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(49 Posts)
HollyDaze Wed 03-Sep-14 17:44:05

Will/has the capacity for intelligent thought (in contrast to other life forms on this planet) ultimately be/been the downfall of humanity?

Ana Wed 03-Sep-14 17:45:56

Has humanity downfallen? (Is that a word? confused )

thatbags Wed 03-Sep-14 20:10:53

I don't think it has been or will be but then I'm an optimist rather than a catastrophist so I would say that. Seriously though, how could thinking about things and trying to understand things cause our downfall? I'm inclined to think that greater understanding has and will tend help solve the problems and difficulties of survival. The evidence for the 'has' bit is here in the huge increase in human population over that last couple of hundred years. That is a superb example of species success. As for what will happen in future, I remain confident that overall we will continue to improve things on average.

Barring hefty meteor strikes and whatnot.

Elegran Wed 03-Sep-14 20:29:05

It depends what you mean by downfall, Hollydaze (must define your terms!) Numerically? Qualitatively? Other?

Penstemmon Wed 03-Sep-14 20:29:12

Holly is your thinking that if life had remained 'simple' with clear gender/social/ethnic roles & attitudes never challenged we would all be happier?

I suppose it also all depends on what you think of as intellect. If intellect is rational thinking rather than emotional response then no I think the human race would have disappeared ages ago!

annodomini Wed 03-Sep-14 20:42:07

Isn't the capacity for intelligent thought what distinguishes homo sapiens from other species? If one accepts that definition, then the capacity for intelligent thought is what has made humanity rather than caused its downfall. Or, paradoxically, has it both raised us up and caused our downfall? Discuss!

henetha Wed 03-Sep-14 20:42:54

No, I don't think so. I too am an optimist concerning the future of mankind and our planet. Humans have been progressing ever since we first evolved and have achieved the most amazing things. Consider the developments in just about every department of life and they are truly astounding. It is in our nature to progress, evolve, explore and learn.
But we are far from perfect, and the most difficult aspect of life has been, and still is, our inability to get along with each other, at just about every level; personally and internationally. It seems to be a built-in characteristic of humans to be unable to tolerate each other. But we have our intellect and hopefully it is that which will make us learn to get along before we destroy ourselves, and our planet.
The greatest quality we need to develop is tolerance.

janerowena Wed 03-Sep-14 21:28:26

Maybe some use their intellect for bad, rather than good, but lack of intelligence and inability to think rationally has led to the destruction of many intelligent people and seats of learning over time. Superstition and ignorance often seem to win over rational thought.

I think it is the thick people who are the problem. grin

Ana Wed 03-Sep-14 21:29:17


janerowena Wed 03-Sep-14 21:36:10

You don't think so?

Sorry, I am being very flippant. It's a dreadful habit. I think most vile things happen because some people have a complete lack of empathy.

Ana Wed 03-Sep-14 21:37:48

Because they're thick? confused

Ana Wed 03-Sep-14 21:39:40

Sorry, being a bit flippant meself, there!

Lack of empathy doesn't necessarily mean lack of intellect, though...

absent Wed 03-Sep-14 21:47:07

I think that there are other animals besides humans capable of thinking reasonably - more, in fact, recently recognised than was previously thought. I suspect that it is conceptual thought that distinguishes Homo sapiens from other species.

janerowena Wed 03-Sep-14 21:47:28

No, I meant lack of empathy in anyone and everyone. An inability to see how other people think, how they feel. When I was at school, I can remember being horribly shocked by a beloved teacher saying that black people didn't care for their babies as much as we do and were not capable of love in the same way. I knew she must be wrong but didn't, at ten, dare say anything. I later found that it was a common thought at the time.

Lack of education is the biggest problem. Getting people to allow themselves to be educated is probably the next.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 03-Sep-14 22:11:55

Well, I for one am glad we progressed from living in caves. I like my modern comforts.

If there had been better education in other parts of the world, as we have had in this country for some years now, perhaps the intellect of some of the people living there would be better developed, and they wouldn't be behaving worse than animals now.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 03-Sep-14 22:13:30

Yes Ana. Much of humanity has definitely "downfallen".

Ana Wed 03-Sep-14 22:24:13


jinglbellsfrocks Wed 03-Sep-14 22:26:25

Oh come on?! Surely you agree? Don't you think good education civilises a society?

Ana Wed 03-Sep-14 22:38:22

Only if good education is utilised positively by all individuals in that society.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 03-Sep-14 22:41:21

Well, there will always be people who are inherently evil, but I believe that good education for all helps. It may take several generations to kick in.

Eloethan Wed 03-Sep-14 23:39:35

jings I don't know to which "other parts of the world" you are referring, but there are plenty of examples in recent history of well educated people from supposedly "civilised" nations who have committed, or commissioned, terrible acts of inhumanity.

HollyDaze Thu 04-Sep-14 09:38:31

It depends what you mean by downfall, Hollydaze (must define your terms!)

What is meant by 'downfall' will be the perception of any given respondent. I have my own understanding of it but to give that could influence the line of thought of others. I prefer to see what others think/feel before I comment just in case I haven't thought of that angle!

HollyDaze Thu 04-Sep-14 09:40:11

Thank you annodomini - you have expressed it much clearer than I did smile

HollyDaze Thu 04-Sep-14 09:44:20

Don't you think good education civilises a society?

Doesn't each society already believe that what they are teaching their young is good? It's the same as each side in any war believes they are in the right.

jinglbellsfrocks Thu 04-Sep-14 09:54:01

Eloethan, true. The Nazis had good education. But their temporary success was mainly due to Hitler's personality. And they were eventually overcome by better people.

I do not believe the terrorists carrying out these beheadings come from a background where a good education has been in place for several generations. Even the so-called "British" ones. They might have British passports but their families have not had the education this country has provided for many years now.

Sorry if that's not politically correct.