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Instinct

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I pose this question: "Do humans possess instincts?"

In essence, i'm asking if you believe that humans have accurate knowledge of how to be successful without ever being in a certain situation, or if their environment influences their knowledge. Just taking the mindset that knowledge does exist. So, is it pre-known or learned?

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Well if you consider how much of our behaviour is learned environmentally and how much of it is genetically programmed into us, you should be able to pull up some very interesting studies re: identical twins and so on, and there are also some excellent animal studies -- for instance how does a bird know which song to sing if it's not taught by its parents? They did a real experiment and determined exactly how much is and isn't genetic.

The question then, as it's clear (in my opinion) some of our 'knowledge' is built into us, is is it necessary to distinguish this sort of knowledge from acquired knowledge? And, of course, can 'born' knowledge be considered knowing something?

For instance we know automatically that food is dangerous for us if we smell that it is rancid, whether somebody has told us that or not before, we are repulsed and it makes us feel ill. But how many people would consider that 'knowledge'? It seems to me there's a difference between knowing that it makes you ill and simply feeling physically nauseous in response to a smell the body is programmed to reject.

This is definitely a 'how do we define knowledge' type question, in my opinion.

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Yeah, and you can definitely use the Human Sciences in this.

The applications of Garcia's taste aversion with Coyotes also has applications with humans. Studies have shown that people who undergo Chemotherapy treatments have taste aversions to some foods. The food isn't what caused nausea (taste aversion) but rather it's a reaction due to classical conditioning between nausea causing drugs, and the food.

When you do this though, you have to make sure that you address the difference between "nature and nurture."

Also, there is some degree to which using "Biological/Genetic" determinism can be harmful, as there are some things that are learned in the world, such as language, but which are affected by biology.

An example of this was through little "Genie." The girl was isolated from virtually all human contact for the first 13 years of her life. When she was discovered, she didn't have any concepts of HUMAN language. Even though she was successfully rehabilitated, she was never able to learn much language. This shows that there is a "critical period" where language must be learned, showing that biology has an affect on learning language, but also that we must learn language from our environment.

I know that this really isn't instincts I just wanted to give you an example of how to think about it lol.

The other polarizing option against Biological/Genetic Determinism is Environmental Determinism, that we are born a "Tabula Rasa" and we learn all BEHAVIOR completely from the environment.

As seen through other things I said, this isn't necessarily true, as with Biological Determinism, but both have their points for and against them lol.

Edited by JoeGuff

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You can tell you guys have done psych!! =D

There's heaps of studies linking instinct to animals, so maybe you could comment on the ability to be generalised/lack of for humans of such studies.

Also, genie is a great study to use, but I'm pretty sure it was Genie's study (by Curtiss) that changed critical period to sensitive period, because Genie showed that you can still learn language (while limited) after having past the critical period of development.

Gibson did a study on 'the visual cliff' that might relate to this. I'm pretty sure he used both baby animals and baby humans and placed them on a table half wood half glass to test if they had depth perception based on their reluctance to walk on the glass when called from the other side. I can't remember what the baby humans did, but either way it should provide some stuff to talk about as it would show/support that depth perception is innate/instinctual or not. Hmm, I'm going to revise that now as that knowledge would not be enough for my psych exam in 4 days baha

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thanks for the input guys! anyone have any ideas that are relative to plato's ideas and beliefs? (arguements)

specifically to the world of univerals (forms) and particulars

Edited by Sandwich
Please edit your posts to add more to them, not make multiple posts! :)

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I know that my TOK teacher brought up "Plato's cave" when talking about ideal forms. It was about people who were brought up normally, but facing a cave wall(s) for their entire lives. Behind them and outside of the cave, things would cast shadows upon the walls, and this is what the cave dwellers would interpret as actual reality. For instance, if they saw a shadow of a cat, they would think that was an actual cat, as that was they only representation they ever saw of it. So, there entire world was a "shadow of reality."

Then one cave person was then taken out of the cave and into "reality" where he learned about the "real" world, learning that the cave had only reflections of the outside world.

I'm pretty sure that "The Cave" comments on ideal forms. The shadows are a metaphor that objects of our world, and in the cave are only shadows of ideal forms. The world outside of the cave in the story represents the ideal forms. The inability of the people inside the cave to see the real forms, and their ability to only see "shadows" of the real forms comments that our reality is only mimicry of ideal forms lol.

I'm really sorry for the wordiness, I tried. :console:

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thanks for the input guys! anyone have any ideas that are relative to plato's ideas and beliefs? (arguements)

specifically to the world of univerals (forms) and particulars

I really can't think of any way to connect Plato's World of Forms to the concept of instinct :console:

Plato did say some extremely crazy and messed up things about instinct and people's natural states being influenced by what "metal" they are made out of, but to be honest I think that's one of those bits of his work which people tend to skip over.

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Yes, I believe humans were born with natural reactions to certain situations which happen automatically usually depending on what kind of environment you live in.

For example I love in the Middle East and it's totally different than being born in Europe I assume. The things I learn here are different because the situation I live and learn in is not the same and so people living in Europe might have a different reaction by being stuck in a thunderstorm than if it happened to me.

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