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Quick Review: If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal: What Animal Intelligence Reveals About Human Stupidity

While pointing out various ways in which other species exhibit a certain level of intelligence, the author doesn’t try to claim that any of them can compare to humans from this point of view, only arguing that we should accept that, in some way, they possess intelligence and, notably, consciousness, and that more developed intelligence would be better described as broader rather than higher. But, more than that, the book emphasizes how humans misuse or fail to use their extraordinary intelligence, realizing far less than what would be the true potential to do good and causing and justifying immense harm and suffering to themselves, each other, and even more so to the other species and the ecosystem.
However, while I agree that the least intelligent and least complex species have the most success in terms of mere survival, reproduction and obtaining pleasure in the present, that humans generally misuse their intelligence, and that greater intelligence is generally associated with worse mental health problems and tends to have less to do with success than plain luck, I definitely disagree with the conclusion that we’d be better off with far less of it. I mean, rocks exist for eons, bacteria thrive; evolution, and life in general, has no point if it doesn’t go beyond survival, if it doesn’t reach a level where it can analyze and create, improve its condition and that of the world. But the author offers no solutions to the raised problems, even stating at the end that he never intended to… And arguing that, because life on Earth will eventually be wiped out by the Sun, the only objective measure of a species’ success is maximizing present pleasure, while I’d see it as proof that the true measure of success would be escaping such a fate, which requires far more developed and better used intelligence. And even this edition’s translator added notes that, beyond the typical clarifications, also point out and express frustration with the author’s incorrect use of certain terms or, on a couple of occasions, criticize more directly, pointing out flaws in the logic or arguments.

Rating: 3/5


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