Are All Ideas Instinctive? #41 #cong18

Synopsis:

What drives a person to create a thought? What role does instinct occupy in our developed society? Is instinct a driver for idea development in itself, or does this development respond to a higher level of conscience which can only be attained through the use of reason?

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Instinct is what allows us to survive, whereas ideas appeal to reason
  2. Reason and instinct are two concepts which conflict sometimes.
  3. New forms of instincts in modern societies make it less of an “animalistic” feature.

About Romain Couture:

Romain studied marketing for four years in Sligo before following a master’s degree in Environmental Management at Cranfield University. His previous job at Teagasc saw him collaborating with various actors of the Bioeconomy in order to improve the recovery of value of animal co-products. He is now sustainability lead at Irish Manufacturing Research, where he helps business implement circular economy practices. He is passionate about the environment and wants to help organisations understand the potential that the circular economy holds.

Contacting Romain Couture:

You can contact Romain by email.

By Romain Couture.

What drives a person to create a thought? What role does instinct occupy in our developed society? Is instinct a driver for idea development in itself, or does this development respond to a higher level of conscience which can only be attained through the use of reason?

Instinct is by essence the characterisation of the forces that are pushing us to act in order to ensure our survival. A person experiencing fear will somatise this feeling by protecting himself, a woman who is hungry will look for the best source of food. Ideas have very little to do in those physiological lower tasks that we undertake every day. Instinct gets stronger as our body gets further from homeostasis, and it takes over our faculty of reasoning. The more physiological and pressing the need is, the closer we get to our instinct and the further we get from reasoning and formulating complex ideas. Cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am. Our natural need to live, which is protected by our instinct, pre-empts what constitutes humanity by destination, reason. Therefore, one could argue that instinct prevents idea formulation. And thus, prevent reason.

Therefore, one must think. Can instinct be guided by reason? Can instinct be driven by ideas? Could ideas become instinctive?

I work in sustainability. We look for ideas and solutions that will make the world a better place. In that area particularly, Ideas and instinct collide frontally, they become entangled with each other.

What drives the likes of oil companies to make always more money than they will ever spend at the expense of our planet? One could argue this idea cannot not be the fruit of reason: indeed, if reason were the main driver for that idea, would it allow these people to make decisions that will destroy the planet, and by destination, their progeny? We already demonstrated that instinct goes against reason, but is it possible that reason and ideas go against instinct?

No, because these ideas are instinctive. However, they are not created by pure first-degree instinct, but by an ersatz of instinct, a pale copy which makes a need so pressing, so overwhelming, that it settles in the reptilian brain as a drug. And it becomes a physiological need. Consequently, it becomes driven by “instinct”. Circumstances create this second-hand instinct, which will add up to our pre-existing reptilian one.

Ideas are complex formulations of instincts, whether these instincts are artificial or unaffected by circumstances. Those acquired artificial instincts will not be driven so much by physiological needs, but by necessities guided by our current way of existence. Modern civilisations have been reducing the need for instinct-driven behaviours by creating societies of opulence, in which the very concept of instinct is reduced to an almost animalistic feature. A lot of our ideas are now separated from our physiological needs, so much so, that one could find it hard to describe them as instinctive.