Bare Bones Biology 327 – Instinct

160821-trailMaking-asc_5799RSs copyEvery creature on earth operates on the basis of instinct, if we define instinct as the

in-born inherited responses that each species uses to react to what happens in its enviroment. Instincts are inherited and evolved, and we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have them, because they are the other half of the definition Life. Life can be defined as the ability to respond to the environment in a way that maintains its Life. Life is alive because it is able to respond to its environment, and this includes behavioral responses of which we are mostly unaware. Those are instincts.

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We creatures do these things because that’s what we do; we may think about them or we may not, but thinking about is a different thing from instinct. We all have instincts that we do not understand: spiders spin webs and sometimes eat their mates, dogs lick their newborn puppies, tigers pace their cages, and humans make war over issues that could easily be resolved with a little common sense applied to technical knowledge. And each of us individually sometimes behave in ways that are self-defeating and harmful to others even though we don’t know why. Even though we know better.

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This is a problem in our modern world, where the environment in which we live has been mostly destroyed and replaced, not in reality but in our worldviews, by something we refer to as a “city.” Or perhaps “civilization.” Civilization is comfortable in many ways, but only if we can manage our instincts so that we do not cause harm to others.


It’s not easy, but one way is to think about our lives in three parts, and then challenge ourselves to make all our choices winners. Three-way winners; a win for me a win for you and a win for the Biosystem that really needs us right now so it can fill our supermarkets with the fruit of its creation.

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The level one winner will be me, of course, and let’s say I want to choose what is the best thing I can do next weekend. Civilization usually gives us many choices, and usually I want to do everything, but five options particularly appeal to me. Any one of those would probably pacify my tiger instincts, and that would be a win for me.




Level two winner will be my friends, family, dependents or other animals and livestock that don’t get to choose. Will any of my choices cause intentional harm to others? OK, the bullfights are out. Pacifying my instincts by causing mental or emotional pain to others can be very effective. I mean it makes me feel big and powerful. But it is abusive, and I am not an abusive person, so that narrows the choices to three and expands the number of winners to make a win-win weekend. But don’t let’s forget the third winner.160821-trailMaking-asc_5829RLSs copy

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My level three winner will be the Biosystem, our environment, because we have an obligation to the ongoing biological crisis and to our children and grandchildren. I will not choose to get my kicks at the expense of causing harm to their future. No, I’m out to create a win-win-win weekend, and then a win-win-win life that may or may not be “fun” or “happy” as the corposystem thinks I should be – by buying their stuff. That might not be one of the available options. But will be deeply satisfying to my communal instincts.

160821-trailMaking-asc_5808RLSs copySo I told you that to show you pictures I took last weekend of a group of folks doing just that. A win-win-win holiday, tent-camping with friends in the wilderness forest, near the Chama, New Mexico, access point to the Continental Divide Trail that runs all the way from Mexico to Canada, through New Mexico, Colorado, and whatever else is up north there. Doing a little maintenance on the trail. Breathing the clean air; talking to the trees, and friends.

Working together for something that is worthwhile to the whole of Life.


Check it out on the internet.

Continental Divide Trail.


And if you are receiving this as a podcast, you might want to go to my website,    to see pictures.


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