Conquering Your Human Nature

I'd like to pose a question that has recently come to the fore of my mind: how many people do you think are intellectuals by nature? We know that, on average, consequent generations have higher IQs than previous generations. Does this translate to an equilibrium where those with intellectual proclivities dominate? My hypothesis of where we are currently is two-fold.

  1. The intellectual types are the dominant types and have, therefore, won out.

  2. The 1 minus nth (where 0<n<1) percentage of the population (<50%?) would most likely be intellectuals absent the deleterious effects of the junkified satiation of particular appetites (Eat that, Franklin).

The first hypothesis is, in some sense, not difficult to test. In fact, one could make a convincing case that we have run a massive trial of it through division of labor and specialization. As a result, the intellectualism we have is now diversified among different subcultures and groups - think crypto, academia, and Silicon Valley. This point becomes more salient if we notice a current emphasis on tangible gains to intellectual endeavors that did not exist when reading, art, and music comprised the activities with which the intellectual class occupied themselves i.e., TikTok didn’t exist back then. This is not wrong; in fact, the backbone of most firms producing most of the economic value and social impact today are technical and philosophical.

The second hypothesis is also not difficult to track. In fact, it has become so ubiquitous as to be a question one asks on a first date like "What is your vice?" The main point of the question is an identification of how technologies have helped us match our human desires to the most appealing methods of satisfying these desires, good or bad. For example, pornography for the sex drive, literal junk food, YouTube, TikTok (or YouTube Shorts), and many examples in this domain. You can also run this experiment in your own life. Drop as many forms of modern entertainment as you can, limit yourself to a few choices for entertainment, and see if you end up either reading or musing about art i.e., fast.

This leads to a different way of asking the opening question. How many of us would value intellectual endeavors in the humanities if we had the bandwidth freed up for it? We know that the intellectual horsepower of these IQ increases is channeled into understanding gadgets and the internet of things with crippling levels of choice. Think about it, your parents most likely asked you to help them navigate an app or a computer because of the exponential increase in choices and options these innovations brought along. Just when you think you've figured out how to navigate and use all those choices, more gets thrown your way with the "new generation" of things. You would then ask your children how to navigate it, and they theirs, and the cycle continues. Do we read classics? Do we want to read classics? If our answers to these questions are "no" or "Why read a book when you could go into the metaverse, bruh?" then I regret to inform you that, in this domain, our progenitors were just more intelligent than us.

This post is not a revolutionary one. It is a challenge to you. It is a question of what type of individual you want to be. A challenge to take steps in the direction that will enable you to be the type of individual who does those things. As Wackford Squeers (a character in Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens) says: "Subdue your appetite, my dears, and you have conquered human natur[e]."

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