Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The dark side of brilliance

We prize and value intelligence but I had a disturbing thought watching a special on monkey-hunting chimps last night.

The purpose of intelligence in nature, at its most basic, is to kill.

Whether it's a dog or a dolphin, a monkey or a man, nature's purpose for a better brain is to improve the odds of a successful hunt.

Sure, people now use their brains to paint pictures and erect skyscrapers, but we only have time for such diversions because we have become the most effective killers on the planet, having eliminated our every natural rival and enemy except disease and having learned how to keep our meat on hand in a stockyard until we're ready to chop it up for the table.

7 comments:

...Kat said...

yes

the race is to survive, to leave behind one's own offspring rather than another's, the present species reflect those with the most success to do that....

but consider also that there can be more strategies... such as the social cooperations necessary which lead to other behaviors .... what we in our ever moral judgements deem altruistic .... consider the insect societies such as the ant where just one individual is reproductive but all have a vested interest in the society's success...

nature is not moral/amoral

It just Is.

please read Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare by Paul Colinvaux
An Ecologist's Perspective

for the many insights he offers and it's sheer readability

Ela (braveheart) said...

Happy Halloween!

eastcoastdweller said...

Kat. Nature ... just is. True.

Ela: Thank You --- and to You too, You talented artist, You!

PixieDust said...

There was a series on Discovery Channel called Rogue Nature, and one episode featured chimps that were attacking people. One attack took place because 2 male chimps "convinced" a female chimp in a separate area to help them escape... it was chilling to watch, and to see how they planned their escape. They brutally attacked the owner of the retreat, and left him for dead.

*chills...

...Kat said...

yes.... when Jane Goodall observed violent aspects of chimp behaviors .... the wars between different chimp groups.... the killing/comsumption of chimp infants by a particular female .... these disquieting observations could not help but disappoint Jane.... she wanted the chimps (like in the noble savage concept) to somehow be better than man.... and she said, seeing the similarities between man and chimp upset her, disappointed her ....

chipazoid said...

Yes it is... Maybe that's why the stories always have evil smart people and dumb good people.

eastcoastdweller said...

Adena: I was thinking that same thought: the bad guy in literature, etc., is almost always depicted as a warped genius - but often relying on thick-headed goons to do the dirty work.