Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Maternal Instinct"?

What happens if "Maternal Instinct" never kicks in? Do you support the essentialist or social constructionist idea of an unnatural mother found in Blaffer Hrdy's essay? Does one ever exist? Consider the biological and social concepts related to Gould's "biological determinism".  Article:
Sarah Blaffer-Hrdy: The Past, Present and Future of the Human Family

Holly has a good question in regards to 'maternal love' in regards to a woman who's child isn't biologically hers. Holly's point about adoption is exactly onto this issue. If 'maternal love' was only a biologically based component then adoption, albeit a small percentage Statistic Link
million in roughly 10 years)  shouldn't exist at all. Two components would have to be looked at: A woman who was aware that her child was not biological compared to a woman who is not aware (although this would be an extreme case, there are examples of children being switched at birth), then see if there is a biological recognition between a genetic/adopted child. This is probably oversimplified and contains many other facets to the situation but the original question is still appropriate none-the-less.
 As far as essentialist versus social constructionist as in relation to Gould, a good view point would be to acknowledge the middle ground. Gould states that "it is hard to find any broad aspect of human performance or anatomy that has no heritable component at all" (Gould - Mismeasure 185). The key word here is 'component'. Here a baseline is created that stands as a template but at the same time is limited and not all inclusive. It is an 'average'. "Maternal Instinct" may have started out as a biologically genetic aspect of the human race but over time as our social structure has evolved and changed; so has the degree that biological roots still effect humans the way it may have at one time. Hrdy discusses the social constructionist argument aspect of humans breaking from biological innateness due to "higher brain functioning and seemingly open-ended capacity for language and symbolic thought". 
Yet a complete separation of biology and socially constructed possibilities seems extreme. Biology seems to be a potential baseline wherein "maternal instinct" can go either way. For some, the biological 'instinct' maintains an important component within their lives. Although the social constructionist would argue that this too is as a social built aspect; "Maternal Instinct" being the desired trait of that person for whatever surround social influences dictates as desirable within religious, morality, etc in a social context that reinforces the "Maternal Instinct" trait. Gould argues in "Homage to Mickey Mouse" that his line of approach could be seen as one of two points of view however his end argument "works equally well in either case" (Gould -Thumb 101) similar possibly to the fact that any argument about "maternal Instincts" could be an argument based just  as much on society as in the argument from Social Constructionists. Now that I've explicated in a complete circle I would say the end result is that Social Constructionism with a blend of 'nature' would be the most apt reasoning in this case.


  1. I like ur work! It's really great! =D

  2. I don't know if it has something to do with genetic or something. because sometimes women are in nature are soft, I think everyone woman has this "maternal instinct" in us it just that it differs on how deep really ..or whatever..^_^

  3. I like thinking about such stuff... nice read.

  4. I am not going to bullshit you and say nice post or great read. I will be honest, i read it twice, i found a tad complex and bit hard to grasp in some parts. I'm more of a math guy with ADD, not your best crowd. I do feel ashamed because i'm not able to provide a decent view/opinion on this, but at least i wanted to be honest about it.

  5. @hasidic No worries. Half the stuff we discuss in class is ambigious and overly obfusicated and unfortunatly I find my replys to the weekly exercises mirroring that tendency.

  6. Never thought about it in that way.... actually never even came across my mind... All in all nice post. Keep it up!