View Full Version : Do you believe this?

mad pierrot
22-06-04, 09:39
I came across this quote today.

"For the most part we inherit our opinions. We are the heirs of habits and mental customs. Our beliefs, like the fashion of our garments, depend on where we were born. We are molded and fashioned by our surroundings.
Environment is a sculptor -- a painter.
If we had been born in Constantinople, then most of us would have said: 'There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.' If our parents had lived on the banks of the Ganges, we would have been worshipers of Siva, longing for the heaven of Nirvana.
As a rule, children love their parents, believe what they teach, and take great pride in saying that the religion of mother is good enough for them."

-Robert G. Ingersoll, American politician and lecturer

Since I didn't know who Ingersoll was, I looked it up. Apparently he was a travelling orator of great importance in the 19th century.

The question is, do you think he's right? Do we inherit our opinions? Granted, "we" are certainly exposed to more in this day and age then ever, are we still just a product of our environment? (Albeit a complex one.) Yes, I know this is the old nature vs nurture question, but I'd like to hear other opinions. I actually pulled this quote from a debate about the war in Iraq. "Us" vs "Them"

- Not intended to offend anyone's beliefs.
- Maciamo, do you think Jared Diamond would agree with this?

Option 3 was "Both, you m o r o n."


22-06-04, 10:09
When you're young you aren't capable of making dicisions of in wich "god" you believe in and you are most likely to follow your parents religion....but as you grow older you can make own dicisions of what you believe in.. :-)

22-06-04, 11:03
I make my own decisions bases upon ideas absorbed from the environment around me. If you told me an apple is blue then I'd say its blue and as such decide that grass is also blue.

22-06-04, 13:09
It sounds to me like Ingersol hasn't thought enough about what he's talking about...


but then, the quote can't really cover the scope of the issue he's addressing. Still, his opinion is interesting.

mad pierrot
22-06-04, 14:15
Well, he was born in 1833....

He also said this, which I found pretty funny.

"With soap, baptism is a good thing. "



About his first quote: I know I'm reading too much into this, but...

"As a rule, children love their parents, believe what they teach, and take great pride in saying that the religion of mother is good enough for them."

I wonder how many people have rejected their parent's system of belief to be rebellious.

22-06-04, 14:37
Rejecting your parent's belief can be done easily. Rejecting your parents is another step, one that can be very painful but so liberating.

So I vote both. But the environment takes a back seat to the self.

22-06-04, 14:57
I believe that most of our ideas come from our environment, but not necessarily as directly as it may seem. There are trends of opinions for people of the same generation raised in the same country or region, because they were educated similarily and have experienced similar events at the same age, which ultimately have shaped their opinions and values. But personality also play an important role, and in every country there are extremist and moderates, mystics and scientists, intellectuals and manuals... Therefore, it is not because someone is born in a very religious environment that they will necessarily believe everything they are told naively. In every society, there are critical minds more independent of their environments than others. These are always a minority, but they have always existed. These people like to defy received ideas. Examples are Gallileo, Luther or Nietsche. So, we are inevitably influenced by our environment, but that doesn't mean that all of us receive our ideas from it, eventhough opposite ideas due to a reject are a consequence.

22-06-04, 18:57
Yes, there's a lot of truth in that. You could say that our personalities aren't ours at all but a mishmash of traits observed from other people, etc.

If you take it far enough back, humans probably copied various animal behaviour to evolve to the mindset we have today. Nothing is really original, if you think of it this way.

However there are always pioneers. People who act totally uniquely (at that point in time), people who think up whole new film/music/art genres/styles, and then everyone else adapts theirs to make new ones. We're running out of ideas heh :P

There's a quote I read a while ago, and I'll be damned if I can remember who said it, or the exact content, but it was along those lines. Grr.

mad pierrot
23-06-04, 11:02
Then you'd believe in the tabula rosa ? (spelling?)

That we are all essentially blank slates when we are born, and our lives experiences are the writing?

Although I voted both, I'm starting to wonder if there is truly such a thing as a independent thought. Perhaps not.

23-06-04, 14:15
Chomsky said that humans are not a tabula rasa( rosa is pink ), because we have something of our own when we come in the world, and he said that this thing is language.

mad pierrot
23-06-04, 15:29
Language comes pre-packaged in the infant mind?
I can believe we come with the proper hardware for language, but not the software. Language is learned.

tabula rosa :D :sorry:

23-06-04, 21:40
Yes but, the child's formulation of words differs from one to another. If we came in blank, then we would all speak in similar style, in similar sentences. When children pick up the language, they don't knwo the rules, they just know wat sounds right.

Lina Inverse
23-06-04, 23:16
Both - we can make our own decisions, but are also influenced by the environment

Language comes pre-packaged in the infant mind?
I can believe we come with the proper hardware for language, but not the software. Language is learned.

tabula rosa :D :sorry:
Of course no language comes pre-installed, so to say. A long time back, people thought so, and started an experiment, because they wanted to see which is the root language that is learned without any interaction. You'll most probably know "Kaspar Hauser". The result was, no language is learned at all!
Also, little infants learn language exclusively by social contact with a live person, as was revealed shortly ago. Little infants, all native English, were divided into three groups. The objective was to differeciate between sounds in Mandarin Chinese which do not exist in English. The first group were taught these sounds in personal contact with a native speaker. The second group got to watch a video recorded from exactly the same native speakers who spoke exactly the same as to the first group. The third group didn't get to hear the Mandarin sounds at all. The result was, only the first group was able to differentiate the sounds afterwards. The results of the second group were identical to those of the third group, they didn't learn anything at all.

24-06-04, 01:39
IMO, nothing like free will exists. We are individuals, because we all are different from each other. But our opinions are not formed out of the blue. They are a mixture of our inherited setup (IE genetics/instinct) & experience (IE social environment).
"Free will" would be if we could develop our thoughts independently, but that's not possible. We are able to make decisions, we can follow new paths, even develop new paths. But all of this is limited by biological & social environment.

24-06-04, 03:25
Well said Bossel.