Humans have long thought themselves to be the smartest animals on the planet, but evidence continues to reveal that even with little shared DNA – animals are catching up, and perhaps even surpassing our own evolutionary intelligence.
Some philosophical perspectives suggest that this anthropomorphic egocentrism is misplaced, since all creatures, not just people have ‘mind,’ which is capable of evolving toward higher levels of consciousness. We share a quarter of our DNA, after all, with a single grain of rice, but there is something even more intelligent in our design, and many believe it permeates everything.
The Buddhists and Taoists regularly call for us to be mindful of all sentient beings, while the suppositions of panpsychism, the view that mind (psyche) is everywhere (pan), reaches back into ancient Greece and the teachings of Miletus and Plato.
Terrence McKenna supposes that the Universal psyche has been given an extra push overtime. Hetheorizes that animals moved to grasslands as the North African jungles receded after the ice age. These animals grazed on whatever they could find, including psilocybin-containing mushrooms growing in the dung of ungulate herds. McKenna suggests that the psychedelics in the animals’ diets helped to createsynesthesia, and then language, followed by additional higher-intelligence skill sets.
McKenna argues that when mushrooms disappeared from their diets another 12, 000 years later due to climate change, animals simply regressed back to less intelligent primates.
Mainstream science says that it is only subtle refinements in our brain’s architecture that allows us to be “smarter” than most other animals. While dogs can’t yet compose music, birds do it every day. Perhaps the expression is not as complex as a violin concerto, but even the most rarefied composer has looked to nature for musical inspiration, if not immaculate intelligence.