Fundamental Principles of Human Nature
The heated controversy over how human beings develop their behavior, ideas, reasoning and other abstract traits has been in ongoing debate for centuries. John Locke’s “blank slate” theory of experience and sensation, and Edward Wilson’s theory of evolutionary biology and innate genes are both valid and apply to the development of human nature. It is has been proven through scientific research of the human genome over time, that both sides of this controversial subject are partially correct (Powell). However, I believe Wilson’s theory is the most reasonable and legitimate in influencing the outcome of one’s character.
John Locke’s theory states that the mind begins as a “blank slate”, and that the outcome of one’s character results directly from experience and sensation in developing ideas over time. He claims that all thoughts and ideas originate from “objects of sensation or reflection” (126), and all knowledge and reason is derived from the experience one undergoes. This theory contradicts Wilson’s theory in stating that “the mind furnishes the understanding with ideas of its own operations” (127), rather than furnishing the understanding based off of certain genes already prescribed to the mind prior to birth. Locke claims in his art article on the idea that any man could “examine his own thoughts (127)” and look into how he gained all his knowledge and understanding as a whole, and see it as none other than being a “collection of the objects of his senses or of the operations of his mind”. Therefore, Locke firmly believes there is no such thing as “innate behavioral genes” already prescribed to a person prior to having any experience or sensation whatsoever. However, I believe that ideas and knowledge originate partly based on the innate genes inherited, rather than strictly just from what one has experienced throughout their lifetime. Locke’s theory that all ideas and knowledge result directly from experience is quite reasonable, however I believe that experience only goes so far in determining the overall outcome of who a person is and the way in which they behave.
A common saying some like to say when referring to the way a person acts or behaves is, “Oh, she got it from her mother/father.” I hold this true to myself, being my own example, I know for a fact that I inherited certain unique qualities and behavioral traits from my mother and father. My older sister and I were raised together in the same environment for 18 years, under the same/similar circumstances, and it is quite obvious that although we share many interests and ideas, our personalities are nearly polar opposite. She is calm, patient, and extremely shy, which is strikingly similar to my father’s personality. I am very outgoing, impatient, and (unfortunately) emotional, which my mother finds humorous at times, seeing how we are...