Hypothesis about the emergence of sensitivity (A.N. Leontiev)

In it, he first of all criticizes the existing points of view on the solution of the problem of the emergence of the psyche. A.N.Leontiev identifies the following four positions [63].

1. Anthropopsychism (the criterion of the psyche is its awareness; therefore, animals do not have a psyche, since there is no consciousness; R. Descartes adhered to this point of view).

2. Panpsychism (the doctrine of universal animation – the psyche is recognized as existing as an integral property of any material formation, and therefore the problem of its occurrence is removed; this point of view was shared, for example, by B. Spinoza).

3. Biopsychism (according to this position, any living being, including plants, has a psyche – a soul; Aristotle adhered to this position).

4. Neuropsychism (according to this point of view, there is a strictly objective criterion of the psyche: the presence of a nervous system; Ch. Darwin, G. Spencer adhered to this position).

A.N.Leontiev criticized the first position as very narrow, the second as too broad. The third position does not distinguish between a living organism that does not have a mind and a subject that does. Neuropsychism is insufficient because it maintains a rigid connection between the appearance of the psyche and the appearance of the nervous system, and yet the connection between an organ and a function is mobile, since different organs can perform the same function.

Rejecting the above points of view and the corresponding criteria of the psyche, A.N. Leontiev proposed his own criterion, which was objective, but not morphological, but functional. In his opinion, an objective sign of the psyche is the ability of the organism to respond to the abiotic properties of the external environment (world). An abiotic stimulus is understood as a property that does not directly and directly determine the processes of the organism’s vital activity, however, with an objective connection with a biotic factor, it can act as a signal for the subject of the presence of the latter in the world.

A biotic stimulus is such an external environmental factor that is directly and directly involved in the metabolism (metabolism) in the organism that reacts to it.

An example of a biotic stimulus is light for a chlorophyll plant. Without the energy of light in the corresponding organs of the plant, organic substances are not produced from inorganic substances. For other living beings, the same light can be an abiotic stimulus, because the metabolism in their organisms does not directly depend on this factor. Nevertheless, they react to this stimulus from the external environment, which is neutral for the life of the organism, since in the individual activity of these subjects this stimulus has acquired for them a “signal value”, or “biological meaning”. Take, for example, a dog that is used in conditioning research. After turning on the light (bulbs), after a short time the dog receives food. After a certain number of combinations of abiotic and biotic stimuli, she begins to rejoice in the mere switching on of a light bulb, tries to lick this light bulb, and so on. Light acquired for her a signal value, or, in other words, a biological meaning (the meaning of food).

According to A. N. Leontiev, the appearance of a reaction to a biologically neutral stimulus, acting for the subject in its signal meaning, means the emergence. The ability of organisms to respond to biotic stimuli is called irritability (it is a pre-psychic or non-psychic form of reflection of the world by an organism).

The psyche arises when the prepsychic forms of reflection become insufficient to ensure the vital activity of the organism in a changing world. The emergence of the psyche in the course of evolution is associated with the transition of the life of primary organisms from life in a homogeneous environment to life in a heterogeneous (objectively dissected) environment. An object differs from an environmental factor in the multiplicity of its properties, interconnected into an inseparable unity (some philosophers define an object as a “knot of properties”).

In order to live in an objectively designed environment, a living organism needs to learn to recognize those objects that have biotic properties (suitable as food). But this can be done only by focusing on the abiotic properties of the same object, signaling the presence of its biotic qualities. Some primary organisms took the path of evolution of the initial forms of activity, in the process of which only biotic stimuli are reflected (this is how the plant kingdom arose).

Thus, the emergence of the psyche in evolution was closely connected with the appearance of an objective connection in the subject of biotic and abiotic properties. However, this is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the appearance of a mental reflection of the world by the subject. The latter appears only when this connection is singled out by the subject himself, when the subject in his individual activity discovers the meaning of the abiotic stimulus as a signal of the presence of the biotic factor. Thus, the psyche is associated with the activity of the subject to initially bear the subject and the objective situation of its satisfaction.

11. The main stages in the development of the psyche of animals.

Animals with an elementary sensory psyche are able to reflect only individual properties of external influences. The beings whose psyche is at the lowest level of this stage, i.e., exists only in embryo, include many protozoa. They are capable of fairly complex movements in space. Their movements are made towards favorable environmental conditions (positive taxises) or away from unfavorable conditions (negative taxises). The simplest are capable of elementary forms of learning, i.e., the formation of conditioned reactions. In a number of experiments, the vessel containing the ciliates of the shoe was divided into two parts. One part was illuminated, and the other was not, while the light was combined with “punishment” (high temperature, electric shock). As a result, the animals, previously indifferent to the nature of the illumination, began to prefer the safe part of the vessel even in the absence of negative reinforcement, focusing only on its illumination. As the level of phylogenetic development increases, behavior becomes more complex. Worms and mollusks have whole chains of congenital taxis

Animals with a perceptual psyche reflect external reality in the form of integral images of things. At this stage is the psyche of vertebrates, almost all arthropods, including insects, as well as cephalopods. The basis of all forms of animal behavior are instincts, that is, genetically fixed, inherited forms of behavior. Like morphological characters, they are reproduced in each individual of a given species in a relatively unchanged form. According to V.A. For Wagner, instincts are the result of natural selection, which has determined the high adaptability of instinctive behavior in all spheres of an animal’s life: in obtaining food, protection, reproduction, caring for offspring, etc.

The stage of intellect is characterized by an even more complex reflection of reality, which consists in the ability not only to reflect individual objects in their entirety, but also to establish relationships between objects. Higher animals are able to establish rather complex relationships, but still do not go beyond biological needs (such as more – less, shorter – longer, less often – more often), and also distinguish the shape of geometric shapes.

12. General idea of instinct.

Instinct is an innate ability to perform expedient actions on a direct, unaccountable impulse.

The instinctive behavior of animals has a number of characteristic features:

The whole organization of instinctive behavior is striking in its expediency.

The wasp, for example, does an amazing technique of laying eggs. There are species that lay their testicles in the body of a caterpillar. In order for these testicles to be preserved for a long time and for the larvae that hatch from them to be able to eat, the wasp performs an amazing operation. She climbs onto the caterpillar and with a sting pricks it into the motor ganglia. The caterpillar does not die, but immobilizes, and when the wasp larvae hatch from the eggs, they have their own fresh food – the body of the caterpillar, whose meat has not decomposed, but which remains immobilized and thus makes it possible to eat. One might think that a wasp could make calculations showing where the caterpillar’s motor ganglia are located, and then, according to its calculations, direct its bite and immobilize the caterpillar in order to create in this way the best conditions for the maturation of its larva.

A bee builds honeycombs according to the most economical plan. Researchers – geometers have calculated that it is impossible to come up with a more economical form of building honeycombs from wax than the polygonal shape of the cells. Sometimes it seems that she does it according to some calculations.

All this shows that many forms of behavior of insects and lower vertebrates consist of the most complex innate programs that are the same for all representatives of a given species and are extremely expedient under the usual conditions of existence for animals. This is what made it possible for some authors to define instinct as “purposeful behavior without consciousness of purpose” and to point out the four main qualities of such an instinct:

 heredity and independence from learning

 homogeneity

 the same in all individuals of a given species

 adaptation to the conditions of existence.

Another feature of instinctive behavior is that instinctive programs are expedient only in strictly defined situations, in those that are the most constant for the way of life of a given animal. Therefore, if the conditions in which the animal is located change rapidly, then instinctive programs become completely inappropriate. This speaks of the automaticity and blindness of instinctive behavior. This feature is characteristic of the basic biological principle of the existence of insects: insects are adapted to constant environmental conditions with the help of strong, inherited fixed behavior programs. However, if conditions change, insects cannot adapt to them by developing new forms of behavior and die out.

To illustrate, the following example can be given: a bee deposits honey in cells, and then seals these cells. This action is undeniably expedient and resembles a reasonable action. An experiment was carried out to test this. The bottom of the cells was cut off, and the honey deposited by the bees fell into the void. In this case, the behavior of the bee did not change. She deposited as much honey as was normally deposited in a cell, sealed an empty cell, and then closed the honey in the next cell, not considering that the cut bottom made her work meaningless. Thus, a program of behavior that was very expedient under standard conditions became meaningless under changed conditions. This means that the instinctive behavior of the bee did not adapt to the changed conditions, and its instinct, remaining a little plastic, easily loses its expedient character.

All this allows us to come to the second major conclusion that characterizes the instinctive activity of the animal. Instinctive behavior, which is carried out according to a complex hereditarily fixed program, is clearly adapted to the standard conditions of species experience, but turns out to be unadapted to changed individual conditions. Therefore, it is enough to slightly change the standard conditions for instinctive behavior to lose its expedient character.

The advantage of an innate behavioral act is that it is implemented very quickly and always without error. This greatly reduces the chance of fatal mistakes that the animal could make if it had to learn to avoid fire or hide when a predator approaches. In addition, innate behavior eliminates the need to spend time and energy on learning.

Thus, instinctive actions are often distinguished by great objective expediency, i.e., by adaptability or adequacy in relation to certain situations that are vital for the organism, but are performed, however, without awareness of the goal, without foreseeing the result, purely automatically. However, the expediency of instinctive behavior is far from being as absolute as it is sometimes imagined. It is quite obvious that this expediency is essentially nothing more than adaptability, adaptation to certain conditions that are vital for the existence of organisms of a given species.

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