Re: Instinct

Dwight W. Read (dread@ANTHRO.UCLA.EDU)
Mon, 29 Jul 1996 14:32:49 -0700

Cook comments:

>"As someone previously commented, 'instinct' was a term that arose out of a
>nature/nurture dichotomy..."
>I doubt it. The *Dictionary of Word Origins* says, in part: "The
>noun...originally meant 'incitement, instigation,' but it eventually moved
>on to 'impulse'...The more specialized 'innate impulse' developed in the mid
>16th century." I doubt that the nature/nurture debate was going on then.

My text was imprecise--I was not referring to the origin of the word, but to
a context where it had considerable usage. Better phrasing would be
something like: "...term more appropriate to a nature/nurture dichotomy."

>"Presumably, instinct...supposedly should refer to behaviors..."
>I don't think so. Instict is one thing, behaviors are another; the latter
>might or might not follow from the former.

The phrasing could have been more precise--as Cook notes, obviously instinct
<> behavior. Better wording would have been something like: "instinctive
actions are behaviors..." with this comment used as a segway into the
discussion of behaviors in general.

Cook continues:

>We were not talking about humans. The original instigation of this thread
>was a story about mother bear and her cubs.

Goldilocks and the three bears, perhaps?

D. Read