Stephen R. Covey died on the 16th of this month. He was the writer of the famous personal management book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The news of his death was a small feature in the newspaper. Yet it caught my attention because coincidentally, I happen to be reading his book these past few weeks. I am still reading the introduction to the 7 Habits and am finding it very insightful already. In this introduction, one of the many things Stephen talks of is human nature and behavior, and the factors which determine it.
He lists what he calls the 3 determinsims of human nature:
- Genetic determinism, which says that I do something because its in my genes.
- Psychic determinism, which means that I do something because I have been raised to or taught to do it.
- Environmental determinism, which means that I do something because I have been forced or shaped to do so by my environment.
All of human behavior is a combination of these 3 factors. Stephen goes on to argue that these 3 factors exist in not just humans but even in animals and what separates us from animals is our ability to choose our response. We can choose what combination of these 3 factors will affect our response in a particular situation. This choice is what we call free will. This separates us from other animals.
Stephen compares this to the programming of a robot. These deterministic factors are like the programming which govern out behavior. But we are different from robots in the sense that we are aware of this programming and have the power to choose whether we want to follow it or not. This is what makes us more than animals or robots. This is what makes us human, with an infinite range of capabilities, able to perform concious actions and having the ability to own the responsibility for the same.
To be continued...