Nature versus Nurture
In 1581, Richard Mulcaster stated, “that treasure . . . bestowed on them by nature, to be bettered in them by nurture.” This line gives name to the ideological debate that has been going on for a very long time. The argument as to what really influences an individual’s development, whether it is the importance of heredity or the effects of ones’ environment is defined by the concept of “nature versus nurture”.
The common perspective of the concept of nurture is that they completely denounced the idea of human nature; instead they focus solely on the individual’s surroundings. According to Jose Ortega y Gasset, “Man has no nature; what he has is history” (Pinker, 2004). This means that no particular attitude or trait is innate within an individual. The differences of people may it be in terms of social classes or ethnic groups could be removed through immigration, social mobility, and cultural change. Situating them in a particular environment could solve their variation from each other.
On the other hand, there is a saying that “biology is destiny”, this connotes the idea that there are innate mechanisms, which enables an individual to become capable of learning from his/her environment. Based on cognitive science, there have been studies which shows that many psychological traits like taste for food, social status, and even sexual behaviors are adapted through an ancestral environment rather than from the current surroundings of an individual. Moreover, developmental psychology also shows that variations of people within the same culture could be attributed to the differences in their genes.
In my own assertion the development of an individual is greatly influence by the idea of nurture rather than nature. The influence of ones’ environment is inevitable. The interaction with other people as well as the trends taking place within ones’ surroundings, would eventually affect the perspective and attitude of a person, as he/she would be influence by those factors. According to an article by Steven Pinker (2004), the effects of genes is heavily dependent upon the environment which means that heredity has no constraints on an individual’s behavior. Genes is not responsible in determining the behavior of a person but influences of education, psychotherapy and history could crucially affect the decisions and activities of human beings. A good example is the first few years of a child’s life or his/her founding years, this is very important in shaping his/her behavior. It is during this time that the child is very susceptible to rearing and nurturing of other people especially his/her parents.
The debate between nature versus nurture has been very controversial for so many years now. Both perspectives have their own argument as to how they affect the development of individuals. Based on my own point of view, I can say that nurture has greater influence in a person’s growth as compared with nature. It should be realized that nobody leaves in a vacuum. One way or the other a person would interact with other people and he/she will acquire some of the beliefs and norms of the surroundings he/she is situated.
Pinker, S. (2004). Why nature and nurture won’t go away. Retrieved June 5, 2008, from