The Evolution of Intelligence

Part 8: Conclusions

Renato M.E. Sabbatini, PhD
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The appearance of intelligence in Earth entails a paradox: we only recognize it and appraise it directly because we are intelligent. Other forms of life, the environment, and now, even the sidereal space, are at the receiving end of our intelligence, our acts and doings, but they cannot understand it.

Once Man got his intelligence, understanding ourselves became an obsession. There are many branches of the sciences devoted exclusively to this, and Brain & Mind Magazine and this article have precisely this aim. Above all, describing and understanding how the brain was built and perfected by Nature, how mind appeared and how intelligence and conscience arose from matter, are among the most fascinating, the most enduring, the most difficult, and, probably, the most rewarding of all scientific endeavors of Man.

It has become clear to scientists that intelligence is not unique to humans: many animals have all sorts of "intelligences", many of them superior to Man's. However, it is only Homo sapiens, since its very dawn as a new species, that has developed and displayed a unique combination of neural functions that we can legitimately call intelligence (probably with a capital "I"). This certainty has made Man into a kind of self-assigned "king of Creation". All religions have also put Man in this superior and unique position in Nature. Perhaps it is not justifiable, but we know for sure that something strange happened about 100,000 years ago, when a small group of primitive and hairy man-apes in Africa transfigured through evolution into a physically fragile being with a ultra-powerful mind.

The rest is history.

"The Evolution of Intelligence"
Renato M.E. Sabbatini, PhD
Brain & Mind Magazine, February/April 2001

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Copyright (c) 2001 Renato M.E. Sabbatini
State University of Campinas, Brazil
First published on: February 15th, 2001
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