Nature vs Nurture

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THE Blank Slate Theory: Nature versus Nurture

Abstract

The discussion surrounding Stephen Pinkers' book The Blank Slate: the Modern Denial of Human Nature has sparks some rather interesting arguments as to whether our being is a result of nature, genetics or is it learned through nurturing. The discussion revolved around Pinkers idea that there is no such thing as the Blank Slate theory, when it comes to human nature. He believes "that the human mind, like the human body, has been designed by natural selection through the process of biological evolution" (Bailey & Gillespie, 2002, p.2).The Blank Slate theory derived from John Locke, a great philosopher who lived in the 16th century. In John Locke's philosophy, tabula rasa was the theory that the (human) mind is at birth a "blank slate" void of all characters, without any ideas or rules for processing data, and that data is added and rules for processing it formed solely by our sensory experiences. As understood by Locke, tabula rasa meant that the mind of the individual was born "blank", and it also emphasized the individual's freedom to author his or her own soul. Each individual was free to define the content of his or her character - but his or her basic identity as a member of the human species cannot be so altered. Implicit in this theory is the belief that individuals are infinitely and arbitrarily malleable by society: by changing the individual's environment, and thus sensory experiences, one can shape the individual with few, if any, restrictions.

Steven Pinker challenges the Blank Slate theory. He thinks, we are genetically coded to be whatever we are. The experiences we encounter only have a minuscule impact on how we grow. Pinker argues about the idea of which nurture plays a more important role than nature in the development of the human mind. He believes a child is born with a personality, and parents cannot cause their children to have a different personality to that which is given....
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