Biology Forum Community Beginner Biology Question

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    • #219743

      Hi, My name is Matt and I am not a Biologist. But I am a parent.

      I was watching Monarch Caterpillars recently creating a chrysalis. The conversation with my kids turned to how the Caterpillar knows how to build it. Obviously the Caterpillar has this as innate knowledge, somehow it is “genetic” knowledge.

      Now I have never really thought about this before, many years ago I heard about John Lockes assertion that all knowledge is learned aka “Blank Slate” aka *Tabula rasa.*

      You are probably going to find this next statement funny (goal post shifting) in the sense that when friends of mine had children before I did, I always judged the parents as responsible for all good and bad behavior as the case may be. However, somewhat predictably, when I had my own children and they mysteriously started displaying some bad behavior I naturally shifted the goalpost. I imagine I am not the only person to do this.

      I have always assumed that Locke was right. But as a parent I am considering the possibility that he is wrong. I have watched my kids at a young age scrapping with each other and certain things like hair pulling, hammer fists, and kicking seem to be innate. However these could be learned behaviors in the sense that “necessity is the mother of creation”, when pushed people can learn certain things in an instant.

      I have been wondering for weeks now on this subject. Obviously certain behavior we will probably never know if it is learnt or innate. But can any one point me to a good reputable book or article on the subject that will give me a primer on the accepted knowledge on the subject?

      On a related subject I have been thinking about primate instincts… has anyone ever done an experiment where a male and female chimp have been raised in isolation, then brought together in adult hood. I am wondering what the results would be like regarding interpersonal violence and mating, and Parental Instincts? Has a study like this ever been done?

      Any information or pointers would be appreciated.



    • #220123

      good one

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