Instincts and bioprograms

Ronald Kephart (rkephart@OSPREY.UNF.EDU)
Sun, 28 Jul 1996 15:03:56 -0400

In message <> Jesse S. Cook III writes:

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

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

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

Ron Kephart