Archive for October, 2012

Taboo: Nature Or Nurture?

Posted: October 30, 2012 in Defining Taboo
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For centuries the subject of nature vs. nurture has been debated amongst humankind. Are individuals created by society, so that they may become what their surroundings make them, or are individuals meant to be what they are through their genetic nature?

Although this isn’t the right setting to add to this debate, I do wonder about this idea in regards to taboo. It would seem that taboos are socially created, made only by the process of interacting with others and what a community has structured around their lives. If only one person existed would their still be taboos?

In many ways, taboos need a viewer to exist. Without a viewer as well as a doer the act of taboo lessens to almost he point of non-existence. Yes, a person could have certain taboos that could function as taboos even if they were by themselves; however, many taboos are controlled by shame. The shame of letting down the community, harming the community, doing other than the community wants, helps to perpetuate taboos.

For instance, if killing animals for food were taboo, then it seems likely that one would be more likely to kill an animal for food if they were alone and knew no others would find out. Whereas a community setting would lower the chance of a person breaking a taboo, any taboo will eventually be broken.

Although laws stop many from breaking laws, still laws are broken despite the consequences. Always, taboos (and laws) will collapse. If records are meant to be broken, then so are taboos, even though the very nature of taboo exists to not be broken.

Overall, we are nurtured into taboos. And yet the fact that all societies have taboos raises the question if taboos are somehow ingrained into our very nature.