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> Have we replaced our animal instincts?
coberst
post Aug 27, 2009, 02:23 AM
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Have we replaced our animal instincts?

We are also creatures “prone to anxiety, extremely helpless in his natural state, almost entirely devoid of instincts.” Therein lay the paradox. ”Instead of remaining free and broadly adaptive, the new symbolic animal immediately became ‘symbolically re-instinctivized’ almost as solidly as the other animals were physio-chemically instinctivized.”

Sapiens evolved into creatures with symbolic structured modes of behavior. Human consciousness extended wo/man’s reach to infinity—wherein infinity is within the extended reach of human imagination. We are creatures with the ability to create symbolically a virtual reality that extends out to the limits of our imagination.

Evolution has programmed the animal world to act automatically in certain ways under certain conditions. Humans have lost a good bit of these programmed responses because we have an ego that places our responses on hold until we have had time to reflect and construct a non-programmed response.

Humans create the world we live in; it is a virtual world constructed principally because of the neurosis we have developed in the first five years of our life.

If we try to think about a virtual world I think we must start with a natural world so that we have a starting point, something with which we can compare. What is a natural world? Is it what we ‘see’? Is it the ‘thing-in-itself that Kant tells us about? Depending upon which is a natural world I think we can begin to realize that the world we live in is a virtual world. We are creatures who create symbolic worlds that are more important to us than the world we ‘see’.

Water boarding is a good example of what we feel about death. Being sentenced to death for a crime is a good idea of what we think about the importance of death. The things people do to prolong their life one more day is a good example. We have been very successful about hiding these anxieties from our self that we have created an inferior culture in our pursuit after something that we do not allow our self to think about. Self deception is our greatest enemy and our closest companion.

I am claiming that the reaction we feel when water boarding or claustrophobia is that very fear of death. If someone asks me what is the fear of death I will say that if they can imagine the feeling of being water boarded they are feeling the fear of death. Our rather blaze attitude that we say we feel about dying is our self deception.

This fear of death that we work so hard to hide from our self is one of the major reasons that we have created a virtual realty and this virtual world we have created is going to kill us. Now ain’t that ironic?

Quotes from Escape from Evil by Ernest Becker

Do you think that humans have replaced the basic animal instincts with symbolic type instincts as the author notes?


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Endless_Metal
post Aug 27, 2009, 07:50 AM
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I like your argument, however, I have an issue. You say we may have lost our animal instincts in place of a symbolic instinct system. First lets define "instinct"

Instinct

n.

1. An inborn pattern of behavior that is characteristic of a species and is often a response to specific environmental stimuli: the spawning instinct in salmon; altruistic instincts in social animals.
2. A powerful motivation or impulse.
3. An innate capability or aptitude: an instinct for tact and diplomacy.

adj. (ĭn-stĭngkt')

1. Deeply filled or imbued: words instinct with love.
2. Obsolete. Impelled from within.

Now that that's out of the way let me ask this. When dealing with symbols, one must use powers of cognition in order to interpret, relay, and respond to symbols. Are powers of cognition inborn in the case of leaping back from a fire when burnt? Or does that require something more than biological and environmental stimuli?

I'm essentially a determinist so I would say that at it's heart, we are all still just bi-products of instincts, it just depends on your perspective tongue.gif
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coberst
post Aug 27, 2009, 08:51 AM
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QUOTE(Endless_Metal @ Aug 27, 2009, 07:50 AM) *

I like your argument, however, I have an issue. You say we may have lost our animal instincts in place of a symbolic instinct system. First lets define "instinct"

Instinct

n.

1. An inborn pattern of behavior that is characteristic of a species and is often a response to specific environmental stimuli: the spawning instinct in salmon; altruistic instincts in social animals.
2. A powerful motivation or impulse.
3. An innate capability or aptitude: an instinct for tact and diplomacy.

adj. (ĭn-stĭngkt')

1. Deeply filled or imbued: words instinct with love.
2. Obsolete. Impelled from within.

Now that that's out of the way let me ask this. When dealing with symbols, one must use powers of cognition in order to interpret, relay, and respond to symbols. Are powers of cognition inborn in the case of leaping back from a fire when burnt? Or does that require something more than biological and environmental stimuli?

I'm essentially a determinist so I would say that at it's heart, we are all still just bi-products of instincts, it just depends on your perspective tongue.gif




Drawing conclusions about the human psyche based upon untutored common sense is as justified as drawing conclusions about QM based upon untutored common sense.

We can see only what we are prepared to see and we comprehend only what we are prepared to comprehend.

When I study a domain of knowledge that is new to me I do not try to insert my common sense untutored intuition in place of what the expert is writing about that domain of knowledge. I will over ride the expert with my own judgment only after I have studied the matter for a good amount of time. One cannot learn anything if they trust their uneducated common sense before that of the expert.

I think that we would be wise if we were to place our common sense reactions on hold until we had developed a comprehension of the domain of knowledge in question. If we reject all new stuff that is contrary to our common sense we will never grow intellectually.

Ego says, HOLD IT, TIME OUT!

The ego is our command center; it is the “internal gyroscope” and creator of time for the human. It controls the individual; especially it controls individual’s response to the external environment. It keeps the individual independent from the environment by giving the individual time to think before acting. It is the device that other animal do not have and thus they instinctively respond immediately to the world.

The id is our animal self. It is the human without the ego control center. The id is reactive life and the ego changes that reactive life into delayed thoughtful life. The ego is also the timer that provides us with a sense of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. By doing so it makes us into philosophical beings conscious of our self as being separate from the ‘other’ and placed in a river of time with a terminal point—death. This time creation allows us to become creatures responding to symbolic reality that we alone create.

As a result of the id there is a “me” to which everything has a focus of being. The most important job the ego has is to control anxiety that paradoxically the ego has created. With a sense of time there comes a sense of termination and with this sense of death comes anxiety that the ego embraces and gives the “me” time to consider how not to have to encounter anxiety.

Evidence indicates that there is an “intrinsic symbolic process” is some primates. Such animals may be able to create in memory other events that are not presently going on. “But intrinsic symbolization is not enough. In order to become a social act, the symbol must be joined to some extrinsic mode; there must exist an external graphic mode to convey what the individual has to express…but it also shows how separate are the worlds we live in, unless we join our inner apprehensions to those of others by means of socially agreed symbols.”

“What they needed for a true ego was a symbolic rallying point, a personal and social symbol—an “I”, in order to thoroughly unjumble himself from his world the animal must have a precise designation of himself. The “I”, in a word, has to take shape linguistically…the self (or ego) is largely a verbal edifice…The ego thus builds up a world in which it can act with equanimity, largely by naming names.” The primate may have a brain large enough for “me” but it must go a step further that requires linguistic ability that permits an “I” that can develop controlled symbols with “which to put some distance between him and immediate internal and external experience.”

I conclude from this that many primates have the brain that is large enough to be human but in the process of evolution the biological apparatus that makes speech possible was the catalyst that led to the modern human species. The ability to emit more sophisticated sounds was the stepping stone to the evolution of wo/man. This ability to control the vocal sounds promoted the development of the human brain.

Ideas and quotes from “Birth and Death of Meaning”—Ernest Becker
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