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Nov 20

A. Knowledge ladders

All animals, humans included, are born with a brain within which resides an instinctive control system, ticking away 24/ 7 much like a Microsoft operating system

This subconscious system controls most of what we need to survive and protect ourselves, procreate, feel pain and pleasure

It also stores knowledge acquired by learning by rote and practice enabling people to be better at mental arithmetic or playing the piano or golf

And, over time, it stores the experience of what works or not enabling more mature reactions to situations and better decision-making, often credited as sixth-sense or gut-feel

If in any doubt about the power of the subconscious, ask how a humming bird is able to build its delicate and complex nest without any training from its parents or attendance at its local technical college – and without any Google website to help either

Then there’s the conscious side of the brain – a side many think is unique to we human animals – I’m not so sure

Watch the self-conscious shame of a dog when caught stealing food from the kitchen cupboard or the playfulness of rooks dive-bombing each other whilst enjoying the up-currents from wind colliding with cliffs – such emotions surely belong to the conscious, not unconscious, side of brains

However, we humans have been able to develop this conscious side of the brain – it’s what got us to the front of the pack in Charles Darwin’s evolution stakes – and we now go to great lengths to develop it further

As well as feeling emotions, our consciousness enables us to think, make connections, sort out correlations, discern patterns, select priorities, solve complex problems, come up with new ideas, create great music, art and designs

Other animals can demonstrate basic logic skills, usually in order to obtain more food – lionesses hunting together to isolate a wilderbeest, rooks picking up cockles on the beach then dropping them from some 30′ above onto stones below to crack them open, apes using sticks as tools to dig deeper into tree trunks for goodies inside – but none can compare with the mental skills developed by humans

However, man appears limited in his capacity to know everything about everything – there comes a point for us all when our conscious side seems to become full and will absorb little more

Even at school, in the UK at least, most 15-16 year-olds have to choose between arts and science subjects before taking their ‘A’ level examinations because they cannot cope with both

And at work we have to specialise to become good in any field if we are to progress

It’s a rare beast that’s able to master two quite different subjects – and mastery of just one takes us much time, study and experience

Conclusion – There’s a multitude of knowledge ladders for us to climb, and no short cuts for climbing any of them

 

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