Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Question of Why.and Which.....

I was talking to a couple of friends last night and something came up in the course of conversation that made me start thinking of why it was that an individual prefers one choice above another. Some have believed that the preference is due to cultural upbringing, which conditions the child to a certain "bent of mind". I adhere to the value and necessity of an affirming culture, but are all our choices due to cultural conditioning?

As I am the only one that knows and has experience my family, culture, and innate nature, I will "consult" my memory and share my questions.

I was brought up in the South; strong, and proud of its heritage. I have come to appreciate some of the pride I before distained. But, it makes me wonder why? Was my resistance, or "rebellion" of my Southern heritage because of my own innate preferences (biological determinism) or because of my nurture and its failures (self-concept)?

My family was conservative Baptist, but not fundamental in the true sense. I was "raised in the Church" and found friendships there. But, always longed to move to a large city (New York) and experience a larger frame of reference. Was this because I innately preferred large cities and a more liberal environment? Or was it because I didn't feel I "fit" or belonged in a provincial setting, due to family divorce and bad parenting?

In choosing friends in school, I didn't always choose those in the sororities or the popular bunch because I fear rejection and felt like tha "little guy" who couldn't "make the grade" was of value just as I had wanted to be. So, while grandparents chose the doctors, lawyers and "Indian chiefs", I chose the "little guy". And while cousins became debutantes and sorority sisters, I chose to distain such distinctions. Was it due to my self image and fear of rejection or was there something about me as a "person" that innately did not desire such position?

In school, I never excelled or valued education, except for two years that I attended an experimental school that "tracked" individual students based on their ability. Since this was a new type of school there was no way for adminstration to know where to "trac me", when I moved from another school. So they put me in the bottom level of each subject. I worked my way up to the top level of every subject, even though it meant a lot of "catch up work". I was proud, but no one else was. So, I moved on to junior high school interested in finding friends and boys to "give me value".

So, which is it; nature, or nurture? I can't seem to tease out which is of more importance. I only know that it matters that environments be conducive for the individual to excel as far as possible and that includes many social/political dimensions of life.


scott gray said...


nature/nurture strikes me as one of those construct dichotomies we use to explain things, but the dichotomy itself isn't 'real.' instead of making the venn circles of nature and nurture exclusive, what if you place them at opposite ends of a gradient. what quality or characteristic is being assessed, or measured, or examined, as it moves from 'all nature' to 'all nurture?'

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I agree and the "model" is an interesting way to think about how one would approach the question.

I agree that we cannot tease out which is what, that is my point. But, one's environment, whether parenting, or cultural does add or detract from an individual's innate giftings, or interests.

Thanks for readin and commenting. Come back anytime.