Archive for the ‘social animal’ Category

No man is an island said the poet. He is surrounded by ocean of human experience and what it brings for Robinson Crusoe may be no better than a man Friday. But it shall do well to make things easier around. It is just as well. My strength is to think but unless another holds forth his working hands all my thoughts would only remain in my head. So any superior mind would need common sense of working hands.
Control of fire taught groups of our ape—ancestors to come together where social meals as time went on became more than merely eating. The story telling skills of our ancestors exercised man’s wonder and imagination. If the earliest sounds of their own voice and everyday sounds of their world primed them for embellishing their stories we need not wonder such stories acquired some vibrancy almost amounting to a sacred chant. Poetry and incantation all would be impulses in the way man appealed to others recreating their everyday world. Myths would emerge from such social gatherings. Art would cast spell and in the cave paintings animals are painted as though man imagined their spirits would deliver their daily meat. In short art, poetry of man, embroidered man’s place in the scheme of things. Progress has knocked man from the pride of place. Debunking of natural man squarely rooted to the every day world was bound to happen. In the early times legends of Hercules or Jason in search of the Golden Fleece made the man with common sense as not worth the straw. Now we have superheroes that conquer Alien worlds by their extra-ordinary powers. The age of man with Uncommon Sense evolved just as man learned to live by the sweat of his brow.

Not all man have a gift of the gab or for improvisation. Story tellers of old who sang or played reed pipe or pipe made of bones became more accepted as a cut above those who would rather hear and be entertained. If such stories became about gods or come attached with some lessons in prudence and virtue it meant the storyteller had acquired unfair advantage over others by this skill alone. These bards of old had uncommon sense to the common sense of hunter-gatherer. Their hour of exercising their hold was limited to particular hours around the campfire. Man with common sense had to be away up with the dawn for their daily chores. But nightly the coziness of their gatherings took away the harshness of their existence. By stealth the man with uncommon sense was becoming a very important factor in keeping the group together. It required man with common sense to supply the other from not having to work as they.

Aristophanes’ satire on Socratic method drives the plot of the Clouds (423 BC). Plato appears to have considered the play a contributing factor in Socrates’ trial and execution in 399 BCE. There is some grain of truth in the allegation. He had the motive to lampoon Socrates. The Clouds can best be understood in relation to Plato’s works, as evidence of an historic rivalry between poetic and philosophical modes of thought. Aristophanes resented that philosophic school usurped the status the poets enjoyed earlier. It was the issue of Old versus New, or battle of the ideas. The scientific speculations of Ionian thinkers such as Thales in the sixth century were becoming commonplace knowledge in Aristophanes’ time and this had led, for instance, to a growing belief that civilized society was not a gift from the gods but rather had developed gradually from primitive man’s animal-like existence. It also knocked out his role as a poet since the new schools of philosophers were freeing their contemporaries not to take anything for granted. If this were to be followed logically his very status, poetic gift of god, was on shaky grounds. The play heaped all scorn on Socrates, with his plebian background and ugly face to boot, and it was a below-the- belt body blow. Aristophanes is a classic example of man with uncommon sense. Uncommon sense fights the impossible with all means at his disposal. He may use raillery or other tricks in order to make man with common sense believe he was right.

Old versus New is an idea that appeals to our rational mind. Every generation can identify with the problem. Aristophanes the comic playwright of ancient used his genius to put the new ways of presenting the ways of the world as ridiculous. Instead of joining the majority his battle was to fight with rib-tickling drollery the truth change was coming.
How crucial is an idea? Suppose you are in coma and have no clue what makes you are and not another, your bodily functions shall go on despite the knowledge and feel hunger and fall asleep as every other man. Ability to form ideas is by courtesy of your brain whereas life stands aloof from such abstractions. Man with common sense who must make a living or take his life to some place since he is responsible for him and his family. He may leave in search of work since the basic idea of living has taught him where he is stuck holds no prospects. Man with common sense has learned to hitch a wagon to a horse and not a hobbyhorse.
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) like Aristophanes had an uncommon sense. His concept of going back to nature was an idea that many found as relevant.
Voltaire and Rousseau saw the society from two altogether standpoints. What made them oppose was on the basis of the opposing ideas. Voltaire the skeptic did not think the march of progress was reversible where the romantic notion of Rousseau was going to the basics.
Rousseau in his own life did differently: he had lived with Therese le Vasseur with whom he had five children. . He put each child to adoption that he tried to justify in his Confessions (1764 – 1778) thus:’ I thought I was behaving like a citizen … and have often blessed Heaven for having preserved them from their father’s lot.’ He considered the State would be able to educate his children and make a better job of it.
Rousseau had an uncommon sense to come up with an excuse for his strange conduct. Only that no man with common sense could have thought up.

Man Is A Funny Animal

Man is a funny animal. Common sense tells him to mind his step. But his uncommon sense tells him to listen to his inner voice instead.
Common sense tells him to keep his secrets close to the chest but he blabbers it all to some shrink who happens more often than not, a total stranger. He calls it uncommon sense.
Sure his common sense is so common that cannot keep to the beaten tracks well tested. The old adage ‘a bird in hand is worth two in the bush’ will not do for him. He plays at stocks what he cannot afford hoping there is a greater fool out there to save his goose from cooking. He calls that his uncommon sense.
Science gives man How and religion tells Why his universe works in a manner of speaking but his common sense cannot get the point.
What does his uncommon sense say? Perhaps both may work in my case, according to my special needs.
Uncommon sense without some plain common sense makes a fool; I remember a cleric in Saudi Arabia dunning woman drivers as impossible since the women,- he had it from his prophet I suppose, had only quarter brains. It is how man has tried to maintain his primacy which is as unwarranted as it is unfounded. Without crediting man and woman equal roles and their strengths and weaknesses similarly weighed as equal by their union, what do you think the world shall come to? If the child would want to spend his life away gaming or finding the holy grail like gene editing to create a superman, it owes to quite something else. Each is awash with seas of trends, fads and truths of his existence. How anyone shall make use of it is impossible to tell.

Read Full Post »

Was evolution of brain a necessity? Man being a social animal has necessary space in his skull to accommodate the wiring that would need for honing his communicative skills. Other species have comparatively not much space for what man is equipped for. Nevertheless a bee can make sense of its world as well as get the best in its brief life span. So in terms of utility a life form is never for a moment at a loss to make a go of it. If a group of lizards in Madagascar thrown into the islands with fewer possibilities of sustenance evolves into miniature version of its cousin elsewhere a biologist would say it is owing to insular dwarfism. It is so. The group has learnt to adapt itself in terms of its environment. The dynamics of jiggering with its body size, habits are as unconscious as its consequences are obvious. So brain is not merely the size and circuits but being conscious of its undeniable connection to the world outside. 

Having said this let me mention about bilingualism.

If man was not conscious about other groups different from his having different languages the topic of bilingualism would be a non-starter.

Bilingualism affects the structure of the brain including both major types of brain tissue – the grey matter and the white matter. The neurons in our brain have two distinct anatomical features: their cell bodies, where all the processing of information, thinking and planning happens, and their axons, which are the main avenues that connect brain areas and transfer information between them. The cell bodies are organised around the surface of the brain – the grey matter – and all the axons converge and interconnect underneath this into the white matter.

We call it white matter because the axons are wrapped in a fatty layer, the myelin, which ensures better neuronal communication – the way information is transferred around the brain. The myelin functions as an “insulation” that prevents information “leaking” from the axon during transfer.

Brain is in fact a jumble of parts from jellyfish, lizards all put together. We are using the nerve net from jellyfishes while design features of the brain are derived from lizards. Jellyfish do not have brain and their communication system developed 600 million years ago cannot be what is best for us. The brain evolved out of necessity to take care of different groups speaking different languages do affect the structure of the brain. How is it then that some groups like the Western societies pride in their ability to explore new ideas while some resist any idea that has been associated with something sacrosanct genuine or imagined? If a non-Muslin takes the name of Allah it is tantamount to blasphemy or image of Prophet Mohammed is depicted it is an insult. What is a drawing but of the same category as letters drawn with a brush or pen or by pressing keys? If a mulla in the prophets name urges his audience to hate and kill it is not an insult to the position he holds or to his Maker? 

Recalling the recent outrage of some terrorists attacking the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris makes me wonder if brain has to do with these murderers who can shoot people in the broad light in the name of their prophet. Where does their intolerance come from? Are they brainwashed to forget the consequences? Or have their brains put into sleep mode by their fear of group disapproval? If such fear can skew up their thinking brainwashing is unnecessary. Man has himself necessitated its stagnation. Religion is not detrimental to one’s onward development. It is supposed to sooth and heal divisions since moral value of any life is worth preserving. 


Read Full Post »