How virtuous are you?

What makes you what you are — and our success in life?

Let’s assume that the basic bedrock of success is intelligence.  If we ask psychologists what makes for intelligence there is general agreement that it’s 50% genetic and 50% environment.  We could now speculate a little by suggesting that 50% of the environment is due to the culture you absorbed from your parents, and 50% due to the external environment experienced after puberty.

Further, the latter could be due to physical circumstances — and contingent shocks — but also the friends we make and the socialization skills we acquire in the work and social groups we are comfortable with as we approach full adulthood at around the age of 30.

For most individuals with normal levels of testosterone their future lot is largely settled at around the age of 30 years.  For the more ambitious it depends on whether they have sufficient intelligence and ability to practise a myriad of new social skills in order to insinuate themselves into a higher social level.  More gratifyingly, members at a higher social level like what they see and offer a way into joining their group.

If we add up all the percentages for average individuals we have something like — 50% +25% +12.5% + 6.25% + 6.25%.  There’s not a lot of room there for individual decision-making is there?  If we do the same for an individual too ambitious to stay for long in any one adult group before moving upwards, we have — 50% +25% +12.5% + 6.25% + x% + y%, ‘x’ being environmental circumstances, ‘y’ being individual personality change and genuine free will when it comes to taking decisions. How virtuous are you?

2 thoughts on “How virtuous are you?

  1. Re: “We could now speculate a little by suggesting that the environment is 50% is due to the culture you absorbed from your parents, and 50% due to post-puberty external environment.”

    Children are impacted by teachers and peers from playgroups through middle school. Also, media such as tv and computers are ongoing influences. So limiting the driver to parents seems too narrow, although they are significant particularly during the first 5-6 years in my opinion.

  2. Keith, you neglect to mention one factor — luck. Life is a random draw. Where you are born determines nurture (the culture and the intellectual and natural nourishment), which of course is a matter of chance. What genes you inherit is also a matter of chance. What contingencies arise in your life is also a matter of chance, although within some recognizable limits.

    As I always say, it’s all karma, neh?

    (I should hasten to add that karma here means your actions, not some mistaken notion about karma as fate. Karma does not connote fate. As a principle, karma means actions have consequences and therefore what you have is a result of your actions.

    While I am at it, I should mention that another frequently misused Sanskrit word is nirvana. Nirvana does not mean paradise or heaven or some state of unparalleled bliss. Nirvana means extinction, the total annihilation of the entity. One has to exist to experience heaven or bliss. Nirvana is not a state that can be experienced since there is nothing that can do the experiencing.)

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