Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Why must each generation learn everything again?

Last Thursday evening, a strange question suddenly entered my mind: why must each generation learn everything again? The obvious answer would relate to biology, nature vs nurture, etc. A recent Quanta article argues that it’s not that simple: Inherited Learning? It Happens, but How Is Uncertain (Saturday’s blog). This booming scientific field is called epigenetics.

Before I continue, it’s important to realise there are also collective besides individual memories. We often codify our collective memories in art, books, music, paintings, etc. Nevertheless, our intuition could also be viewed as a collective memory. Please view my 2017 blog on the 4 levels of human consciousness, which feels similar to an iceberg of which 90% is under water.

Collective memories are not unique to humans: An ant colony has memories that its individual members don’t have (Aeon-2018, Stanford-1993). Birds and fish show collectieve navigation and collective defence to fight off predators. A recent article argues: From stealthy chimps, smart orca whales to farmer leafcutter ants, animals do better as community than humans.

Human newborns should have a vacuum regarding intelligence, knowledge and memories. Nevertheless, babies as of 3 months somehow know that crawling over a visual cliff is dangerous (Wiki). Babies and children use external curiosity (my 2017 blog) to fill that vacuum (eg, sight, smell, taste, touch). In young adults, internal curiosity (my 2017 blog) takes over.

Hence, the more appropriate question would be: If inherited learning is possible then why did evolution not make it our default?

I think, feel and believe that inherited learning is “minimal” (my assumption!) because it would jeopardize our adaptation to Change. Change is an eternal force and adaptation is its only effective countermeasure. Without adaptation, any species would be doomed to extinction.

In this context, the climate change debate is nonsense. The debate should be about adaptation (eg, moving seaside cities) rather than arguing about accountability and responsibility. Also see Louise Fresco‘s recent article: Watch for ‘easy’ climate solutions.

Considering the above, each generation will always challenge the “wisdom” of other generations. This debate between generations might even benefit our collective wisdom. Without a clean slate for new generations, our collective wisdom would (probably) no longer grow.

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” A quote by George Orwell (1903-1950), an “English novelist and essayist, journalist and critic”.

My Generation (1965) by The Who

artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation) 

Just because we get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation) 

Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation) 

I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation) 

This is my generation 

This is my generation, baby

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise


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