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A Few Questions For The Naturalist


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Guest Valk0010

How are we not slaves to instinct?

 

How are we able to think at the level that we do?

 

How do you explain altruism of the kind that is harmful to the one is doing the altruistic person?

 

How do you explain altruism of the kind that a human does that has no real benefit to the species like adopting a kid for example?

 

Not sure how to answer these, so I figured I would ask the braintrust LOL.

VALK

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How are we not slaves to instinct?

 

I think that, at some level, we are. We just dress it up. Our bodies need food, but we pick and cook and decorate and combine flavors, but in the end, it's just nutrition that is required to keep the machine running.

 

We do things from fear, or anger, or deep emotional attachment, and each of these is at least derived from an instinct to survive, but we dress them up and make it look like cowardice or courage or bravery or love, and we use rules to keep our "instincts" under control. We modify our anger and lust for vengeance with a law that instills fear of punishment - use one instinct against another. We control our desire for copulation/reproduction at an inopportune time with fear of ostracism (shame) by making rules about when where, how and with whom other people (our children and society's children) have sex.

 

 

How are we able to think at the level that we do?

 

The benefits of cooperation, language and communication, tool making and organization create the need for a brain that can also write poetry, music, literature, mathematics and every other intellectual pursuit. The human species that failed to develop these traits are extinct. We survived.

 

How do you explain altruism of the kind that is harmful to the one is doing the altruistic person?

 

Ths simplest answer is from talkorigins.com, but a slightly more detailed explanation can be found here. I haven't had a chance to view it, but here is a youtube video about the evolution of altruism:

 

 

How do you explain altruism of the kind that a human does that has no real benefit to the species like adopting a kid for example?

 

Same thing. Why are some people animal rights activists? Why do some people seek to help others on the other side of the world? Love, as an emotion directed towards the perpetuation of genes does not "know" it is only for ones own genes. Also, people who adopt reap rewards - reciprocal love, pride in raising a child, honor from society, etc., so there are still some selfish motivations.

 

Not sure how to answer these, so I figured I would ask the braintrust LOL.

VALK

 

As bizarre as it may sound, mental processes that have to do with love and survival can produce wonderful results, like adoption, or terrible results like shoe fetishes. It's understandable, but not always "logical."

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  • Super Moderator
terrible results like shoe fetishes.

Terrible?

 

 

 

 

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terrible results like shoe fetishes.

Terrible?

 

Ok, those were pretty cool.

 

I still won't convert.

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How are we not slaves to instinct?

 

How are we able to think at the level that we do?

 

How do you explain altruism of the kind that is harmful to the one is doing the altruistic person?

 

How do you explain altruism of the kind that a human does that has no real benefit to the species like adopting a kid for example?

I suspect human behavior is much more instinctual than we would sometimes like to admit.

 

I believe there is a natural basis for the human mind, but I don't believe we understand it very well yet. Science is still very young in my view.

 

If altruism is a completely selfless concern for others, then I'm not sure it exists. I think all organisms are essentially selfish. But this need not be a dark picture in my opinion because I also think that cooperation occurs all the time. Even in our selfishness we can choose behavior which is mutually beneficial. Life can often be a win-win situation and symbiosis is real.

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What they said.

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