Nature VS Nurture – Traits
I’m not saying that we are born with blank slates; that would be my first assumption too at this point in the conversation if I were listening rather than speaking, but no. Clearly, if our slates were really blank, how would we ever boot up, how would learning ever have a starting point? What I am saying is that we write very aggressively upon our children’s slates, and we start before we have any idea what it is we’re writing over, and before long what was there before we started our writing is buried forever, indecipherable.
The Nature VS Nurture argument has moved, I hope, finally, from the Blank Slate VS pre-determinism to the Unknown Slate VS Original Sin – at least that’s how I would frame it as regards children and parenting. Now I’m aware that the geneticists of the world will say that our slates are becoming known, more so every day, and yes, but I think we need some more social science before we have a meaningful list of traits to match with our genetic discoveries! I mean if ‘persistence’ or ‘mild-tempered’ are simple things that are either present or not, yes or no? If the qualities we ascribe to one another are also unimpacted by life experience and we can match them to a gene, terrific. But they’re not, are they?
The genetics, and its daughter-disciplines, they are coming along, no argument. Genetics and its offspring will have terrific success when it can be applied to things we understand, like medicine. However, they are already way out ahead of our ability to understand social things and how to live. Our DNA is real; of course, ‘traits’ are imagined things, mirages. I suspect that the old issues are not going away, and Free Will may still apply.
The traits, our behaviour – that we may still have to figure out in the human sphere, not with microscopes, but with honesty and love.