Nature vs. Nurture – turning a newborn baby into a tiger

Q. What does an image of a newborn baby have to do with tigers?
A. More than you might at first imagine.

Nature vs. Nurture - turning a newborn baby into a tiger
Sumatran Tiger

Searching through various images of tigers, no matter how awesome, powerful, beautiful, wise or magnificent the photograph of the creature was, none of the images I found resonated with the spirit of what I was trying to capture in this blog.

Obviously I needed to come at this from different angle completely. Instead of thinking in terms of a powerful image (of the ‘tiger’ that we can all become), I worked with the ‘softer’ idea of the ‘latent power’ that we all have within us (that will ultimately allow us to become that ‘tiger’). This approach led me to the image you see here – the iconic, classic black and white ‘Athena-like’ image popularised during the 80’s – the strong male character gently embracing the helpless child.

The circle of life…

The image sums up the essence of the blog in a much more subtle manner than the aggressive wildness of the tiger ever could. The newborn infant being nurtured and protected by the strong, parental hands; holding inside the infinite potential of a new life-force. Tomorrow’s world changing equivalent of Martin Luther King, Ghandi, or Mother Theresa? Or perhaps a great inventor, a breakthrough scientist or doctor, an Aldous Huxley, a Jackson Pollock, or Stephen Hawkins?

Or perhaps ‘just’ your average mother or father, proud, strong, loving and supportive of their equally helpless child. The never ending circle of life, generation after generation.

The nature vs. nurture debate continues…

Going back to the title of this post, Wikipedia informs us that:

“the nature versus nurture debate concerns the relative importance of an individual’s innate qualities (‘nature,’ i.e. nativism, or innatism) versus personal experiences (‘nurture,’ i.e. empiricism or behaviourism) in determining or causing individual differences in physical and behavioural traits.”

We can trace modern use of the phrase ‘Nature versus nurture’ to the English Victorian Francis Galton, who was influenced his cousin Charles Darwin’s book “On the Origin of Species”.

What Shakespeare had to say…

Going further back to the early 1600’s, when the Bard had Prospero say:

“A devil, a born devil, on whose nature, nurture can never stick”
(“The Tempest” Act 4, Scene 1)

he is suggesting that the basic existence of the ‘beast’ (Caliban) could never be influenced by his surroundings; he ultimately ‘reverts to type’ when he reacts based on his instincts.

The nature versus nurture debate has actually been going on since 1582, when Richard Mulcaster wrote his book, “Nature Makes the Boy Toward, and Nurture Sees Him Forward” – giving us a statement that still evokes debate today.  Modern psychologists generally view the question as being rather naive and outdated (a sort of single cause fallacy) – since both factors play such intertwined roles in human development.

Finding our own path…

I happen to think that – in nature – we all have the same access to the same universal (literally, and energetically) building blocks – that is, we have infinite scope to achieve almost anything.  However, the environment, circumstances, people around us and other external influences throughout life, will always nurture the raw materials in infinitely different ways.

Somewhere between these two positions, we must find, shape and follow our own path – ensuring that we enjoy the journey itself, rather than just focussing on the end goal.  Which sounds like the subject of another post to me!

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”
– Jack Kerouac

What do you think? Please share your comments below – and share the CommentLuv!

About deancarlton

Leader | Business Change Consultant | KJ | Yachtsman | Yoga & Meditation Teacher | Unleash the Tiger Within & release the POTENTIAL + VALUE in People & Business
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8 Responses to Nature vs. Nurture – turning a newborn baby into a tiger

  1. Rob says:

    Hey Dino,

    Love The Tempest. Been a while since I’ve read it, but is in my top 3 favorite Shakespeare pieces.
    I think nurture and nature play a defining role. But, I also believe that we can reshape both to create what we want if it isn’t to our liking. Similar to feeding ourselves a healthier diet and seeing the effects.

    Live it LOUD!

  2. deancarlton says:

    Bang on – could not agree more, Rob.

  3. Dude, love it. The nurture thing always amazed me. Makes you wonder what might be prevented if people knew at an early age what those influences were doing / could do to them. At least, always made ME wonder, haha…

    Nice post!

  4. kathy parr says:

    In my opinion, nurture has a greater influence compared to what you are in nature, in example, a child, an innocent one, knowing only how to call his Dad and mom, based on how he is raised, that is how he is going to be eventually, nature plays a very minimal role in this example.

  5. I think the idea of epigenetics is also very interesting and also a very nice addition to the nature vs. nurture debate. When talking with older adults, it seems that they have their minds completely made up and that it’s either one or the other-never both. But being able to assign a scientific relation between the two in my opinion can really help advance our knowledge and future findings for this popular question.

    • deancarlton says:

      Whoa! I had to go and check that one on Wikipedia! It’s Friday night, I just had a curry, it is 23:45 and I am just pouring my second beer! Perhaps I will leave further investigation of epigenetics for another day……! Perhaps I need to do a follow-up post on that!

  6. I like the idea of nurturing a child to become a productive citizen. Kids are the nation’s future. Just look at orphaned street urchins. Without proper elderly guidance, they roam the streets like savages. They can become potential criminals when they become adults. I met one.

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