Time to Retire The Simplicity of Nature vs. Nurture

Luci Gutiérrez, Sakai Blog, Feb 07, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

In a nutshell, if you read betweeen the lines, the verdict is in: nurture wins. Here's the redefined version of the problem: "culture is a biological phenomenon. It's a set of abilities and practices that allow members of one generation to learn and change and to pass the results of that learning on to the next generation." Except that - 'culture' is the wrong word. The right story is this: "Each generation could learn new skills for coping with new environments and could pass those skills on to the next generation." Our genetic heritage is very basic: we are creatures that lean (and not just us; any neuron-based brain has that capacity). And when we arfe in an environment - be it a culture or a rainforest - we learn from that environment. As the environment becomes more complex (as it does in a continuous culture) the so does our learning. We study culture to understand what we learned, and learning theory to understand how we learn (p.s. I now realize that Edge is associated with literary agent John Brockman, which now explains to me how they select their experts; I had always wondered about that).

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