vendredi 28 décembre 2012

Is this man intelligent?

The other day, Anijo quoted Billy Joel from a link provided by Ned. T'was about people who believe in god, where they dim-witted or what and were they afraid. 

No, they're not answered Joel and also he didn't know whether they are afraid or not  (*).

This exchange is a multiple issues one, but let's concentrate on intelligence and reason though.

Just, what is intelligence (as opposed to being dim-witted)? Among the zillions propositions that have been suggested, what about the ability to put two and two together in as many opportunities as can be and as fast as can be? 

May I suggest another term be introduced, that of "pure reason", the one Mr. Spock is famous for?
Now, this is where the notion of reason appears, reason that is the ability to form concepts. Only humans can create concepts of course and this isn't natural at all but a product of the human brain. In that sense, reason is a very young newcomer in the history of the world of animals.

But even if intelligence at its highest is to be found among humans (and sometimes one wonders), we must never forget that we humans are made of emotions, nearly exclusively of emotions and that our intelligence is a very, very minor component of what we actually are on a daily basis. Our deepest and most meaningful self is moulded in emotions as is represented in Maslow's hierarchy of needs

What differentiates reason from intelligence is that the latter doesn't exclude passions (it simply cannot, it lives among them) whereas the former does. This is what Mr. Spock is: pure unaltered reason and unaffected by passions. Pure reason following the rules of logic as enunciated by Aristotles 2.400 years ago.

Now, this is how we can understand why people deemed intelligent can yet be religious ones, buy assault weapons after what happened the other day, vote against their own interest in politics (no, excuse me, these are mere cretins), or hold contradictory opinions on whatever topic. It is our passions (in the academic sense, that of the European XVIIth century) that decide for us, not reason and Mr. Spock is a man of reason, maybe not particularly intelligent since that would mean he's also partly driven by his emotions.

Mr. Spock of course couldn't fall in love, that would be the most unreasonable thing to do. Also, there's no way he could be a religious person.

Indeed, believers aren't necessarily "dim-witted" and this asks the question of why intelligent grown-ups still indulge in believing in fairy tales. Isn't it just because a choice has been made at their place between Jerusalem and Athens as Lev Chestov said?  Or that their passions have made the choice for them?

Needless to say, the character of Mr. Spock is fictitious and always will be: Humans will always be a compound of nearly uncontrollable passions and emotions continuously struggling to keep intelligence and reason under their ruling power. As Schopenhauer said, intelligence is at the service of the Will which is the ultimate master. 

The more prevalent emotions and passions are, the less intelligence and reason have any say. Just consider any love relations. Need I say more?

(*) Methinks they are, all religions being the product of fear.

32 commentaires:

Anonyme a dit…

Anijo a dit...

I know that Flocon is intelligent. No doubt about that. Not only is he intelligent, he's thoughtful and gentle.

Flocon a dit…

Ned Ludd a dit...


Anthony a dit…

Interesting blog post...I would define intelligence as "pattern recognition."

Flocon a dit…

Anijo a dit... Ned rolling her eyes lol

Anonyme a dit…

Ned Ludd a dit...

OK, I'll go on to other intelligent Star Trek actors, George Takai and Nichelle Nichols. Takai has been active on gay rights and recognition of the injustice of Japanese-American internment in WWII. He even has a musical about.

Nichols is considered to be the first black woman to have a serious role on American television and the first to kiss a white man Captain Kirk. She has been active on women and minorities rights. She wanted to leave Star Trek but Martin Luther King persuaded her to stay.

"however, a conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., changed her mind. She has said that King personally encouraged her to stay on the show, telling her that he was a big fan of the series. He said she "could not give up" because she was playing a vital role model for black children and young women across the country, as well as for other children who would see African Americans appearing as equals.[5][6] It is also often reported that Dr. King added that "Once that door is opened by someone, no one else can close it again."

Flocon a dit…

Ned is right!

It is just now that I read her Cough... cough... comment coming right after Anijo's one.

Up to now I had just read your comments in my email box and the cough... cough... didn't make much sense. I though it was an answer to the question of the title about Mr. Spock.

Then the "Ned rolling her eyes lol" didn't make much sense either.

And this morning after I've written this lenghy post I discover the three comments in a row...

Speaking of putting two and two together as fast as can be!

Voilà à quoi on s'expose by not wearing the uniform: women sneer at you. I knew it wouldn't work...

Flocon a dit…

Hello Antony and welcome.

"I would define intelligence as "pattern recognition."

Pattern recognition doesn't seem to contradict my putting two and two together, quite the opposite; it seems to be another formulation of the same idea. Vendu! (sold) as we say in French ;-)

Thanks for your visit and feel free to return.

Flocon a dit…

There has been another problem with Blogger. When I edited the post early this morning, the lay-out was completely unusual and rather unpleasant to read. So I've deleted it (Blogger wouldn't accept any major change) and created another version but your former comments stayed stuck with the former edition.

I had to transfer them but in the process your blue signatures have been lost and the original dates have disappeared also.

Ned Ludd a dit…

The "cough...cough" was in reference to your comment in "le vrai pêché original".

Ned Ludd a dit…

An interesting synonym in English is that a religious person is also referred to as a god-fearing person.

Anijo a dit…


Thanks for the link to the article by Gary Sauer-Thompson. I noted one of the comments by a certain 'Alain' as follows:

Strauss also advocated a bizarre way of reading texts, using a distinction between "esoteric" and "exoteric" doctrines. Plus he made some interesting comments in the 1930's about the ineffectiveness of democracy in relation to Hitler. While his influence on the Neocons may be disputed, his interpretation of certain cannonical texts are strange, to say the least. Ultimately, I think his influence is strictly on the conservative end of the culture wars. Beyond that, I am not sure that he is necessarily worth much.

Did you make this comment?

If you did, the ensuing exchange was interesting.

Flocon a dit…


Thanks for following the link, it's an indication that je ne travaille pas pour le roi de Prusse ;-)...

No, I didn't make that comment and the easy way to know is that there's no mistake (of English) in the sentences.

This book by Chestov is interesting in the sense that its title summarizes pretty well the nature of the split between faith and reason.

Ned Ludd a dit…

On the subject of Athens and Jerusalem, Christopher Hitches stood firmly on the side of Athens Bah, Hanukkah

According to a BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares Leo Strauss and his neocon followers believed that the fantasy of religion was necessary for social cohesion even though they didn't believe in the myths themselves. The myths they thought were necessary to keep the population in line.

It is three episodes of one hour but is definitely worth watching entirely. It explains the neocon basis for things like the Iraq War.

ZapPow a dit…

People deemed intelligent are very often deemed so by nitwits. Which, I think, cast a little shadow on their intelligence.

Flocon a dit…

Salut ZapPow,

Ton intervention me fait penser à la phrase attribuée à dix personnes selon laquelle "passer pour un imbécile aux yeux d'un crétin est un plaisir de fin gourmet."

Ca m'est arrivé toute la vie, je n'ai rencontré que des crétins. Euh... wait a minute here, il y a quelque chose qui cloche.

Bon je n'ai sans doute pas rencontré que des crétins mais en tout cas il y en a un sacré paquet aux yeux desquels je suis passé pour un idiot fini...

Je profite de ton passage pour te souhaiter un truc super original pour l'avenir (2013) : une bonne santé!

Anijo a dit…

it's an indication that je ne travaille pas pour le roi de Prusse ;-)...


Thank you for introducing me to this saying.

And then, yes, you appreciate a response which demonstrates that the responder gives a damn about the issue at hand, because you give a damn about attempting to understand various complex contingencies of this sweet old world.

Ned Ludd a dit…

A couple of illustrations for the holiday season. noel dieu n'existe pas



Anonyme a dit…

Your comment about Maslow is appropriate in a post discussing the distinction between intelligence and credulity.

Intelligent people are just as ready to suspend doubt, if the proposition in question supports a conclusion they want.

Maslow's work is an example. Echoing Rousseau (there really are few new ideas), he argued from his "hierarchy of needs" that men would behave well if the needs at the lower end of the hierarchy were satisfied. In his view, social pathologies would disappear if the social organization removed restraints on satisfying these needs. Needs satisfied, men would naturally behave well.

Many intelligent people were eager to accept this in the 1950s. Maslow's views supported the general movement to dismantle conventional restraints on self-gratification. And Maslow presented himself as a scientist.

But alas! As his critics pointed out, Maslow's research was laughable. He self-selected "accomplished" people, studied their lives and drew conclusions about their motivations. Such a research plan would not win a high school science fair prize today.

But people wanted to believe.

We can all be credulous when we are invested in an idea.


Flocon a dit…


Thanks for your intervention which gives me the opportunity to clarify a post which I knew from the beginning that it was badly constructed.

"a post discussing the distinction between intelligence and credulity."

Actually the post was meant to distinguish intelligence from reason.

Intelligence is immerged within passions and emotions and is the most efficient tool to make order in the turmoil of both our passions and emotions.

But intelligence isn't above passions, quite the opposite and therefore it is not a guarantee against credulity.

On the other hand, reason constitutes that guarantee because it is above passions and emotions and cannot possibly be influenced by them. This is how Mr. Spock works (theoretically).

"Intelligent people are just as ready to suspend doubt, if the proposition in question supports a conclusion they want."

I fully agree with that statement. All and every one of us are prone to fall victims of human gullibility.

Only a computer cannot believe any thing like intelligent design or geocentric model, but its developers are much likely to.

You may be interested with the history of Denis Vrain-Lucas, a French forger who succeeded into selling letters supposedly written by Pontius Pilates (I don't remember the details) to no other than the great French mathematician Michel Chasles.

Of all people, a (supposedly intelligent) mathematician was gullible enough to buy letters purpotedly written by Cleopatra!

Like Barnum used to say, a sucker is born every minute.

"Your comment about Maslow"

Actually, I did link to Maslow just for the sake of illustrating the point that we're basically made of emotions and passions, fears and expectations.

I don't argue in the least with your information re Maslow's research models and techniques. If there is a field in which unscientific methods are to be found, it is in the realm of social studies, sociology and experimental psychology.

You may want to include psychoanalysis in the list, just the latter doesn't pretend at all to be scientific, whereas the former do.

Flocon a dit…


Sorry for the delay to answer the last comment of last year, it also provides me with the opportunity to wish Ned and Anijo the best for this new year.

May the force be with you all!

Flocon a dit…


As an echo to your pictures and that of the post, I've found this one.

The interesting part is that this picture existed long before I chose Mr. Spock as an illustration for a post as well as long before you thought you would provide links to images on this theme.

It's called synchronicity as Anijo will confirm because she knows a thing or two about paranormal and intriguing phenomenas...

Anijo a dit…

Bonne année à tous !

Ned Ludd a dit…

I had a good laugh at the Star Trek link.

I second Anijo, Happy and Healthy New Year to all.


Flocon a dit…

En fait je n'ai jamais vu un seul épisode de Star Treck, peut-être 5' un jour par hasard.

When Ned mentioned M.L King associated with the series, I had to make some research because I thought Star Treck was a typical 80s series.

It appears the program was aired much sooner in the US than it was in France (1982 and then 1988).

Pas de télé, séjour à Londres etc. À quoi ça tient!

Flocon a dit…

"the program was aired much sooner in the US than it was in France"

Err.. much sooner or much earlier?

Anijo a dit…

"Much earlier" sounds better to my ears, but I suspect that either way is correct. Good question.

Anonyme a dit…

Flocon: I just posted a long explanation for my agreement with
Anijo that "much earlier" is the better usage for the meaning you wish to convey than "much sooner." It all has to do with the root meanings of "early" and "soon."

But my explanation disappeared into the ether on posting.

In everyday conversation, no one would call your original sentence incorrect. However, in a speech test, the panel of professors would agree with Anijo.


Flocon a dit…


As concerns long elaborated comments which disappear into the ether after one has spent ten minutes or more to compose them, I know how extremely irritating that experience is.

It has happened too many times to me so I have taken the habit for two years to regularly safeguard my comments (such as this one) while I write them.

Now, I have to remember that much earlier is the very correct way to keep in mind.

As a matter of fact, my sentence was logically wise poorly thought out anyway since it should have been "the series was aired much latter in France than, it was in the US."

The next post (Shibboleth) will precisely deal with this issue of tiny little details that make a difference.

Ned Ludd a dit…

Excuse me Flocon, but the comma in your corrected sentence after "than" isn't necessary, in fact, not good.

"latter" may just be a typing error as I often make.

But I really wanted to advise you to go to ARTE to see a nice documentary on the "demi-mondaines", Belles de Nuit.


Flocon a dit…


Bien sûr, la virgule inopportune s'est installée à mon insu.

je vais regarder l'émission sur ARTE, it will make a change from the kings of the Ryukyu Kingdom I am currently working on.

Anonyme a dit…

I await the post on the Ryukyu Kingdom with interest. I am one of the many US Marines to spend years of duty on Okinawa Jima. Beautiful island. Brutal climate. The Summer combination of heat and humidity in this part of the East China Sea is shocking to the uninitiated. Typhoons. Earthquakes. But one can swim into schools of the brilliant tropical fish people buy to put in an aquarium.


Flocon a dit…


"I await the post on the Ryukyu Kingdom with interest"

There may be some qui pro quo here. I am not preparing a post about the Ryukyu Kingdom for the blog. I was refering to the articles related to the Ryukyu islands on the English Wikipedia that I am working on.

Particularly the three kingdoms prior to the Ryukyu one, Chūzan, Hokuzan and Nanzan, the kings of Ryukyu, as well as the diplomatic missions of the kingdom to China, Korea and Japon and numerous pages associated with Ryukyu such as this one you may be familiar with in the Shuri castle.