Causal determinism is, roughly speaking, the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.A little more background, I have a 13 month old child. Observing her develop sparks many ideas about parenting, education, learning, etc. My daughter, Jamie, has been a hilarious baby. Jamie knows how to work a crowd. She picks up what makes people laugh and give her positive feedback. She loves laughing and positive feedback. I don't think this makes her unique or special; I'm sure it is universal.
Readers you should know what I mean by "true" or "own personalities." Writing philosophy is tough. Terms and words need to be unpacked, defined, and or explained. I'll try to be concise. I'm going to stick with the terms baby, child, and parent to sum up the interactions between children and whoever provides them care.
Today's Rant: Children are sculpted by their parents/caregivers/family/environemnt, so babies/children have no chance to develop their own/true personality.
The Argument (I'm working on this. It's a mess)
1) Genes and environment control behavior and personality.
2) If parents dictate environment, offspring cannot create their environment.
3) If parents condition offsprings' behavior, offspring cannot create their personality.
Conclusion: Parents and genes dictate offsprings' personality.
The Reasoning and Analysis
I'm not suggestions that people's behavior or personality do not change or evolve later in life. I also know that friends, society, profession, schools etc. have huge impacts on personality. But by the time these events take place, offspring have been sculpted so finely by parents, environment, and genes that offspring have no agency in their personality or identity. I'm saying that, Jamie, you, and I have no influence over who we are. Our identity and personality is determined
My daughter is confirmation bias for my predisposition.
I watch Jamie, and she laughs because we laugh. My wife and I especially are creating her sense of humor. Something happens; Jamie looks to us; we tell Jamie if it is funny or not; Jamie laughs or doesn't.
One day Jamie randomly or accidentally made a noise. I don't know what the noise sounded like, but my brain processed it close to "was dat." Of course, I started mimicking and pointing to Jamie, which reinforced Jamie learning to say "was dat." It was hilarious and random, but it became part of her personality and our relationship. I could have ignored it. I could have heard something different. I could have thought that wasn't funny (maybe this sounds more like Chaos Theory or The Butterfly Effect).
Little things like this happen all the time. Now that Jamie is 13 months I can see how much I influence her. Jamie started head banging dancing last week. It's pretty awesome, and everyone loves it. So she keeps doing it. This along with everything else is teaching her what is funny.
I'll admit, I don't have full control over Jamie. I wish I did. When she gets hysterical, she has this unbearable screech. It's terrible and gives me a headache. But this behavior, and a few others, we try to change and condition.
Still I can't help think when I see her interact, how much "thank you"s, "no Jamie"s, clapping, cheering, etc shape her. She conditions us of course, but we condition her. Society conditions us, and we pass that on.
How much does each of my actions affect her? How many behaviors that I inhibit would have lead to what identity or personality?
There isn' a double blind study. She doesn't have an identity twin that we could not condition. And I'm not worried. My worldview doesn't care much. But it's a trip to think about. What if I was more compassionate or tolerant of her cries and screeches? Would she develop into a more "true self?" I don't believe in a true self personally, but it's a term that captures my idea best.
That's good enough. Please leave a comment if you're interested. I can add explanations where they are needed.