• Question: Are we born with a certain path in life or does it set out based on the choices we make in our life?

    Asked by exit353can to Robert, Olly, Nicola, Jasmin, Dennis, Caroline on 12 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Oliver Clabburn

      Oliver Clabburn answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      This is a really good question which has been the subject to many a debate over time! I think that to some extent we are ‘born’ into a certain path. Take for example the place/country we are born, or perhaps the family we are born in to. However, I think that we are all able to choose and pursue different pathways and life choices.

    • Photo: Dennis Relojo-Howell

      Dennis Relojo-Howell answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      This is related to the nature-nurture debate. I am more inclined to say that a great deal of what happens in our lives is due to the decisions we make.
      But of course, there are things that make things easier for other people. If you are born from a rich family, for instance.

    • Photo: Robert Dempsey

      Robert Dempsey answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      I would like to think that we have a choice in terms of where we end up in life, but there are some factors which may advantage or disadvantage some individuals which may be outside of our immediate control (e.g. social class, money/affluence, aspiration). I personally don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of what I do and I’m not a fan of the idea that where I am today is purely down to genetics or something else ‘nature-based’. I think some of the best things that have happened to me have been the things which have really challenged me and/or have been when things haven’t quite worked out – I’m not that convinced that there’s a set path to life… but I would happily buy a hat and eat it if I’m wrong 🙂

    • Photo: Nicola Johnstone

      Nicola Johnstone answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      This is a very philosophical question and I don’t think that as a scientist I can answer!

    • Photo: Jasmin Moon

      Jasmin Moon answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      What an interesting and very philosophical question!
      Whilst I am in no way a philosopher, my personal view is that we can choose our own path in life, but often our personalities, personal experiences and interests lead us to be drawn to some career paths more than others.
      It’s also worth remembering that people often change careers and re-train multiple times in their lives so nobody should feel ‘stuck’ doing just one thing because there are lots of opportunities out there.

    • Photo: Caroline Brett

      Caroline Brett answered on 15 Jun 2019:


      I really love this question; it is something that we all ponder at various times in our lives!
      I would like to think that we aren’t stuck with the path that we are born into, and that the choices, and effort, that we make can change our path. In reality, though, I think it’s a mixture of both.
      If you’re interested in reading more about this issue, there is a lot of information and discussion out there on ‘social mobility’, which is part of what you’re referring to – the idea that someone moves up or down in status (whether measured by income, occupation, or something else) compared to their parents. I’ll not go into details here because although it’s something I’m interested in, and have published a couple of papers on, it’s not my area of expertise and I’d probably get it wrong. But I encourage you to do your own research as it’s a really interesting area 🙂

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