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The Most Fertile Path of Human Evolution: Intellect or Feeling?

  1. Aug 21, 2005 #1

    Les Sleeth

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    I’d guess the majority of people participating at this site would say intellect. After all, isn’t that what most of us believe sets us apart from other animals? In fact, I am fairly certain there are those here who would say the ability to reason entirely distinguishes human consciousness.

    My opinion is that the potential for quality of feeling is a far more fertile evolutionary path for human consciousness. Notice I emphasized both potential and quality. That’s because a human being can choose not to feel much of anything, and so quality might remain merely a potentiality. Some people purposely deaden their ability to feel; others may give it a low priority, putting it low on the list after all the stuff they have to do to survive, make money, think, raise kids, party, worry, etc.

    So how can the potential for quality feeling be much of an evolutionary path? First, consider how dependent we are on feeling even on a functional level. If you think about it, the senses are “feelers,” it is the way we touch the world. We feel light, sound, taste, smell, heat, cold, pressure, etc. because of nerve sensitivity. We might add intuitiveness (whatever that is) as another basic feeling ability of some individuals. And how is life when we feel bad whether physically or emotionally?

    Many people refer to the emotions as virtually the complete realm of human feeling, but that isn’t the realm of feeling I am talking about. Emotions certainly involve feeling, but emotions seem hard wired to survival issues and therefore not immediately under our control. It is, for instance, how we are wired and hormoned to feel fear or anger in certain situations, or how females are wired and hormoned to feel motherly love. But our emotions can invade our normal psychology too if, as we grow up, basic physical/psychological needs are threatened or denied, or our development is impeded. That potential for the distortion of emotions is usually what gives feeling a bad rap.

    If the feeling entwined in the senses and emotions isn’t what I’m talking about, what is it? Well, I mean the feeling that evolves into appreciation, and THAT is very much a human thing. From sunsets to a child’s laugh, we are presented daily with opportunities to appreciate. And then think about all the types of connoisseurs in the human race. There are film appreciators, wine appreciators, hiking appreciators, music appreciators; there are appreciators of cheese, swimming, coffee, travel, history, sports, science, sex, science fiction, art, camping, massage, computers . . . you name it.

    Other species can be observed appreciating, but none of them come remotely close to the level of appreciation humans are capable of either in breadth or depth. It’s ironic that so many animals are better equipped physically to appreciate. A dog for example is dozens of times more sensitive to smell than we are, but has no problem eating another dog’s feces or reingesting something he’s just vomited. So appreciation doesn’t seem all that dependent on how developed the senses are.

    What does appreciation have to do with feeling? Choose something you appreciate greatly, experience it, and check yourself during the experience. What is most prevalent in every event, and I mean without exception, of deep appreciation? Feeling. Real appreciators are turned cold listening to someone explain/analyze something when they want to feel it experientially. I remember a film class I took in college where Cocteau’s “Beauty and the Beast” was shown. I was mesmerized, totally caught up in the magic of it, when about 30 minutes into it the professor started analyzing what each scene “meant” during the film. :mad: I wanted to punch him.

    The deeper we feel, the better we can appreciate. The deeper and broader we appreciate, the happier we are. In fact, accomplished appreciators understand this so well, they start looking for stuff to appreciate. We crave it, need it, and want to be consumed by the feeling of total appreciation of life.

    Isn’t love appreciation? Could an individual value appreciation so much he becomes pure love? :!!) Someone like Jesus or the Buddha, for instance, did they achieve that? In that depth of appreciation, do we realize a new potential for humanness? I say yes, and that as a race we have a lot to learn about how our feeling nature can evolve us.

    Of course, the emphasis of the human race now is much more on developing the intellect. Yet if everyone becomes geniuses, but we are discontent inside, then we my use our genius to vent our discontent on the world and others (e.g., Osama is pretty smart). In contrast, even a moderately intelligent human being, capable of quality appreciation, can contribute to making life better for himself and all others here. So which is more practical for us to give top priority?
     
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  3. Aug 23, 2005 #2
    I don't believe there is a hedonistic imperative, if we were ruled by pleasure it would be like we were experiencing uncontrollable pain and we would cease to have free will or time to think how we want.

    For the time being we should concentrate on eradicating poverty and allowing people luxuries that won't damage them as per normal. We should also focus on the range and complexity of things to experience learn and ponder over, art, music and philosophy. It is also logical for old people to get wasted on heroine if they want to as you should at least once experience complete exstacy, however not at the cost of your time at the start of your life when you need to work and not cut short the time you have to think and learn.

    Pleasure is best taken in moderation.

    As for logic vs feelings, logic should hold precedent over feelings always when you are thinking. There is no such thing as a gut feeling, try it yourself. You are always worse off than if you took the logical alternative.
     
  4. Aug 23, 2005 #3

    Les Sleeth

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    I have no clue what hedonism has to do with the theme of my thread. I think you have seriously misunderstood.


    Logical eh?


    I wasn't talking about pleasure.


    There's no versus. Feeling and logic are two different realms, both very much needed. But what should we prioritize first? You are entitled to your opinion of course, but the way I see it, when people feel bad inside they vent it on the world no matter how logical they are. And if I had to choose between being brilliant or happy, I'd choose happy.
     
  5. Aug 23, 2005 #4
    Well you pretty much answered your own question. They both must be given equal priority. You simply cannot favor one over the other. Further, one can't exist without the other.

    The human experience IS the combination of the two. It's like 7-UP. Take away the lime, it's just lemon. It's not 7-UP minus lime.
     
  6. Aug 23, 2005 #5
    He was not talking about humans. He was talking about intentional evolution.
     
  7. Aug 23, 2005 #6

    Les Sleeth

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    Right. I do realize the intellect is important, and maybe it is equal to the feeling I described. Mostly I am trying to say there is an aspect to us humanity hasn't given enough attention to developing, and that if we did we might find it has an evolutionary effect on consciousness.
     
  8. Aug 23, 2005 #7
    If you by intelligence mean the rate of capability for rational thinking, I believe they are interconnected. One must value them both equally in order to get most out of any of them and I like to say that intelligence is what comes out of tweaking the harmony between the two.
    I like to picture feeling as an higher order of intelligence that makes sense out of chaos like patterns while rationality makes sense out of lower orders of patterns.
    I don't believe any of them serves the individual very good on them own and I don't believe that any of them are hardwired to serve the purpose of survival of the individual more then the other. Culture/environment conditions both reason and feeling and culture evolves integral with the individual, you can't separate the two because the whole notion of what it is to be an individual is conditioned by its culture/environment. The maps that reason work upon are cultural input and the environmental input that feelings are based upon are done through focused attention. Therefor none of them are complete so if one is _Intelligent_ on would use both of them in order to get more of the whole picture.
    What is needed today is harmony between the two. Not mere rationality because your models is most likely all screwed up, and not mere feelings because they depend too much on conditioning based on bad logic.
    I believe one can fuel the lower order rationality with energy, by listening to feelings which then also might lead one to find connections outside the maps of reason.
     
  9. Aug 23, 2005 #8

    You can't avoid developing that appreciation. All of science and philosophy is based on appreciation of the elegance of theories, formulas, ideas etc. Even religion is based on this.

    I don't think you can intentionally have more or less of one. They must exist in equilibrium. No matter what you do, you're probably using equal amounts of logic and appreciation.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2005
  10. Aug 23, 2005 #9

    Les Sleeth

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    I understand your point, but it doesn't fit my experience. If you have a sense of what I mean by "feeling," then I have to say it's only been by the active cultivation of it that I've been able to develop it beyond normal.

    We go to school, and many of us spend years developing and training the intellect . . . I know I have. But how many people give that degree and quality of attention to developing their feeling nature? No, it is left behind the development of the intellect, and often far, far behind.

    So I say we have NOT actually understood the potential of that aspect of us to help us evolve. Yes, we may use it as the normal part of being human, but I am talking about taking it a lot further, as well as suggesting that it may be just how humanity needs to evolve to keep from destroying everything.
     
  11. Aug 23, 2005 #10

    Les Sleeth

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    I agree they are interconnected, and I like the intuitive interpretation you imply with how feeling can reveal patterns.


    I very much agree feelings can lead one to new insights. But I don't think what is most needed today is harmony between the two because, as I said to luxv66, I believe the development of our feeling nature is seriously behind our intellectual development. Harmonizing the two isn't going to fix underdevelopment.
     
  12. Aug 23, 2005 #11
    Wouldn't truly harmonizing the two mean developing our feelings to match that of our intellect. Also isn't this one of the main reasons that we meditate.
    Think about it. Really think about it. Meditation is at least partly about reaching harmony and balance. This is not possible if we have arrested developed feeling. Our feeling being out of balance and harmony and our feeling of being out of balance and lack of harmony is one of the things that leads us to meditation.
    The reward of feeling more in harmony, in balance is that which keeps us meditating.
     
  13. Aug 23, 2005 #12

    Les Sleeth

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    Yes, that's one way to interpret "harmonize." For me, meditation is 100% a feeling practice; I even attain focus, not by will power, but by feeling and relaxing my way there. However I am not trying to reach harmony or balance, I am trying to become pure feeling and to let it take me where it wants to.

    When I am most successful, I find my feeling side comes out slightly on top of my intellect, which is still there, but nice and tamed waiting for me to will it to do what I want, instead of blabbering on and on in my head whether I like it or not. That's why I've come to believe that union in meditation automatically creates the ideal conscious blending, or balance. But I still think, like I said to WeeDie, that for balance to happen most people need to elevate their poor neglected feeling side.
     
  14. Aug 23, 2005 #13
    Yes. I agree; but the quote above, what you just said, goes to illustrate exactly what I said. The fact that it is our feeling that is emphasized shows that that is what we need to bring into balance.
    We are too smart for our own good. We are too soon down out of the trees and not yet out of our caves long enough to have matured emotionally and as you put it "feeling" which is much more than emotions. Our intellect and technology have grown exponentially while our feeling(s) is still in the tribal or clan hunter gatherer stage. We are not yet civilized or mature enough to handle or cope successfully with our intellect or technology. This is one reason if not the main reason our society and world is so insane and irrational.
    So far as I know meditation is the only way that we can individually reach some sense of balance and harmony. As it is as you say almost all about feeling and hence we grow and mature in our feeling(s), wisdom and life by becoming more balanced. We know what and how to think but we don't yet know how to feel about what we think, what feelings are appropriate and natural in these circumstances, what is really good or bad, right or wrong, true or false. As you point out so well feeling is at the core of our problems.
    It is the imbalance of intellect versus feeling the gives us these schizoid and disassociated feelings.
    This is a very hard subject for me to adequately put into words. You have identified a major problem for us as a species and as individuals. We are children with cars and guns on a runaway joy ride of our intellect. It is getting our feeling, maturity, wisdom, intuition, whatever to catch up with us that is becoming more and more crucial
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2005
  15. Aug 23, 2005 #14

    Les Sleeth

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    I think you said it extraordinarily well.
     
  16. Aug 24, 2005 #15
    Thank you. I wish that I felt that good about it. There is much left unsaid and what was said was, I feel, not really to the point nor got the point across; but, it was the best that I could do.
    My biggest question is, was anything I said on subject of the intention and purpose of your original post in this thread?
    (Sorry I couldn't continue the discussion last evening.)
     
  17. Aug 24, 2005 #16

    Les Sleeth

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    In the past, to avoid the common association of the word "feeling" with emotions, I've used the term "base sensitivity." In threads on what consciousness is, I've maintained that models such as those presented by Rosenberg or Chalmers are missing base sensitivity.

    Why do I assert it is there? Because, as you know, I experience it when I achieve deep meditation. In the background, behind all the stuff our minds are involved in, sits a neutral plane of sensitivity. If a person can still the mind and be one with that base sensitivity, then when the mind starts to work it is very easy to see that mentality, or emotions, or whatever all arise out of that most fundamental plane of sensitivity.

    The effect of excessive mental activity is to obscure that plane from consciousness itself; also, and this was part of my point here, excessive mentality diminishes conscious sensitivity in general because all its energy is tied up in the mind. When a person can allow consciousness to become still, then he discovers that a part of his being, a potential that's been there all along, suddenly comes to the forefront.

    I look around and see most people unabashedly participate in and are consumed by their mentality, many of whom believe that is the way to all relevant knowledge, understanding, satisfaction, and success. Many too are discontent because of how they feel inside. Is it possible that mentality is incapable of satisfying a human being fully?

    Maybe it is primarily through our feeling potential, not thinking potentials, that we can achieve a good feeling inside. Further, possibly our feeling nature offers new conscious insights because viewing reality with a relatively more quiet mind presents a substantially new perspective, one that emphasizes what is whole, one, unified (unlike normal mentality which is better suited to observe and understand "parts"). So heightened sensitivity ends up making even mentality more fruitful and satisfying.

    To answer your question, you pointed to the potential of our feeling nature, and that is what I am doing too. I think it is difficult to get people to recognize just how much potential it holds because we are not raised to value and be curious about our sensitivity. We are raised to train and develop our intellect. It would be great if someday humanity recognizes how much potential there is through discovering what we feel, and are, before thoughts, emotions, opinions, likes and dislikes, personality, psychology . . . to discover that sweet quiet place that just "is" without having to do a single thing.
     
  18. Aug 24, 2005 #17

    loseyourname

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    So are you talking about learning and cultivating the ability within individuals, or actual evolution? Until we can find a gene(s) responsible for the ability to achieve the experiences you have while meditating, intellect will always be the more fruitful path, evolutionarily speaking, as we know that intellect can actually be selected for. The other important thing to remember is that if we are simply trying to cultivate a more peaceful, happy humanity, then selecting for genes that promote peacefulness and happiness, and attempting to weed violent behavior and negative emotional responses out of the gene pool would probably be more fruitful. Doing this wouldn't necessarily have any impact on intellect or base-sensitivity (I'll use your term here, as "feeling" really doesn't do you justice; both happiness and violence are at their core 'feelings').
     
  19. Aug 24, 2005 #18

    Les Sleeth

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    I understand that the term "evolution" has been appropriated by those who believe anything that develops in biology happens via genes and natural selection. But Darwinistic evolution really wasn't my point since I don't agree that genes and natural selection can explain all that's evolved (but let's leave that for another debate). The word "evolution" predates it's application to Darwinism, and has a broader meaning. It is derived from the Latin word evolvere which means to unroll or unfold. In my Webster's Unabridged under "evolution," you don't get to the Darwinistic interpretation until definition 5b.

    However, I probably could make the case that natural selection at least might favor those who are more inwardly content. What if, for example, at the point of human evolution only the body is dependent on genes to evolve, but human consciousness can bypass all that and learn to evolve itself? In this case, evolution itself has evolved to the point where a being has the ability to choose its own developmental path. Everything except genetic change corresponds to Darwinistic evolution, so we develop consciousness in a way that benefits us and humanity as a whole thus ensuring the survival of the species. Some say intellectual development is all we need, I am disputing that.
     
  20. Aug 25, 2005 #19

    loseyourname

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    I'm just asking if you're talking about encouraging traits that can be inherited, or traits that one must learn on one's own. Call it what you will.

    Then I ask the same question: Are you talking about an individual evolving to a higher state of being, or the entire species doing so? And if it is the entire species, would their higher state be heritable?

    I see what you're saying, but I'm still becoming confused on the same point. Everywhere else, you seem to be talking about the evolution of the human species; that is, the selection of heritable traits (whether through genetics or whatever other means of heritability - I'm not being narrow-minded here). But here, you seem to be talking about individual development.

    Perhaps I can clarify by making an analogy to the evolution of human intellect. There are two ways to evolve intellect. The first way is simply through education. One reads, one writes, one thinks, and passes on his thoughts to the next generation, allowing for the 'standing on the shoulders of giants' effect. Though it falls outside of what is studied in biology, this can still be considered a form of human intellectual evolution. The second way involves Darwinian means. Through some program of eugenics, the genes (or any other heritable unit, be they physical or not) that are responsible for human intellect are selected for, and the units that mar the human intellect are deselected out of the pool.

    Let us now draw this analogy back to what you're talking about. There can be two analagous ways of encouraging the development of base-sensitivity. The first way is through personal training and the teaching of one's knowledge to subsequent generations. The second is through direct inheritance of an increased innate ability to be base-sensitive. When you use the word "evolution" to refer to the evolution of human consciousness toward increased base-sensitivity, are you talking about evolution in the first sense, or evolution in the second sense?
     
  21. Aug 25, 2005 #20

    Les Sleeth

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    I am talking about the individual and the species, it's just that in this particular situation, the species can only evolve if each of us does the work to make it happen on an individual level.

    I don't believe base sensitivity has a genetic basis since I don't see it as physical. Heritable in some other way? Hmmmm, an interesting question. I wonder if the sensitivity for the entire human race were heightened, if a developing fetus, for example, might experience some effects of that. Once born and exposed to it from birth onward, then I can see that too having a developmental effect. Whether we can call that heritable I don't know.
     
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