping of an individual's behavior. It is known as the nature versus nurture debate. Numerous generations before us have deliberated on the reasons behind the development of human behavior. There have been many theories formulated to explain why humans behave the way they do. The surviving theories for behavior derive from physiological and sociological explanations. However, the two explanations have not always been compatible with each other. The famous nature vs. nurture debate over human behavior resulted from conflicting views between proponents of the physiological (nature) and sociological (nurture) explanations. Throughout history, research has swayed popularity back and forth between the theories. Yet, theorists have broken down the line separating nature and nurture. As of today, people utilize both explanations to explore human behavior. Way before our time, early philosophers endeavored to understand the human behavior. As early as 350 BC, such philosophers as Plato and Aristotle tried to understand behavior. The question of nature or nurture as the primary drive can be traced to these times. Plato believed behavior and knowledge was due to innate factors. Author Fiona Cowie states, "The claim that the character of our mental furniture is......

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Nature and Nurture

...Nature and nurture are the two factors that determine human personality. First, the genetic code of a human being, which is unique and based on hereditary and other factors, will be an indicator of personality. For example, some very young babies will already clearly be "shy" or "extroverted". However, the personality of a baby will be vastly modified by a child's upbringing, and the way they are nurtured by his or her mother and father, or legal guardian. Nature • One example of the way nature affects a baby is brain disorders who are inherited, and which will affect personality. For example, psychological problems related to brain chemistry, such as schizophrenia, are believed to have a strong genetic component. These diseases will be present as mutated genes in a baby, and, over time, they will create behaviour problems that may manifest themselves as a child grows into adulthood. However, the way a child handles their genetic difficulties will be affected by the child's upbringing. Nurture • A child with a genetic disorder that affects personality will handle things better when they are loved, hugged, and well taken care of in the formative years. From babyhood, children require affection, warmth, intellectual stimulation, and respect in order to develop to their best possible potential. Children who lack nurturing in the formative years will suffer from issues, such as poor self-esteem, that affect their ability to socialize and make friends. Children who are...

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Nature and Nurture

...What is the nature versus nurture controversy? In your opinion, is nature or nurture a more important determinant in human behavior? Why? Provide support for your answer. As we all know, nature is the biological genetics which individuals inherited from their parents, and nurture is known as the environment in which we're raised. The nature-nurture controversy is a classic research between behavioral psychologists in which they did find “the source of the creation of human personality” (Genes and behavior, “n.d.”), including physical and behavioral traits, and given out a question: “What is the main influence on human - their genetics or their environment?” (Nature vs. Nurture Examples. “n.d.”). It's commonly known that people have a few particular physical traits as their parents by sharing the same DNA. But where do people find their interest for other behaviors like the preference of reading specific kinds of book, or their natural abilities? That's what the nature versus nurture controversy tackles (What does "nature versus nurture" mean?, “n.d."). Some scientist claim that nature plays an important role in this issue. For example, in a theory of attachment, Bowlby shows us the “views the bond between mother and child as being an innate process that ensures survival” (“Bowlby, J., 1969”). In addition, Chomsky also claims that “language is gained through the use of an innate language acquisition device” (“Chomsky, N.,1965”). However, other scientists opposed that......

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Nature Versus Nurture

...which they find themselves. Cooing usually starts at around the three month stage (Karmiloff Smith 1994) and the response of the adult…can act as a ‘reward’ encouraging thesis early attempts at sound making and interaction” (David Goouch, Powell & Abbott,2003:821) This essay will discuss the acquisition of language in the first two years of a child’s life, looking at different theories and approaches that have been explored over recent years. The essay aims to distinguish if language acquisition is an in built skill which we are all born with or if it is a learned skill which we acquire as we interact with the world around us. Skinner (1957) put forward the argument in favour of the debate that language is developed through nurture- saying that language is a learnt behaviour. Skinner provided that children simply repeat utterances they have heard, this implies that language acquisition is a simple case of rote learning(Ambridge & Lieven,2011:242). He believed that much of what we learn is from the environment around us, he used his theory of operant conditioning to explain how and why we have developed the ability to communicate through spoken words. Operant conditioning, to put it very simply suggests that if a behaviour is rewarded the subject will continue to behave that way. In the case of language acquisition , a child will say a word correctly and be rewarded. For example if a child is able to say the word “banana” they will be given the banana or......

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Nature Versus Nurture

...Nature versus Nurture Psychology 101 The flight test director for Boeing and a drug addict living in a trailer have more in common than you might think; in this case they are siblings. The brothers are born from the same parents, raised in the same home, given the same opportunities, yet polar opposites of one another. Scenarios such as this pose the question of what makes a person who they are, their environment, or their genes. For centuries the controversy between nature and nurture has been argued among experts. The debate is whether environmental influences or genetic inheritance is responsible for our human makeup. History of Nature versus Nurture From the thirteenth century researcher to present day, the nature nurture controversy is anything but a new topic, although techniques and biases may differ throughout the centuries. In the Beginning In 1874, Francis Galton, published his book English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture, which “lays partial claim to the nature versus nurture phrase” (Groff, 1998, para.1). Galton states nature and nurture, “separates under two distinct heads the innumerable elements of which personality is composed. Nature is all that a man brings with him into the world; nurture is every influence from without that affects him after his birth” (Galton, 1874). However, in 1911 a manuscript was found dating back to the thirteenth century which suggested the terms of nature and nurture as well. Previous to this, the......

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Nature vs Nurture

...The start of this paper I think the best place to look is to the bible for what it says about our human nature as well as how nurturing plays a part inside the life of a person. When we look to the bible for understanding of human nature we are lead to see that our human nature is one of sin and death. Looking at Romans 8:13 for an example of this to quote part of it “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die” this tells us that if we live by our human nature that it will only lead to death. However if we finish reading the verse it also says “but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” this gives us hope that if we live by the Spirit there is hope in life. Furthermore we can see answers for how nurturing plays a key part inside our lives. Inside the bible we can see a lot of examples of what the bible says about nurturing a child to adult to bring them up right and proper. The best example I have found is inside Ephesians 6:4 to quote it says “bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord”. This is a great example of how to raise a kid inside a household. Moving forward to develop an answer to the first question on my opinion on the idea of the whole argument of Nature vs. Nurture took me on a road that really has left me with more questions than answers. What I have to say about this topic is based upon a lot of my personal experiences with addiction as much as with other addicts. To say......

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Nature Versus Nurture

...behavior, intelligence, and personality. Ultimately, the old argument of nature vs. nurture has never really been won. We do not yet know how much of what we are is determined by our DNA and how much by our life experience. But we do know that both play a part. What is Nature vs Nurture? It has been reported that the use of the terms "nature" and "nurture" as a convenient catch-phrase for the roles of heredity and environment in human development can be traced back to 13th century France. Some scientists think that people behave as they do according to genetic predispositions or even "animal instincts." This is known as the "nature" theory of human behavior. Other scientists believe that people think and behave in certain ways because they are taught to do so. This is known as the "nurture" theory of human behavior. Fast-growing understanding of the human genome has recently made it clear that both sides are partly right. Nature endows us with inborn abilities and traits; nurture takes these genetic tendencies and molds them as we learn and mature. End of story, right? Nope. The "nature vs nurture" debate still rages on, as scientist fight over how much of who we are is shaped by genes and how much by the environment. The Nature Theory - Heredity Scientists have known for years that traits such as eye color and hair color are determined by specific genes encoded in each human cell. The Nature Theory takes things a step further to say that more abstract traits......

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