In the twenty years that I have been researching human nature, I’ve come to understand that a new social theory is developing, one that was not possible before the new brain, anatomical and genetic sciences allowed human civilization to make huge leaps in the exploration of questions of our human origins, identity and society.
As a practical philosopher, I’ve presented nature-based theory in a number of books, including THE MINDS OF BOYS, THE WONDER OF BOYS, THE WONDER OF GIRLS, BOYS AND GIRLS LEARN DIFFERENTLY!, and WHAT COULD HE BE THINKING?.
Nature-Based Theory refers to a scientific approach to human nature that respects our past reliance on religion and social ideology, but also elevates hard science into equal partnership with religion and ideology in human identity development.
Until the last few decades, it has been important to define ourselves mainly based on religious ideas and stories (the Bible, the Koran, concepts of sin and salvation) and social ideologies (such as feminism or egalitarianism). And, of course, religion and ideology still remain a permanent marker in the human psyche. However, for nature-based theorists and practitioners like myself, the hard sciences (because they have advanced so much in the last two hundred years) are now just as important to human family and community life as religion and social ideology.
Neuro-biology is the hard science I mainly use as a foundation for my professional work and my own family and personal life. Neuro-biology is the biological study of the human brain and body in relation to its natural and social environment. For a nature-based theorist, there are three major elements of human development: nature, nurture, and culture. Neuro-biology helps us understand the nature of the human (the brain and biological composition of a boy or girl, for instance, that is transcultural, i.e. exists in all cultures), culture constitutes the iconography of a particular tribe, nation, society, or culture, and nurture is the nexus of nature and culture (parents, schools, communities nurture their children from a position between reading the natural signals of the child and selectively applying the tools provided by their culture).
Neuro-biology is a vast science, which includes neuro-psychiatry, neuro-chemistry, neuro-physics, and many others. Fortunately, today, these new brain sciences are not obscure—they are available to all of us via publications, media and the internet. I and others have tried to make them generally accessible through our writing. Perhaps most stunning, human beings can see ourselves on PET scans and MRIs. We can know ourselves in ways we never could before. In our potential knowledge of ourselves, we are not who we were when our religious texts were written, nor even our dominant social ideologies developed.
This website, the educational work of the Gurian Institute and my corporate training are devoted to the increase in human understanding of self, nature and society through hard sciences, especially brain science. If you are involved in business, education, social service, parenting, couples relationships, urban policy, therapy or any other professional and personal work that utilizes the skills and knowledge of nature-based thinking, please write me.
Nature-based theory and the new brain and genetic sciences are presently altering these disciplines:
- social science
- parenting and child attachment
- urban policy
- religion and spirituality
- corrections, juvenile justice and law enforcement
- medicine and physical health.
I hope you’ll enjoy exploring human life through the lens of the new sciences, and I hope you’ll bring these sciences into your own life and work in practical ways.