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Luis Javier Salvador

Translator English to Spanish / Spanish to English,


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Survival of the smartest: Brains over brawn, why? (moral question)

Hello, fellow TED users,

First of all, I would like you to look upon this exposition more as a philosophical moral exercise than anything else. As you can expect, this is not in any shape or form a claim in favor of physical abuse or any other kind of abuse, for that matter.

We live in a society where people who take advantage of other people by means of their superior natural strength are rightly considered bullies (except in sports, of course). On the other hand, people who do the same by means of their innate intelligence are considered winners in virtually every possible circumstance. For instance, in the ruthless business world (among many others). Is it right to use this innate advantage to make mincemeat of less intelligent competitors, crush their hopes and destroy their lives? Why is this behavior not even frowned upon?

Some could say that in order to success in life or in business in particular, it's also required to work very hard, that a high IQ is simply not enough. Yet, a similar effort is made by the muscular guy in the gym. Consequently, level of effort doesn't seem to be the key to understand the difference in perceived morality.

Some others could say that strong people can success in sports and smart people in business and therefore, they should stick to what they excel in. Very well, but then we find that in every single sport or physical job, it's morally acceptable to use our intelligence to our advantage (even in weight-lifting, where a wise workout planning is vital), while in white-collar professions, it's unacceptable to use our physical strength to defeat our competition. So, appropriate field of work is not likely to be the key either.

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    Jan 24 2013: Another, more general way, of considering your question is whether it is acceptable to be yourself (with whatever strengths or weaknesses you may have) if that gives you an advantage in any respect over others. ANY difference between you and others could in theory help you do better than some other person. It could be any personal attribute.
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      Jan 25 2013: That's indeed another good way to see it.

      But the fact remains that intelligence enjoys a higher moral regard in our society than all other attributes. It seems as if when your get outsmarted, you don't have the right to complain (except when deceit is involved.)
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        Jan 25 2013: Do you really think intelligence enjoys a higher moral regard than all other attributes? I wouldn't think so.

        Is it what you value most in people, for example?
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          Jan 25 2013: Of course not. But that's not really what I meant. What I meant is that you can outsmart people and get away with it more easily than if you outmuscle them, for example. People would view you as a winner even if those poor people went bust because of you.

          You don't receive the same accolades either if you take advantage of your natural good looks, to give you another example.

          It seems as if intelligence ranks highest in the morality scale (when it comes to competition.)
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        Jan 25 2013: I really don't like the use of the word "intelligence"...........Lots of intelligent people would never outsmart others out of anything....

        Probably words like...."cunning, sly, savvy, shrewd, clever, astute etc....." would be, imho, better word choice.

        To bring in a quote: "Wise they are for doing bad, but for doing good they actually have no knowledge" book of Jeremiah chapter 4 verse 22.

        I believe wisdom, the highest form of intelligence (smartness), allows the bearer to live and enjoy life without competing or bringing harm to others. On the contrary......they help their fellow human.

        Having said that, I do agree that some employ their IQ.....for badness......I imagine these are the individuals you, and the whole world for that matter, refer to as "intelligent". Man that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

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