Nature-versus-Nurture: which is more important in a person's life?

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wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Two phrases--“more important” and “a person’s life”—need clarification here.  Importance is a measurement against some standard, some benchmark.   More important to…?  A person’s athletic abilities?  A person’s ability to reason? A person’s moral code? Etc.  And a person’s life—do you mean Success?  Longevity?  Happiness?  Helpfulness? etc.  But the two elements that make us who we are—the genes we were born with (nature) and the upbringing we experienced (nurture)—work hand-in-hand.  An athlete, for example, may have been given natural abilities—size, strength, mobility—but in order to excel in this area, he or she must be taught (nurtured) to work on those muscles, sinews, etc, as well as become nurtured to work hard, to avoid instant gratification, to bring intelligence to the sport, etc.  Without nurture, the natural gifts are wasted; without the natural gifts, nurturing good habits will only bring the athlete so far.  This is an oversimplification of how the two influences work together.  “A person’s life” is more than physical or financial success.  And moral/ethical values are not given at birth (unless you count survival instincts).  So the answer to your question: these are pairs of influences whose important can only be discussed once values are in place.

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