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Principles of Human Nature Essay

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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 tha...


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...e answered. Contradicting opinions contribute to the ongoing debate of how far genetics really go (if at all) into determining full understanding and knowledge of human nature. I believe Wilson’s theory overrides Locke’s, in that inherited behavioral genes prescribed at birth are largely influential in determining the total outcome of behavior, and human nature as a whole.



Works Cited

Locke, John. “Of Ideas” Reading the World: Ideas That Matter. 2nd ed. Ed. Michael Austin. New York: Norton, 2010. 125-127. Print.
Powell, Kimberly. "Nature vs. Nurture - How Heredity and Environment Shape Who We Are.” "About Genealogy - Learn How to Research Your Family Tree.” About.com Guide, 19 July 2010. Web. 14 Sept. 2011.
Wilson, Edward O. “The Fitness of Human Nature” Reading the World: Ideas That Matter. 2nd ed. Ed. Michael Austin. New York: Norton, 2010. 144-149. Print.


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