Why do people try to preserve and defend their territory? Because it contains people and things that are potential sources of gratification. Remove these sources of gratification, and you eliminate the “property instinct” so dear to certain ideologies.
In modern society, however, ideologies, theories, and abstract concepts have become such an important source of intellectual gratification that people defend them just as strenuously as they do any geographic territory.
Whatever the origin of a particular behaviour, its goal is always
some form of pleasure or to avoid some form of pain. Whatever
the origin of a particular behaviour, its goal is always to experience
some form of pleasure or to avoid some form of pain.
These two goals are the best guides for protecting the organism
and increasing its chances of reproducing. Our basic attitude,
so to speak, is approach behaviour.Approach behaviour is primarily
beneficial to the organism, because it lets individuals seek out,
in their environment, the resources essential to their survival:
food, water, shelter, sexual partners, etc.
A newborn baby who puts everything in its mouth, out of curiosity,
is engaged in approach behaviour. So are scientists who make great
discoveries, and explorers who roam the planet.
The following diagram shows these two basic
human behaviours of approaching pleasure and avoiding pain, including
the three basic options for doing the latter.
As this diagram shows, if, as we explore our environment, we encounter
something painful, or someone who threatens our safety, we have
three possible reactions:
- flight from the source of the pain
- fight and defensive aggression against
this source, to eliminate it;
- inhibition of action, meaning resigned
acceptance of this new, unpleasant situation.
In our societies, however,
some of these options are not always available.