Chapter 2: A Point Of View
Footnote Article: Human Instinct
As supplied by nature, instinct is the basic mental programming that equips the individual to automatically sustain and protect himself within his terrestrial environment. However, by taking conscious thought, he can augment his basic instinct to include academic skills and moral character.
I perceive my instinct to be the subconscious programming within my mind that causes me automatically to respond, mentally or physically, to an external event in a particular way. My response can be initiated and executed completely subconsciously. It can be consciously initiated but subconsciously executed. Either way, my behaviour is determined by programming that resides within my subconscious mind.
The core of my instinctive programming is that which nature pre-installed in my brain to direct me as to how to protect and sustain my life. I think it reasonable to suppose that the specifications for its construction are borne within my genetic code. This programming motivates me to drink water to satisfy my thirst. It motivates me to pick fruits and other foods from my natural environment to satisfy my hunger. It inspires me to acquire materials from my natural environment to build shelter and to make tools and furniture. It drives me to find a member of the opposite sex for companionship and with whom to mate to continue my species.
My pre-installed instinctive programming causes me to behave in a way that enables me to acquire my sufficient needs of life from the terrestrial environment of which I am an integral part. It imbues me with certain protective behaviours that enable me to avoid or eliminate whatever threatens my life or well-being. It endeavours to do so without causing damage to my natural environment in the process. It guides me to live sustainably. It does not seek to acquire more than my adequate needs. It is not greedy or selfish. It does not seek to harm or destroy anything that is of no threat to me.
Animals are born with instinct. As soon as they enter the outside world, they are capable of the basic functions necessary for them to survive. Many can stand up and become mobile very quickly after birth. On the other hand, a human baby seems practically helpless. The only instincts it has is to cry and suck. It needs the constant care and protection of its parents.
After a few years, the human child exhibits the basic instincts of survival and self protection. However, almost all its instincts are passively learned. They are not hard-wired from the outset as in animals. Eventually, even the use of language becomes instinctive.
The instinct of an animal drives it to acquire, from its environment, its necessary and sufficient needs of life. But no more. A predator catches and kills only what it needs to eat at the time. It does not set out to exterminate its prey. I believe that if humans were allowed to develop freely away from the influences of modern civilization, their basic instinct would have this same prerogative.
Of course, one can cite the case of the fox that manages to break into a hen pen. It massacres all of the hens: not just the one it needs to assuage its present hunger. But this is not a natural situation. A pen is not a natural place for hens to be. In the wild, if a fox caught a hen, all the others would instantly scatter to the four winds. They would be beyond the range within which the fox's instinct drives it to kill. I surmise that human civilization is also unnatural. That is why civilized humans have the free-market mentality to gain without limit at the expense of everybody else.
Some animals can be taught tricks. They can also be trained. For example, a sheepdog is trained to guard and corral sheep. The human being, however, has the more advanced faculty of being able to acquire skills that are beyond what could be considered strictly natural. With practice, these skills can become instinctive. They become additional to the individual's natural instinct.
Here is an example of additional instinctive programming that I acquired passively.
I was once working on a software project in Chemsford, Essex, South-east England. At the time, I lived in a village near Gatwick Airport, Surrey. I commuted each day. It was before the days of motorways. I had to commute a 70 mile route along country roads. It was quite a rat-run. On many occasions during my journeys, my mind would be involved in deep thought about a technical problem or my family or home. Suddenly, I would realize where I was and be utterly alarmed. Did I stop at that cross-roads 5 miles back? Was that traffic signal 10 miles back red or green when I went through it? I do not think I need have worried. I had acquired complete knowledge of the route. My subconscious mind could pilot me home without the intervention of my conscious attention. The route had become instinctive to me. Interestingly, I had not set out to learn the route. Neither had anybody formally taught it to me. My instinct had just passively acquired it without any conscious effort on my part.
Here is another example where this kind of acquired skill proved to be life-saving.
My father was an army major in World War II. Once upon a time, he was in a standing position preparing to blow up a bridge.
Suddenly - as if instantaneously - he found himself on the ground, flat on his face. Nothing had hit him. Nothing had pushed him. Nothing had tripped him. His body just threw itself to the ground, without apparent reason. He was puzzled. After what seemed like an eternity, he heard the ominous sharp cracks of supersonic heavy machine gun bullets sharding the air where his upright body would have been. My father's senses had somehow detected the danger. The programming in his brain had then determined that the situation was mortally dangerous and issued direct motor commands to the appropriate muscles of his body to throw him to the ground instantly. The processes within his brain did this entirely automatically without consulting "him". It neglected to firstly pass the situation before the window of his consciousness for due consideration and approval. Had it done so, my father could have become momentarily confused, causing him to hesitate and be killed.
The neural mechanisms and programming that saved my father's life on that occasion probably comprised a mixture of natural instinct, trained intuition and military instruction. The relevance of this incident is that everything took place without involving my father's conscious self. It was entirely instinctive.
There is a quicker and more effective way of modifying instinct than passive acquisition. Instinct can be deliberately trained. Such training can be made to augment - or add to - existing natural instinct. Or it can be made to replace it, at least in part.
An example of trained instinct is a friend that my daughter once had.
He was a member of the Army Observer Corps. He had an amazing memory. He could walk down a street on a certain day and remember everything about it. Ages afterwords, without making any written notes, he could remember the date and time, plus the names and trades of all the shops. He could remember the positions, types and index numbers of all the cars parked in the street at the time.
His skill was the result of a different kind of training. He had an acquired memory skill. It was undoubtedly the result of instruction and self-practice. The acquisition of such a skill requires conscious attention and consideration. However, once acquired, it works automatically and subconsciously.
Training can be extremely effective. So much so that it can re-program a individual's instinct to cause him to act in a manner that is absolutely contrary to the way his natural instinct would have him act.
Natural instinct automates a human being to defend himself either by running away or by directly attacking his assailant. However, in the Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746, the English Redcoat did not do this. Instead, he ignored the ferocious Highlander who was about to slay him with a claymor and proceeded to bayonet the exposed side of the ferocious Highlander who was about to slay his colleague on the right. He did this knowing that his colleague on the left was doing the same to the ferocious Highlander who was about to slay him.
I cannot imagine that the English Redcoat could have the extreme level of trust in his colleagues needed to facilitate this behaviour in the heat of battle. Such behaviour could be achieved only by erasing his basic instinct and supplanting it with new artificial programming. To effect such a change would require an austere regime of authoritative instruction, indelibly engraved through interminable repetition.
Specialized skills - such as industrial, professional, academic, political, military and business skills - are all built by instruction and ingrained by repetition.
When I - as a human being - seek to acquire a "professional" skill of some kind, I have to think consciously about what I am doing. I perceive that the conscious entity that I know as "me" is consciously considering the situation and is subsequently making conscious decisions. I sense the same to be true for others.
The weather forecaster consciously considers the sky, the clouds, the pressure, temperature and humidity and their rates and directions of change. He then makes a conscious prediction as to what the forthcoming weather will be. The farmer consciously observes his crops and makes a conscious judgement as to whether or not they are ready to harvest. The stock trader consciously considers the performance and trends of stocks in the market and then makes a conscious decision as to where to invest. The businessman consciously considers his market, competition, products and services. He then consciously devises his strategies for maximizing his profit. The General consciously considers his enemy, his resources, logistics and terrain. He then consciously creates a plan for winning his battle.
I find that initially I can only expedite skilled mental processes through conscious thought. However, they rapidly thereafter become automatic. They seem to become embedded as part of what I call my trained instinct. With this, the only conscious thought I need is of the objective I wish to achieve. The answer as to how to achieve it then seems to materialize almost instantly into my conscious view, leaving me with no conscious notion of the myriad processes that must have taken place within my mind in order to arrive at it.
Trained instinct appears to perform all the necessary complex processing subconsciously, like a computer does when executing a program. The conscious "me" is not involved. The conscious "me" thus appears to be quite separate and apart from that which facilitates seemingly advanced mental abilities and skills once they have become instinctive.
That consciousness is not necessary to the performing of highly skilled intellectual processes is evinced by the current state of development of artificial intelligence.
There is a class of computer program called a neural network. Such programs mimic some of the ways in which the billions of neurons in the human brain are interconnected. One such way is called a multi-layer perceptron, an example of which I developed as a computer program in the late 1990s. At present (2009) neural network programs can only mimic limited aspects of the brain's functionality on a very limited scale. Nevertheless, there is no reason, in principle, why a neural network program could not eventually be made to equal the complexity of the human brain.
Unlike a conventional computer program, a neural network can learn. In other words, the programmer does not have to incorporate within it, in advance, the methodology for working out all the possible answers to all the possible questions it may be asked. Once set in operation, it just has to be told (by a human teacher) when it has given a right answer and when it has given a wrong answer. When it is told that it has given a wrong answer, it adjusts various weightings in its neurons so that it will give the right answer the next time.
In its basic form, the neural network software has to be taught by a human teacher. It needs to be told whether it has adapted correctly or erroneously to its environment. By adding criteria that can determine whether it has improved its adaptation to its environment or worsened it, neural network software can be made to learn without human aid. In other words, it can teach itself. At the beginning it will not be able to fool anybody that it is anything but a machine. However, after years of interacting with humans, it should have learned to respond like a human. So eventually, it should be able to fool everybody.
But does this make it sentient? It may, by having observed how humans respond over many years, be able to express an opinion about a work of art, a musical score, an article of clothing or a national policy. But does it have a conscious "me" within it that is experiencing colour, beauty, tranquillity or a sense moral approval? I think not.
A sophisticated neural network program, given the necessarily large number of appropriate inputs, can learn to do successfully things that seem to demand professional skills. For example, such a neural network could predict the weather in a given location, determine when crops are ready to harvest, play a stock exchange or devise business and military strategies for self-betterment and conquest.
These activities involve the advanced human-like skills of observation, consideration, manipulation and learning.
Yet I know of nothing I can liken to a soul or a spirit within a neural network software package. So why should I suppose that such must exist within the human brain? The reason is - the imagination of science-fiction writers notwithstanding - that I do not seem to be able to communicate with any conscious entity - a "me" - residing within a running computer program.
Yet such computer programs display human-like skills of observation, consideration, manipulation and learning. I must conclude, therefore, that for a neural network - natural or artificial - to be able to exhibit these seemingly advanced mental skills, the presence or intervention of a conscious "me" is not a necessity. Consequently, human instinct, whether implanted by nature or acquired as the result of passive experience or active training, must perform its function independently of consciousness.
A computer program, such as a neural network or an expert system, can be made to converse with a human in natural language. It can appear, very convincingly, to be sentient.
But it isn't.
It is simply receiving the asker's question as a stream of syntax and returning the appropriate answer as another stream of syntax, as determined by its internal algorithm. It has no notion of what the syntax means. It has no idea why the algorithm it is following gives the correct answer to the question.
I wager that the same must be true of instinct, whether animal or human; whether natural, acquired or trained.
Language and Meaning
One type of instinct that is uniquely human is abstract language. A human being's pre-installed instinctive programming includes the potential to communicate. The basic elements of communication are noises, facial expressions and bodily gestures. These are, however, superlatively augmented by spoken and written language. Once acquired, the particular language of the society in which one lives becomes part of one's instinct. One becomes able to speak without consciously having to work out how to do so. Beyond its vocabulary and grammar, an acquired language includes the social protocols that provide the channel through which one is able to build relationships with others and thereby become an integral member of a human community.
As with my survival instinct, the mechanisms that enabled me to acquire language must have come pre-installed. This is evinced by the fact that all human beings have language. However, since the particular language I acquired as a child was English, it is obvious that I passively acquired it from my social environment, along with various social protocols and behaviours.
This is substantiated by my observations when, in later life, I learned the Portuguese language. One such observation is as follows. I moved to Brazil in 2004. I started to watch films on television. At first, the vast majority of films transmitted were in English with Portuguese sub-titles. So I could follow them without any effort. As the years passed, however, an ever-greater proportion of the films shown were dubbed in Portuguese. And, of course, in Brazil, there was no need for English sub-titles. To watch them, I had to translate on the fly from Portuguese into English. Consequently, by the end of the film, I was mentally exhausted. Whenever a film started, I listened attentively for the first words. If, as in a diminishing number of cases, they were English, I breathed a sigh of relief, saying to myself, "Thank goodness! It's in English". If, as in an increasing number of cases, they were Portuguese, I knew I was in for a lot of mental work translating the spoken script on the fly from Portuguese into English. Phew!! Then, one day, after a few years, I began to watch a film as usual, with the same apprehension concerning which language the soundtrack would be in. Then, relief. I relaxed. "Thank goodness! It's in English", I said to myself. But the film was in Portuguese. It is at this point that I realised that the Portuguese language had become instinctive in my mind. I could follow the Portuguese soundtrack without having to consciously translate on the fly into English. I could think in Portuguese.
Language also enables me to learn specialized knowledge and acquire specialized skills that society has developed over generations. These become programmed into my subconscious. They become instinctive. I do not thereafter have to reason them out from first principles every time I wish to use them. The only conscious thing I need to do is decide on the purpose to which I wish to apply them and when to do so. Such knowledge helps me to better understand life and the world in which I live. Such skills help me to make better and more sustainable use of my terrestrial environment in acquiring my needs of life.
Each of the above kinds of instinct has its primitive counterpart in the lives and social behaviours of higher non-human animals. Many have some form of language, social protocol and even rudimentary technologies.
Nevertheless, although higher animals can be described as conscious, I do not think they have the ability to reason abstractly to any significant depth. If an animal is ever going to be able to do something novel that is outside the scope of its natural instinct, it must be trained by a human.
This leads me to conclude that human instinct (whether pre-installed or acquired), animal instinct and so-called artificial intelligence are all of the same ilk. They each receive data (in the form of syntax) that is processed according to an algorithm that produces output data (again in the form of syntax). The whole process is subconscious and does not involve any understanding or abstraction of meaning. It therefore does not necessitate the faculty of consciousness.
On the other hand, the creation and implantation of new instinctive methodology does necessitate conscious thought.
Artificial reprogramming can implant new methods and procedures within the human instinct. These new methods and procedures can add to or replace some or all of what nature pre-installed. They can be different from, and even contrary to, natural instinct. The immense power of artificial reprogramming of the human instinct is evinced by the effect of the training received by the English Redcoats in preparation for the Battle of Culloden.
Those who thought out the strategy of having the English Redcoat bayonet the Highlander on his right had to apply conscious thought to the problem. The English Redcoat receiving the training had to apply conscious thought to learning and ingraining the technique until it became automatic.
There was, however, a fundamental difference between the conscious thought of the strategist and the conscious thought of the soldier. The strategist had to consider his strategy. He had to take upon himself the free volition to criticise and change his ideas as he went. He had to think creatively. The Redcoat, on the other hand, was duty-bound not to question anything. He was obliged to blindly accept what he was being told to do. He had to suppress completely his natural human propensity to question and criticise the instructions he was being given.
Unfortunately, the majority of people in society seem to be like the Redcoat. They consciously learn but blindly accept. This is not natural. It is also very dangerous, especially when it involves moral values.
As a human being, I perceive that I possess an additional instinctive faculty that is a quantum leap above those of any non-human terrestrial life-form. This additional instinctive faculty is my instinctive sense of right and wrong, which is generally referred to as my conscience. It determines how I think human beings ought to relate and behave towards each other as opposed to the way they do relate and behave towards each other. It determines my moral values and attitudes.
The programming within my basic instinct serves to protect and preserve my life and well-being. It therefore causes me to respond to external events in a defensive manner. It also causes me to take whatever action is required to obtain my needs of life. As such, it promotes what would be generally seen to be a selfish mode of behaviour. However, through the uniquely-human faculty of conscious volition, I am able to change or add to the subconscious programming that nature pre-installed into my formative mind.
My conscience gives me a sense of conviction as to how I ought to respond, mentally or physically, to a particular external event. It is a moral force that pressures me consciously to respond in a way opposed to that in which my natural pre-installed programming would automatically have me respond. It is a consciously controllable force that elevates my behaviour above that determined by my basic instinct.
Consequently, by habitually following my conscience, I develop an additional mode of behaviour to that which is motivated solely by my natural instinct of self-preservation. My instinct thereby becomes a machine comprising two finite complex-dynamical states.
Its basic (or ground) state embodies the behaviour of self-preservation and well-being which nature originally installed. Its higher state embodies an egalitarian behaviour that facilitates intimate relationships with others of like mind.
I consciously choose to temper my natural instinct according to the dictates of my conscience, steadfastly rejecting all opposing effort by any external agency to covertly reprogram it. I thereby construct, within my instinct, programming that is additional to that which nature pre-installed. This additional programming gives rise to a responsive behaviour that is different from that to which my pre-installed programming alone gives rise. It may in some ways be seen as working contrary to my natural instinct. However, in reality, it works exactly the same way. It simply incorporates an additional object of focus.
That additional object of focus is my neighbour. The pre-installed programming within my instinct motivates me automatically to sustain and protect me and my extended self. The additional programming, constructed by my habitual adherence to the dictates of my conscience, motivates me also to sustain and protect my neighbour. This appears to be a very simple addition to my automatic behaviour. But it opens the door to a new paradigm. It enables me to relate with others on an egalitarian basis. It enables the conscious entity that is "me" to build and develop a peer-to-peer relationship with a different conscious entity that is not "me" but "somebody else".
I may not always be able to live up to the moral values to which my conscience binds me. Nevertheless, they are the moral values to which I am convinced that I ought to endeavour to live. I have no doubt about what they are.
I think it is important to make the distinction here between what I see as two separate things. Firstly, I find that there exists, embedded within my instinct, a clear set of moral values that tell me right from wrong. Secondly, I find myself subjected to an internal force of conviction that imposes upon me an uncomfortable sense called guilt if I do something that my embedded moral values have defined to be wrong.
Operating in its default (or animal) state, my mind is driven by a natural force that takes its direction from my embedded basic instinct of survival. Operating in its elevated state, my mind is driven by the spiritual force of conscience and takes its direction from the moral values engraved within my instinct.
I find that my moral values are simply there within my mind. I have no recollection of having learned them or of having put them there. As such, they are part of my instinct. In any given situation, I would normally just follow them automatically. However, if a situation should arise in which the dictates of my basic instinct conflict too strongly with the dictates of my moral values, I may automatically contemplate an action that would violate my moral values.
In such an event, my conscience causes a pang of guilt to arise within my conscious mind. It makes me consciously aware that I am subconsciously about to take an action that would violate the dictates of my moral values. I surmise that the strength of the pang of guilt be a positive function of the magnitude or seriousness of the contemplated violation. Guilt is thus like a course correction signal displayed to an aircraft pilot on his course deviation indicator. Its magnitude increases rapidly according to how far off the straight and narrow my contemplated action would push me.
In steering what I see as the right course in my life, my only and ultimate authority is my conscience. This appears to be the case for most, if not all. Notwithstanding, as I have discussed at length in another article, the magnitude of the force of conscience varies vastly from person to person. Some have a strong conviction to follow their internally-embedded moral values. Others have only a weak conviction.
If I be one whose conscience is weak, I preserve and follow only my basic instinct, essentially ignoring my conscience. My behaviour is driven by an instinct in which the natural pre-installed programming has been neither altered nor augmented. My motivation and ambition is focused towards protecting, sustaining and bettering myself.
However, though my basic instinct be natural, my social environment isn't. I am immersed in a global politico-economic system that encourages and demands selfish pursuit. It provides a fertile environment in which the elements of my basic instinct transform into well-honed business skills. It inflates my ambitions beyond just what is required to gain my needs of life. My drive for self-gain becomes super-regenerative. I burn with an unquenchable craving for unlimited wealth.
I am a free enterprising privateer. For me, community does not exist. I gain at the loss of my inferior fellows. I cast the debts of my failures upon victims who are too small to afford my protection of limited liability. I am a dog who eats dogs. I am arrogant in my success. I eye the sheepish majority with contempt. I see others only as expendable economic resources. If they have no financial value to me, I have no interest in them. I am isolated and alone within my own self-made protective bubble. Always on the defensive. Always on the offensive. I cannot relate with the conscious entity that is within another. I am an empty soul, my conscience trodden down and extinguished.
Why the magnitude of the guilt signal should display such a variation in amplitude among different individuals seems a bit of a mystery to me. However, by far the greater mystery is that the sets of moral values, to which different people's consciences refer, appear to differ. Different people seem to have different sets of moral values installed within their instincts. And the differences can be very significant. Different people's senses of what is right and what is wrong can even be diametrically opposed. And this can be true for people in close proximity within the same society, community, or even the same family.
It is well known that not everybody is the same. We all develop differently according to our different positions in time, space and the social order. Educationally, I specialized in maths and physics. Other people specialize in art and literature, and so on. However, the different areas and disciplines of cultural, academic, and professional knowledge are not at odds with each other. They are, if anything, complementary.
So why is it different with moral values and attitudes? People with different moral values and attitudes are almost always at odds with each other. They disagree. Each would prefer that all subscribed to the same moral values and exhibited the same moral attitudes that he does. Many would like to be able to enforce their own moral values and attitudes upon everybody. Why do different people have different and mutually incompatible sets of moral values?
If moral values be part of the instinctive programming that nature embeds within the human mind, I would expect them to be essentially the same in everybody. Of course, I would expect some degree of variation. However, I would also expect individual variants to be complementary. I would not expect them to be diametrically at odds with each other. Their mutual incompatibility suggests to me that the moral values embedded within the minds of different individuals must have different origins.
It seems self-evident to me that my capacity or ability to acquire language, artistic appreciation, academic knowledge and technical skills must have come pre-installed. On the other hand, it is equally self-evident that I must have acquired the appreciation, knowledge and skills themselves from the society in which I lived my formative years. But what about my moral values and attitudes? Did they come as part of the pre-installed instinct specified within my genetic code or were they passively absorbed from my socio-cultural environment?
I have never read or studied anything about politics, economics or sociology. The only history I studied was at school. I have never subscribed to a newspaper, whether broadsheet or tabloid. I have always preferred to observe for myself rather than read mainstream reporting. I was brought up as a nominal Anglican but I became disillusioned. I later joined an American cult religion in which I remained for 7 years. However, my moral values and attitudes are distinctly contrary to those taught to me at school or by either of these two religious influences.
What I observe is that, within society as a whole, a certain "norm" in moral values and attitudes prevails. These become formally expressed as a social philosophy or political agenda. I further observe that the particular set of moral values and attitudes, that I feel bound to embrace, are diametrically at odds with this social norm. I surmise, therefore, that my particular set of moral values and attitudes cannot have originated from the society in which I live.
So where could my particular set of moral values and attitudes and my irresistible conviction to hold and follow them have come from? Were they pre-installed within my subconscious mind from instructions carried within my genetic code? Are they in effect shone into my subconscious mind from a hidden dimension that is beyond the tangible reach of the physical human senses? Or did they indeed enter my mind from a dispersed minority within my socio-cultural environment to which my formative mind just happened to be in sympathetic resonance? I don't really know. I don't even know if the answer is possible to know.
What I strongly sense, however, is that my particular set of moral values and attitudes and my irresistible conviction to hold and follow them are natural. On the other hand, I observe that the majority of society has had its natural moral values and attitudes erased and replaced, and its conscience redirected. I speculate that this is because the vast majority always takes the lazy option.
The Lazy Option
I am naturally self-motivated and self-directed. That is why I adhere to my natural internal moral values and attitudes and follow my natural conscience, irrespective of what the majority may think of me. It is my natural conviction to do so. However, were I to grow tired of the effort required to follow this way of life, I could take what I call the lazy option and live as follows.
I passively allow the State to covertly erase and reprogram my natural moral instinct. My egalitarian moral values are thus replace by a morality that works in the selfish interest of a small elite. My natural obligation to sustain and protect self, family and community becomes transferred to king and country. I ignore the voice of my conscience. I am a loyal citizen of the State. I am an unquestioning patriot. I am a subservient employee. I exist as a competing human resource, there to be used and abused as a cog in the economic machine or as cannon-fodder in wars of global ambition. I become a non-thinker, my potential for meaningful reason dissipated in trivia like football, sex, booze and soap operas. I am a conformative member of that herd of sheep known as the vast majority.
The tactical training imposed on the English Redcoats in preparation for the Battle of Culloden illustrates clearly how the technical aspects of human instinct can be totally re-programmed by agents of the State. However, the English Redcoat submitted to this re-programming because he was either paid or forcibly conscripted to do so. The soldier obediently serves the will of the State because he is kept in line by the army's command hierarchy. But how can the State keep the whole of society in line? Compared with society, the army is relatively small. The structures within society are also more complex and fluid. The State could not possibly control society simply by subjecting its citizens to the techniques of tactical training. The State gains and sustains its control of society not by re-programming the technical aspects of the citizen's instinct but by re-programming his moral instinct.
Those who would elevate themselves in the social order discovered long ago how to turn the natural maliability of human instinct to their selfish advantage. They deliberately manipulate the individual's instinct to serve their ends. They re-program the instinct of common man to put loyalty to king and lord above loyalty to self, family and community. In modern society, king and lord have been replaced by the State and the private corporation.
Re-programming the individual's instinct is also how the State tranquillizes its subject population. By focusing the popular mind on sex, football and soap operas, the state enlists the power of peer pressure to deflate and ridicule the efforts of any who would bother to think for themselves and question the status quo. The thought-numbing effect of foam-filled television keeps the popular mind anaesthetized with trivia while the relentless drip-feed of the tabloid press re-programs the popular instinct with incongruous free-market loyalties. The result is unnatural human behaviour.
A natural human community, with direct use of adequate terrestrial resources, cares for its needy and disadvantaged. It can see who needs help and encouragement through constant direct informal contact. The inhabitants of a modern State, on the other hand, are relatively disconnected from each other. They are induced to assume that the State's social care systems care for the needy and disadvantaged. Consequently, they do not see any reason for helping their fellows. The attitudes that emanate from their re-programmed instincts are that the health authority takes care of those who are ill and the unemployed are lazy good-for-nothing layabouts who well deserve their circumstances.
The result is that those who, through no fault of their own, find themselves having to cope with a disease that medical science chooses not to recognize, or who no longer fit the profile of an idealized employee, are left to exist in misery and social rejection. The conscience of society has been re-programmed to believe that this austere attitude is right and just and will cure such malingerers of their laziness. Unfortunately, the bloody-minded non-recognition of a problem does not make it go away.
Another piece of deliberately erroneous re-programming that the modern State perpetrates is the belief that the free-market economy is a so-called level playing field. Every individual has exactly the same chance of getting rich. All they need to do is work hard. It does not take much thought to conclude that this could only possibly be true if every individual started life with exactly the same resources and opportunities. In a capitalist free-market world, clearly they don't. They are left competing, in a quest for unlimited self-gain, with a minority elite who possess practically all the economic resources of the planet.
The result is the misery in which most of us have always lived. But who is to blame? Certainly the psychopathic elite who have no compunction in using, abusing and exploiting the rest of humanity for their own selfish ends. But so too is the rest of humanity whose members are too lazy to think for themselves and too cowardly to act unilaterally against their elite dominators.
I am painfully aware that I am miserably unresourced and utterly impotent for undertaking any real quest to change society for the better. Nevertheless, I can, by taking sincere considered thought, at least construct an honest ideology within my mind of the way I perceive that human beings could live together in mutual benevolence. Every sentient human being on this planet has the invincible power to do this, should he so wish.
Were we each and all to do so with egalitarian sincerity, I surmise that there would be surprising convergence among our individual ideologies.
Protecting One's Instinct
Allowing external agents to augment one's instinct is not necessarily a bad thing. Education is an example where it can be good. For instance, I actively cooperated with my educators to allow them to augment my instinct through mental and physical training. This is why I can instantly multiply two numbers between 2 and 12 without effort. It is also the reason I can ride a bicycle without having to pay constant conscious attention to what I am doing. This is, in principle, how all academic and professional skills are acquired. Once acquired, they are automatic. They do not need the conscious mind in order to function.
One the other hand, established accounts of history, the sentiments of established literature and the moralities taught by established religions are wide open to elite abuse. They reflect what the elite of the epoch imposed upon all whom they dominated. It is fine to read and hear what they say but not to blindly accept it without deep personal analytical consideration as to its validity.
What is of far greater concern to me, however, is my awareness that others can modify my instinct covertly through passive induction and deception to create false illusions within my mind. For instance, my political opinions could be subliminally moulded through the constant drip-feed of political propaganda through the tabloid media. Guarding against the subconscious invasion of one's mind by such elite-orchestrated mischief demands continuous vigilance. One must always consciously analyse what one hears and sees before consciously deciding whether or not to accept it.
© 26 April 2010 Robert John Morton