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Human instincts

  1. Sep 20, 2010 #1
    I've found very little about the actual definition of human instincts! Besides reproduction, perhaps violence, & one or another item, seems there should be a list! We are known to be a social animal, which, to me, means that gatherings & mob mentality (not only in the negative sense), are our instinctual drives. This instinct along with our musical instinct & a belief in a higher power , gives reason to believe that religion is another instinct. Singing the praises of our Lord; however defined, is critical to our evolutionary path. In order to evolve, seems we must gather & sing (or groove in any respect), with The One beat, that our intelligence has enabled us to broadcast around the globe?!!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 20, 2010 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Superstition and belief in the supernatural has always been with humans. Ghosts, fairies, mythical creatures. Also, whenever there is more than one human, there is a natural tendency (practical, as well) for there to be one that becomes the leader. Of course what's more powerful than pretending that you can talk to invisible creatures or have the approval of or be in cahoots with the supernatural creatures that people fear?

    BTW, religious discussions aren't allowed here, neither are personal theories.
  4. Sep 21, 2010 #3
    OK Evo:
    Didn't mean to get religious here, just thought that, maybe, instincts have an evolutionary purpose. Belief in a higher power seems an instinct. Seems as such, religion, as a belief system, could be thought of, as an instinct as well. A discussion if instinct's purposes & our ability to identify them, would be a discussion of interest.
    It's also been theorized (not by me!) that our removal from our "wilderness" surroundings, has removed us from discovering our instincts. With this I disagree.
    Groove On
    Ken Elkind
  5. Sep 22, 2010 #4
    You touch on a subject groovist that is one that I find very fascinating. My perspective on it is very different to yours, quite apart from the point that I take a completely rationalist, non-religious view. My problem is that in truth, my view is no more scientific than yours. I’m certain that what I’m about to offer is more insightful than your original post, but if any one challenges my assertions – and I’m sure people will if anyone notices and cares a hoot about what I’m going to say – I cannot back it up with any hard scientific data.

    So, I assert, it is vital to grasp the difference between human behaviour that is instinctive, which I am equating to genetically programmed, and human behaviour that has nothing whatever to with genetics but is part of what might be regarded as an emergent capability of human beings. Behaviours that are purely instinctive are fairly basic behaviours. Not just the instinct to eat and seek sustenance, or the instinct to find shelter, but the instinct to turn and flee when presented with immediate danger, and yes, even the instinct to stand and fight to protect your own interests. But it is an obvious point that human behaviour is far more complex than that, and I contend, that complexity cannot be explained by investigating the interactions of amino acids and proteins.

    Now you should know that there are some scientific heavyweights who would not agree with me. My great scientific hero – Richard Feynman – believed that quantum physics would ultimately be able to explain every human action. But I am going to invite huge raspberries from all of Physics Forums most respected by having the temerity to suggest that, on this point, I believe he was wrong. It is pretty clear that some behaviours are part of our genetic programming. I even understand that there is powerful evidence that our fundamental capability for language is hard-wired in our brains. But, it seems to me, the greater part of complex human behaviour is a purely emergent capability.
  6. Sep 22, 2010 #5
    The desire to self-maximize goals that have emotional weight?

    Wealth (some people), status (some people), free time, etc.
  7. Sep 25, 2010 #6
    Problem with comparing humans with the general idea that fits in with other intelligent organisms is that we are much much more intelligent than them. The amount of difference that exists in mental capability between our closest relative genetically, the chimpanzee is huge compared to that between the chimpanzee and our second closest relative the gorilla. So all the basic instincts have now blurred and mixed with many other natural mental tendencies to form what we call social behaviour in general.
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