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You are here You are here: Home Study Psychology & Mind Fourth Way Reference 4th Way — Instinct References

4th Way — Instinct References

In Search of the Miraculous

(19) instances of Instinct/Instinctive in In Search of the Miraculous
Page No. # Instances Page No. # Instances
Page 45 1 Page 121-122 17
Page 388 1    

The Fourth Way

(10) instances of Instinct/Instinctive in The Fourth Way
Page No. # Instances Page No. # Instances
Page 16 2 Pages  67-68 8

The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution

(9) instances of Instinct/Instinctive in The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution
Page No. # Instances Page No. # Instances
Pages 20-21 9    

The Fourth Way

p 16

The human being is a very complicated machine and has to be studied as a machine. We realize that in order to control any kind of machine, such as a motor car or a railway engine, we should first have to learn. We cannot control these machines instinctively, but for some reason we think that ordinary instinct is sufficient to control the human machine, although it is so much more complicated. This is one of the first wrong assumptions: we do not realize that we have to learn, that control is a question of knowledge and skill.

pps 67-68

Q. I cannot see the importance of the stress laid on centres.

A. It is very important to see that our mind is divided into four minds, that there is no unity in us, that the four minds or functions are quite different. This alone gives one a different picture of oneself.

Q. How can one distinguish between emotion and instinct?

A. It is a very important question and must be solved by one's own observation and study. Instinctive emotions are always connected with something physical. Since modem psychology does not separate instinctive emotions from other emotions there is bound to be some difficulty in understanding the difference. But when you know that they are different, it is possible to distinguish between them.

Q. Is there anything that can control unruly organs or cells?

A. Yes, instinctive centre. Do you think we would be alive for half an hour if instinctive centre did not work? It knows the right and the wrong work of each organ. It always tries to make them work rightly. We think organs work by themselves — this is imagination. They are controlled by instinctive centre.

This is 'instinct' in the real sense in relation to man.

Q. Has the quality of intellect any bearing on the acquisition of consciousness?

A. Yes, because we must begin with intellect. Our intellectual centre is better developed, or more under its own control. The emotional centre is more irresponsible. So, since we have more command of our intellectual centre we have to use it until either we become more conscious or learn to use other functions more efficiently and control them better than we do now. At present we have no control over instinctive and emotional functions, and only a little over the moving function. External influences move them. We cannot be glad or angry without cause, and a cause means something external. Later work must be in the emotional centre because the chief energy is in it. Intellectual centre is only auxiliary, but at present it is all we have.

In Search of the Miraculous

p. 45

"The fact is that the enormous majority of people do not want any knowledge whatever; they refuse their share of it and do not even take the ration allotted to them, in the general distribution, for the purposes of life. This is particularly evident in times of mass madness such as wars, revolutions, and so on, when men suddenly seem to lose even the small amount of common sense they had and turn into complete automatons, giving themselves over to wholesale destruction in vast numbers, in other words, even losing the instinct of self-preservation. Owing to this, enormous quantities of knowledge remain, so to speak, unclaimed and can be distributed among those who realize its value.

pps. 121-122

What was particularly important in G.'s system was the indication that the same actions could originate in different centers. An example is the recruit and the old soldier at rifle drill. One has to perform the drill with his thinking center, the other does it with the moving center, which does it much better.

But G. did not call actions governed by the moving center "automatic." He used the name "automatic" only for the actions which a man performs imperceptibly for himself. If the same actions are observed by a man, they cannot be called "automatic." He allotted a big place to automatism, but regarded the moving functions as distinct from the automatic functions, and, what is most important, he found automatic actions in all centers; he spoke, for instance, of "automatic thoughts" and of "automatic feelings." When I asked him about reflexes he called them "instinctive actions." And as I understood from what followed, among external movements he considered only reflexes to be instinctive actions.

I was very interested in the interrelation of moving and instinctive functions in his description and I often returned to this subject in my talks with him.

First of all G. drew attention to the constant misuse of the words "instinct" and "instinctive." It transpired from what he said that these words could be applied, by rights, only to the inner functions of the organism. The beating of the heart, breathing, the circulation of blood, digestion — these were instinctive functions. The only external functions that belong to this category are reflexes. The difference between instinctive and moving functions was as follows: the moving functions of man, as well as of animals, of a bird, of a dog, must be learned; but instinctive functions are inborn. A man has very few inborn external movements; an animal has more, though they vary, some have more, others have less; but that which is usually explained as "instinct" is very often a series of complex moving functions which young animals learn from older ones. One of the chief properties of the moving center is its ability to imitate. The moving center imitates what it sees without reasoning. This is the origin of the legends that exist about the wonderful "intelligence" of animals or the "instinct" that takes the place of intelligence and makes them perform a whole series of very complex and expedient actions.

The idea of an independent moving center, which, on the one hand, does not depend upon the mind, does not require the mind, and which is a mind in itself, and which, on the other hand, does not depend upon instinct and has first of all to learn, placed very many problems on entirely new ground. The existence of a moving center working by means of imitation explained the preservation of the "existing order" in beehives, termitaries, and ant-hills. Directed by imitation, one generation has had to shape itself absolutely upon the model of another. There could be no changes, no departure whatever from the model. But "imitation" did not explain how such an order was arrived at in the first place. I often wanted very much to speak to G. about this as well as about many other things connected with it. But G. eluded such conversations by leading them up to man and to real problems of self-study.

Then a great deal was elucidated for me by the idea that each center was not only a motive force but also a "receiving apparatus," working as receiver for different and sometimes very distant influences. When I thought of what had been said about wars, revolutions, migrations of peoples, and so on; when I pictured how masses of humanity could move under the control of planetary influences, I began to understand our fundamental mistake in determining the actions of an individual. We regard the actions of an individual as originating in himself. We do not imagine that the "masses" may consist of automatons obeying external stimuli and may move, not under the influence of the will, consciousness, or inclination of individuals, but under the influence of external stimuli coming possibly from very far away.

"Can the instinctive and the moving functions be controlled by two distinct centers?" I asked G. once.

'They can," said G., "and to them must be added the sex center. These are the three centers of the lower story. The sex center is the neutralizing center in relation to the instinctive and the moving centers. The lower story can exist by itself, because the three centers in it are the conductors of the three forces. The thinking and the emotional centers are not indispensable for life."

"Which of them is active and which is passive in the lower story?"

"It changes," said G., "one moment the moving center is active and the instinctive is passive. Another moment the instinctive is active and the moving is passive. You must find examples of both states in yourself. But besides different states there are also different types. In some people the moving center is more active, in others the instinctive center. But for the sake of convenience in reasoning and particularly in the beginning, when it is important only to explain the principles, we take them as one center with different functions which are on the same level.

If you take the thinking, the emotional, and the moving centers, then they work on different levels. The moving and the instinctive — on one level. Later on you will understand what these levels mean and upon what they depend."

p. 388

During the summer and autumn of 1919 I received two letters from G. in Ekaterinodar and Novorossiysk. ... He wrote that he had opened in Tiflis an "Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man" on a very broad program and enclosed a prospectus of this "Institute" which made me very thoughtful indeed. The prospectus began in this way:

With the permission of the Minister for National Education the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man based on G. I. G.'s system is being opened in Tiflis. The Institute accepts children and adults of both sexes. Study will take place morning and evening. The subjects of study are: gymnastics of all kinds (rhythmical, medicinal, and others). Exercises for the development of will, memory, attention, hearing, thinking, emotion, instinct, and so on. To this was added that G. I. G.'s system

The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution

p. 20-21

So now we must try to understand the four chief functions.

I will take it for granted that it is clear to you what I mean by the intellectual or thinking function. All mental processes are included here: realisation of an impression, formation of representations and concepts, reasoning, comparison, affirmation, negation, formation of words, speech, imagination, and so on.

The second function is feeling or emotions: joy, sorrow, fear, astonishment, and so on. Even if you are sure that it is clear to you how, and in what, emotions differ from thoughts I should advise you to verify all your views in regard to this. We mix thought and feelings in our ordinary thinking and speaking; but for the beginning of self-study it is necessary to know clearly which is which.

The two functions following, instinctive and moving, will take longer to understand, because in no system of Ordinary psychology are these functions described and divided in the right way.

The words 'instinct,' 'instinctive' are generally used in the wrong sense and very often in no sense at all. In particular, to instinct are generally ascribed external functions which are in reality moving functions, and sometimes emotional.

Instinctive function in man includes in itself four different classes of functions:

First: All the inner work of the organism, all physiology so to speak; digestion and assimilation of food, breathing, circulation of the blood, all the work of inner organs, the building of new cells, the elimination of worked out materials, the work of glands of inner secretion, and so on.

Second: The so-called five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and all other senses such as the sense of weight, of temperature, of dryness or of moisture, and so on; that is, all indifferent sensations—sensations which by themselves are neither pleasant nor unpleasant.

Third: All physical emotions, that is, all physical sensations which are either pleasant or unpleasant. All kinds of pain or unpleasant feeling such as unpleasant taste or unpleasant smell, and all kinds of physical pleasure, such as pleasant taste, pleasant smell and so on.

Fourth: All reflexes, even the most complicated, such as laughter and yawning; all kinds of physical memory such as memory of taste, memory of smell, memory of pain, which are in reality inner reflexes.

Moving function includes in itself all external movements, such as walking, writing, speaking, eating and memories of them. To moving function also belong those movements which in ordinary language are called 'instinctive,' such as catching a falling object without thinking.

The difference between the instinctive and the moving function is very clear and can be easily understood if one simply remembers that all instinctive functions without exception are inherent and that there is no necessity to learn them in order to use them; whereas on the other hand, none of the moving functions are inherent and one has to learn them all as a child learns to walk, or as one learns to write or to draw.

Besides these normal moving functions, there are also some strange moving functions which represent useless work of the human machine not intended by nature, but which occupy a very large place in man's life and use a great quantity of his energy. These are: formation of dreams, imagination, day-dreaming, talking with oneself, all talking for talking's sake, and generally, all uncontrolled and uncontrollable manifestations.

The four functions — intellectual, emotional, instinctive and moving — must first be understood in all their manifestations and later they must be observed in oneself. Such self-observation, that is, observation on the right basis, with a preliminary understanding of the states of consciousness and of different functions, constitutes the basis of self-study; that is, the beginning of psychology.

Contents - 4th Way Reference