This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
As the selections above from Parmelee and Small suggest, life is not merely action in general. All living matter is predisposed to specific kinds of activity. There is first and always as a background to all other kinds of activity the action necessary to protect and maintain the life process. The specific kinds are provided for in the structure of the body, and, with animals, in the structure of the nervous system, so that certain reflexes, instincts, and desires come untaught when the proper conditions exist. The study of the predispositions in man belongs to biology and psychology, especially the latter. James, for example, named twenty-eight special human instincts, with nine subordinate varieties. The following statement is in the concluding note of his chapter on instinct:
Some will, of course, find the list too large, others too small. With the boundaries of instinct fading into reflex action below, and into acquired habit or suggested activity above, it is likely that there will always be controversy about just what to include under the class-name. - James, Psychology, Vol. II, p. 440.
Obviously, therefore, while sociology must take its data on human nature largely from psychology, it must simplify and arrange in its own way whatever it takes. In the following account five inborn tendencies to activity are selected for notice as factors of society. No claim is made that these are simple tendencies; on the other hand, some of them are confessedly complex; but their analysis does not belong to sociology. The most deep-seated of these tendencies are those which are necessary to self-preservation. All of them contribute to that, in a way, but some more directly than others.