Sunday, August 22, 2004

Instinct or Sensitivity

When a cub is born, tigress licks him, lulls him feeds him and teaches him. But as soon as he becomes grown up enough he is driven in the wild to find his own life, space and territory. It happens generation after generation. The question: This is instinct of a wild animal or sensitivity of a mother to her child’s needs?

Let us draw an analogy of the above case with the humans. Everything is pretty similar as far as rearing is considered. But at the maturity the son moves away to establish his own niche. Yet the mother-son attachment stays. The mother still feels the pain of the child, still shares his joys, and always cares. And the same goes vice versa. Now what is this, it’s a maternal instinct or a human sensitivity?

Now let us take another example… Many a times we see and old lady limping through her daily routine, a poor old disabled beggar fighting every moment of his life or a poor child working in conditions equivalent to hell. Here also our heart goes out for that person in pain. We immediately associate to his sufferings and feel his pain. Now what should we call this…. Our sensitivity for fellow human or an ethical instinct?

Psychologists explain the last case the example of pure sensitivity, the second one as that of sensitivity of an instinctive mother for her progeny while the third one for them is unexplainable. For them the aspects of sensitivity are linked purely to human emotions, which certainly cannot be found in the animals.

Behaviourists argue the whole case as that of being that of sensitivity. For them the concept of instinct is more or less the immeasurable response to any stimulus. For them the activities and the bondage of love between the mother and child and that of one organism to another is totally the case of emotional bondage called sensitivity. But then the plain question that arises is where this sensitivity goes when the wolf’s mother abandons the unfit child. Where does the sensitivity of mother go when the mother snake eats upon its off springs? If it’s the bondage of sensitivity cropped and groomed by emotional compassion, that makes the mother rear the young ones then the phenomenon should be more of universal type. And then it should govern all the creatures.

Now looking at the explanations of the biologists the picture seems to be getting little more acceptable but certainly not clear on all grounds. To them any mother rearing young ones is more or less Instinct. An instinct to keep the progeny going. But any feeling for the people not in relation is due to emotional drive to associate with their pain and suffering. The bigger question still remains that even if this one is believed then what can explain the phenomenon of zero reaction to the sufferings of any individual and what can explain the behaviour of such insensitive men. And what about the instinct of the cuckoo that leaves her eggs in the nest of the crow for growing and initial rearing.
Analytically reviewing the different explanations the question still remains the same. - Its Sensitivity or Instinct.
But now if we merge all three definitions and explanations, then probably we can reach a more acceptable decision.
It certainly is the instinct of all living beings to reproduce and keep the progeny going. And in case of less sophisticated animals governed by the jungle laws and no social taboo to live up to it generally more of Instinct rather then human sensitivity. But a highly evolved social being with social restrictions and boundaries, like humans have a lesser element of instinct in this birth and rearing. The birth and initial rearing might be associated to the instinctual appeal. But as the kid grows the joy of his first words; his first walk and his first learning establish a strong bond between his parents and him. This is where the emotive angles take over. The sensitivity of a mother dominates and the instinctive angle fades away. This bond gets stronger and stronger and stays forever. The third case might be universally accepted as that of sensitivity. But the question remains; how to explain the fanatics, the ‘jehadis’ who kill for blind belief or often for no rhyme or reason- Are they insensitive? If that is the case then as per earlier assumptions they should be lacking emotions too. And if you think that way, then just look at the motives of their activities… Isn’t this emotional motivation and surcharge? Hence this might find its root in the ethical understanding of these individuals. Often the compassion for the fellow beings is strongly associated to the ethical values instilled in the human character. And when we talk of response due the instilled beliefs, we generally associate it to triggering of an Instinct; which may evoke sensitivity as per the individual’s emotionality.

After such a long retrospect one thing that surfaces clearly is the fact that the two (Sensitivity and Instinct) are inseparable in this world of complex behaviours of living creatures. Readers of this debate might agree to either of the specialist’s explanation or to the observations that I have made. But still can we quantify or qualify the events on the basis of the two. Until we have a concrete answer with discrete boundaries the question will always be- Its SENSITIVITY or INSTINCT???

1 comment:

Swapan Mehra said...

DUUde...write a summary of this thing will ya...easy to read n stuff!!!