*Let’s cut right to the chase: This isn’t a self-help seminar, this isn’t my life-changing epiphany. All this is is a little piece of advice that has helped push me in the right direction as a person. The point I am trying to make is simple and it has to do with a key distinction that separated apes and wolves on our evolutionary paths. This key distinction, once recognized and acted upon, will vastly improve our characters as human beings. Read the last point if you are impatient because it covers the most critical point of this entire post.*
[No Deception, No Capacity for Weakness – The Main Point]
Wolves lack the mental capacity for deception; wolves lack culture and social structure as well (language is also beyond them). The ability to deceive is a direct result of social evolution: the simian mind is adept at lying because it developed this skill over long periods of time to attain power in a system where reputation and deceit is rewarded. Studies have shown that good, pathological liars share the same characteristics as those with above average intelligence (as social animals this makes sense; google it and you will find sources).
So, to be succinct, think like a wolf and be true to your values and the capacity for weakness vanishes. Think like an ape and make excuses, seek justifications for your actions, and suffer the fate of being a deceiver. Be that ape and you are casting an imaginary vote for a world and society where deception is law: where virtue goes to hell for self-gain. If what you hold dear is material gain and power, then maybe deception is your game (after all, war, no matter what kind, is deception).
To quote philosophy writer, Mark Rowlands, in his book “The Philosopher and the Wolf”, he states “The weakness we manufacture in ourselves consists, fundamentally, in a certain way of thinking about ourselves and the evil acts we commit. We whine our excuses; we snivel of our extenuating circumstances. We couldn’t have done otherwise, we tell ourselves and anyone else who will listen. Perhaps this is true. But our weakness consists in thinking that this matters. A wolf does not make excuses. A wolf does what it does – perhaps what it has to do – and accepts the consequences.”
[Humans Use Deception to Manufacture Evil]
We, being the intelligent social creatures that we are, are capable of twisting stories and memories and lying to ourselves and each other. When we do something that may be evil (define evil I know), we twist the truth and comfort our actions with justifications. This is something wolves are incapable of doing. I am not saying to be exactly like a wolf, I am saying we need to stop lying to ourselves and each other. I am talking about the deeper lies, not surface lies like “I didn’t cheat on you” or “I didn’t eat that sandwich in the fridge.” The lies that dig so deep that you are afraid to face them because they make you see the damage you have done or will do and the evil that you have become capable of.
Rowlands brings up another wonderful point about researchers that were trying to pinpoint the origin of helplessness: Rowlands describes an experiment called the “shuttlebox”, a contraption involving electrocuting a dog via floor panels that is separated by a small divider. The dog jumps over the divider to the other side for a short moment of peace before being shocked again. Eventually the dog surrenders, whimpering painfully while urinating and defecating… all this to prove whether or not “helplessness is a learned condition.” The research was originally planned to help better understand depression in humans but the data collected was ultimately useless and served no real purpose.
Why was that story relevant? Well we as humans make up reasons for doing things. We try to justify what is basically an evil act for the sake of knowledge. By seeking justifications and reasons for committing certain acts… we are effectively building in our society and within ourselves, the capacity for evil.
[Reasons Can Indicate Selfishness]
If I asked you for a favor, as a complete stranger, would you help me? Or would you ask for one good reason why you should help me?
See, reasons are for people who seek self-gain: What’s in it for me? Right? It’s all about labels and gains vs losses… everything is about numbers and reputation. It’s about having more and not being more. It’s about what you get and not what you give. If someone needs help… is that not reason enough? We always search for meaning in things and we look for reasons to do something. What is the meaning of my life? Why should I do this? What will I get out of it? Everything becomes a zero-sum game, a dirty competition, a bunch of debts and “I owe you’s” to be paid. Don’t wait for reasons to do things, if you care about it and it feels right, go do it. Life is meant to be lived, why search for happiness and meaning, when happiness is the way and meaning is irrelevant?
[Death Before Dishonor]
One final point, a short one: in the face of death, a wolf will not compromise itself to survive. If you put a gun to the average head of a human you could get them to do your bidding. They will abandon their own virtues and Gods for a few more years of life. They will lie to themselves and seek reasons and justifications for doing what they do. If you put a gun to some man’s head and told him to rape a woman or you’ll blow his brains out… there is a fair chance he will justify his own evil actions and actually follow your orders.
Humans will abandon virtue in the face of death. They lie to themselves and try to justify evil. For a wolf, even when faced with certain death, they do not whimper, they do not cower… they growl in waiting apprehension of the killing blow. For a wolf it is death before dishonor, for the average man, it is dishonor before death.
You would give up dying as who you are to continue living as someone you never wished to be.
@egarim, Nice post. I like the idea. Humans are too “intelligent” for their own good. Intelligent is in quotes because what I mean is that our capacity for thought has taken control over every aspect of life…. when it should only deal with a small percentage. It actually makes for a very stupid and ignorant individual.
Most people’s lives are based on a mental conception, instead of just viewing reality as it is and acting in the moment. Mental concepts of right and wrong, mental concepts of love, mental concepts of how to be a good person, etc,etc,etc. None of it has any substance, none of it’s real. And people mistake their mental fantasies for reality.
But unlike the wolf, who is incapable of the higher level thinking that has usurped control over the human experience, we have to go beyond the thought level. Because obviously this thinking capacity has a purpose. It’s just not the end all be all.
@egarim, You have no idea how perfectly this put my thoughts in place. I’ve been wandering through my mind as if it was a prison named “Your an Asshole and Your Sentence States, Until You’ve Exhausted All Your Asshole Juice You Cannot Leave”(yea long name). Using deception on a daily basis to where it was ingrained in my speech and body language, exhausting the people I hold the closest to me, and trying to justify all the filth I’ve produced with faulty bullshit ethics. Wondering why “I was my own perfect saboteur” was reason enough for me to accept self destruction. Stupid and silly, all of it. I’m pretty sure typing all this is one of the points you mentioned of sniveling to anyone who will listen. I’ve just come to realize not a damn good thing comes from self pity (except maybe some dark poetry). I can feel this is all too personal, but it hit me personally.
BRB animorphing into a wolf.
Of course, I agree. Our intelligence opens up difference possibilities. I was merely making a connection between our human way of thinking with the manner in which wolves think. Take any wolf and give him a human body and he would be one hell of a man.
And in no way can we become a wolf so in a way you are right: the simian mind remains. What I mean is to not use our social intelligence for deception, even though that is how and what it has evolved to be used for. Be more like a wolf, that does not need deception to meet its ends.
Thanks for your thoughts man
Good for you man. I’ve had plenty of those moments where I feel like I am destroying all the things most important to me. All the lies and dishonesty (however justified I may think them at times to be)… instead of being straightforward. I can’t turn back the hands of time and the regret lingers like a phantom that won’t go away. If I stopped looking for reasons and making excuses sooner… my life would’ve been much better.
But the past is dead. There is no time to mourn over what has passed. I am proud to be a human, but it is those dark hours in our nature (holocausts, slavery, war, depravity) that make me wonder why it is we tell ourselves we are so superior. A bigger brain isn’t everything, especially if we use it for deception. A wolf lacks the social intelligence but there are extremely virtuous even by human standards.
Thanks for your thoughts bro
Wolves, like every other organism have characteristics that perpetuate their gene pool. The goal is to survive and to reproduce; self and genetic preservation.
Most animals have evolved deception as one of their survival skills. With wolves, confrontations involve posturing, with lots of vocals and generally menacing body language and expressions, and both parties usually walk away unmolested.
A wolf pack is also a social group and members will react to the social fear of banishment through submission, a show of weakness.
At the core we are all driven by fear, and at this resolution humans and wolves are remarkably similar, it’s just that our society is much more complicated than theirs and therefore has a greater complexity of fears and subsequent reactions.
The biggest difference is that our consciousness allows us to fear death, as opposed to just generally avoiding it as wolves do.
@egarim, I’ve read that book too and it was good to remember its teachings in yout post. As children we learn to be scared of wolves, the vilains in fairy tales. But when discovering their true nature, it seems rather the opposite. We humans, can be evil and selfish, capable of horrors, unlike those sometimes seen as less intelligent. Thank you for your post.
“Are there not too many hyper-wolve mindsets as it is? Egos unhinged at the call of fitting in/outdoing others?”
No. My post only covered one specific distinction between us and wolves and that distinction was the inability for wolves to deceive: thus freeing them from allowing themselves to commit evil (they don’t lie to themselves with reasons or excuses). To take on the entire wolf mindset would no doubt turn society into an Alpha Male competition.
I am saying they lack social culture. We are speaking in anthropological terms right now and wolves are considered to not have social culture. Apes are being studied to demonstrate some small capacity for it but no other species has been seen to exhibit social culture. Basically, social culture allows a species to evolve SOCIALLY, something wolves cannot do. We as humans develop traditions, customs, tools, and technologies that are passed on generation to generation allowing further incremental growth of our social culture.
And I am specifically saying that because we needed deception as wolves needed strength and agility to survive… we have evolved beyond the needs of basic deception and have come to build an entire society around it. This is something we can overcome.
I respect what you say, but it’s like you didn’t even read my post. You said it’s “sometime’s necessary”? This is what I meant by human’s giving themselves excuses and justifying lying and doing wrong. Every time you use an excuse you set up the future possibility for yourself to commit evil. Make no excuses and you can do no wrong.
If I excuse myself for lying, will I excuse myself for taking a man’s life one day? Maybe I’ll justify it by saying he deserved it? He was a bad person? Am I any better? No excuses, no evil. Just don’t do it, you have all the freedom and power. There is no one to blame.
Thanks though for your thoughts man
Deception is a skill all animals acquire, even the wolf when he stalks his pray sitting as a statue for the right opportunity to strike. The difference between the wolf and the man, is that the wolf does not deceive itself.
No matter if it creates consequences that are “bad” or “good”, it does not try to convince itself it had to, that there wasn’t another way. It doesn’t try to make itself feel better.
Its thoughts are clear, precise, and unveiled.
Deception, and higher thinking are tools. However like all tool’s they should not be applied to all problems.
They should equip the user for efficiency, make him more capable.
Not control him like human thoughts can.
As beings of perception we should be wary of focusing our perception on the thoughts/words of our conditioned mind, and perceive the world at it is, using the tool, our thoughts, when it is needed.
This is a great post, and very admirable. Thank you greatly for the connection.
The morals of the wolf should never be forgotten in a society as ours, else the ego could strip us of any values we may have.
No, thank you my man for your insightful words. The point you bring up is well taken; there are things in our evolved nature that cannot be undone and understand that deception has become an art in itself. Even as a tool for good, the act of self-deception can fester and become its own independent evil.
As for what you said about a wolf stalking its prey: I would not call that deception. That is basic at the most, true deception requires something researchers call “mind-reading.” I am not speaking of psychic powers but the simian ability to think like a third party individual. Apes and humans can assume the perspective and thoughts of a living thing outside of themselves. Where an ape can conclude on what we can see from our perspective and what may be going on in our minds, a wolf can do no such thing. This ability of mind-reading allows for what is truly known as deception.
Of course, you are allowed to disagree. I respect your opinion entirely.
“no excuse tho- i see the evil in myself as a reflection of the evil of God. embrace the demon bro. just ride it.”
That is your excuse. Now if I wanna go rape someone I just say that the evil I am feeling is the evil reflection of God. I am justifying my own actions. It’s still an excuse… my whole post was to point out how humans believe in metaphysical and supernatural things (due to higher intelligence) and thus we make excuses which builds our own capacity for evil.
Don’t embrace the demon. Fuck him tell him to burn. Humans may have grown to be deceptive but fight against it. Better to die trying than to look in the mirror and say oh I guess I’m a fucking evil person it’s normal.
i think you are the one making excuses. following some analogy about wolves and such. it’s a warm slice of disney pie. the story takes you to a nice sterile environment of the abstract, imposing the ideas of some impossible standard on your mind because you cannot accept the fact that reality is based on flaws. we live between the cracks my friend. we feed on death and through our deaths, life finds nourishment.
i’m not advocating rape, or even an extreme version of cultural relativism. i am advocating moderation, because these views are extreme. this is my acid to your alkali.