The human brain is a fascinating organ, and it accounts for much of the distinction between human beings and other life forms. Interesting questions regarding the brain arise. For example, why is it that, in the early stages of human evolution, having increasing intelligence and brainpower was an asset that was promoted by natural selection?
Why can people not remember their earliest months of life? Why is the human brain so heavily oriented toward the visual sense? This essay provides an explanation for such phenomena.
Why Higher Brain Power and Intelligence Evolved in Humans
Other individuals, being creatures of volitional consciousness, can perform a far greater variety of activities than inanimate objects or lower life forms. Interacting with them, which can be of great benefit to survival, requires understanding their motives and attributes, which demands of the brain at least the same level of intricacy as displayed by others; the men who historically had such brains possessed survival advantages and were more likely to produce viable offspring, thus resulting in an evolutionary increase in brainpower, with social interaction as a possible strong basis for a natural selection of more advanced minds.
Why People Cannot Remember their Earliest Months
During the first months of one’s life, though one is conscious of existence, one does not yet possess the ability to conceptualize with respect to that awareness. Without at least implicit conceptualization, which happens as children begin to learn to speak and analyze cause and effect, one’s external perceptions are but disjoint, unrelated sequences of images, with no particular characteristics about them to render them memorable or even open to systematization of any sort. Without a systematic approach, the brain cannot retain items in memory, because long-term memory stores those images and facts that are recollected multiple times (and usually deliberately so) on the basis of a conceptual awareness that the fact or image is of some significance to the individual.
Why a Large Portion of the Brain is Devoted to Vision
Our brain is devoted to such a large degree to vision because vision is the sense that has the potential to offer the greatest degree of information and guidance about the outside world. It presents the brain with the opportunity to orient itself based on external surroundings, differentiate between objects that may be similar in the other four senses but distinct in attributes such as color, shape, and size. It also permits for accurate manipulation of these objects.
Had humans been less developed in terms of vision but more developed in any of the four other senses, their lifestyles would still be far more passive and less technological. The other four senses are passive senses; one can hear a sound, or sense a smell or a certain texture, but one cannot address the source of those senses consistently without a developed sense of sight (unless one happens to stumble upon that source by sheer luck).
Thus, any deliberate amelioration of one’s environment, especially given the wilderness state endured by early humans, would be extremely difficult with lessened visual capacities, implying that our society today would resemble that of early man and technological progress would be minimal.
Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre, Rebirth of Reason, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, weekly columnist for GrasstopsUSA.com, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. Mr. Stolyarov also publishes his articles on Helium.com and Associated Content to assist the spread of rational ideas. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. His most recent play is Implied Consent. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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