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"...Genius and angry ape, player of fantastic tricks and godlike reasoner—in all these roles individuals are the products of a language and a culture. Working on the twelve or thirteen billion neurons of a human brain, language and culture have given us law, science, ethics, philosophy; have made possible all the achievements of talent and of sanctity. They have also given us fanaticism, superstition and dogmatic bumptiousness; nationalistic idolatry and mass murder in the name of God; rabble-rousing propaganda and organized Iying. And, along with the salt of the earth, they have given us, generation after generation, countless millions of hypnotized conformists, the predestined victims of power-hungry rulers who are themselves the victims of all that is most senseless and inhuman in their cultural tradition.
Thanks to language and culture, human behavior can be incomparably more intelligent, more original, creative and flexible than the behavior of animals, whose brains are too small to accommodate the number of neurons necessary for the invention of language and the transmission of accumulated knowledge. But, thanks again to language and culture, human beings often behave with a stupidity, a lack of realism, a total inappropriateness, of which animals are incapable..."
Only animals follow the herd instinct. Most humans are still followers... sometimes it's their fault, sometimes it's not. Non-human animals aren't assigned responsibility, so why is it that we often assume all humans are capable of being responisible for their actions? I don't draw a line between animals and irresponsible/selfish humans. As such, I can't bring myself to blame the 12 to 13 billion neurons for anything. Sometimes a connection is made, sometimes it isn't... it's just that simple.
-------------------- Note: In desperate need of a cure...
I go back and forth between thinking that all we are is a bunch of shaved apes, to something more than that...but i tend to stay more on the side of the shaved apes (being the cynic that i am).
Vanity, greed, power are all worshipped in our society, which is an unfortunate aspect of our existance....But my view is mostly from California, a pretty damn shallow place to live, so i may be biased in saying such things.
In terms of language, i think it is a blessing and a curse...a blessing since without communication we would never get to the levels we have today (TELL me that you could come up with all the intricacies of a motorized engine by yourself from sitting around all day, and i'll call you crazy), but it limits our expressions of reality. Alaskan eskimos have like 77 words for Snow....think about that.
"Human suffering has been caused because all too many of us cannot grasp that words are only tools for our use, and that the mere presence of a word in the dictionary does not mean it necessarily refers to something definitive in the real world"
--Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene"
"It is the mind which creates the world about us, and even though we stand side by side in the same meadow, my eyes will never see what is beheld by yours."
"Without a firm idea of himself and the purpose of his life, man cannot live, and would sooner destroy himself than remain on earth, even if he was surrounded by bread."