History of Nature and NurtureThis Research Paper History of Nature and Nurture and other 61,000+ term papers, college essay examples and free essays are available now on ReviewEssays.com
Autor: reviewessays • September 22, 2010 • Research Paper • 1,825 Words (8 Pages) • 1,241 Views
Nature vs. nurture has been discussed by philosophers in the past and by scientists most recently. Philosophers such as Plato argued that all knowledge was inherited through your parent and when you were told something you didn't learn it you were just reminded of it. Aristotle however argued that all humans were born with a blank slate and built on it with influence from there environment. In the 1700's the empiricists and the internalists took over the argument. They fought through letters explaining there point of views and denouncing the others. This leads to Pavlov coming up with the idea of behaviorism in the early 1900's. Behaviorism became the new wave of Psychology and influenced a lean towards the nurture side. It was not effectively argued against until 1928 when Watson published his book. This opened up the floodgates for environmental influences studies. Soon the idea of nurture was the popular excuse for behavior. Studies using animals were the most popular was in which scientists used to prove a theory, or disprove a theory. The newest studies use human twins to prove nature vs. nurture.
An age-old question has been asked for generations before us. What is the reasons behind the development of human behavior? There have been many theories formulated to explain why humans behave the way they do. Explanations vary from demonology to magnetic fluids controlling people's behaviors. Over time, two theories have remained
popular in academic fields such as philosophy and psychology. The surviving theories for behavior stem 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. Today, people us both explanations in research to advance the knowledge of human behavior.
Thousands of years before the field of psychology, philosophers pondered on
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 to a large extent internally rather than
environmentally determined found its first substantive defense in the works of
Plato..." (Cowie, 1999, p. 3). Plato theorized, and Descartes later agreed, that
all knowledge is present at birth. Plato also believed that the environment
played a part in human processes, but he thought it had an unique role. He
believed the environment did not teach people anything new, but its purpose was
to remind people of information they already knew (Cowie, 1999). Although
Plato's views are not supported today, he laid the groundwork for other
researchers to follow.
On the other hand, philosopher Aristotle theorized a different idea about human
behavior. He presented the idea that humans are born into the world with a
"blank slate" and people's behavior and thoughts are due to experience
(Ashcraft, 1998). His tabula rasa explanation believed that the environment and
experience were the important influences in human behavior. Unlike Plato,
Aristotle hypothesized that humans were not born with knowledge, but they
acquire it through experience (Ashcraft, 1998). Aristotle's idea of the tabula
rasa is not believed today. Nevertheless, his belief that the environment was a
vital factor in behavior influenced many empiricists throughout history.
During the late 1700s, the nature vs. nurture debate began to heat up between
philosophers. Internalists (nature) and empiricists (nurture) wrote literature
back and forth trying to prove their beliefs and disprove the other's theories.
Two philosophers, G.W. Leibniz and John Locke, were main representatives of
their respected explanations. Leibniz promoted the internalism point of view.
Cowie states, "...Leibniz's position on this issue is, of course, that the
tabula is far from rasa: 'The soul inherently contains the sources of various
notions and doctrines, which external objects merely rouse up...' " (Cowie,
1999, p. 7). Leibniz argued against Locke and other empiricists stated that
"...there is no way ideas which come into the mind from outside can be formed
into beliefs and judgments without the operation of specific internal
mechanisms" (Cowie, 1999, p. 17).
At the same time, John Locke and his fellow philosophers campaigned for
empiricism. Like Aristotle, the philosophers believed that humans' thoughts and
actions were determined not by innate factors, but by the their unique
experiences (Ashcraft, 1998). Locke argued against the internalists by examining
different human processes such as logic and reasoning. He would ask how it was
possible to use logic and reasoning if people were born