One still comes across, with depressing frequency, articles which ask whether nature or nurture is responsible for a human trait. The writer posits some debate or argument which he or she imagines is engaged in by academics around the world.
I suggest that “nature”, all by itself, plays no part whatever in developing a person’s characteristics. Nature doesn’t have exclusive access to the individual at any point.
“Nurture”, all by itself, plays no part whatever in developing a person’s characteristics. Noone can nurture another person without a consideration of how that person has been affected by environment, heredity and so on.
What does create them is a third thing. That third thing is a prior, complex interaction between “nature” and “nurture”. It is this interaction which drives the development of the characteristics. I don’t mean nature and nurture together—that’s two things. I mean this interaction.
If you take a taxi to London, the driver by him or herself doesn’t get you there. The car, by itself, doesn’t get you there. Not even the driver and the car together get you there—imagine the former standing beside the latter, smiling for the camera. No, it is the interaction of the two which provides the service.
So, it’s not nature and nurture working together in some sort of a team. It isn’t nature + nurture. It’s nature × nurture .
Luckily, I am not alone in this view. Allan Schore makes the case for nature × nurture in a much more nuanced and detailed way than I could in this interesting video.
by Jeremy Marchant . © 2015 Jeremy Marchant Limited . revised 1 june 2015 . image: Free images