593. Can animals be said to act only from instinct?
“That is merely a theory. It is true that instinct predominates in most animals, but do you not see some of them act with a resolute will? This is intelligence, despite being of a narrow range.”
It is impossible to deny that some animals show signs of possessing the power of performing complex acts that demonstrate the will to act in a specifc direction, and according to circumstances. Consequently, they possess a sort of intelligence, but the exercise of this intelligence is mainly concentrated on satisfying their physical needs and providing for their own survival. Among them there is no creation, no improvement.
Whatever may be the skill that we admire in their labors, that which they did previously is the same that they do today, neither better nor worse, according to constant and unvarying forms and propositions. The young bird isolated from the rest of its species builds its nest on the same model, without having been taught. While some animals are capable of learning to a certain degree, their intellectual development, though narrow, is due to the action of humans on an adaptable nature, for they themselves have no power to progress. That artifcial development is passing and purely individual because when left to its own devices the animal quickly reverts to the limits traced out for it by nature.