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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 29 - What are we a product of?

Hey guys I hope you liked the idea for the new column "Allan's Advice" and if you have anything to contribute please message me what you have to say and I'll put it on the blog. So Jon Witt not only suggested one but TWO topics so this is my crack at the second one of his ideas. He wanted me to talk about is a person more of a product of nature(genes) or nurture (environment)? My straight up answer is that we as humans are products of both. My interpretation on his suggestion was by nature he meant the hereditary factors involved in the creation of a person. The other side of the spectrum, the environment, is the upbringing and your surroundings that play a role in your everyday life.

Hereditary factors involved in the determination of a person are passed down from generation to generation. Whether you like it or not, the characteristics, at least from a biological standpoint, of your parents play a role in how you yourself will end up. If your parents are known for having high blood pressure then there is a good chance that you will in your future have it too. While not always a 100% guarantee, it can be said that DNA lays the framework and sets the foundation for what you are capable of and your limitations. Not only does the nature aspect involve hereditary characteristics and DNA but also the internal factors that go beyond genes. I am not sure if I believe that DNA plays a role in your personality but, at least from what I am told, chemical imbalances and other mutations and such in our genes can be a determining factor in what makes you who you are. If it is true that your DNA will make you a naturally optimistic or always mad at the world then perhaps the nature aspect of origination does play a larger role in what makes a person than I thought. I believe that this note can relate very strongly with notes I have wrote in the past. To support the nature argument, I believe that the note a wrote about skills and interests does justice to this topic. As I said previously I am still conflicted on if I believe that personality and your temperament is one characteristic determined from birth, but there are definitely other things that are determined from your genes. I think that your are born with a set of abilities and things that you’re are naturally inclined to be better at then others and this is derived from your nature.

I believe that what you are born with you are stuck with for the most part, especially in regards to physical appearance, but there are ways to change them and most have some leeway. For instance, if by your very nature you are naturally husky compared to others, then you probably have the ability to lose some weight. Some other aspects you may not be so lucky with like height which I am conflicted with. I was born with genes that have made me for my life so far, less than average height wise. I could wear elevator shoes to try to gain some extra inches but truly I am stuck with my height unless I get a growth spurt in the coming years. If you are the one who finds the silver lining in this you will probably want to make the best of your nature. If you are have some built-in strengths, then you will want to improve upon them and this also applies to your weaknesses as well. Your genes get modified and grow with you in a sense so just like with the height example, as I get older my nature changes as well.

Of the two, I think that nurture plays a bigger role in the product that is man. Because your nature grows as you do I think that how it grows and what directions it takes are highly dependent upon your environment and your experiences. We are constantly changing as we grow and things like our interests and outlook changes as well. This is why your image or style changes through the years because we live in a world that gets modified each and every day. Just like my very first note about the environment, I think it plays a monumental role in who we become and what we are capable of doing. Social and peer pressures also play a huge role in who we end up being. A good example of this would be a decade like the 1970's where a person's surroundings were all about disco. This caused people across the nation to grow afros or long hair and start wearing bellbottoms. I don't think anyone would have voluntarily changed themselves unless their environment encouraged and nurtured them to think that those things were cool. Your experiences that your environment puts you through also play a role in your outcome because they shape your values and make you view life through a certain perspective. If you experience something unique that others don't then you will end up being different from them.

Parents not only play a role in your nature by passing down their genes but they also play a major role in your environment because they are usually the most impacting and influencing factor on you. When you are a kid, you are subjected to all their views and opinions and especially the values that they instill in you. If you are taught that cheating and stealing is bad, then that causes you to be nurtured to think a certain way and therefore influencing how you will turn out. Your parents are also subject to these variables as well. A good firsthand example that made me realize this was the fact that my parents hate it whenever I play rap or hip-hop music in the house. When I asked them why they told me that they hadn't grown up with it and it wasn’t popular in their time so they never grew a liking to it. This is the epitome of the nurture side because it shows that their environment shaped the way they look at a genre of music.

We are all under the influence of both factors but they both play different roles in determining who you are. Your nature lays the foundation and framework for who you are but your environment is what fills it in and constantly is changing. What your environment teaches you then is laid atop your nature and lead to the construction of you. Sometimes these two can conflict with each other as what your environment tells you sometimes doesn’t follow the values that your nature has. A good example is with peer pressure and how a lot of your environment is based upon what is popular because if it is popular it is more prevalent in your environment. However what is popular isn't always right and what your instincts tell you could be the complete opposite of what your surroundings are. I feel that in these situations, your nature is more important because it is less biased and more stable than your environment and if it has led you up to this point without too much harm then I would say your nature is pretty reliable. Just like a house, there aren't many radical changes done to the base but the rest can get remodeled or moved around just like the furniture in your real house. The foundation provides comfort and is a place of haven when we revert back to it but we still need to build upon our values and such or you would never grow or improve your life. Knowing the origins of what is influencing helps you determine what you are.

If there is one thing that you should get out of this note is that humans are, by far, not a final product. Nobody is perfect and who we are constantly changes as time passes. I think the best way to think of us is like a rough draft where it is constantly being revised and improved upon for as long as we live. We undergo a journey or self discovery through life and I think a lot of people are confused about who they are. They aren't sure what they are deep down or they might not like what they see so they try to hide it. I think being fake is worse than not knowing who you are because ignorance can be bliss sometimes and by covering up your true self or not realizing what the truth is, you can be causing terrible consequences to ensue. Like in the Great Gatsby, Gatsby was trying to make his life a fairytale and clinging on to a past and not willing to acknowledge the true Daisy anymore and caused his life to end terribly. If you aren't satisfied with who you are you should try to improve your life and make it how you want. With that said, there is a fine line between becoming something else and being something you're not. If you make the best of your life and stay as true as you can to who you are then your life will be as successful as possible regardless of what you are a product of.

-Allan Nicholas

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