Friday, November 9, 2007

Deviation from our Instincts

"Every animate creature stands in a specific relation to the external world in which it lives. From the meanest zoophyte, up to the most highly organised of the vertebrata, one and all have certain fixed principles of existence. Each has its varied bodily wants to be satisfied - food to be provided for its proper nourishment - a habitation to be constructed for shelter from the cold, or for defence against enemies - now arrangements to be made for bringing up a brood of young, nests to be built, little ones to be fed and fostered - then a store of provisions to be laid in against winter, and so on, with a variety of other natural desires to be gratified. For the performance of all these operations, every creature has its appropriate organs and instincts - external apparatus and internal faculties; and the health and happiness of each being, are bound up with the perfection and activity of these powers. They, in their turn, are dependent upon the position in which the creature is placed. Surround it with circumstances which preclude the necessity or any one of its faculties, and that faculty will become gradually impaired. Nature provides nothing in vain. Instincts and organs are only preserved so long as they are required. Place a tribe of animals in a situation where one of their attributes is unnecessary - take away its natural exercies - diminish its activity, and you will gradually destroy its power. Successive enerations will see the faculty, or instinct, or whatever it may be, become gradually weaker, and an ultimate deneracy of the race will inevitably ensue." [Herbert Spencer, The Proper Sphere of Government, pg.49]

2 comments:

x said...

Humans existed for millions of years prior to the invention of sprawling agriculture and the ensuing development of civilization.

We are subsequently living in the bodies of hunters & gatherers.

Human instincts exist because they helped hunter/gatherers survive.

We have lost or forgotten how to use many of these instincts because of their lack of necessity in civilization.

Imagine a bear who instinctually wants to hybernate but doesn't because he needs money to pay for rent. Imagine ducks that feel the urge to fly south but don't because they simply can't take that kind of time off. Imagine a beaver that wants to create and live in a dam but was born and raised in the suburbs.

I know I'm not alone, but I wonder how many other people feel utterly out of place in a civilized world. I would think anyone who regularly encounters stress should feel this way. What is stress other than a natural indicator that you're not living in a healthy way?

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