Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thoughts on Man vs. Animal...

I recently began studying a book called A Psychology Of Human Strengths edited by Lisa G. Aspinwall, and Ursula M. Staudinger (2003). I was fascinated on some aspects of their findings regarding human nature. More or less, they indicated that human beings have a dual nature. The first can be considered as the part of us that has lasted over the eons of evolution. The animal or primal part that desires survival and survival alone. It also is the part that seeks for self-gratification and is somewhat amoral. It's the cro magnon within all of us--without values or morals. The only purpose is to eat, drink, survive, and self-satisfy. Freud would have called that part of us the Id. The ID operates according to the pleasure principle i.e. it seeks pleasure and avoids pain. It is our instinct. If we want to do a particular thing we will do it. For example, if we are in a lesson and we want to go to sleep, we go to sleep.
It's a fascinating part of each of us. Most of us have done something on a whim or simply because we desired it without thinking of the consequences or if it was the right thing to do. Whether it ranges from eating too much at the buffet, because all the food looked good (and resulting with GI problems) or a teenager or adult offending sexually on a child, it is all the same urge (but to different extents). Many people use these animalistic or Id impulses as excuses. We hear it every day at home and in the work place to various extents. Psychology tries to explain them through evolutionary terms, cognitive distortions, addictions, impulses, desires, appetites, etc. Many people use these animalistic or Id impulses as excuses. If all of our actions were driven by these impulses, that would mean that our behaviors are determined by stimulus and response.
On the other hand, human behavior does not seem to follow determined patterns of stimulus and response. Far too often actions occur based on another behavior that cannot be necessarily measured or predicted. Some may call it the X Factor or the human will. Behaviorists may argue that even human will can be deterministic in nature; however, it seems that it is only said AFTER the behavior is done--hindsight. I believe it is this will that can defy the natural and evolutionary impulses within us all. It can be the determining and unpredictable factor for all that is good within us. It does make one think, does it not?

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