In Principles of Psychology, one of the founding works of experimental psychology, William
James talked a lot about “instincts.” This term was used to roughly refer to specialized neural circuits
that are common to every member of a species and are the product of that species’ evolutionary history.
Taken together, such circuits constitute (in our own species) what one can think of as “human nature.”
It was and is common to think that other animals are ruled by “instinct,” whereas humans lost their
instincts and are ruled by “reason,” and that this is why we are so much more flexibly intelligent than
other animals. James, however, argued that human behavior is more flexibly intelligent than that of
other animals because we have more instincts, not fewer. We tend to be blind to the existence of these
instincts, however, precisely because they process information so effortlessly and automatically. They
structure our thought so powerfully, he contended, that it can be difficult to imagine how things could
be otherwise. As a result, we take “normal” behavior for granted. We do not realize that “normal”
behavior needs to be explained at all. This “instinct blindness” makes the study of psychology difficult.
To get past this problem, James suggested that we try to “make the natural seem strange” and that we
should not take “the natural” for granted.
In our view, William James was right about evolutionary psychology. Although the idea of
“mak[ing] the natural seem strange” appears to be odd, it is a pivotal part of the research on natural
competences. Many psychologists avoid this line of thinking, arguing that nothing about “the natural”
needs to be explained. As a result, social psychologists are disappointed unless they find a phenomenon
“that would surprise their grandmothers,” and cognitive psychologists spend more time studying how
we solve problems we are bad at, like learning math or playing chess, than ones we are good at. But
our natural competences -- our abilities to see, to speak, to find someone beautiful, to reciprocate a
favor, to fear disease, to fall in love, to initiate an attack, to experience moral outrage, to navigate a
landscape, and myriad others -- are possible only because there is a vast and heterogeneous array of
complex computational machinery supporting and regulating these activities. This machinery works so
well that we do not even realize that it exists. We all suffer from instinct blindness. As a result,
psychologists have neglected to study some of the most interesting machinery in the human mind
【題組】43. According to William James, humans tend to be more flexibly intelligent than most animals because
(A)they can naturally coordinate complex instincts well.
(B) they use their reason to override natural instincts.
(C) they are by nature better at computation and machines.
(D)they are born with higher intelligence quotient.
(E) they are much more emotionally mature.