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What is instinct?

What is instinct, how would you define it in humans and animals. What is that quirky urge, what is that little voice inside you, how can "gut feelings" telling you and should you listen to them.

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  • Oct 1 2013: I would have to learn about instinct before defining it. So:

    (From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instinct)

    "Instinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism toward a particular complex behavior.

    The simplest example of an instinctive behavior is a fixed action pattern, in which a very short to medium length sequence of actions, without variation, are carried out in response to a clearly defined stimulus.
    An instinctive behavior of shaking water from wet fur.

    Any behavior is instinctive if it is performed without being based upon prior experience (that is, in the absence of learning), and is therefore an expression of innate biological factors. Sea turtles, newly hatched on a beach, will automatically move toward the ocean. Other examples include animal fighting, animal courtship behavior, internal escape functions, and the building of nests. All of these are examples of complex behaviors and are thus substantially different from simple reflex behaviors.

    An instinct should be distinguished from a reflex, which is a simple response of an organism to a specific stimulus, such as the contraction of the pupil in response to bright light or the spasmodic movement of the lower leg when the knee is tapped. Instincts, in contrast, are inborn complex patterns of behavior that must exist in every member of the species and that cannot be overcome by force of will. However, the absence of volitional capacity must not be confused with an inability to modify fixed action patterns. For example, people may be able to modify a stimulated fixed action pattern by consciously recognizing the point of its activation and simply stop doing it, whereas animals without a sufficiently strong volitional capacity may not be able to disengage from their fixed action patterns, once activated."

    ....Sounds like instinctive behaviors are pre-programmed behaviors..i.e. fight or flight...
    • Oct 1 2013: ok, but what about "gut feelings" about some financial or some other thing that is not just a survival thing
      • Oct 1 2013: I think this transitions to something like intuition based on knowledge, experience, or observations extrapolated from one situation to gain some insight to another situation, in particular when there is insufficient information to conclusively make a good decision, yet a decision is necessary.
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    Sep 30 2013:

    Instinct is our ancestors' successful experiences
    for keeping our DNA alive.
  • Oct 2 2013: Instincts are the intuitive knowing of how to respond.
    They are almost always correct, but humans have to learn how to use them, to listen, feel, see, hear or sense and then act
    without hesitation. They are to be trusted. If they are not, then something has gone seriously wrong with a person's connection to their higher self.
    Having such instincts means one is at one with oneself and not split psychically from themselves.
    Just as our genes give us a number of ways of responding rather than any one of them being a fixed response,
    so too do our instincts. Sense, trust, act or don't sense, trust or act. Worry instead.
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    Oct 1 2013: it's a need look for the satisfaction ;it can be body needs like it can be moral needs like it can be emotional needs ,but the need to survive is the first which can turn on the morals ,emotionals and body needs after the safety of our lives ,which mean the need to survive is the first what we must believe on it like absolute principals to the ethics.
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    Oct 1 2013: Instinct is what emerges naturally within you in a particular situation to react with outer world. Kids and animals are very instinct in true sense. But as we grow, the obtrusion of intelligence becomes stronger...
  • Da Way

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    Sep 30 2013: Instinct in the sense of intuitive thought/feeling is a sum of information processing that reached an output before it hasn't quite reached the top of your cognition.

    It consists of genetic predispositions and hence tendencies to react in a certain way, memories, current or recent cognitive thoughts and state, your senses and perception to your current environment and of course, your current physical health.
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    Sep 30 2013: I dont think we really know what instinct is. There is alot we do not know about ourselves and the world around us. First off, instinct is different then simple gut feelings, or urges we get. Which we also cant describe. Instincts lie in all animals (including humans) Animals have instincts for different reasons. Animals have instincts allowing them to navigate and guide to food, and mating areas, instincts granting them special skills to hunt, hide, eat, and build. So I would say that well clearly instinct is something very important that is passed down in an evolutionary manner. That would also mean that instincts can and do change. While different species may have varying degrees of change in said instincts. In animals such as ourselves, homo sapiens, what are our instincts like? We certainly dont need to hunt for prey, our navigate our way to survive changing seasons as many birds. Right now we may be in somewhat of a transition time in what our insticts really are. In some point in the future could typing on a keyboard be more of an instinct then a fluid running motion? Who knows!? But it is a cool thought. In all thought I think instinct is something that is wired into the brain. And being we know virtually nothing about our brain I dont think we can really hope to fully understand instinct just yet.
  • Sep 30 2013: It is your reaction to stimulus before you are trained by society.
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    Sep 30 2013: I think It's your gut feeling based on your life experiences and ingenital sensitiveness.