Saturday, August 7, 2010

a question of intelligence

Recently I spent an entertaining evening with my old friend Octavius O. Rangutan in his Borneo forest. I'd brought along the most recent issue of Time Magazine so it was neither unexpected nor irrelevant when our conversation turned to the subject of whether humans think. This is a subject animals have debated for thousands of years and so far the jury is still out.

Animals don't:
imprison other species
pollute the environment
devise fraudulent banking practices
build weapons of mass destruction
torture other animals
kill out of hatred

Why is it necessary to compare animal intelligence with human intelligence in order for humans to accord us respect?

Speaking of drinking, here's one of susan's favorite songs performed by Louis Prima as King Louis of the Apes, Sebastian Cabot as 'Bagheera' the Panther, and Phil Harris as Baloo the Bear. If you feel like watching more you can find George Sanders playing the evil Shere Khan the Tiger and Sterling Holloway (who seemed to be in every Disney movie back then) doing his twisted version of 'Kaa' the Snake.

How well I remember the the drunken hilarity at the cast party. The ability to laugh and be happy is common to all species.


Liberality said...

There is no question about it--we humans are really dumb. We let some other humans with a lot of shiny gold pieces and guns push us around and kill our children.

Lisa said...

Yep, perhaps it's really devolution. And I LOVE Phil Harris.

Crow said...

liberality - Sorry for preaching to the choir again :-)

lisa - I do believe you're right.

lindsaylobe said...

Even the title ‘Can animas think’ indicatives a societal latent prejudice to assume a huge divide between humans and non humans whereas the distinction in overlapping evolutionary systems of varying complexity is not nearly so sharp.

The reality is that as humans elevate themselves to a status that purports that to be ‘human’ carries an intrinsic worth far above anything else that has led to attempts to justify imprisonment and experimentation of non humans who experience the same pain and suffering as we do. But until we are able to show reverence for all life our political philopshy is fatally flawed since it perpetuates a justification to non equality towards our evolutionary brothers and sisters.

Some might say that non equality philosophy is what makes us human but I think we have the ability to rise above that pessimistic view eventually. Best wishes

Best wishes

Crow said...

lindsay - I believe that people who can ask such a question as 'Can animals think?' are suffering from a dissociative culture disease. If we separate dis-ease into its component parts it essentially translates to dis, indicating reversal or deprivation, added to ease, meaning comfort.

Humans are a seriously uncomfortable race largely because they have separated themselves from the natural world and show it little respect. What they don't seem to realize is that every arrogant thought and deed against nature diminishes them in their own hearts.

Thank you for your very thoughtful and wise comment.

Best wishes to you too.

Crow & susan

jams o donnell said...

Ach intelligence just seems to give us the tools to act in ever more evil ways..

okjimm said...

//whether humans think.//
Nope. That's why we have Fox News to tell us all we need to know! ;)

Crow said...

jams - All of which goes to show intelligence in this case is a misnomer.

okjimm - Foxes have a reputation in human terms of being sneaky.

Steve Emery said...

I recently heard an interesting statement. If all the insect species in the world vanished overnight, within 50 years there would be no life on Earth. If all the humans in the world vanished overnight, all other life on the planet would flourish. It makes you realize the impression we humans are making.

susan said...

steve - I read a wonderful book a few years ago I recommended to many friends (even sent a few copies), called The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. All in all it was actually a very uplifting experience that I think you'd enjoy too.

gfid said...

have always loved The Jungle Book. especially in literary form. and the music in this animated film is stupendous. as i watch my puppy grow, and learn to adapt to my artificially contrived world, i'm struck repeatedly by how much of what we do, and how we do is needless. he's an intelligent life form too, and he has no expectation that anyone will change their world to suit him. and, though he's still a baby, he already knows how to love live no human i've ever met.

susan said...

gfid - It was far and away our son's favorite Disney movie but he always has had very good taste.

I know. Animals are so trusting and so wise it makes your heart ache.