Instinct versus Rationality

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Reply Sat 29 Aug, 2009 02:58 pm
Human kind bears instincts similar to several animals on this planet, most notably other social mammals. However, Humans all bear a much higher sentience and ability to think than other creatures do. So, which is more important, thought or instinct?
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sat 29 Aug, 2009 03:12 pm
@Dunkler Schatten,
Perhaps it is not a question of which is more important, but one about which is more important in certain cases. If I am walking down a mountain trail, I would value instinct far more than reason if I stepped on a rattlesnake; if I am deciding on a new car, then reason would be more valuable. I would suppose there are instances when one would want to employ, as it were, both and both in various combinations would be valuable (begging the question of what is valued).

The question seems to ignore other differences between other animals and humans: the importance of memory, or the unique understanding of time (especially the future) by humans. Both of these are also important at different times.

But perhaps the most important difference is the ability of humans to create meaning.
 
Kat333
 
Reply Sat 29 Aug, 2009 03:33 pm
@Dunkler Schatten,
I think that they're both important. Instict is the 'base' of our mentality, and it's something we revert to when we don't know what to think, but what makes us unique as a species is our thought processing ability. Without instinct we wouldn't be around to HAVE thoughts, so I guess even for us instict is more important, but it's the 'base of the building', more. It's there to support the upper stories.
 
William
 
Reply Sat 29 Aug, 2009 05:51 pm
@Kat333,
Great thread Dunkler,

Dunkler_Schatten;86679 wrote:
Human kind bears instincts similar to several animals on this planet, most notably other social mammals. However, Humans all bear a much higher sentience and ability to think than other creatures do. So, which is more important, thought or instinct?


Instinct, without exception! We are only required to "think" when we are in a situation that is alien to us and we don't know what to do or afraid to do what external inertia is forcing us to do of which we are not "familiar with". It is what I call "complimentary sensory perception". Have you ever had one of those days when you just seemed to be "in tune" with everything surrounding you and everything was just "easy". For whatever reason you just said and did the right thing and the noise surrounding you just seemed to disappear and you were not "thinking" about anything, you just did what comes "natural"? Rationalization "requires" thought as then we must determine if we are going to "do" what that outside inertia is offering us or telling us "to do"; to do or not to do, that is the question, ha! Now in that case, in order not to think would require a great deal of "familiarity" with that which is offering and telling which would mean a trust would prevail such as that between a mentor/protegee. If only that existed between teacher/student or boss/employee? Oh well!

jgweed;86686 wrote:
Perhaps it is not a question of which is more important, but one about which is more important in certain cases. If I am walking down a mountain trail, I would value instinct far more than reason if I stepped on a rattlesnake;


Exactly jg, "but" why did you step on that snake? You were not in tune with your surroundings and probably "thinking" about something else. Had you been in tune, as I am absolutely sure the snake was, you would have seen that snake and it you in plenty of time to prevent that unfortunate "collision" or encounter. Now if you step off that trail you venture into "unfamiliar" territory and your perception is a bit cloudy, as it were. Now that is the "snakes" domain in which it "hides" but it does "sense" your presence and I promise you it is trying to escape any encounter it might have with you. The snake only strikes when it's existence is threaten as do we.

jgweed;86686 wrote:
......if I am deciding on a new car, then reason would be more valuable.


Jg, I think essential is a better term than valuable for what is valuable is truly an individual perception though it does involve a great deal of rationalization to determine, IMO.

jgweed;86686 wrote:
I would suppose there are instances when one would want to employ, as it were, both and both in various combinations would be valuable (begging the question of what is valued).


Right! The fact that you used the word "suppose", IMO, indicated doubt or "unfamiliarity" and of course what is valuable is questionable and also extreme subjective. Had you been familiar with the car and the one offering to sell it, you would not have to suppose anything except for maybe the price and if you trust the salesman, that would not be a issue if it was well within your ability to pay the price offered. Complimentary action.

jgweed;86686 wrote:
The question seems to ignore other differences between other animals and humans.....:the importance of memory, or the unique understanding of time (especially the future) by humans. Both of these are also important at different times.


If you would my friend, please elaborate a little more as to what you mean by "seems to ignore" and what those differences you think are between what you perceive that is memory in animals vs humans? Thanks. As far as time and the future.....................? That's truly unfamiliar, huh?

jgweed;86686 wrote:
But perhaps the most important difference is the ability of humans to create meaning.


That is a puzzler and I think we must ask "create meaning for what reason"? Is it rationalistic (requiring thought) or serendipitous (complimentary) and coming naturally?

Now that's what I think, Ha!

William
 
Dunkler Schatten
 
Reply Sat 29 Aug, 2009 06:40 pm
@Dunkler Schatten,
The funny thing is that in answering the question we would be catering to rationality and though even if we thought that instinct was better...
 
William
 
Reply Sat 29 Aug, 2009 09:06 pm
@Dunkler Schatten,
Dunkler_Schatten;86733 wrote:
The funny thing is that in answering the question we would be catering to rationality and though even if we thought that instinct was better...


Dunker, you are correct, except it's not very funny at all in that we do rationalize to an enormous fault as we venture into areas we are extremely unfamiliar with that is not at all natural to us. I think we must, above all, examine those "motivations" and why we "think" as we do?

William
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 29 Aug, 2009 09:38 pm
@Dunkler Schatten,
Dunkler_Schatten;86679 wrote:
which is more important, thought or instinct?
You can't think if you're dead, and instincts are pretty useful to forestall one's premature demise.
 
Dunkler Schatten
 
Reply Sat 29 Aug, 2009 09:48 pm
@William,
William;86807 wrote:
Dunker, you are correct, except it's not very funny at all in that we do rationalize to an enormous fault as we venture into areas we are extremely unfamiliar with that is not at all natural to us. I think we must, above all, examine those "motivations" and why we "think" as we do?

William

It's humorous to me. Rationalization in a unknown area is perfectly normal, so that you can bring it into an understanding. I myself seek a balance of thought and instinct, so I cannot rely on one or the other too much.
 
richrf
 
Reply Sat 29 Aug, 2009 11:10 pm
@Dunkler Schatten,
Hi,

I see the two are related and a continuum.

Instincts are the some total of experience and knowledge accumulated.

Thinking is the processing of new experiences which ultimately is additive to Instincts. So the two work together.

Rich
 
William
 
Reply Sun 30 Aug, 2009 08:31 am
@richrf,
Aedes;86813 wrote:
You can't think if you're dead, and instincts are pretty useful to forestall one's premature demise.


Thank you Paul. If I might offer since we have no idea of what "dead" truly represents only that it is "the end", we must "not" think about it, IMO. You are so right if we "rely" on our instincts and "do" what comes natural to us, we will "think" much clearly and harmonically with all that surrounds us. That, in and of itself, "forestalls" any thought pertaining to ones demise premature or otherwise. If we "imagine" such a premature demise, we become afraid, and think "we" can "control" such an event from happening and in that process we stop doing what is natural, we start "thinking" of ways we can prevent it clogging the senses altering their perception and putting us in harm's way.

Dunkler_Schatten;86815 wrote:
It's humorous to me. Rationalization in a unknown area is perfectly normal, so that you can bring it into an understanding. I myself seek a balance of thought and instinct, so I cannot rely on one or the other too much.


Right Dunker. Now what represents that "unknown"? Anything we don't know for sure, right! Only the senses and their relationship to what is present in your personal domain can truly establish that and represent what you truly can witness, physically touch, hear, smell and taste. We, I might offer, should not be forced to "control" that for it is natural for our (self)'s benefit. Only when we are "forced" to control it as we encounter others in that domain do we create conflict as they are efforting to control "it" also for "their" benefit". That, in and of itself, "creates" chaos, confusing altering what the senses would naturally receive as "input" as we are force to "rationalize/think" what to do. To understand something will come "easily" in such a way your will not "forget" it and will be permanently logged in memory for it is "complimentary" with all else that is held there in that memory. When we force something to memory, it creates confusion in that memory and is evident in the output of he that "has" those memories as they question what is on their mind, so to speak, as they interrogate others seeking answers that will harmonize those memories. If every one does that, imagine all the chaos it can create. (My list) for example.

richrf;86822 wrote:
Hi, I see the two are related and a continuum.
Instincts are the some total of experience and knowledge accumulated.


Not necessarily, if you don't mind. (That very statement I just made is "complimentary" to the above quote you made as I would like to offer my thoughts to that matter and tacitly asking permission to "offer" my thoughts "on" that matter "you" expressed.)

In all "fairness" I should not continue unless you give me permission to do so, but I will anyway, Ha! Sorry, please forgive me. Ha, Referring to what you did say pertaining to that continuum, I disagree in that what the senses receive that "are" harmonic will enhance that continuum, but, not all knowledge held in memory we are force to retain to exist in this reality is harmonic, not only to us individually, but to others and what they have in memory. It can really get confusing if we don't know how to communicate using "complimentary" processes.

richrf;86822 wrote:
Thinking is the processing of new experiences which ultimately is additive to Instincts. So the two work together.
Rich


Thanks again Rich, please allow me to differ. Only if those "new" experiences are complimentary with what is "already" held in memory will they become a part of "natural instinct". IMO, you can't force them to "stay" there for your own benefit and "make" them fit. It's just not "natural", IMO.

Again, that's what I think; now I am open to what you think. Ha. I look forward as you express what is in your memory that would differ from what is in mine so we can complimentary communicate better. :bigsmile:

William
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 30 Aug, 2009 11:58 am
@richrf,
richrf;86822 wrote:

Instincts are the some total of experience and knowledge accumulated.
Thinking is the processing of new experiences which ultimately is additive to Instincts. So the two work together.


On the other hand, a different viewpoint is that instincts are prior to experience, at least if automatic responses to stimuli are concerned; these would differ, then, from habits that are the result of experience, knowledge, and memory. One could, I suppose, then say that thinking (or a part of it) might be the processing of experiences- - -both new and (as modifications)old---into habits and "outlooks."
*****
William, my general position is that to ask which is more important, instinct or intellect, seems to imply a dualism in the Self which isn't a dualism, and that perhaps a more interesting and more fundamental question is what separates (if anything, depending on your understanding of the problem) humans from other animals, and whether reason alone (nay, even primarily) accounts for it, putting aside for a moment what constitutes reason. I then suggested that there were some other meaningful criteria that one would want to include in one's thinking about it.
 
richrf
 
Reply Sun 30 Aug, 2009 12:52 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;86953 wrote:
On the other hand, a different viewpoint is that instincts are prior to experience, at least if automatic responses to stimuli are concerned; these would differ, then, from habits that are the result of experience, knowledge, and memory. One could, I suppose, then say that thinking (or a part of it) might be the processing of experiences- - -both new and (as modifications)old---into habits and "outlooks."


Yes, my idea is that instincts are learned habits from experience that are stored as memory in the Hun (the Daoist concept of the transcendental being, that would be similar to the concept of the soul). The Hun is constantly learning. What we call instincts is something that has been learned from experiences over many, many, many physical lifetimes.

Rich
 
Pangloss
 
Reply Sun 30 Aug, 2009 01:20 pm
@Dunkler Schatten,
In the case of humans, we wouldn't even make it to an age where we are mature, rational thinkers, if it were not first for our evolved instincts, which in large part allowed us to survive. Look at a newborn. No "rational" thought going on whatsoever that we can observe; the behaviors at that age are very much instinctual and necessary for survival.
 
William
 
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 05:42 am
@Pangloss,
Pangloss;86970 wrote:
In the case of humans, we wouldn't even make it to an age where we are mature, rational thinkers, if it were not first for our evolved instincts, which in large part allowed us to survive. Look at a newborn. No "rational" thought going on whatsoever that we can observe; the behaviors at that age are very much instinctual and necessary for survival.


Exactly. but understanding has not come easy and the reason we rationalize is an indication of our efforts to understand our "true" nature so we can instinctively do what is "right" to enhance that survival. When we do, then and only then, will we begin to understand the difference between "survival" and what living is all about.

As for as the animal is concerned, it is living the program it was designed for unless outside inertia causes it to react "differently" to that innate program. Due to the "outside inertia" that we, humans, are exposed to, causes us to "act" differently than what we were "programmed" for, creating the chaos so very evident in this reality we are efforting to survive in, as I have mentioned so many times, there is a big difference in surviving and living.

William
 
 

 
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