Nature versus nurture


Janet Gonzalez

Good and bad: The representation of this matter depicted with a devil and an angel.

Janet Gonzalez, Reporter

Does good come naturally or is it taught? Every supervillain has a dark and tragic origin story involving abuse or being dropped into a volcano. But then there are stories of criminals with the sweetest of parents, where they were known as the brightest child in the community one day, and then they become rampant serial killers the next.

Does evil lurk within one’s body until something makes them tick? According to psychologist Mark Nielsen, in a study done at the University of Queensland in Australia said, “Scientists have been finding this odd effect where children will copy everything that they see an adult demonstrate to them, even if there are clear or obvious reasons why those actions would be irrelevant.”

This brings up the question of whether humans are being taught to be good or evil. Does the environment around one affect that entirely, or is it something natural that must be stopped from escaping one’s inner body? “Humans are born good and innocent,” said senior Timothy Villafana. “However after they are born, they are modeled after their parents and for the most part become what their parents are.” It begins with encouraging their child to say ‘mama’ or ‘dada’. Junior Samantha Marin said, “They are just influenced by what they decide to surround themselves with or grow up around and later eventually choose how they perceive themselves or carry themselves.” But what of the cases where a toddler steals a cookie or a toy?

The Merriam – Webster definition of selfishness is described as “seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.” Is a human born with this until they are told it’s wrong, or is selfishness taught? For centuries, philosophers have gone and wondered this very question. “Humans are capable of doing evil things – we know that now were they capable of doing that when they were born or is that something they learned? Humans in their animalistic sense can be really dangerous but philosophers over time believed we have grown past that, now that we have understood things like morals,” said history, government, and economics teacher Mr. Self. “In order to talk about morality, we have to have a good sense of what is right.”

The Greek philosopher Aristotle is notable for his theory regarding human behavior. Aristotle believed that the plain difference between man and animals was rationality. With rationality comes process, which can only mean that anything a human does has a reason. Perhaps stealing that cookie had a darker reason behind it, or perhaps it was simply a mimicked behavior.