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Re: [evol-psych] do humans have instinctive behavior?

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  • Robert Karl Stonjek
    Fredric Weizmann ... RKS: The books to which you refer, Susan Oyama s Evolution s Eye and The Ontogeny of Information , come from information theory and
    Message 1 of 11 , Aug 31, 2004
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      Fredric Weizmann
      > There has hardly been a topic in psychology and related fields on
      which
      > more has been written or on which there has been more research.
      There is
      > a  long history of research and debates on this top
      instinct (beginning
      > with behaviorist criticisms of the concept of
      instinct in the 1920's)
      > and related topics, at the end of which there I
      think a general
      > consensus was achieved that the division of complex
      behavioral patterns
      > into innate and learned components was
      oversimplified and
      > counter-productive. Some of the main figures in this
      literature include
      > Frank Beach, the early ethologists (Lorenz in
      particular), Danny
      > Lehrman, Ethel Tobach, Bill Verplanck, and more
      recently Susan
      > Oyama,Patrick Bateson and Gilbert Gottlieb. One good
      place to start is
      > Susan Oyama's "Evolution's Eye" or "The Ontogeny of
      Information". I
      > think that almost every aspect of this question has
      been examined and
      > raised in this literature and I doubt if anyone here
      will come up with
      > something new. Whether one agrees or disagrees with
      the various
      > protagonists, or my contention that there is a rough
      consensus on this
      > issue, one need not re-invent the wheel and (to mix
      my metaphors) start
      > from scratch. The lack of collective memory 
      or even an awareness that
      > there is a history to topics such as these
      among scientists, let alone
      > educated lay-persons, is
      depressing.
      >
      RKS:
      The books to which you refer, Susan Oyama's "Evolution's Eye" and "The Ontogeny of Information", come from information theory and reject the nature/nurture debate as well as distinct biological or environmental causes of behaviour.  This would seem to me to be a particular view of evolution and behaviour - does she define behaviour and instinctual behaviour in an Evolutionary-Psychology-friendly manner or a systems-theory-friendly manner?
       
      I would point out that definitions suitable for use in Evolutionary Psychology should be considered if no general or relevant definition is available.  Judging by the book description at Amazon, Oyama rejects much of what is Evolutionary Psychology.  The book description for "Evolution's Eye: A Systems View of the Biology-Culture Divide (Science and Cultural Theory)" from Amazon is pasted below my signoff,
       
      Kind Regards
      Robert Karl Stonjek
       
      Book Description
      In recent decades, Susan Oyama and her colleagues in the burgeoning field of developmental systems theory have rejected the determinism inherent in the nature/nurture debate, arguing that behavior cannot be reduced to distinct biological or environmental causes. In Evolution's Eye Oyama elaborates on her pioneering work on developmental systems by spelling out that work's implications for the fields of evolutionary theory, developmental and social psychology, feminism, and epistemology. Her approach profoundly alters our understanding of the biological processes of development and evolution and the interrelationships between them.
      While acknowledging that, in an uncertain world, it is easy to "blame it on the genes," Oyama claims that the renewed trend toward genetic determinism colors the way we think about everything from human evolution to sexual orientation and personal responsibility. She presents instead a view that focuses on how a wide variety of developmental factors interact in the multileveled developmental systems that give rise to organisms. Shifting attention away from genes and the environment as causes for behavior, she convincingly shows the benefits that come from thinking about life processes in terms of developmental systems that produce, sustain, and change living beings over both developmental and evolutionary time.
       
      Providing a genuine alternative to genetic and environmental determinism, as well as to unsuccessful compromises with which others have tried to replace them, Evolution's Eye will fascinate students and scholars who work in the fields of evolution, psychology, human biology, and philosophy of science. Feminists and others who seek a more complex view of human nature will find her work especially congenial.
    • Fredric Weizmann
      I do not know what you mean when you say that Susan Oyama rejects evolutionary psychology. She is in fact, Darwinian. As I said in my post you can disagree
      Message 2 of 11 , Sep 2, 2004
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        I do not know what you mean when you say that "Susan Oyama rejects evolutionary psychology." She is in fact,  Darwinian. As I said in my post you can disagree with her solution (although you do not mention Patrick Bateson or Gill Gottlieb's work), but in any event, that hardly vitiates my more general and more important point that there is an eighty year history of this topic(actually, more than a hundred year year depending on where one wants to start) that has largely been ignored. I do note that one of the participants has referenced some of the problems that surrounded the concept of instinct, as embodied in McDougall's work, in the 1920's, which was at least part of the reason the concept disappeared for many years. Those who wish to use a defensible concept of instinct (a goal which is not unreasonable) should be aware of the problems that earlier proponents of the concept ran into when they tried to overextend the idea.

        Fredric Weizmann



        [Moderator's Note: The appended text 'Book Description' is copied and pasted from Amazon.com and does not reflect opinions held be me - RKS]

        Robert Karl Stonjek wrote:
        Fredric Weizmann
        > There has hardly been a topic in psychology and related fields on which
        > more has been written or on which there has been more research. There is
        > a  long history of research and debates on this top instinct (beginning
        > with behaviorist criticisms of the concept of instinct in the 1920's)
        > and related topics, at the end of which there I think a general
        > consensus was achieved that the division of complex behavioral patterns
        > into innate and learned components was oversimplified and
        > counter-productive. Some of the main figures in this literature include
        > Frank Beach, the early ethologists (Lorenz in particular), Danny
        > Lehrman, Ethel Tobach, Bill Verplanck, and more recently Susan
        > Oyama,Patrick Bateson and Gilbert Gottlieb. One good place to start is
        > Susan Oyama's "Evolution's Eye" or "The Ontogeny of Information". I
        > think that almost every aspect of this question has been examined and
        > raised in this literature and I doubt if anyone here will come up with
        > something new. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the various
        > protagonists, or my contention that there is a rough consensus on this
        > issue, one need not re-invent the wheel and (to mix my metaphors) start
        > from scratch. The lack of collective memory  or even an awareness that
        > there is a history to topics such as these among scientists, let alone
        > educated lay-persons, is depressing.
        >
        RKS:
        The books to which you refer, Susan Oyama's "Evolution's Eye" and "The Ontogeny of Information", come from information theory and reject the nature/nurture debate as well as distinct biological or environmental causes of behaviour.  This would seem to me to be a particular view of evolution and behaviour - does she define behaviour and instinctual behaviour in an Evolutionary-Psychology-friendly manner or a systems-theory-friendly manner?
         
        I would point out that definitions suitable for use in Evolutionary Psychology should be considered if no general or relevant definition is available.  Judging by the book description at Amazon, Oyama rejects much of what is Evolutionary Psychology.  The book description for "Evolution's Eye: A Systems View of the Biology-Culture Divide (Science and Cultural Theory)" from Amazon is pasted below my signoff,
         
        Kind Regards
        Robert Karl Stonjek
         
        Book Description
        In recent decades, Susan Oyama and her colleagues in the burgeoning field of developmental systems theory have rejected the determinism inherent in the nature/nurture debate, arguing that behavior cannot be reduced to distinct biological or environmental causes. In Evolution's Eye Oyama elaborates on her pioneering work on developmental systems by spelling out that work's implications for the fields of evolutionary theory, developmental and social psychology, feminism, and epistemology. Her approach profoundly alters our understanding of the biological processes of development and evolution and the interrelationships between them.
        While acknowledging that, in an uncertain world, it is easy to "blame it on the genes," Oyama claims that the renewed trend toward genetic determinism colors the way we think about everything from human evolution to sexual orientation and personal responsibility. She presents instead a view that focuses on how a wide variety of developmental factors interact in the multileveled developmental systems that give rise to organisms. Shifting attention away from genes and the environment as causes for behavior, she convincingly shows the benefits that come from thinking about life processes in terms of developmental systems that produce, sustain, and change living beings over both developmental and evolutionary time.
         
        Providing a genuine alternative to genetic and environmental determinism, as well as to unsuccessful compromises with which others have tried to replace them, Evolution's Eye will fascinate students and scholars who work in the fields of evolution, psychology, human biology, and philosophy of science. Feminists and others who seek a more complex view of human nature will find her work especially congenial.
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