If someone drops a phrase like “you are an animal!” We shouldn’t be offended. rewe should feel comforted to have perceived our energy and our vital capacity and that they understood that we do not belong to the vegetable kingdom or to the mineral, the two other alternatives that mother nature offers us.
Another thing would be to call ourselves a “bad animal” or a “beast,” but membership in the animal kingdom in the warm-blooded sub-kingdom is clearly a cause for satisfaction, a kind of celebration.
If, on the contrary, they call us “gorilla” or “orangutan”, they tell us that we have insufficient mental development; but if they call us “primate”, they position us correctly in the subspecies to which we belong.
In my teenage years, teachers told us that man is the only rational and soulless animal, Made in the likeness of God. Science has challenged this clearly religious belief, as there are quite a few animals that show a similar level of rationality.
On another side, the rational capacity of humans does not by far guarantee that our conduct is always rational. And the explanation is very simple: we are not only rational. Our brains have been shaped by the evolution in five stages of functioning, inherited from our ancestors. Neuroscience and evolutionary psychology have shown that we have instinctive capacities (like primitive reptiles), emotional memory capacities (like the first evolving mammals), intuitive rapid response capacities (like large primates), rational (inherited from hominids). which preceded us) and the capacity for future vision and planning, a true hallmark of Homo sapiens.
The brain is built in evolutionary phases
Each stage of Darwinian evolution has left its anatomical constancy in a new area of brain growth.. Additionally, the human brain is the part of the human body that has experienced the most dramatic growth with evolution. As paleontologist Phillip V. Tobias wrote in 1995: “Man, in just 2-3 million years, has increased his brain weight from 500 grams to 1,400 grams. brain”.
To the simply instinctive brain of reptiles, primitive mammals added the limbic system which allows them to retain the memory of the emotions of pleasure or pain associated with their previous behaviors and, therefore, it gives them the ability to rectify or ratify the gut reactionIn other words, the control of instincts, the ability to learn through rewards and punishments. Primates have acquired an additional cerebral cortex that gives them the ability to relate in milliseconds their previous experiences to the current experience and whether they should reject or accept the food, object or society they are proposing.
According to paleontologists, the missing hominids developed the polarization of the left hemisphere of the cerebral cortex which allowed them to apply logic and deductive reasoning to the problems of their existence, with a response time considerably shorter than intuition. previous., But with a wonderful and incredible ability to build tools and move forward in lifestyle. Language, art, culture and science are born thanks to this evolution of the neocortex.
The last evolutionary step was the growth of the homo sapiens neocortex to exceed cranial capacity and extend over the forehead above the eyes and nose, the so-called prefrontal lobes. This is where our most advanced and superior new ability resides: the vision of the future, the ability to imagine before making a decision what the consequences may be, the ability to think long term and follow through. principles and rules, etc.
The executive brain
Neuroscientist Elkhonon Goldberg, a follower of the great neurologist Alexander Luria, calls the prefrontal lobes the executive brain because they have the function and ability to monitor and control the rest of the previous evolving areas of the brain. He is like an orchestra conductor who, with his baton, leads the various musicians who play together. But if we take refuge in the metaphor of the orchestra, we must recognize that all too often the music is out of tune or broken down.
The explanation is simple: every musician is an impatient star who tends to anticipate the conductor’s baton. In more scientific terms: the order of arrival of external or internal stimuli in different brain areas follows the same order of appearance on the evolutionary scale and, therefore, each brain function receives information when the previous areas have already started to answer. It can only slow down or speed up the reaction, but for a few tenths of a second the notes themselves have already sounded, whether or not they suit the overall harmony.
Five intelligences to adapt to the environment
If we say “intelligence” to the ability to adapt to stimuli from the existing environment to react in a way that provides maximum benefit or minimizes harm (depending on the situation), we can say that the human brain is endowed with five intelligences, Of increasing complexity and scope, following the evolutionary progression.
Instinctive intelligence is given to us by chromosomal inheritance. It allows us individual survival in the face of dangers that are already genetically internalized and collective survival at the species level. If a bee wants to nail its sting to us, our instinct makes us dodge it and try to eliminate it immediately with our hand. Very beneficial reaction in the street, but which can cause us to accidentally die if we drive a vehicle launched at high speed on a road.
Emotional intelligence: a new paradigm
So-called emotional intelligence incorporates rationality and foresight into controlling emotions which, without this filter, can cause us to fall into highly harmful visceral reactions. The insult or aggression that escapes us, not to mention the unfortunate crime of passion.
Intuitive intelligence allows us to make immediate decisions when we don’t have time to think rationally. It is based on the accumulation of previous experiences, it is the result of acquired experience. An automatic and rapid contrast to lived experiences gives us a clear reaction of acceptance or repulsion of the situation, object or person offered to us. This is not foolproof because our statistics of lived events are never infinite, but it should be a very serious warning to keep in mind. Often a subsequent evaluation by rational intelligence causes us to act badly against an intuitive warning. It is up to everyone to better calibrate their intuition and decide when and when to pay attention to them.
Rational intelligence (also called analytical, logical, deductive or equivalent adjectives), with a functioning totally opposite to intuition, requires time and calm.. This is what allowed us to create what we call civilization and human progress, which saved nature’s reefs, which gave us tools to overcome our obvious biological inferiority to other animals. Also one that has sometimes been put at the service of human evil by increasing to terrifying extremes the capacity to exploit and even take the lives of other people, animals, wildlife, the climate, the entire planet. The one who can cause real disasters when he lacks foresight for the future. Mankind has admired this kind of intelligence so much that for over a century it was mistakenly believed that it was the only intelligence we had, the only one worth having. The famous IQ (IQ) was based on this idea.
Planning intelligence, mastery of the executive brain, is the big slope current psychology and, of course, lessons at all levels. Knowing how to coordinate all the musicians in the same symphony so that there are no discordant notes is the clear mission of conductors.
Applying one of the five intelligences individually is neither good nor bad in itself. A musician can perform a fantastic “Alone” or detune until it breaks our ears. But the clear goal of any orchestra is to play beautiful orchestral pieces in perfect harmony and coordination. You have to learn to play by following the baton of a director.
Maybe we should say that evolution has given us a five-dimensional intelligence to harmonize. Either way, it’s about achieving an efficient intelligence that best combines our individual and social well-being with instincts, emotions, intuition, reasoning, and the ability to plan.
- Goldberg, I. (2002). The executive brain: frontal lobes and the civilized mind. Critical.
- Guilera, L. (2006). Beyond Emotional Intelligence: The Five Dimensions of the Mind. Thomson Auditorium.
- Ledoux, J. (1999). The emotional brain. Planet.