Building Wisdom Upon Naiveté

I have been thinking about babies recently. More specifically, the way babies evolve into adults. The thought was on my mind due to something I read many years ago. The idea is that many animals are born ready to be productive. Not all, but many. Cats and dogs that are not domesticated are ready to survive and live in a very short amount of time. Some fish can be productive in an even shorter time. When humans are born though, they need much more time.

Some creatures have claws, fangs, and fur. Combined with instinct, common sense, and observant behavior, creatures with those physical qualities can be productive earlier in their life cycle. Human babies cannot do that. They have to grow into teenagers at a minimum and adults at best to have a good chance at survival. Ironically, when babies grow up into adults, they have the potential to have a level of intelligence that makes the most formidable of all creatures.

Humans don’t have claws, fangs, and fur. Most people cannot naturally resist the cold. Cannot match creatures with claws without some kind of training. No, people resist the cold by thinking it away. This is accomplished by building shelters, man-made furs, and other forms of barriers to the elements. People often prevent attacks from animals and are able to think into existence defensive tools in real-time. Adult humans can do this to increasing levels of sophistication. Back to the earlier premise, people are not born to do this however.

A long incubation time of about 13 to 18 years follows from infant to adult who are minimally capable of achieving these things. No instincts but the inherited accumulated knowledge of society. Within the society however, some people are more adept than others when it comes to being productive. Not as lone wolves, but members of the pack. I thought about that as I finished the book, The Ape in the Corner Office. You can read my short, ambiguous review of it on Amazon.

A sub-class of these less adept people are sometimes termed as naïve. They are the ones who just don’t get it when it comes to certain social dynamics and opportunities to excel. After reading the book, a new insight on naiveté sprang to mind. A somewhat complex thought that I will have to simplify here due to time.

The earlier in life you accept certain fixed thought patterns, the less opportunity you have to explore new thought patterns and expand your own. At the very least, social complacency can manifest itself as a kind of mental plateau, though successful, can preclude the ability to access opportunities of a different order. That is an ambiguous statement that has to be unpacked but is quite close to what I actually mean. Naiveté can be an indicator for the potential to delay assumption of a decided mental model of a narrower scope in exchange for a more comprehensive mental model of broader scope. Not guaranteed, but the potential exists due to the proven consummation of prior incubation periods a person proceeded through. Naiveté or even a type of perpetual open-mindedness could foretell the attainment of wisdom of a deeper kind.

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