Does our environment make us who we are? Or are we inherently different?

MonkeyZazu (@monkeyzazu) 8 years, 4 months ago

There’s no doubt that our surroundings play a key role in our development. But do they define us internally, or are we already defined internally? This is kind of in reference to the philosophical debate of whether or not we’re born with a blank slate as a baby, or that we hold some innate knowledge when we’re born. I started to think about this in the form of a thought experiment.

What if when we were all born, we were raised in the exact same way? For instance, what if when we were born we were all put directly into a box. Each one of our boxes were exactly the same in which it fed us the same food, showed us the same stuff, taught us the same lessons, gave us the same experiences, raised us EXACTLY the same way. One day after 20 years we’re all released from our boxes.

Do we come out being the same or different? Would we be “clones” of each other? Our physical appearance would probably a little different, but would our internal, mental, psychological make up be the same?

It’s somewhat hard to say we’d be different because the environment plays such a big role in our development, in which if we were raised in the same environment, would we not be the same? But it’s still kind of hard to say that we would be the same because of our current knowledge of different personality types, and depending on what you believe, different soul types.

February 13, 2014 at 8:32 pm
Matterhorn (22) (@matterhorn36) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

I think you define yourself. But what you are exposed to certainly plays a role in building your character. I, for example, was raised in a small town surrounded by simple-minded people. These people included my friends, acquaintances, and even family. Yet I always knew deep down that there was more to this whole ‘life’ thing. I began filtering the material given to my brain.
Imagine your character as a house. Society and media and family will begin handing you wood for your house. You as an unique individual choose which wood you want and don’t want. Does that make sense?
I began tossing away the philosophy my parents taught me(they think the world revolves around money) and started absorbing things I found on the internet, in the world, and within my own thoughts. When I was told the key to life is money, grades, and college, I rejected it and replaced it with happiness, experience, and love.
Bottom line, I think everyone is born with character imbedded in them. But, their environment can help or hinder the size of their character.

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Alruble (10) (@Alruble) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

In an absolutely perfect sense of this situation with absolutely immutable variables in exactly the same fashions, we would all be the same.

In the sense that you are describing, you have left out many variables, so we can clearly say no. Many would experience the arena around them in similar fashions, but the innate way that each of us is born to perceive would shape those experiences and cause differentiation. Each person is dappled with minute differences that shape the contours of our lives. It is too encompassing to claim that people are born with innate levels of anxiety, pacificity, aggression, and malaise, but genetics seem to point to those levels being absolutely true in many manners.

We would definitely not be mental clones. The short answer, potentially, is that humans are inexplicably amazing and diverse in their perceptions of experience.

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YHVH (462) (@spaceghost) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

Everything is influenced

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MonkeyZazu (1,865)M (@monkeyzazu) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

Mhm. But if we were influenced, in the same way, would we be the same? I’m bending more towards no because our insides are different. But what makes our insides different? If it’s the environment, how can the same environment make people internally different from one another? Something would already have to be different inside them.

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YHVH (462) (@spaceghost) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

My question to you is why do you want to know?

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MonkeyZazu (1,865)M (@monkeyzazu) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

To gain different perspectives to better expand my own understanding. I was hoping to get a little more broth from you so I could better understand your perspective on things. Everything is influenced seems obvious to me… but maybe that was the point.

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YHVH (462) (@spaceghost) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

I just have no clue how it would play out. Ethics would get in the way of the experiment you described. I’ve thought about it before, but in a different way. Like raising a person in complete isolation. No human contact ever. It’s hard to guess what would happen. It’s probably been done. Probably during WW1-2. All kinds of extreme experiments took place by several different nations.

I can’t answer your question though, as I continuously question what the fuck is going on.

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Ray Butler (1,423)M (@trek79) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

I’d say we would be different, people interpret things in different ways, we are naturally stronger in certain areas while weak in others. You have instinct and genetic disposition that a baby is born with, these variables effect how they process information, and people are often inclined to replace their nature with external knowledge in varying degrees and varying subjects.

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Ray Butler (1,423)M (@trek79) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

I’d say we would be different, people interpret things in different ways, we are naturally stronger in certain areas while weak in others. You have instinct and genetic disposition that a baby is born with, these variables effect how they process information, and people are often inclined to replace their nature with external knowledge in varying degrees and varying subjects.

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emptyminded (68) (@thoughtless) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

we would still be different, i know its just a hypothetical experiment but it would be impossible for us to have the same experience seeing as how our perspectives have a huge impact on our experiences. although experiences and belief systems ties together, the believer chooses what to believe, thus the believer chooses his perspective, therefore you can say the believer chooses his experience “in some sense”…

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MonkeyZazu (1,865)M (@monkeyzazu) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

I see. That makes a lot of sense. I think that’s what my cousin was trying to tell me the other day. He’s kind of hard to understand, so I wasn’t really getting what he was saying. He kept talking about something along the lines of reality, and how each one of us has our own subjective reality. You put it a lot better.

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JonH (1,139)C (@IJesusChrist) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

Its a very complex relationship – the environment can make the body turn off and on genes, and the genes that are off and on can influence how you interact with the environment. Essentially the paradigm comes down to;
You are not separate from the environment.

You cannot separate yourself from the environment, just as you cannot leave Earth’s gravity. It will always influence you, the way it influences you will change how you react to the environment.

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MonkeyZazu (1,865)M (@monkeyzazu) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

“You are not separate from the environment” keeps echoing through my head for some reason. Leaves me with separation as being an illusion of perception.

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Angela (17) (@preston.tobes) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

nature vs. nurture. I bet there are lots of HE threads about this and there is also a lot of psychological research about it.
or you could think about it from an existentialist perspective: does essence precede existence or does existence precede essence?

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MonkeyZazu (1,865)M (@monkeyzazu) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

So that’s the technical name for it, thanks. That’ll give me something better to go off of research wise.

That question is going to have me thinking for a min. I almost want to say essence. It seems more eternal to me. Existence, depending on how it’s defined, begins and ends. But you could see those as illusions in themselves. What I’m implying is that existence “comes” from something, while essence just “is” to me. These are just surface thoughts though.

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Angela (17) (@preston.tobes) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

I think that makes a lot of sense, what you say about essence and existence. Though if we tie it back to the nature vs. nurture (assuming we can), then this would imply that we are born the way we are and the environment can do little to change it. Yet, I think we can twist this a bit to fit what research tells us and what we think is rational (which is that nature and nurture both have significant impacts on a human). So to the question of “does existence precede essence or does essence precede existence?” we would say yes. Using your rationalization (which I like, it makes more sense than what I have thus far encountered), essence precedes existence. But this would be on a larger scale, as individual “existences” are derived from the more eternal “essence.” But what if you zoom into an existence, disregarding how it came to be? Then one could argue, to a certain extent, that existence precedes essence, as we and our environment can influence who we are as a person. So overall, we would come to the conclusion that essence precedes existence which precedes its own essence (to a certain extent). What do you think? (Also, if you’d like to research the “essence or existence” question more, you can look into existentialism (a philosophy) if you like. Have you heard of it before?)

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MonkeyZazu (1,865)M (@monkeyzazu) 8 years, 4 months ago ago

I like the way you think, and I agree. The way you described essence preceding existence preceding its own essence, makes sense to me. It reminds me of the self and the ego to a certain degree. If you see self as being essence and ego as the existence/environment, the ego interconnects with our own being, reflecting qualities of the self, creating a new diluted self, but in a sense the same self. When I look at it this way I see essence as also having to come from something too. Your we would say yes to whether or not essence precede existence or existence precede essence, is sufficient because depending on how it’s looked at, I don’t really feel a definite this or that can be decided.

And I think I have heard of existentialism, or have at least seen it tossed around HE before. Never really looked into it, but now I have a reason to.

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Anonymous (175) (@) 8 years, 3 months ago ago

No, we wouldn’t be. I believe our brains determine our personality, though it’s a complex mix of neurology, physiology and genetics.

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