Man was created by nature in such a way that reason might dominate the senses and that by its law all rage and desire of passion and lust might be restrained, but when the image of God has been forgotten... we begin to serve the beasts within us...

NameG. Pico della Mirandola
Life1463 - 1494
"....reason might dominate the senses" - what is it that Pico della Mirandola is talking about? Almost every year, a group of wild kittens appear in my Capri garden. The mother, who for months has stolen food from my own cat, hides them well the first weeks. A couple of these kittens are full of fear. At my slightest move, they disappear. One is brave; he comes up to me, snaps my piece of cheese and eats it a few meters away. One is truly clever; he has sneaked in behind my back and is eating from my own breakfast. Our emotions, rage and lust, sex and violence, are, from an evolutionary point of view, extremely old and deep in us. The fear in the kittens and in us is surely regulated by the same genes, forming similar centra in our brains, even if ours may be slightly more complicated than those of the cats'. Mirandola's "rage and desire of passion and lust" is most likely a biologically developed variation of the aggressiveness in the male bee-wolves, fighting for access to females. Similar basic emotions can be found on our evolutionary tree since at least 500 million years. God's "reason", human intelligence, is much younger. We shouldn't look down on animal intelligence. It does exist. As well as military intelligence. But the specific human intelligence is a new gift. About three million years ago, the brain volume of our forefathers was the same as that of the chimpanzees. Then ours started to grow. It has, as an average, grown by two to five grams per ten thousand years. The chimp
is still at 400 grams; we are up around 1,350 - more than three times as much. "To thee alone we gave growth and development depending on thy own free will", as Mirandola said in his Oratio de Hominis Dignitate. Why? For what purpose have we this "reason", today called "intelligence", which has come with that brain growth? Mirandola believed it was a gift of God with which we could regulate the most primitive expressions of our age-old emotions. Modern science doesn't believe much in any "purpose" in nature. It would rather say that those animals or humans who have been best at intelligently regulating the primitive rage and lust of their emotions have also been best in taking over the earth from those who are less intelligent in the eternal struggle for life. Modern science may agree with Mirandola on the most important point: intelligence can be seen as the highest form of emotion. Intelligence is the gas pedal that regulates the emotional speed of the car. Without doubt, it is man's superior intelligence which has given our species the rule over all other animals. And had we not united our higher individual intelligences into "co-thinking" networks, Superbrains, nature would not have permitted us to become six billion instead of the ten million hunters and gatherers that could have lived on a level not far from the chimpanzees. There is a problem with this intelligence, however. And Mirandola is warning us: if we forget God or human ethics we will return to ever deeper beastliness as we become equipped with ever more potent and destructive weapons and means of domination. Mirandola points forward towards Machiavelli, only six years younger than himself.