Guns Germs & Steel = Nurture over Nature?

I did a quick scan of threads discussing GG&S and couldn’t find one on this topic - if I missed it, please help me out with a link and we can shut this one down straight away.

Anyway, the Thread Title sums it up. Given GG&S’s basic premise - that no human ethnicity is genetically superior, and Western Europeans ended up with the societal advantages of Guns, Germs and Steel due to a unique combo of environmental factors - does that translate to Nurture being more important than Nature?

I am struggling with this, but it seems like a logical conclusion - if all peoples start off the same place genetically and WEuro’s have ended up in a position of power and conquest due to their environment - that’s Nurture more than Nature, right? And yet we also have increasing evidence that certain behaviors, mental approaches, etc. have a basis in our genes, i.e., Nature over Nurture. I recognize it is a rhetorical dichotomy but am curious how the conclusions of GG&S inform the discussion.

Perhaps I am confusing a micro question - shaping of an individual’s personality due to N vs. N - with a macro anthropological analysis?

Any thoughts?

I think that’s exactly what you’re doing. “Which is more important, nature or nurture?” is an extremely vague question that only makes sense in the context of specific information about specific genetic/developmental outcomes. It doesn’t translate very well to macro analysis.

In this case, I think the confusion is obscuring the fact that, as the anthropologists keep telling us, genetic diversity within sizable human populations is just as great as or greater than genetic diversity between such populations.

So yes, while it’s quite true that many physical and mental characteristics are determined more by genetics than by nurture, I don’t think you can extrapolate from that any conclusions about outcomes on such a huge scale as this. How populations consisting of millions of individuals in different geographical regions develop over millennia to produce what we consider an overall “societal advantage” for one of those populations is just way too big a question to answer with simple “nature versus nurture” reasoning.

I’d say yes you are. Mostly.

My position, as expressed in other threads, is that individuals personalities are, mainly, the product of nature, and that their values are more significantly influenced by nurture. That said, societal values are, to no small extent, influenced by the biolgical predispositions of society’s members.

Each individual will “succeed” or not based on the match between their personality (and inherent strengths), their learned values, and the environment in which they live. Being born into a family which valued education and had the resources to provide it allowed me to achieve a certain eductional level and the particular social rewards of that status, for example, but if my same personality and strengths were born into a different family with a lack of resources and different values I would have been much less likely to achieve that status. But since individual personalities and strengths vary greatly, my nature would possibly still play a significant role in my outcome.

Each individual society may be made up of similar individuals biologically and the “personality” of societies may very well be more nature, being as they all result of the same interaction between its people. But the values of societies are very different and the opportunities presented to different societies are very different. each society will “succeed” or not based on the match betweeen its personality/inherent strengths (inconsequentially different between large populations), its learned values (a product of the history of the culture), and the environment in which it exists. Since the “nature” of societies vary little, societies’ learned values (“nurture”) and individual circumstances would play a larger role.

Therefore while variations in individual character and “success” are products of both nature and nurture, societal character and “success” varies much more according to differences in nurture/circumstance than in nature.

IMHO.