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ESSAY: Motivation, the Pleasure Response and the Evolution of the Survival Instinct

December 5th, 2010 by Robert DePaolo | Posted in Psychology | 1 Comment » | 1,336 views | Print this Article


This article discusses the biological roots of the survival instinct and offers speculation on the origin of motivation and the perception of pleasure. The point is made that these phenomena can be viewed as adaptations to increased systemic biological/cellular complexity.

The Anthropomorphic Barrier

One of the problems inherent in describing natural phenomena is that we – the describers – are prone to viewing nature through the lens of human experience. We tend to define processes such as the survival instinct, motivation and pleasure in emotional and cognitive terms; for example, with phrases like the “will to live”, or “a fear of death,” despite the fact that all organisms, including those without the neurological software that ostensibly provide cognition and emotion also behave in ways driven by survival, pleasure and motivation.

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