Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Next time, I’m coming back as a dog, or even something further removed from the human condition, like, say, a rock—something that doesn’t have to deal at all with the sort to concerns that concern most of us home sapiens all the time: question like “what am I doing with my life?” or “How do I be a better father?” or “do my friends really like me or are they just pretending so they can get my bikes when I die?”

It’s too complicated being a human being; you’re always having to face the fact of being a human: that is, an animal whose brain evolved to be way too big for the job it evolved for, which was basically, as far as I can tell, to procure food, make babies, and dispose of biological waste in a safe manner, the third of which we’d obviously do a much better job of if we weren’t so good at the second.

Immanuel Kant argued that since nature never does anything without a purpose, and since it’s clear that our reasoning brains weren’t designed to help us figure out how to be happy (if we were robot programmed for bliss, we’d all be much more content) that the purpose of human reason must be to enable us to determine right from wrong, or, as more like he would put it, identify the imperatives of the moral law.

Frankly, I don’t buy it and not just because of my sneaking suspicion that the end result of cognitive evolution can be nothing other than the production of 327 word essays.

No, as I sit here, out of door in our little campground by the sea, I have to conclude the whole point of human beings being able to think is so we can think thoughts that keep us tossing and turning all night and which, thankfully, but in spite of our best efforts, we can hardly ever remember in the morning.


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