CHAPTER VIII
THE CONTEMPORARY THEORY OF INSTINCTS
WE are now in a position to attempt a clear synthetic statement. Since the Early Doctrine of Instincts requires only amendment and addition as a result of the subsequent work we have considered, and does not require radical change in its formulation, we can retain the method of statement adopted towards the end of Chapter II, where we were concerned with summarising the work of the earlier writers.1 That is to say: we can still formulate our conclusions as an answer to two questions; and the findings of Comparative Ethology and Psycho-Analysis which we shall be able to introduce as additions to our earlier statement will bring together all those propositions concerning the subject of Instinct upon which there is agreement at the present time. It will lead us to the formulation of what can be called 'The Contemporary Theory of Instincts'. It is impossible, however, to condense every detail of our earlier discussion into the compass of a few pages, so that our statement must inevitably be compact and summary in form.Let us begin with the questions which we posed at the beginning of our investigation.
(A) Among animals, especially among those species low in the evolutionary scale but also among the higher species, which, in processes of learning do not seem to manifest a very high degree of intelligence, we find numerous examples of complicated trains of behaviour which seem well adapted to those situations which are normally encountered in the 'ecological niche' of the species, which seem to be periodically and recurrently directed towards specific features of the environment and towards the attainment of a certain 'end-state', and which, though they may be modified to some extent in the light of subsequent experience, are performed with a surprising degree of perfection without previous experience; without any previous possibility of learning on the part of the individual. Such trains of unlearned behaviour and the particular acts which they comprise are very similar, if not identical, in all members of the same species, at least, of the same sex. How are we to account for such behaviour?
____________________
1
See p. 67.

-288-

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