Human Nature / Animal Instinct

A thought that crossed my mind a while ago is: Where is the thin line between what’s human nature and what is actually animal instinct drawn in us people?

Even though I do believe in some aspects of the theory of evolution, especially when it comes to the evolution of some creatures into different breeds of the same creature depending on different factors such as the environment they’re in, and even though I do believe that we humans have actually evolved over time, I don’t really believe that we humans evolved from monkeys.

Anyway, I also believe that a lot of the things we regard as human nature can be classified as animal instinct too. For example, the need to exist in groups, the bond between a mother and her children, the attraction to the opposite sex, self defense and preservation …etc. These are all things that are in every living creature.

What I’m saying is that what we call human nature isn’t in fact just that, a lot of it is animal instinct, that we share with all members of the animal kingdom. And what comes on top of that is what is really human nature and what actually makes us special.

So my question is where does animal instinct end and human nature begin?
Is it just at the brain level and how we process things in a more advanced way?
Is it in our ability to follow logic?
Or is there this whole set of feelings that only we feel?
Where exactly is it?

A lot of people, when frustrated, describe others as animals. And sometimes others say it when they’re disgusted by something someone is doing.
How true are their accusations?
Is there really something that, if lost in a person, strips them of their superiority to animals?
I wonder…

  • Eman

    Very interesting!
    Well I guess the understanding of that thin line was perfectly explained when you wrote: “Is it just at the brain level and how we process things in a more advanced way?”. Because in my personal opinion I believe that the human brain keeps our nature under a certain level of control taking into consideration the emotions, surroundings, social values and tradition. That’s why, for example, 2 people having sex in public is considered animalistic because it crossed out the social values and the reactions of others and simply let desires take control.
    What I’m trying to say is that animal instinct and human nature are so much alike as you said, but its the application and the aspects of control that makes the difference. Animal instinct being ruled by desire, emotions and needs that has to be fulfilled regardless of the time and place, while human nature which is also driven by those needs, emotions and desires but mostly controlled by brain, which is related to logic, morals, backgrounds, religion….etc. When control is not present our nature is basically nothing but animal instinct.
    This is what I think :)

  • Hajar

    Awww, cute. Eman replied. :p

    Yes, I gotta admit with Eman, I think most of our actions and animal action are the same, we both have to, what I was taught in science was the MRS GREN cycle. Lost? Let me explain.

    M ovement
    R espiration
    S ensitivity


    Except humans think and have a sort of moral system, which guides them. Some would argue that animals are moral agents, I think otherwise though.


  • dreamdragon

    Hi. I think the “line” is vague. You think you find it, and then it seems to have moved. We can’t pin-point the line because we don’t fully understand the two natures. There’s also factors like evolution and adaption. When the environment changes, people and/or animals may have to learn another way of living, thus changing their nature a little bit. We learn from each other, too. Take parrots, for example; it’s not in their animal nature to speak. But when we say a word frequently around them, they learn how to say it. Granted, they probably don’t know what they’re saying; they’re just copying us.

    Ivan Pavlov’s “conditioned stimulus” shows that a dog will salivate at the sound of a bell if you pair it with food repeatedly. On the same lines, humans learn to associate things with others. Is it human nature or animal nature?

    In my opinion, their is no line. We learn to act the way we do because of our environment. We learn by example. Then we begin to combine things. When we learn how to add, we learn that two plus two equals four and four plus two equals six. So eventualy we figure out that if you add two, two, and two, we come up with six.

    Well, I could go on and on and on… but my hands are cramping. And the room I’m in is very cold. E-mail me if you want to go further into the subject.


  • dreamdragon

    P.S.- I check the second one more often.

  • Ben Hall

    You asked a very interesting set of questions. I don’t agree with the idea that human nature and animal instincts are different things. To me, there is no distinction. However, you may be interested in how the science of socionomics explains the herding impulse:


    i personally think that the only thing keeping us human is morals and laws, with out them we are mere animals. i agree the line is there and is very blurred.