Instincts and bioprograms

Gary Goodman (sap@TANK.RGS.UKY.EDU)
Sun, 18 Aug 1996 00:52:12 EDT

Personally I like the word "bioprogram" to refer to the psychic
mechanism of what we can generally term "instincts." In a cybernetic age
it seems a useful analogous concept. An semi-adaptive sub-routine or
"applet" that provides a reward response for a triggered instinctive
response behavior.

The more we discover about neuromechanisms the more we start to
understand the means by which behavior is initiated or repressed,
promoted or diminished or modified via the genetic toolbox of the
central nervous system.

But the potentialities of the individual are those that have developed
within a socially influenced environment for it is fairly certain for
dozens -- if not hundreds -- of millions of years. And a evolving
culture nearly as old. Like the genetic factor is an interactive part of
the individual's differing responses to the environment, so too the
individuality of human being is and interactive part of the
supra-organism we call a society and whose characteristics we describe
as culture.

Today we have many what were at least semi-isolated cultures interacting
with each other to an extent not approached in the existence of the
species or genus for that matter. At the same time we are trying to
examine in detail those very cultures. It must seem like trying to take
a hip shot at a quail on the wing from a motorboat going the opposite
direction in rough water and while standing on one foot and with dirty
glasses. That we DO seem to bring home a few is amazing. But I also have
to suspect a lot of what we THINK we know about ourselves are really
missed shots.

Gary D. Goodman

Pentad Communications
McDaniels/Hardinsburg, KY

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true
meaning of the creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all
men are created equal."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

RK>---------------------- Information from the mail header --------------------
RK>Sender: General Anthropology Bulletin Board
RK>Poster: Ronald Kephart <rkephart@OSPREY.UNF.EDU>
RK>Subject: Instincts and bioprograms

RK>In message <> Jesse S. Cook III writes:

RK>> Apparently, you didn't take the hints put out by Robert Snower and Ralph
RK>> Holloway.

RK>Humans are not mice. Humans (and other hominoids?) may well share with mice
RK>(and perhaps all mammals?) a gene for something like a "maternal instinct."
RK>the fact is that hominoids, as social animals, have shifted many behaviors o
RK>this sort from the straight expression of genetic programming to an acquisit
RK>process which must occur within an appropriate social context. Mice, as far
RK>I know, do not need a social context to become mice; humans and other homino
RK>on the other hand, do need such a context.

RK>This is the difference between instinctive behavior and bioprogrammed behavi
RK>(I borrowed the term "bioprogram" from Derek Bickerton's work on language).
RK>for example language were "instinctive" people should acquire language under
RK>conditions, including the lack of any social input whatsoever. We know that
RK>this does not happen. People acquire language in all sorts of varying socia
RK>contexts, but the social aspect has to be there. Given the evidence, I thin
RK>mothering behavior in humans has to be similarly acquired, even if there is
RK>gene that programs us for it.

RK>Ron Kephart