Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A to Z/Day 10-letter I

I is for Intelligent Life Form (ILF).  I open this post begging the question: "What constitutes 'Intelligent?'"  Does intelligence boast a high IQ score?  Is it simply having the talent to reason (which of course, begs a further consideration of how to aptly define 'reason' or 'reasoning').  Maybe to be "intelligent" is nothing more than possessing the ability to think with consequence?  Now, THAT's something to toss around in the old noggin, ain't it?  Acting with consequence is something we all know about, but thinking with consequence?  We should explore the notion.  But first, I'd like to go ahead and plant the next thought-seed up for harvest: "What attributes must something have to be considered a 'life form?'"  Is a life form something solid that can be seen and touched?  Is a heart beat a requirement?  The ability to think?  The ability to die, whither on the vine, so to speak? 
I once saw a show that featured people who fall in love with objects.  One lady wanted to marry a bridge, while another was a rather promiscuous slut, unable to commit herself to just one mailbox.  There was also a gentleman featured that was aroused by the lines and curvature of furniture.  To these people, their objects of lust/love had life.  Some went so far as to say that souls existed within the inanimate.  To me (and probably to most of you, too), a post office receptacle with a soul is a ridiculous notion.  And it is a ridiculous notion.  And that's all I have to say about that.
Getting back to the sane part of this discussion, I would like to declare that a life form is defined by its ability to transition from one state of existence to another: young to old, healthy to sick back to healthy again, from seed to root & sprout to tree, etc.  We cannot simply claim that that which eventually suffers a death is alive, thereby suggesting that life is defined by its ability to end.  This would suffice to the atheist, of course, but not to those of us that believe -or are exploring a belief- in something beyond the body.  We can, however, safely consider (for all facets of religious design, as well as the absence of such) that death is a transition, not an end.  For the believer, it is a shedding of skin that allows us to move on to another state of being.  For the non-believer, it is a transference of flesh back to the earth, thus returning the favor of nutrient and sustenance that the earth has so long given.  For me -the fickle believer of god and science- it is both.  
So, okay.  The ability to transition from one state of existence to another: this is what I have decided "life form" means to me.  Now, if we can jump back to the subject matter apropos of the first question, we find ourselves with something more difficult to succinctly define: "intelligence."  If you recall, you agreed -by continued reading- to explore the idea of "thinking with consequence" to be a possible adequate measure of intelligence.  As for me, I have just -even as I write this- considered and accepted it as the definition I am seeking.  Why?  Because, think about it: if we are being completely honest with ourselves, we understand that there is no possible way that the human of all beings is the most intelligent.  We can't be.  More often than not, we act out in a way that clearly works against the "circle of life" (go ahead, I'll wait while you burst out in melodic imitation of Elton John's interpretation of The Lion King...), even while in supposed possession of our consequential prospects of action.  We continue to barely survive the consequences of our actions; we continue to barely survive ourselves.  And why is that?  Because we let the consequence come alive only through action, when it is too late.  We do not extend consequential design to our thought process.  Right about now, you are probably asking the obvious: "Isn't consideration of consequences before we act proof enough that it exists within our thoughts?"  No.  It isn't. It is proof that the consideration exists in our fidgety human minds, and consequence is animated for our consideration BY our consideration.  Have I lost you, yet?  Please hang with me.  If you let go now, a whole lot of rope will be wasted. ;)
If we assume, for a moment, that everything begins and ends with thought (and it does), and we readily claim responsibility of our own thoughts, then we must also assume that we are the ever-changing art form inspired by the acceptance or denial of every idea we have ever had.  So, in the very same way, it must be understood that to think with consequence would require us to become the consequence.  See, consideration of the result of our actions is just that: consideration, a prelude.  Nothing more, nothing less.  It is a practice we use that allows our conscience to sample our ideas...our thoughts...before we make them manifest.  But what about manifesting thought through thought?!  Exactly how intelligent would one have to be to do that?  Exactly how patient and in control of one's mind would a life form have to be to allow themselves the far-sighted practice of actually becoming the consequence in thought, before it is made an unmovable, yet far-reaching result of action? 
If you are still having a hard time making a determination between consideration and thinking with consequence, try this: Suppose you have a grand idea for a grand invention that will change the world and make you lots of moola.  Now suppose you have the ability to become that idea in thought -working out all the kinks and trouble-shooting issues in detail- before you project it into physicality?  Imagine the time and effort and money you could save!  Let us do the same sort of supposing with the decision to go to war.  Oh my!  The things we could avoid with real intelligence. 
Oh well.  At least we have determined that the human race is, indeed, a life form.


  1. What an interesting post. And love your profile too!

  2. How about procreation? A rock can't replicate itself, but any plant or animal can. This makes it a lifeform, but surely not intelligent. I've seen many an idiot with kids.I'd certainly agree that thinking with consequence constitutes intelligence, but I'd need more time to think of what else may apply.

    1. will, idk if you are religious/spiritual or not, but if so, would you agree that the soul is a life form?

  3. i would agree that the soul IS a life form. I believe things containing energy are a life form.

  4. Years and years ago, piano legs were covered up to stop men having sexual thoughts..

  5. I have been thinking about this one for a while. This is a great thought provoking post for this philosophy student.

    I think that true intelligence has to do with not only consequences as you mention but compassion and understanding for things beyond our immediate perception and thoughts. It's an admission that we can't know it all but we can make room for everyone and everything; there are so many possibilities. I never equate intelligence with knowledge or IQ. It's an understanding that we are all in this world, this time, this plane of existence, right here and now together, and we work with what we have, together, taking into consideration one another.

    I like your definition of life form -able move from one state of existence to another. It makes me think about how no energy is ever lost just transformed, so yes, a soul is a life form. Just different than our current state. I am not sure that we will ever know if all life forms have to have thoughts, to be considered a life form.

    From a human standpoint, I would take it even further and say we are all part of a collective consciousness. I believe that we all have access to the same level of intelligence, but some don't tap as deeply as others. We all have the potential to be intelligent.

    Still thinking...
    LOVE this one!

    1. "From a human standpoint, I would take it even further and say we are all part of a collective consciousness. I believe that we all have access to the same level of intelligence, but some don't tap as deeply as others. We all have the potential to be intelligent."

      I could not agree more. In fact, I have the latin word for "remember" tatooed on the back of my neck (not to give it away, but i was planning to discuss said tattoo in more detail when letter T arrives), and my reason for choosing -actually, insisting- on getting it is becuz I truly believe that we know all there is to know, we just have forgotten that we know it; so, here we are: a bunch of soul-toting bodies with amnesia, doing our best to take note of all the hints and lessons the universe provides for us so that in our growth we can remember where we come from (or maybe it's better stated that with our remembrance, we can grow), and further, as we grow, we will remember why we chose to "visit" or "re-visit" life as an experience.