Nature, Nurture, Both, Interdependency… Life?

Reading “The Dependent Gene” by  David S. Moore (2001). He’s pointing out that genes and environment together are not enough to explain differences between say, identical or even conjoined twins raised in an identical environment. Talking about a concept of developmental “noise”  – and I’ll see where’s he’s going with that – but it seems a good moment to point out that the differences he’s pointing out, such as personality differences between identical twins, need more of an explanation than just “noise.” If it comes to that, behavior outside the lab/office is not static and is made up of millions of infintesimal conscious choices and personal expressions among other things.

What I’m thinking at the moment is that life itself is the missing component, although I think what he’s getting at is an interdependent cooperation between genes and environment. He’s already said that the goal of science is to understand in such a way that intelligent intervention becomes possible. (Interestingly enough, this appears to be the point of James’ Pragmatism, rather than a global statement that absolute truth doesn’t matter and only expediency is important – it’s a statement about the goals and methods and limitations of science, particularly psychology which is of course a soft science.) This brings in the mystery of will or intention to the scientific process. The recognition of will and intention in the subject of science – in the organism and its development – is something that seems terribly important to Josh and me.

But life is even more than intention, growth, and sentience. It propels growth and development. The dead cells genes are presumably inoperative as long as they remain in the dead cell. Thought of like someone running, the processual course of life must be imperfect – it wobbles from time to time as it pushes an organism’s developement, producing the occasional case of mismatched eye color and assymetrical hair counts and so forth.

It’s also interesting to watch the struggle between various scientific viewpoints. More contemporary viewpoints eschew intervention (alternative medicine and anthropology are perhaps the most notorious proponents of this viewpoint) which has come, to me, to seem like a sterile sort of nature-goddess worship – the underlying assumption being that nature left to itself is completely desirable and even good.(And, as the author of my book points out, that nurture is or ever can be divorced from nature or is unnatural in some way.)

Loving the book – we’ll see where it ends up and whether it yields any more arguments against the silly pop-culture assumption that homosexuality is a trait that some humans are indelibly stamped with at conception by way of their genes.

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