Nature vs. Nurture
It may be argued that one’s culture is indicative of the way in which they behave. Is this an accurate assumption? Tess calls attention to the difficulties we face in ascertaining whether nature or nurture poses a greater influence to human behaviour, and I am inclined to agree with her assumption that the two are interdependent. Our behaviour is deeply rooted in the functioning of the society in which we live, something which indicates the interference of evolution in teaching us the valuable role of society in relation to our ultimate survival. For it is the ability to adapt to the cultural norms surrounding us via what Hogan refers to as “archaic, powerful and compulsive tendencies,” [Hogan, 1985] that contributes to the overall success of human social life. This is exemplified through the examination of ancient human society. DeWaal points out the ever-present “strife and competition which… pose the strongest threat to [human] existence” [DeWaal, 1996], and Pinker refers to the idea of reciprocity as being “ubiquitous in foraging societies” [Pinker, 1997]. These two facets of social existence may in fact be linked in that they work to counter one another. Rather than constantly competing in the interests of the self, early human beings came to realise the benefits of co-existing with one another. We are all subject to this same evolutionary history which tells us that social harmony is key in our ultimate survival, and this requires adherence to our common culture. In other words, we are nurtured with reference to the teachings of our nature, therefore in this case the two cannot be separated as they are reliant on one another.
However, many still question whether the influences of nature and nurture respectively could overrule one another in any circumstances. 17th century philosopher John Locke theorised that human nature is a blank state, ready to be influenced by a given environment. If Locke’s assumption holds true, this would...
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