Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The ancient roots of modern misconceptions.

Finally, I have found the philosophical origins of the common view that our abilities, including creativity, are predetermined at birth. In Lecture 2 of "Great ideas in psychology" Professor Daniel N. Robinson mentions that the idea goes back to Plato's Republic, a highly influential philosophical treatise written about 2,400 years ago. Here's the paragraph I believe Robinson refers to:

Citizens, we shall say to them in our tale, you are brothers, yet God has framed you differently. Some of you have the power of command, and in the composition of these he has mingled gold, wherefore also they have the greatest honour; others he has made of silver, to be auxillaries; others again who are to be husbandmen and craftsmen he has composed of brass and iron; and the species will generally be preserved in the children.
Nevertheless, Plato did not see this as a Nature vs Nurture issue. Rather, he believed that education was essential to the development of one's natural abilities.  Though over time, his Nature & Nurture approach turned into today's Nurture vs Nature debate about IQ and general intelligence factor.

tags: creativity, philosophy, psychology

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