Psychology

Psychological Perspectives on Free will vs Determinism and Nature v Nurture Psychology Sociology



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Some of us will be quite relieved when people stop thinking in the either/or binary system of black and white.  All things, are in shades of many colors, from rich saturated deep hues, to almost imperceptible tints.  There is no nature separate from nurture. There is no determinism separate from free will.

We are born into a continuum that continues second to second throughout all time.  Look at the big picture, the cosmos, and it is obvious that there are complex and intricate systems that constantly re-regulate and drive change and evolution. Big bang, then matter cools off into stars, and worlds, then life began. Suddenly one particle of that life rises up and declares:  “Hey I’m here, now my will and environment matters!”  Viewed in this way it seems rather comical doesn't it? 

Psychoanalysis gave us the idea that we are driven by unconscious forces within ourselves to exhibit different behaviors, which we call determinism. The idea of free will has been revisited by religion and philosophy time and again.  One wonders what place, if any, it has in Science?

Psychoanalysis almost entirely ignores Darwinian knowledge, that we are of the animal kingdom, and that we evolved and will someday be as evolved as sharks if just survive our technological adolescence.  We must wait and see if we survive successfully for 400 million years.  We now know we have DNA, and that our DNA is largely operated by switches, cues in the environment, which only operate when it is time for that switch to be flipped “on.” Our genes, then, are in our nature and our nurture, in other words.

It is more crucial than ever before in human history that we see ourselves as part of a larger system.  We can pontificate all we want about drives, unconscious desires, ideologies, and we find we have learned little of value about surviving our own cleverness.  We are easily mired down in the abstract.  While we stay mired and locked in with all our abstract ideas, the actual world of bio-diversity of which we were born, is impacted by our disconnection to our origins.

There is much discussion about inherent differences between male and female, between impoverished, and privileged, between educated and uneducated and more.  Constructivists believe in providing a rich and rewarding environment as a necessary means to learning resourcefulness.  Nativists believe you are just born the way you are born and your genetics will determine whether you achieve and function well.

Does anyone, any where, believe that these two things exist exclusively of one another?  That is, are there organisms somewhere that are all genes without place and time, or that there are place and time into organisms arrive without genetic make-up?

Pure nativist theory is true if our genes stay exactly as they arrive the day we are born.  Constructivist theory is true where a stable and non-dynamic place of constant climate and constant geology exists.  In other words, they cannot be exclusive of one another.

When we hear about school shootings, or poor test scores in impoverished areas, we do not need to ask whether it is due to “human nature” or “deprived environment.”  Both are factors, and always will be.  As for free will versus determinism, this is an artifact of thinking we are purely mental and abstract beings, without substance on the planet which gave us life.  We are animals and organisms on a world completely inter-dependent upon other flourishing organisms and systems.  If we have any free will at all, (which, we have if we choose to read, or not read on Helium, we clearly do,) we need to find the will to affect what we can for improving our relationships to one another.

From that starting point, we can realize our belonging and responsibility to knowing we are all on the same boat, and perhaps should start bailing out water.

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