INSTINCTS AND IDEALS
More than any other animals, we live by ideas and ideals, as well as by instincts.
The conceptualizing power of our brains uniquely allows us to direct our behavior by rational schemes rendered into language that clarifies and communi- cates our motives to ourselves and others.
For us, between the stimulus and response of instinctive reactivity, there’s an intermediate conceptual function of considering possibilities and weighing options before deciding our reaction. And to the extent that we considerately evaluate how we might react, we determine our behavior by our ideals, which represent the values we choose to live by.
Choosing our values well is then a vital task for human beings, since there are foolish values as well as wise values. Which values, we must ask, will guide us best and prove most vital to the world?
That is our quest and task as a species to determine, since our effectual intelligence makes us responsible for sustaining Earth’s viability as a thriving ecosystem—a job we’re badly botching at the present.
Individually and collectively, we’re now challenged by diverse dangers to rectify our values, inculcate them well, and then live by our brightest ideals.