Frederick Cuvier and several of the older metaphysicians have compared instinct with habit.
Under changed conditions of life, it is at least possible that slight modifications of instinct might be profitable to a species; and if it can be shown that instincts do vary ever so little, then I can see no difficulty in natural selection preserving and continually accumulating variations of instinct to any extent that may be profitable.
No complex instinct can possibly be produced through natural selection, except by the slow and gradual accumulation of numerous, slight, yet profitable, variations.
What is true of animals, as regards instinct and habit, is equally true of men.
The popular conception of instinct errs by imagining it to be infallible and preternaturally wise, as well as incapable of modification.
Drever's book there are some interesting examples of the mistakes made by instinct.
His puppyhood and the instinct
of submission took charge of him.
To portray and interpret life in this way, to give his readers a sudden vivid understanding of its main forces and conditions in representative moments, may be called the first obvious purpose, or perhaps rather instinct, of Browning and his poetry.
Equally striking, perhaps, is his frequent grotesqueness in choice of subject and in treatment, which seems to result chiefly from his wish to portray the world as it actually is, keeping in close touch with genuine everyday reality; partly also from his instinct to break away from placid and fiberless conventionality.
He believes, partly on the basis of intellectual reasoning, but mainly on what seems to him the convincing testimony of instinct, that the universe is controlled by a loving God, who has made life primarily a thing of happiness for man.
It required nearly a fortnight for fine instinct
to assure itself of these inspirations; indeed, it was a whole week before Stephen's letter came, telling his father the facts, and adding that he was gone across to Holland,--had drawn upon the agent at Mudport for money,--was incapable of any resolution at present.
The Prince, no doubt, is as faithful to his training and instincts
as the young men of our own country.