More than 80 years ago one of the core figures in American anthropology, Franz Boas, noted this and saw that we are influenced by the world around us and that, at the same time, our actions shape and influence that world, as well. We are biological organisms, but the totality of the human experience cannot be reduced to either specific innate (biological/nature) or external (environmental/nurture) influences. Rather, it is a synthesis of both; we are naturenurtural. The anthropologist Tim Ingold tells us that “to exist as a sentient being, people must already be situated in a certain environment and committed to the relationships this entails,” and these relationships are built up and modified over the course of our lives.
Unfortunately, rather than being open to, and interested in, this perspective, many people get uncomfortable when challenged to be critical of their common sense. Realizing that what we take for granted as a given in the world is actually a hodge-podge of reality, belief, and experience melded together into what only feels like the truth (and varies from person to person and culture to culture) is a hard fact to face. Few of us want to accept that we know much less than we think, or that the basis for many of our actions and perceptions are not “natural” but naturenurtural: emergent properties of how we live our lives.
then i took a deep breath, as if having been submerged for one second longer then is comfortable.