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Nature and Nuture Debate

Updated on April 17, 2016

A Latin proverb once said that an ape is an ape even though it wears golden ornaments. This explains the inadequacy of the societal environment in shaping the life of its individual members. A sociological explanation on the matter will emphasize the critical contribution that biological and social factors make in the shaping of human beings. Being human is dependent on an adequate heredity and environment. By itself for example, the human social environment cannot overcome the limitations imposed by heredity. scientists have reported experiments in this regards using, baby chimpanzees which were socialized ad human children in houses.

However, evidence showed that they were not able to learn human traits as human children especially the use of language- the vehicle of culture and socialization. Other evidences indicated that chimps have the ability to learn various sign language, but such are not equivalent to human linguistic capabilities. Thus regardless of the ultimate linguistic potential of chimpanzees, they are far more adept at learning visual manual communications of the auditory-vocal processes central to human language.

Also even though there are reports crediting chimps to have learned to swear, transmits signs to one another, invent names, translate from spoken to sign language, and use words to joke, show emotion, their efforts are not truly equivalent to the symbolic manipulations of human beings. These reports, demonstrate that no matter how humans try to make chimps human, a normal human environment is not sufficient to enable chimpanzees to learn human social characteristics particularly language.

On the other hand, man is reported as the only one that knows nothing that can learn nothing, without being taught. He can neither speak nor walk nor eat, and in short he can do nothing at the prompting of nature only but weep. Researches reported above have demonstrated the limitations of even an enriched environment in the absence of an adequate heredity. on the other hand, the above report, points to the fact that even heredity alone cannot prevail in the making of a human being. Researches with isolated children have revealed the importance of the social environment, more particularly, social interaction in the development of the human personality.

Two children whose names were identified as Anna and Isabella were extremely isolated from human interaction before they were discovered under different circumstances. Even though they are of age, they were not able to act like human beings in all respects- language, manners, or doing anything that showed intelligence. However after some time of interacting with people, these children started learning human traits.

Reports have it that Anna died at about ten, but before then, she was able to acquire various skills and capabilities that she could never have realized in her original condition of isolation. Isabella it was reported began to learn human traits. Within two and half months of her first vocalization, she was putting sentences in books, write well, add up to ten and retell a story after hearing it.

At fourteen, she had passed the sixth grade, appeared to be a bright, cheerful energetic child; and participated in school activities as normally as other children of her age. She was reported to have married and raised her own family. The reported cases of Anna and Isabella point to the importance of social interaction for the development of the human personality.

From the backdrop of the foregoing therefore, one can conclude by saying that personal identity is not something we are born with. It is a combination of genetic bias, the sensory information we receive, our educational and cultural inheritance. Thus an individual-member of society is firstly born and secondly made.


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