Friday, July 01, 2005

still stuck on "nature-nurture"

yet another post of mine to a simluation list...

I am familiar with Evo Psych and their central ideas. I find it interesting in a discipline that values the scientific method as highly as they presumably do that they do not attempt to use any kind of experimental method to isolate what they contend exists. They use comparative studies, inferential works, logic, etc., all good things; however they maintain that something called "human nature" exists without any direct proof. All I am attempting to do wtih netlogo is model something akin to their notion to see what could possibly develop.

RE: defintion of culture being vague...I would define culture for purposes of the simulation I am developing as the "knowledge" of food that is healthy or unhealthy (thanks to XXXX for that) and the subsequent ability to pass that "information" along to offspring. As noted originally, this particular simulation would not address the issue of "what is human nature" but would merely test if having knowledge is useful for survival.

RE: the story about the baby being left could very well be, that if true, said baby died due to lack of nurture; certainly, there are those studies from the 40's or 50's about children not being held, etc., resulting in decreased life spans, etc. Your story raises an interesting point, however...if it is not possible to survive without could one ever claim knowledge of what is inherent to humans, i.e., that which is separate and distinct from nurture and call it "human nature?" If nuture is required for survival, then how could we ever claim to have the ability to know what is inherent to humans?

If we cannot know, then why continue to talk about something called, "human nature?" I know that many people use the notion to explain much, but creating a notion and then attributing causality to it without ever really identifying what the notion is, is intellectually lazy, IMO. Also, if that is the case then "the devil made me do it" is on the same par with "people are violent because it is human nature;" no one has seen "the devil" nor has anyone seen "human nature," so how do we evaluate the veracity of one claim over the other?

RE: culture has too many does the physical world, yet the complexity of it has never stopped any serious scientist from taking the time to examine it and report on findings. There is no doubt that humans are complex; so far we know a lot about our physiology and little about much else.

This is why I question the notion that something called "human nature" exists -- it is a scientifically unproven concept; purely mythical at this point, yet there are many, many people who claim to know much about it. IMO, this is not very good science (again if we use the traditional methods of scientific inquiry -- isolation, testing, controlling, etc. as the criteria for establishing knowledge). Actually controlling for culture is quite simple -- no contact with another human being; people are cultural people, no culture. Practically absurd, but experimentally sound.

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