Is There A Relationship Between "Anticipations" and "Instinct"?

  • If you want my opinion on the issue of the "prolepses" and as said by Epicurus, he did not mean only the insticts. Prolepses are in accordance with the enviroment too. BOTH insticts/dna/talents AND the enviroment are the prolepses. We may be born with some faculties, but there is the enviroment that has the power to change something that is innate in us. We are not be born with ready made patterns and ideas. We have the faculty to speak, but we must learn the words of a language that is going along with the things that we pre-receive (προλαμβάνω [pre-receive] is the greek verb for the word "prolepses') with our senses and feelings around us. All are going in accordance with the experiences and the phenomena of the reality and our brain accumulates knowledges from our infancy. IF we were as pre-programmed to think or act on something, from our born till our death then <<the swerve>> that means our autonomy and responsibility to change things in accordance to the phenomena of the reality, could never be happen! Thus, IMO the prolepses that means only insticts, goes hand in hand with the idea of an absolute determinism. In the phenomena of Nature, there is neither an absolute determinism nor an absolute indeterminism.

    In the following photos we see the Synaptic plasticity of the brain.

    When engaged in new experiences and learning, the brain establishes a series of neural pathways. These neural pathways, or circuits, are routes made of inter-connecting neurons. These routes are created in the brain through daily use and practice; much like a mountain path is made by daily use of a shepherd (e.g. Epicurus as a teacher) and his herd (e.g. friends and students of his school).

    The neurons in a neural pathway communicate with each other through connections called synapses, and these communication pathways can regenerate throughout your whole life. Each time that we gain new knowledge (through repeated practice), the synaptic communication between neurons is strengthened. A better connection between the neurons means that the electric signals travel more efficiently when creating or using a new pathway.
    For example, when trying to recognize a new bird, new connections are made among specific neurons. Neurons in the visual cortex determine its color, the auditory cortex identifies its song, and other, the name of the bird. In order to know what bird it is, its attributes, its color, song, and name are repeated many times. Revisiting the neural circuit and re-establishing neuronal transmission between the implicated neurons at each new attempt enhances the efficiency of synaptic transmission. Communication between the relevant neurons is facilitated, cognition made faster and faster. Synaptic plasticity is perhaps the pillar on which the brain's amazing malleability rests.


    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • he did not mean only the insticts

    That is a key sentence. You do agree that instincts do exist within humans too? So that both instincts at birth do exist, but also experience comes into play after birth? No one seems to argue that instincts alone exist, but many seem to want to argue that experience after birth is the ONLY mechanism that exists.

    Would your Greek beavers build dams even if separated from their parents and other beavers at birth?

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    The pig may have to yield some of its place as an Epicurean symbol if this keeps up.

    Off topic, but I discovered recently that Samos was one of a handful of Ionian cities that used flying boars on its coinage. I've searched widely, but nobody seems to know exactly why. Predates Epicurus by centuries.

  • According to evolution humans brain has been evolved into three parts (see photo).

    Whilst all humans have these three parts of their brain present at birth, they don’t develop for several years. One very important part of the brain – the orbitofrontal cortex does not develop until the child is three. This part of the brain is responsible for emotional intelligence, our ability to see the world from another’s point of view and manage strong emotions such as rage or fear.

    The development of this part of the brain and many others is not something that just happens naturally. It relies heavily on the interactions of others, namely the main caregivers of the child. Much of a baby’s brain is ‘plastic’ so early experiences have a formative effect on how they will go on to interpret the world and form relationships later on in life. Parental interactions help form the synapses and bridges that give the child healthy solutions to difficult situations.

    Luckily, there isn’t a complicated set of tasks or exercises that parents should complete to aid the development of their child’s brains. Nurturing and interacting is the key, teaching a child that their needs will get responded to in a caring, affectionate way, talking to them, showing them patience and even just eye contact are all important in helping your child’s brain develop.

    As parents, we won’t always get it right, we all get frustrated and snap at our children at times, but even the process of apologizing and things becoming OK again is very useful for our children’s developing brains.

    What if it goes wrong?

    Of course, not all children will have positive experiences in the first few years of life. For instance, children who have a depressed or anxious main care giver may experience less positive interactions than other children.

    We often hear from parents who are wracked with guilt that their post-natal depression has prevented them from bonding with their child. We have worked with children whose adopted parents are struggling with some of the issues that have arisen due to the child’s early neglect. Many parents are anxious that it might be too late for things to change, but we know that things can and do get better, if the right help is sought.

    We can read more here on this link and many other links: https://www.clinical-partners.…ur-child-has-three-brains

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • Just FYI: Modern brain research has debunked the 3-part human brain. All mammalian brains (and possibly others, sorry, can't recall off the top of my head .... pun not necessarily intended) contain all those parts to varying degrees. See the work of Dr. Barrett and others.…dont-have-a-lizard-brain/

  • Would your Greek beavers build dams even if separated from their parents and other beavers at birth?

    Aristotle that maybe he had observed the greek beavers and many animals may would give you the response to your question. :)

    IMO beavers are not able to build dams IF they will be separated from their parents and IF in their enviroment they will not have interactions and meetings with other beavers to learn from them how to build their dams and how to co-exist with them.

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • Don does Dr. Barett mean that all the neurologists (including the founding member in Athens Garden mr. Christos Yapijakis) are based till our days on a wrong theory? Oh gee! ^^

  • I am not exactly a farm boy but I have some experience now and my gut tells me that the beavers don't need to be taught. However that is not a persuasive argument. I think it would be the wrong approach to turn every question of Epicurean philosophy into a course in reviewing science journals, but we do need a method that appears satisfactory for some of the basic points. I actually think this one ("instinct") is more fundamental then the eternal or infinite universe issue because it affects us more directly.

  • Another way of asking the method question is "Suppose Martin does some reading and on the podcast Sunday he says "I am now convinced that beavers do (or do not) need to be taught dambuilding." What is our proper approach for communicating something like that? Do we need to say who it is we are trusting, or explain our reason why we are sure? I think in our philosophy discussions it would be desirable to find a way to state opinions on issues like that in a firm but still friendly way, suggesting to people how it is that they themselves should go about deciding what they think is true.

  • Ok Godfrey you started this. What would you say to Elli's Greek beavers who need training in building dams?

    I would think that beavers would need to learn to build dams. But one of Don's links explains that they don't, so if that's correct then as good Epicureans ;) that should be our basis for going forward.

    Meanwhile, I got around to reading the links that I attached earlier. It turns out that one is pretty useless, but the other describes some of the history of this debate (although not specifically beavers). I've attached the paper from the second link here. Better minds than mine have wrestled with this for a long time!

    So I guess the bottom line is "damned if I know!" (Sorry, I couldn't resist. )

  • And now we add to the list of fact issues: "is the brain triune like the godhead?". :-)

    Developing a method for dealing with fact disputes apparently is something we'll need to figure out!

    Doing some additional reading, I found that the triune brain myth is more akin to Plato's analogy of the mind as the charioteer and the two horses. It's more of an analogy. However, it is also misleading in portraying how the brain is actually structured and how it evolved.

    See also:…ned-but-still-compelling/

    "The triune brain is a combination of Plato’s tripartite psyche and Aristotle’s and Darwin’s phylogenetic scale, tattooed onto the human brain. Plato wrote that the human psyche consists of three parts: rational thoughts, passions (which today we call emotions), and appetites like the drive for hunger and sex. Rational thought was in charge, controlling the passions and appetites, an arrangement that Plato described as a charioteer wrangling two winged horses."…_emotion_neuroletters.pdf

    The triune brain in antiquity: Plato, Aristotle, Erasistratus. "This paper investigates its origins and suggests that it is perhaps now time to move on."

    and, finally, probably the best scientific paper title I've ever seen: "Your Brain Is Not an Onion With a Tiny Reptile Inside"

  • I think keeping good humor as with deal with factual debates like this is essential. I don't need to even get close to an allusion to the political world for us to recall how even today some science debates get caught up with a fervor that it would take a Galileo to appreciate!

    But at risk of getting a slight bit more serious, I think we're about to open Pandora's box with Elli's references to Christos Y.'s position on the brain issues, given his status as a medical professional, and I have this gut field (instinct? :-) ) that issues like this are percolating only slightly below the surface in the Greek Epicurean world.

    We could easily find ourselves in a situation where we conclude based on a combination of personal observation and some number of studies that we conclude that instinct is a much more potent force in the animal kingdom than it's generally given credit for, and that might not at all be received well in certain circles which take a different position on the science as it relates to Epicurus.

    "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" is clearly in my mind the right path to take, but it's probably going to take a mixture of good humor and articulation of a method for how educated laymen should approach "science" issues in order not to get caught in some explosions. I'm seeing a pattern that this kind of issue is popping up frequently, so we probably need some kind of "Order of Merit" badge to award for he/she/or they who come up with a good way to deal with the "educated layman" vs "expert" issue. In the legal world I'm very comfortable that I want my juries to be composed of ordinary people of good sense, rather than "experts," but I'm not sure that position is as widely embraced as it used to be, and I think i recall that it may always have been the "American" view as opposed to the Continent.

    I know there are references in the Epicurean texts to these issues as well, not the least of which was the issue of how and why Epicurus held his views on the size of the sun. On that I'll still take the position that while he proved to be factually wrong, his reasoning and approach (especially if we knew more details of what he himself thought rather than what's said about what he thought) were probably valid and remain a model today of how to deal with conflicting information - with the main thing that's changed being that we have more information than was available then.

  • "Plato wrote that the human psyche consists of three parts: rational thoughts, passions (which today we call emotions), and appetites like the drive for hunger and sex. Rational thought was in charge, controlling the passions and appetites, an arrangement that Plato described as a charioteer wrangling two winged horses."

    This quote from the paper I referenced got me to think that it may be tempting to see the three Platonic parts of the psyche as comparable somehow to the three legs of the Epicurean Canon somehow. However, that temptation or any permutation of it should be resisted at all costs. That - or the idea of the triune brain analogy - sets up a false hierarchy.

    I think we've discussed elsewhere that the "parts" of the Canon work in concert, each influencing the other. That's, personally, what I find so elegant about seeing Epicurean parallels in Dr. Barrett's work and that of her colleagues. Sensations influence affect which influences concepts which influence how sensations are processed which... And translated into Epicurean terms: sensations influence the two pathē (pleasure and pain) which influence prolepses which influence how sensations are processed... It's not a 1:1 correspondence but I think it has promise and it aligns with the most current brain research.

    Where does this leave us in the instinct question? I don't know if you can separate "nature vs nurture." One influences the other. They're inextricably linked. It's even been found that the environment has an effect on the expression of some genes. Cues in the environment can activate certain genes and these can be inherited by offspring. That's, as I understand, a recent finding. See, for example,

  • I don't know if you can separate "nature vs nurture."

    Almost certainly they work together hand in hand as you say, and I suspect no one in their right mind who thinks "nature" is an influence would deny nurture also is at work. But the reverse is not true. Those who push "nurture" are heavily invested in a total "blank slate" and I think we are seeing that as we observe the surprising lack of research on instinct the results of that attitude.

    There is no way in 2021 we should be lacking a conclusion on beaver-dam-building or many other aspects of animal behavior.

  • Here's an example that might appeal to some. If (hopefully when) we are one day able to reconstruct Jurassic-Park style a new generation of ancient dinosaurs, would we not expect to see them exhibit behaviorisms that were typical of their ancestors eons ago, even though by the terms of their resurrection none of them ever met their parents?