Two Views of the Mississippi by Mark Twain

1114 words 5 pages
Jerry Bradshaw
Assignment #1
ENG 112

Two Views of the Mississippi

One may argue that certain learned abilities become instinctual over time and through repeated practice. I do not believe there could be any solid proof for this theory. Instinct can be defined as something that we do without even thinking about it, yet when we are in a panicked state, we usually tend to forget some of those learned habits and react in a way that truly is pure instinct, having nothing to do with anything we had previously learned. Mark Twain writes of ceasing to note the beauty of the river while steamboating, implying that once you have learned certain practices, they become almost innate qualities. That is not to say that they become
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Each aspect of the river’s beauty carries with it a telltale sign of oncoming weather, places that will be dangerous for a boat and it’s occupants, trees that will snag onto boats and certain landmarks that help with navigation. An example of landmarks helping with navigation brings to mind the idea that one’s learned abilities have the possibility to become instinct. When Twain writes about a tree that is ready to fall into the river, he remarks, “how is a body going to get through this blind place at night” without this tree as a marker. This says to me that steamboating or any other learned ability cannot just become instinct. Once there is a change in what has been learned well, then the individual must re-learn and adapt to certain variations. When an individual learns something well or masters an ability it can seem like instinct based on the fact that not a lot of thought goes into the process as once required. Getting used to something and mastering it do not make it an instinctual function. In the beginning of this essay I define instinct as something that we do without thinking about it. I’d like now to expand on that idea. Learned abilities can become functions that we no longer put much thought in, but we do have to remember the things we have


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