Is Being Human Nature or Nurture?

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It seems like a no-brainer, that we are humans by birth and until death. But perhaps we can turn out to be a whole variety of things. Take the Oxana Malaya for example.

Oxana was abandoned at 3 years old and was raised by wild dogs until she was 8 years old. In the video, she is actually 22 years old, and is showing what she "learned" and how she lived. She is what psychologists call a feral child, "one who, from a very young age, has lived in isolation from human contact, unaware of human social behaviour and unexposed to language," (Grice, 2006). It's easy to see why these feral children are an important part of the nature versus nurture debate. At the time the article cited above was written, Oxana was living in a community living home for the mentally disabled. She had to re-learn how to walk, eat, and speak.

Do you consider Oxana a human being? In my opinion, she isn't completely human. And when she was found, I don't think she could even be considered human. She has been so far removed from the psychological norm for humans, that I don't think she can ever be human like us. While nature is definitely a strong factor in creating us as individuals, the power of nurture should not be underestimated.

If the case of Oxana Malaya interests you, I suggest reading the article I have linked. And if you are interested in other cases of feral children, there is an entire National Geographic special on youtube. Part 1 is found here.


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I found this entry to be quite fascinating. Watching the YouTube clip definitely put your blog post into greater animation and I thank you for that. I find it bizarre that Oxana had to grow up living with dogs. The age range of 2-6 years old is definitely a crucial time for learning and it's apparent that Oxana had no choice in acting the way she did. When you ask if the audience considers her to be human, I agree with you when you say that she isn't completely human. However, I disagree with what you say about her not having a chance to ever be human like us. It may take time but I believe that if she is conditioned like a human, she will adapt like she did while being raised by wild dogs. Well done.

I would say she is a human, biologically and genetically. If she isn't human, then what is she? There are several people who are born without the ability to speak, or with severe cognitive deficiencies, that doesn't mean they are not inhuman because they can't speak or understand. It really depends on how being human is defined. If being "human" is being able to act in a socially acceptable manner, then maybe many of us aren't human either.

I found this very interesting as well. I think that she is technically a human being, but she is not the way most of us perceive humans beings. I think it is interesting because in the video she seems to be acting more like an animal than what we perceive as human beings. For instance, she is barking, and she is walking around like a dog on all fours. I think she is a human, and that she probably could act the same way that most human beings do. However, it would definitely take a lot of hard work.

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This page contains a single entry by seisx002 published on February 1, 2012 4:48 PM.

The big question. Nature or Nurture was the previous entry in this blog.

Nature or nurture?What determines human behaviour is the next entry in this blog.

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