Biological imperative

Biological imperative

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Biological imperatives are the needs of living organisms required to perpetuate their existence: to survive. include the following hierarchy of logical imperatives for a living organism: survival, territorialism, competition, reproduction, quality of life-seeking. Living organisms that do not follow these imperatives are described as maladaptive; those that do are adaptive. Maladaptivity is perhaps the most fundamental criterion for defining abnormality and mental illness.


Territorialism is a fairly fundamental feature of all living organisms, by simple virtue of the fact we live in a physical universe. Bacteria evidently acquire territory as they spread out in a Petri dish. They have sovereignty by virtue of occupation. Observing living organisms in nature we see that the step before procreation is to establish a territory within which they may hunt, breed, and ensure the growth of their offspring.

Territorial sovereignty is land held by the state; popular sovereignty is the doctrine that the state is created by and therefore subject to the will of its people, who are the source of all political power; the logic follows that territorial sovereignty is held by the people. Human beings have sovereignty by virtue of occupation just as bacteria do; just as “possession is nine tenths of the law.” This is de facto sovereignty. It is only in groups that property rights are created to manage territory as part of an economic system. The concept of property rights can extend to the state owning territory and lead to the notion of non-interference in internal affairs of other states.


Competition is often described as natural selection. Individual organisms compete for food and mates; groups of living organisms compete for control of territory and resources; species though, do not so much compete, as passively adapt to their environment.

There appears to be a natural hierarchy of competitions: that of the species’ natural selection is the most powerful, yet most imperceptible; that of the group is the most evident in our lives; that of individual competition is most potent as it approaches the most fundamental: the need to procreate; and to survive.


Biological imperatives are important to the study of evolution. In order for species to persist, they must by definition reproduce to ensure the continuation of their species. Without reproduction the species ceases to exist. The need for living organisms to reproduce to perpetuate the existence of their species implies a certain kind of existential empathy; whether bacteria have such feelings is doubtful.The need to reproduce may be based upon the chemical and physical reactions that naturally occur between the atoms that make up the molecules, that make up the proteins, that make up the cells, that make up each living organism.

The biological imperative of reproduction is subordinate to the biological imperatives of survival, evidenced by the observation that most species will abandon their offspring to seek self-preservation; and territoriality, evidenced by the observation that most species define and occupy a territory before seeking to reproduce. On a philosophical level, the question of whether organisms "choose" to reproduce or whether it is in some way a more fundamental chemical reaction at a sub-cellular level may help explain the mechanism by which bacteria, and viruses are compelled to reproduce.

The phrase can be used to describe the behaviour of specific organisms or a species as a whole. Although the phrase can be applied to any organism, it is often used to refer to animal sexual reproduction.

In psychology, genetic imperative is important as a way of understanding family structure and gender interactions.

It has been theorisedFact|date=November 2007 that genetic imperative is the basis for male dominance in polygamous cultures, meaning that in some cultures it is acceptable for a man to have multiple wives, but it is rare for a culture to accept a woman having multiple husbands. The theory states that since it is biologically feasible for a male to impregnate many women in a shorter amount of time, while the female reproductive cycle is limited to intervals longer than nine months, the male genetic imperative compels males to seek multiple sexual partners, while the female genetic imperative compels the female to seek one male who will help with the process of bringing the child to adulthood.

Genetic imperative is also theorised to be the basis of exclusivity in sexual relationships. Since genetic imperative works in an organism by causing the organism to wish to spread its own genes, the organism tries to prevent other organisms from spreading their genes in the same territory. This behavior is theorized to be exhibited by humans in the exclusivity of many human sexual relationships, also known as monogamy.

The same theory can also be used to explain many other observed behaviours, especially relating to nutrition and available food sources. For example sheep (herbivores) killing animals and chewing on their bones to supply needed calcium for their diet. It is theorised that many of the cravings women sometimes have for strange foods during pregnancy can be attributed to important nutrients that are required.


A living organisms' need to improve their quality of life seems to serve the purpose of improving their chances of survival.Quality-of-life-seeking also includes reducing the levels of stress experienced by an individual organism. Stress can cause both physiological and mental illness. Stress can be due to crime: threat and acts against the person; threat and acts against property.Health in general comes under this category: individual organisms that seek to maintain and improve their health are improving their chances of survival.


It is observable that most organisms form groups in order to enhance their chances of survival. Groups can be of simply two or of huge numbers. However, what of asexually reproducing organisms?Group-forming is complex, and involves territorialism; notions of identity; culture. Group-forming is what leads us as humans to form families, clans, tribes, and nations.

This group-forming in Humans is the result of biology: due to the size of our brains, children are dependent on their parents for much longer than most animals; the result of this is that the biological couplings necessary for reproduction linger so that the parents can ensure the survival of the offspring.

This necessary time investment and larger brain-size, coupled with our ability to communicate precipitates the evolution of social constructions such as the family. After several generations, many more families exist with varied connections to each other; a common ancestry, evidenced by their phenotype, unites these clans.

More generations later with multiple clans, tribes form; then the non-biological group-forming can take place where tribes can split due to geography and demand for resources. As an aside, this is also the stage where different dialects of language forming.

As tribes enlarge, the benefits of being part of a larger group become evident and systems of managing these larger populations are required, this is the stage at which civilisation begins to emerge.In primitive societies, religion fills this role: first animistic; later theistic. The earliest civilisations were these religious centres with influence emanating from an urbanised centre. Such as at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, or in ancient Egypt.

This religious system perpetuated the essentially tribal systems of oligarchy and monarchy. Competition for resources and territory led to investment in knowledge-seeking; education precipitates the gradual evolution of economic systems and of democratic systems and of the nation.

The next logical step is the formation of an organised species-wide group, as population pressure compels the species to seek new resources and territory, and technology enables us to look beyond our current territory as a species to find new resources and territory beyond the Earth.

Living organisms enhance their survivability by acquiring information about their environment. Humans are not alone in their ability to acquire and exchange information and learn new skills. Termites build huge structures; bees dance; mating rituals are exchanges of information; otters, parrots and chimpanzees use tools and pass on this knowledge. Humans form religions as a way of managing a growing tribal group; however, religion is fundamentally prescriptive and works against objective knowledge-seeking.

The principles of Biological Imperatives have been used to formulate political ideas such as Nativism.

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