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Sioux Falls Feminists endorse Basic Instinct for challenging
some of our basic assumptions regarding the interaction
of evolution, genetics, instincts, and experience.

Basic Instinct
The Genesis of Behavior
By Mark Blumberg

Basic Instinct (2005) - 261 pages
Basic Instinct at Amazon.com

What makes us what we are? Do our genes really predestine us not only to be effective humans, but to be farmer or soldier, scholar or thief? Or do we go through a minievolution, as it were, developing our "instincts" as we grow, adapting to the environments we encounter?

A panicked mother runs through highway traffic to save her wandering child. A green turtle swims hundreds of miles to return to the beach on which it was hatched. Your child utters her first word. Have you ever wondered what causes you to react in a certain way to a certain situation...and if you would react differently under different circumstances?

From Charles Darwin to Malcolm Gladwell, writers and scientists have been fascinated by what prompts us to make snap decisions. In Basic Instinct, award-winning neuroscientist Mark W. Blumberg provides readers with a logical perspective that does not rely on the cliched explanations that have become so prevalent among scientists and laypeople alike. Blumberg delves into the debate between the nativists and evolutionary psychologists, who believe we are born with an instinctive knowledge about the world, and the epigeneticists, who believe that instincts are built anew in each of us generation after generation. The result is an entertaining and balanced examination of the role of genes, experience, and evolution in the construction of behavior.

The intellectual struggle with the instinct problem by numerous thinkers - from Plato to Charles Darwin to the present day - has typically revolved around a few critical questions: Is rational, intelligent thought a property of the human mind alone? If so then how do we account for the remarkable fit between animal behavior and biological need, a fit that implies the workings of some form of intelligence? But what is the form of this intelligence - rational intelligence within the animal or divine intelligence injected from without? What is the mechanism by which offspring inherit their parents' instincts? What about experience? Is it not possible that some instincts do not simply appear suddenly, fully formed, as is commonly held, but rather develop through the accumulation of experience? And cannot this prior experience begin to have its effects in the womb or the egg, even before the animal sees the light of day?

These are not idle questions. At stake is man's privileged place in the animal kingdom and the need to posit a god as the ultimate source of intelligent design. So it is hardly surprising that virtually every major scientist, philosopher, and theologian has had something to say about instincts and their source, and much has been written about each of these individual thinker's contributions to the debate.

Mark S. Blumberg is a neuroscientist at the University of Iowa and the author of Body Heat: Temperature and Life on Earth. He has published over sixty journal articles and chapters on such topics as sleep, animal behavior, temperature regulation, and communication. He is associate editor of the journal Behavioral Neuroscience. After graduating from Brandeis University, he received his doctorate in biopsychology from the University of Chicago. He is the recipient of an Early Career Award from the American Psychological Association and, most recently, of an Independent Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health.

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Basic Instinct
The Genesis of Behavior
By Mark Blumberg

Sioux Falls Feminists endorse Basic Instinct for challenging
some of our basic assumptions regarding the interaction
of evolution, genetics, instincts, and experience.