Nature vs Nurture

[original post 2005-03-20] The Nature vs Nurture debate has been going on a long time. The debate is about whether we are more influenced by our genes than our upbringing (or not). Biological determinists favor influence by genes (“nature”); those of a psychological bent tend to favor upbringing (“nurture”).

This issue is sometimes politicized. Liberals often favor maximum influence by upbringing: for instance in the debate about women’s abilities at math & science, also the question of whether being gay may be a genetic predisposition.

This simple opposition has never seemed persuasive to me. If the two serious influences on people are genetics and upbringing then family members should be more like each other than they are. Many families have members who are manifestly different in some way (even counting “throwback to Uncle George”!), and certainly not easily accounted for psychologically as some kind of reaction against their family.

To these two influences I believe we should add a third – astrological influence. That family member marching to the beat of a different drum is often the odd one out astrologically too, their chart showing significant differences from other family members.

If we were only seriously influenced by genes and upbringing it should be easy to recognize the field of influence of each of those forces. I suspect there would be a tendency for one influence to have “won out” and become dominant over the other.  The presence of a third force – susceptibility to being influenced by cosmic forces – creates a triad in which all three forces balance each other. A 3-legged stool is more stable than a 2-legged one.

How astrological forces might exert this influence is a subject for another post, but possible mechanisms include influencing gene expression during embryo development and after birth, and ongoing influence of thought pattern & behaviour via neurological effects.

From an astrological point of view we should also note the implication – obvious but sometimes overlooked by astrology enthusiasts – that astrological forces are not the only thing influencing people.  Astrological “twins” may have many things in common, but they also have significant differences depending upon their physical (genetic) heritage, environment and upbringing.

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