Generational Nurturing

Underneath the issues that we recognize on television are broad ideas that are more familiar to philosophers than politicians.

Democracy does not trust the average person with these concepts, and instead encourages him to fight over them in disguise. The issues we think are fundamental are the disguises; the underlying truth are these abstractions that determine, based on whether we think they’re true, much of our approach to government, society and morality.

A striking example is the nature/nurture debate. It is universally framed in the context of the individual: how much is any one individual’s character a result of his or her genetics. Nature determines genetics, and nurture is upbringing and environment which does the rest.

Even those who vehemently deny nature have to admit that there is some measure of innate character passed between generations. We have each seen too many examples to deny them wholly. We can bicker over the exact ratio of nature::nurture, but we all know that at least some of the process is nature.

We can shine more light on this dynamic however if we abandon the individual and instead look at the process over generations.

When humans started living and working together in tribes and communities, certain innate attributes were unnecessary or counter-productive. Slowly but surely the people with those attributes were shunned, exiled, impoverished or otherwise encouraged not to reproduce as much. This is natural selection in action.

But imagine that a wise man from a tribe gets the idea that the tribe can save time if he puts its values into writing. He makes a list of what attributes the tribe values, or he writes laws, or he writes stories that essentially teach those values. We might call this culture.

Successive generations refer to these writings and now they know who to exile and who to reward. They are able to quickly separate the deviant from the stalwarts thanks to this “inter-generational nurturing” manifested in the writings of the wise man.

With this in mind, we can see how the basic character of your children is in fact innate and the basic character of your ancestors was also innate. But the reason these ancestors reproduced is that the tribe valued their innate attributes and not the opposite. The codification of values simply amplified this process.

It is in this sense that this generation’s nurture is next generation’s nature.

The contradiction within modern thinking is the idea that an individual’s nature can be completely and utterly molded or changed thanks to “nurture” alone, and yet that generational nurturing and the wisdom of the past are too rigid. This is a failure to understand that the real fruits of nurturing are manifested over many generations, not in any one lifetime.

We can produce a better future society the slow way or the smart way.

The slow way is to deny that there is any such thing as an innate nature, thus we should not shun ne’er-do-wells or deviants, thus natural selection becomes a crap-shoot.

The smart way is to pay attention to the great stories and great works of art that have stood the test of time. To create the future, we must trust the wisdom of the past and reward the people that most resemble the heroes, leaders, and wise men over Western Civilization’s rich history.

18 Comments

  1. Esotericist says:

    This explains why different societies produce different results. Take for example a group of over-achievers who move to a northern climate for stability and freedom from tropical disease. This will have a different ethos, thus a different culture than other groups and this will shape them genetically toward a different standard.

    1. Esotericist says:

      I’m sure we can see this in the animal kingdom too. If a flight of sparrows splits up, the ones that go north will become serious little birds like the Swedes, but the ones that land on the Canary Islands and thrive in the balmy weather will become over-cerebral and lazy like the French.

    2. Ted Swanson says:

      This also speaks to the idea of pan-nationalism. If we really want to celebrate diversity and multiculturalism, societies and cultures need to be more exclusive than inclusive. It’s been said that multiculturalism as we are practicing it results in monoculturalism. Native cultures become a Disney version of themselves and the world becomes an amusement park.

      I want my Swedes to be really really Swedish. I want my French to be really really French. In this sense, the different colors of the rainbow become truly vibrant and distinct. The foreign is truly foreign. That is a more interesting world.

      1. crow says:

        Agreed. I’ve been claiming this forever.
        I used to really enjoy a trip to Morocco, but hated having it thrust in my face every time I walked out my front door, in London, UK.

        1. Ted Swanson says:

          These days your vacations come to you! Haha!

          And on the flip-side, if I actually do take a trip somewhere I don’t want it to be exactly like back home. What fun is that?

          1. crow says:

            Hey Ted, you speak-a my language :)

            I often get the feeling that leftists would like the whole world to be one giant Club Med, liberally sprinkled with McDonald’s.
            It’s the stuff of nightmares.

            1. A. Realist says:

              Or one giant California-style shopping mall, liberally sprinkled with propaganda about equality, peace, love and diversity.

      2. A. Realist says:

        Multiculturalism is just liberal class warfare disguised as racial tolerance. Their idea is that if they smash all elites and force them into racial and cultural chaos, the only rule left is the liberal rule of law that demands total equality. It’s a power grab by parasites and nothing more.

    3. I want the society I live in to be more like the over-achievers.

    4. A. Realist says:

      This is the essence of natural selection.

      One individual or group moves ahead and becomes more successful, has more offspring and then those drown out the corresponding genes of the rest.

      Our society is bigoted against any standard higher than the mediocre. What does that tell us?

  2. Sun says:

    The entire “nature” vs. “nurture” paradigm, invented by “social scientist,” is a flawed concept to begin with.

    It suggest the these two areas are separate yet equal forces (although I would say that this society believes more strongly in environmental determinism) and if it isn’t one it is the other.

    “Nurture” falls under nature as one aspect. You can have cells without societies (although some would argue organelles as being a “society”) but you can have societies without cells. “Nurture” is made up of “nature”and either inhibits or activates multiple genes. Genes can activate and influence the world outside of us too. “Nurture” is one more aspect of biology.

    However, “nurture” can only go far. Because biology is not only inherently plastic and but also behaviorally as well. The economic and cultural consequences does not eliminate any “nature” factor but rather confirms it.

    1. Meow Mix says:

      Good point. Steve Pinker demolished the Left in his now-classic book, The Blank Slate, in which he argued that contrary to popular liberal discourse, the ‘nurture’ aspect of humanity is in fact directly derived from genetically-based behavioral dispositions. He goes on to cite a list of human universals, for instance, that exist in every culture on earth, dispelling the bogus ‘tabula rasa’ concept that is so popular among Marxists and other associated refuse. He also goes on to explain how IQ, behavior, and even the tendency to adopt certain political ideologies is largely heritable. Most controversially, he insists that ethnocentrism is a human universal as well, which suggests that even if the Leftists created a planet of identical cultureless, raceless clones, the inhabitants would inevitably break off into competing subcultures.

      1. One of my favorite books.

        He’s spent the last two books arguing for more polite topics in order to atone for his shocking attack on blank slate ideology.

      2. A. Realist says:

        The point of the article seems to be that nature and nurture are inextricably related and that the liberal desire to separate them is what causes total confusion. I’ve read some “blank slate” propaganda and it’s total rubbish. You’d have to believe we all come from a rubber stamp machine and later they paint on faces, skin colors and social classes.

  3. crow says:

    My goodness…
    My wife had to point out to me that Ted was the author of this piece :)
    Sorry Ted. It was good enough to have been written by Brett, and so I assumed it was.
    Doh!

    1. I wish I’d written it! But luckily Ted did (and let us have it).

    2. Ted Swanson says:

      Hey, great minds think alike. And there’s an old saying in golf: Nice drive. You’re right next to me!

  4. Uland K says:

    The Boomers will some day stand accused of squandering our hard-won cultural heritage. They received all the benefits it had to offer, only to invert it , wishing to take it for all it was worth.

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