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SOC 104
Graeme Metcalf

Human Nature- The Sociology of Human Behaviour Jan 25. Common Sense -For a functionalist: making the common or normal seem as though it makes “sense.” -For a conflict theorist- We ask why? Why does it make sense? And for who? -Synopsis: We have always wondered why we act and behave the way we do- and this is understandable- we argue over what makes sense and what doesn’t. Biological Determinism -The BASICS: -We often encounter behaviour explained as normal, human nature or instinctive -Media, for example, reinforces such notions by suggesting diversity in behaviours- sexuality, intelligence, aggression or criminality may be genetically determined -These explanations are referred to by social science as biological determinism. Central Argument: -We are not born as a “blank slate.” -Rather we are biological and to some degree our behaviours- like our values or beliefs- are both conditioned and restricted by our genetic matter and physicality Instinct- Reflex -Instinct: an inborn complex pattern of behaviour that must exist in every member of a species- and due to it being genetic- cannot be overcome by force of will -Reflex- A simple response to a specific stimulus such as your pupil contracting in bright light or expanding when stimulated or “high.” Difference: -We are (social) animals but are we the same as animals? -Are instincts and reflexes not the same? -Meaning, some basic elements of human behaviour are universal and thus must be instinctive or natural -For example, is survival a universal instinct? -Our human behaviour can contradict this (EXAMPLE(s) Murder or suicide.) -That is, do animals commit suicide or murder? Sexuality Sexuality is often considered an instinct but there is a wide range of possibilities surrounding sex suggesting it is something different -Opposite sex/same sex -self-stimulation/partner-based stimulation -As much as possible/only occasionally -Religious purposes/no role of religion Sex Drive: -According to the text, the notion of a natural sex drive or a sex instinct simply does not adequately explain the wide diversity of sexual behaviour -Further, humans are of the human world, but unique within it: -Only humans can alter nature in complex ways -Only humans can transmit-Via language- new ideas and knowledge through generations Synopsis: Any explanation of human behaviour that resorts to the biological alone is neither useful, but instead is inadequate, in explaining human behaviours such as sex/uality. -To what end can we distinguish between sex as natural (bio) and sex as nurtured (socio)? -IE. Objective/subjective; denotative/connot
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