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Once upon a time human beings relied on something called instinct, that gut feeling we get when something is about to happen, or something isn’t right, or we should simply be aware of our surroundings. Eventually instinct gave way to the knowledge that what we felt was right, that what was right was predictable, and that eventually what was predictable would remain so and give way to something that would eventually become known as intelligence. It’s a leap, I understand, but it’s the path that was taken by humanity when instinct was eventually replaced, in some, by the pursuit of knowledge that would lead to intelligence of the sort that made our gut feelings less than relevant.

Instinct is still a very strong trait in many humans, it’s part of what keeps us safe, as it is alluded to be the same as common sense in some cases, while in others it is more akin to a link to the natural world that our earliest ancestors relied upon to stay alive. In today’s world however it would appear that instinct is less appealing than intelligence when it comes to making decisions concerning one’s life. Intelligence has become in some ways the accepted substitute for the innate understanding that people once used to function in the everyday world.

In truth, instinct is a fine thing on its own, as is intelligence, but apart they’re little more than desirable traits in any species. Together, they’re able to create a free-thinking being that has the ability to change and adapt to the world around them in a variety of ways.

Instinct is older than intelligence.

This is highly debatable of course since the two are so interconnected that separating them from one another would be nigh impossible if a creature with any mental capacity was to survive. But the rough and tumble truth of it is that intelligence is defined as the ability to gather information, more or less, while instinct is defined as an innate, fixed set of behaviors that are genetically present and help an organism to survive. The statement that instinct bred intelligence is accurate enough, but it also means that on a very basic level that instinct had to come first and, as a result, is just slightly older than intelligence.

Organisms from the smallest to the greatest have the instinct to survive by any means necessary and will take it more often than not. The living want to go on living and are given an undefined feeling that to do anything less is simply unacceptable. If there is any real meaning of life it is that we will continually struggle to hold onto it, even if it’s done out of little more than habit. At our most basic level, human beings will rely on instinct when all else has been stripped away.

Instincts are difficult to master but are quite often correct.

ralphwaldoemerson1

Instincts and intelligence tend to war with one another quite often as they work at opposite poles of the psyche. Instincts are your common sense, your fight or flight, and your most basic response commands that rest deep within your personality. In some people they’re very strong while in others they tend to be weaker as people decide not to listen to them or trust their own line of thinking. Living at an instinctual level is not easy, nor is it possible to master in a short time, but instincts are what keep people moving and keep them alive on a day to day basis. Intelligence is the byproduct of instinct, and therefore becomes the compliment as well as the polar opposite that continues to stand at odds with one another despite their constant collusion.

Trusting your instincts is difficult if you’ve never been allowed to follow them. But relying on intelligence for every last facet of life not the solution.

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