Reasoning towards a meaningful life, part 5: having a brain

To summarize the previous posts: feeling of worth can only come when I judge myself based on me being human and having human values. The human values are fluid and not clear cut. When judging myself I have to take make room for the validity of emotional standards and my unhealthy habit of comparing and judging all the time (on false premisses).

Now I want to look at that typical human asset, the brain, and how having one can give meaning to ones life.

 pic by ArtM

Having intellect is typical human.

No wait, I mean this the other way around since I do not assume other creatures to be void of intellect: “leading a meaningful life as a human involves the brain.”

Our intellect allows us to appreciate the finer things in life. The more complex things. The various connections a subject has to other subjects. To be more clear, I’m thinking here of the intellectual pleasure we can derive from art, literature, opera, fine bone china, architecture, urban coffee culture, fashion, mathematics, cinema, chess, politics, teenage fashion et cetera. All the things that are more than just things.

pic by Martin Walls

This indulging of the intellectual pleasure, this high flying of the mind, can go o extremes and become ugly and sickening. For example urban culture and office politics can easily migrate to rat race and adrenal pushing. Caffeïne addiction. Judging an extrovert lifestyle superior to an introvert one.

Leading an up beat life is exhillerating and fun but it is not good when it goes too extreme. This lifestyle is nonetheless glorified and presented as normal in adverts, sporting events, media circusses and American tv-series such as US Scandal (which I love to watch. But it’s too adrenal, the people are too witty and life goes too fast.)

There’s nothing wrong with high speed entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with an extrovert lifestyle.

There’s something wrong when we get addicted to it, when we take it to extremes and when there’s a group delusion that this kind of lifestyle is very worthy and to be desired.

 pic by Mark Normand

Returning to the joys of having a brain.

Things that delight the brain (or make us delight in having a brain) al seem to be more than the thing presented. Architecture is more than a building. Chess is more than a game.

This is called sublimation. And I think that enjoying something sublime is a biological thing. Certainly not logical. Even though it starts and ends with the brain and the brain alone.

 pic by Macin Smolinski

Animals know sublimation too. Sea gull chicks tap the red spot on the bill of their parents to make them regurgitate food. When presented with a lollipop stick with a red dot on them, they’ll tap on it. If presented with a stick with a bigger red dot on it, they tap it harder. When presented with a stick with the biggest red dot on it they’ve ever seen and unthinkable for any seagull they blow their little minds, will ignore their parents and will tap that big red dot. They experience sublimation. (see footnote)

Humans can do the same. I suspect big round breasts do something like that for men, even if they are bigger than breasts they’ve ever seen and are unthinkable for any human.

A more harmonious sublimal pleasure can be derived from the fields of culture I gave some examples of. I think it is important for a human being to have this in her life. I think it will make life meaningful. = CONCLUSION

Having said so I realize this pleasure is private, intern, solo. Let me think about that some more.

This is part 5 in a series in which I think myself towards a meaningful life. So I don’t feel worthless anymore.

1. being in existence
2. being human
3. being judgemental
4. having values
5. having a brain
6. having a heart
7. being me
8. being perfectionist or just admitting you can’t count

 pic by Serkan Ozcan


The seagull experiment was done by Nobel Prize winning biologist Nico Tinbergen. He didn’t use bare lollipop sticks but sticks with the shape of a sea gull head glued to it. He used different coloured dots on different parts of the silhouette. The interpretation of the experiments and research needs a bit more nuancing than I’ve presented it above.

I still suspect animals are capable of sublimation. I know the human animal is.


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