As a result of studying this chapter, the student must:


• that the level of development of the psyche is a function of the development of the brain;

• the concept of the stadium development of the psyche of AN Leontiev and the stages of its further development;

• the main milestones and directions of the evolution of the psyche of animals;

be able to

• analyze the origin and evolutionary development of a particular form of behavior;

• Link the level of development of the animal's psyche with its systematic position and lifestyle characteristics


• methods of analyzing the features of the development of the psyche in evolution;

• skills in the search for scientific information about the behavior and psyche of animals.

The origins of the psyche of living beings

The concept of "psyche" unites many subjective phenomena, studied by psychology. Because of this, in every branch of psychology there is a definition of the psyche that is somewhat different from the others and reflects those aspects of the subject that are most significant.

In zoopsychology, the most common definition of the psyche is accepted, which allows us to consider it in the evolutionary plan.

Psyche is the property of highly organized living matter to reflect objective reality in a subjective form.

The problem of the emergence and development of the psyche and consciousness has always been and remains one of the central in modern science, it is precisely the attempts to solve it for centuries that have provoked a fierce struggle between two opposite worldviews - materialistic and idealistic. In the works of such classics of United States zoopsychology, as Η. N. Ladygin-Kots, GZ Roginsky, LV Krushinsky, the problem of the evolution of the psyche also occupies a prominent place. A great deal of attention was paid to this question by A. N. Severtsov.

All living matter is inherent in reflection property , the form of which depends on the qualitative difference in the forms of motion of matter. Reflection is manifested in the ability of each material body to respond to external influences in accordance with the nature of this impact and the nature of the body. Living organic matter, in comparison with the inanimate, has a form of reflection of a higher level - irritability. On the basis of irritability in living organisms, in the course of their evolution, even higher levels of reflection arise - sensitivity , ability to learn, perception, ideas, thinking and consciousness.

The first signs of life on Earth appeared 2-3 billion years ago, first in the form of gradually increasing chemical organic compounds, and then the simplest living cells. At first, living matter possessed only biological properties of irritability and self-preservation, manifested through the mechanisms of metabolism with the environment, own growth and reproduction. Later, already at the level of more complexly organized living beings, sensitivity and ability to react adequately to changes in the external environment were added to them. Further development of life led to the emergence of its two main forms - animals and plants. In the process of the evolution of living organisms, the irritability developed in the inseparable unity of organisms and the conditions of their existence. But only in animals in the process of progressive evolution, in connection with the mobile way of life and the complication of their structure, higher forms of reflection have appeared in the form of nervous activity associated with sensation, perception and thinking, i.e. mental reflection. The world of plants developed on the basis of simple irritability, remaining at the level of pre-mental life.

Already in unicellular animals belonging to the type of protozoa, phenomena close to the psyche are manifested: the ability to react to changes in internal states and external activity, to biologically significant stimuli, and also some processes resembling memory and non-associative learning.

Evolutionary psychology points to a direct correlation between the structure of the body and the nervous system, the brain and the sense organs with forms of mental reflection by the animals of the surrounding world. As the complexity of the nervous system becomes more complex and improve sensations, perception, memory and other components of the psyche.

The behavior of animals is, on the one hand, the result of evolution, and on the other - serves as a powerful factor of phylogenesis. As I. I. Shmalhausen noted, the Earth's biosphere in the process of its development becomes much more complicated, which leads to complication of the relationships of each systematic group with the external environment. In the history of the development of the Earth's fauna, interspecific relationships became more complicated, the number of interacting species increased, new ways of targeting organisms developed, and peculiarities of their behavior. It is clear that the importance of behavioral adaptations associated with the improvement of the nervous system, during the phylogeny of animals has increased rapidly. The developing nervous system itself has become an important factor in phylogenesis.

In the course of evolution, behavior change often outstripped the change in morphological features. From the point of view of AN Severtsov, changes in the conditions of life give rise to the need to change behavior, which then leads to the corresponding morphological changes in the motor and sensory spheres, as well as in the central nervous system. However, these changes do not happen immediately, and not always. Moreover, in higher animals, adaptive adaptations often turn out to be purely functional, without morphological rearrangements, affecting only behavior. So, for example, gray rats-pasuk demonstrate the highest degree of plasticity of behavior, adapting to life next to a person. Experimental study of the reasoning activity of these animals showed that they are much smarter than all the other rodents. In fact, according to the level of elementary intelligence, rats are comparable with some predators. At the same time, the parameters of their brain are virtually indistinguishable from the brain of other rodents. It is obvious that a fierce press on the part of a man contributes to the selection of animals with highly developed rational activity, which increases their adaptability.

Adaptability of behavior and morphological transformations determine the quality and content of mental reflection in the process of evolution. It is the behavior, along with the expansion of the spectrum of functions of the organs of motion, that provides animals with the most flexible adaptation to the new conditions of life. Progressive development of instinctive, genetically fixed behavior corresponds to progress in the field of individual-adaptive activity, which reaches the greatest complexity in higher animals.

Progressive evolution of the brain and psyche contributes to reducing the body's dependence on the environment. As P. V. Serebrovsky noted, every progressive sign gives a certain independence from changing external conditions. He wrote: "If the course of evolution is a gradual liberation from the power of the environment, then, going up, we should expect the transition of this independence to power over nature. Man and carries out this finale. "

Thus, the progressive evolution of the brain and psyche increases the plasticity of behavior, which contributes to better adaptation of organisms to the environment and, in turn, makes the living organism less dependent on its changes. According to J. Huxley, signs of progress are an increase in control over the conditions of existence and independence from these conditions. Man has much more opportunities to control nature, is less dependent on it than any animal, and acts as an active transducer of nature.

Tracing the progressive evolution of the forms of reflection of the surrounding world in the phylogenetic series of living organisms, it can be noted that as the transition from lower forms of animals to higher ones (Figure 14.1) progressively expands the spectrum of forms of reflection by the animals surrounding, the level of their analytical and synthetic activity increases, the analysis is clarified and the synthesis of various stimuli of the external environment is complicated. Due to this, in the process of evolution, there is an ever greater plasticity in the interactions of the organism and the external environment, reaching its highest development in a consciously thinking person.

The study of the evolution of the behavior of animals of different taxonomic groups shows that the ways of forming complex psychic functions in a number of types and classes are markedly different. This development occurs in close ecological connection, but it is genetically disunited. The lack of understanding of this process often leads to the formation of completely wrong ideas about the process of evolution of the psyche and higher mental qualities.

Evolutionary Animal Tree

Fig. 14.1. The evolutionary tree of animals

The well-known United States psychologist KK Platonov noted that in many textbooks of psychology the corresponding chapters, in which the genesis of the psyche is examined, proceed from the so-called monophyletic understanding of the evolution of the animal world, according to which it proceeded along one line. Therefore, in them the "psyche of insects" is included in a single genetic series, completed by consciousness. But in modern biology it is well known that man refers to the secondary, and worms, insects and mollusks to the primary, and that these two branches of the animal world have already dispersed at the dawn of the appearance of life on Earth in the Paleozoic era. Therefore, the psyche of insects (if it is) can not be included in a single genetic series, which is obscured by the consciousness of a person. "

In this connection, as a prehistory of human consciousness, only the behavioral features of vertebrates can be considered, and the evolution of the behavior of animals of the primary-ridge line should be considered only in a comparative plan.

Evolution of the psyche of living organisms of the Earth was carried out on the basis of all the general laws of this process. The complication of the morphological structure of organisms led in the course of evolution to the need for more intensive contacts with the entire diversity of the habitat, better movement, active interaction with surrounding objects. Perfection of behavior and mental reflection contributed to the survival of individuals most capable of better orientation in time and space.

One of the leading United States psychologists, AN Leontiev, attached great importance to the close relationship between the complication of the ability to orient and improve the motor activity of animals. Perfection of movements leads to an increase in the adaptive activity of the organism, which in turn contributes to the complication of the nervous system, the expansion of its capabilities, creates the conditions for the development of new types of activity and forms of reflection. All this taken together contributes to the development of the psyche. In turn, the psyche, as a new, progressive way of regulating the interactions of the subject with the environment becomes a new factor in evolution, leading to the complication and further development of living systems.

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