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What is meant by the claim that the human mind starts as a 'Tabula Rasa'?

 
 
Reply Fri 25 Nov, 2011 08:34 am
This question is, yet again, for another Philosophy essay- something that I really struggle with. Help and suggestions would be appreciated and used.
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Type: Question • Score: 0 • Views: 2,996 • Replies: 30
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Nov, 2011 10:15 am
@loopylu15,
Look up "nature versus nurture" and follow the references.
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Fido
 
  -1  
Reply Fri 25 Nov, 2011 10:54 am
@loopylu15,
The blank slate is about 99 percent garbage, but the one percent is significant... People are born with their personalities intact... If you ever have children you soon realize how impossible they are to change, and how flexible they are not... Five years later, or ten, or twenty, you can see that there was never a moment when they were not themselves, no moment when they became themselves... We always are who we were with a bit of who we are becoming... None the less, considering that one percent, we are still the slate we are written on, and always, but what is written on us at some points in our live can mark us forever... What Nietzsche said about what ever does not kill me makes me stronger is false in so many ways they cannot be counted... Love and nurturing makes us stronger... The problems we face, if they have some resolution may help us toward intelligence... But the physical and emotional injury we suffer in youth and in age we carry with us forever, and they are an impediment and a weakness...

Scar tissue is a great place for an infection to begin because it has such a poor blood supply... Once injured is forever weakened, and we are worse injured when the injury comes from those who should love us or say they do because they confuse the whole issue... As Lincoln said of politics, pointing to the Bible and the phrase having to do with punishment for a prophet: No injury is worse than one recieved in the home of ones friends... What strangers do to us, or enemies has little moment... What loved ones do can often injure us forever, and what is love if not an opening for anyone to do their worst, but it is out of children able to love and vulnerable to hurt that all suffering and injuring humanity are made...
0 Replies
 
G H
 
  2  
Reply Fri 25 Nov, 2011 12:39 pm
@loopylu15,
Locke was actually closer to Kant than what the latter typecast him as. That is, while denying that the mind came equipped with specific propositional content, Locke nevertheless did believe we are born with faculties for receiving and processing content delivered from experience. "Blank slate" has roots going back to the ancient Greeks and Islamic philosophers, but nothing much further happened with it till Locke seized the idea.

Animals exhibit a horde of behaviors and skills which aren't learned, so clearly narrow kinds of knowledge can be innate in the cognitive systems of agents -- not just the broad, "empty" conceptual structure of an operating system that needs to be there to begin with simply to apprehend and process new information.

But there's probably nothing innate in a mind/brain as literal propositional knowledge, although there may be innate syntactic templates. Which still require stimulation and reception from experience or sensory input to provide content and a specific language to manipulate (as well as to avoid the eventual atrophy of such pre-installed faculties if they go unused into late childhood). While the circuit relationships and stored states of an artificial computer's physical hardware can correspond to and be converted / translated back into the symbolic languages that its software was originally devised in the context of, it would be quite a a stretch to imagine evolution working with an underlying, formal language scheme as it haphazardly developed biotic brains over the ages.

Early philosophers were forced to resort to propositional activity as their "epistemic stuff" and conclusion-generation machine because that was the only practical medium for thinking and communicating -- as well as language providing abstraction and quasi-independence from the concrete world and its contingent entities, events, and circumstances. Scientists get to actually examine particulars and a posteriori matters (like a brain instead of mind; distinct beings instead of being-hood), but philosophy is traditionally concerned with the meta-levels or overarching principles and order that these localized particulars and activities conform to (or "ought" slash should conform to, when it's a prescriptive context).
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Nov, 2011 02:04 pm
@G H,
Fido and GH, excellent posts. I especially liked your last paragraphs.

Anthropology tends to favor--if not completely--the tabula raza perspective, at least insofar as it sees human thought and action as expressive of cultural conditioning (enculturation and socialization), i.e., the "human formation" of otherwise feral humans who are not too different from the "wild" animals that raise them.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Nov, 2011 10:37 pm
@JLNobody,
By the way, if the human mind does not start as a tabula raza, at least it will end up as one. Mr. Green
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Nov, 2011 11:16 pm
@JLNobody,
Sounds good to me! Cultural influence is a biggie as far as I have observed.

0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 10:02 am
@JLNobody,
In the past two decades there have been study´s specifically concerning the behaviour of homozygotic twins who have shown the major importance of genetic features on the structuring and conditioning of behaviour as far more prevalent to cultural features then previously believed and completely opposed to the entire seventy´s view who used to deeply emphasised the educational process thus largely disregarding the genetic elements as relevant when it comes to the specificity´s of behaviour who were believed to be almost entirely dependent on cultural processes...this is not to say that cultural processes themselves and education are irrelevant which would be a blunt lie, as attention to detail is important, but to make a case on the idea that human beings are far from being born as an empty vessel, a "tabula rasa" which can easily been moulded and filled up in any wanted direction prevented as strict educational conditioning is set in place from the very start, as Victorians used to believe...in fact with some shock and surprise it was observed by the investigators that twins brought up in completely different cultural backgrounds (adoption), often in opposite sides of the world, would display similar tendency's in supposedly freely chosen patterns of behaviour with a scary minutia/detail and many times in opposition to the corrective educational attempts on those patterns who were less favoured in such different cultures...
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 10:32 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
No doubt genetic considerations influence human behavior, mainly as PREDISPOSITIONS. But cultural factors remain the most influential. Hypothetically, if you raise a twin boy in a Chinese rural village and his brother in urban Manhattan you'll find culturally determined gross differences in their behavior, including their worldviews.
G H
 
  2  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 11:04 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Quote:
.... in fact with some shock and surprise it was observed by the investigators that twins brought up in completely different cultural backgrounds (adoption), often in opposite sides of the world, would display similar tendency's in supposedly freely chosen patterns of behaviour with a scary minutia/detail and many times in opposition to the corrective educational attempts on those patterns who were less favoured in such different cultures...

Supposedly there are some cases of one identical twin turning out to be gay and the other straight, or one seeking transsexual modification while the other is content with their gender (concerning even those growing up together). An indication of why we shouldn't forget that even the hormonal / biochemical environment that a developing fetus is exposed to can stray the individual from the possible trajectories of their genetic scheme. (This, of course, depending on whether or not the twins had separate placentas and amniotic sacs, or whatever combination affords some isolation from each other to get a major differentiation between the two).

It's also been discovered that the epigenetic patterns of identical twins gradually become dissimilar over the course of their adult lives, but this would probably be less a factor during childhood and adolescence.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 11:08 am
@JLNobody,
Mind that I agree with the importance of cultural factors although I must disagree with the usefulness of claiming any more importance on one side against the other, once the relation between both factors it is so highly symbiotic that it makes no sense to try to comparatively separate them in a meaningful way...
I mean what it would be like for a personality to go without genetic predispositions in the first place, or the nonsensical consideration of an "empty vessel" without the influence of "software" in the second ? How legitimate is the attempt to make such a division and get something valid out of it that one can objectively measure to make such consideration ?...to my view the issue is essentially political in nature and reflects the attempt of certain lobbies to try and influence the State investment input either in Education Culture and Art as essential for the Economic development of a country thus emphasising the importance of that element beyond what is needed to get an adequate feedback in an area often disregarded or set aside of any major investment specially in developing country´s, and I can understand that up to a certain point...
...nevertheless you responded as I was expecting regarding this matter, once your typical discourse belongs to the "old school" on this regard...
0 Replies
 
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 11:13 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

By the way, if the human mind does not start as a tabula raza, at least it will end up as one. Mr. Green

Your Latin spellings distract any readers you might potentially have from actually following your meaning - if any. Marking down posts however speaks volumes for your congenital lack of learning ability, so rest assured you're not likely to be corrected again - certainly not by me Smile Goodbye.
0 Replies
 
G H
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 11:17 am
@JLNobody,
Quote:
Anthropology tends to favor--if not completely--the tabula raza perspective, at least insofar as it sees human thought and action as expressive of cultural conditioning (enculturation and socialization), i.e., the "human formation" of otherwise feral humans who are not too different from the "wild" animals that raise them.

An expert on him might discern a few personality characteristics shared by both the Hitler we're familiar with and a more benign version of Hitler produced by alternate circumstances. But the traits probably would indeed be well obscured in a Hitler raised by wolves.
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Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 11:18 am
@G H,
...in full agreement with you !
...but if I were to speculate in that mentioned adult differentiation in those epigenetic patterns cause, I would probably place my bet in a genetic/evolutionary trigger justified by the need of trait and skill diversity during the most productive period of our lives to adequately integrate the amplitude of needs in small community´s which were the default background of our ancestors...of course this is just intuitive thinking upon the matter made here on the go...
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 11:30 am
@JLNobody,
There is a Spanish saying regarding uglyness (not racism) that goes :
"Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda"...which means : A monkey dressed in silk still looks like a monkey !
...Personality´s are no different to my view...
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 12:06 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
(edited)
Fil Albuquerque wrote:

...in full agreement with you !
...but if I were to speculate in that mentioned adult differentiation in those epigenetic patterns cause, I would probably place my bet in a genetic/evolutionary trigger justified by the need of trait and skill diversity during the most productive period of our lives to adequately integrate the amplitude of needs in small community´s with a limited genetic pool diversity which were the default background of our ancestors...of course this is just intuitive thinking upon the matter made here on the go...
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 12:25 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
One could also say that a monkey completely disguised as a human remains a monkey. But what's your point in bringing up that fundamentally racist saying?: Here in the U.S. (and in Mexico) it often refers to the notion that members of "lesser races" remain inferior even when highly educated. And this reference is only made by inferior whites.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 12:41 pm
@JLNobody,
Then we have a problem in context because in here the peninsula the saying it is applied to distinguish bad taste attention seekers socialights from trully bright people with discrete good taste...nevertheless the saying is valid as intelligence is somthing that cannot be tought...the massive failure on the miraculous transforming power of education and its silly high ground expectations as the prevailing mediocrity all around developed countries, religious growing paranoia comes to mind speak for themselves...your humanisthic little utopia as failed !
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 01:00 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
(...from the mobile phone to the PC the text is corrected. My apologies to the more English sensible eyes... Embarrassed )

Then we have a problem in context because in here, the peninsula, the saying it is mostly applied to distinguish bad taste attention seekers socialites from truly bright people with discrete good taste...nevertheless the saying is valid as intelligence is something that cannot be taught...the massive failure on the miraculous transforming power of education and its silly high ground expectations as the prevailing mediocrity all around developed countries, religious growing paranoia comes to mind speak for themselves...your humanistic little utopia has failed !
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 02:00 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Yes, the saying may be also applied to the "new rich" in the U.S.. Here it woulde merely applies to bad taste and presumptuosity.
 

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