andres marrugo

On the Human Intellect and Prehistoric People

photo by JackVersloot.

I recently finished reading “The Clan of the Cave Bear” by Jean M. Auel. It is a beautiful story of the human struggle for survival. In the time of mammoths and cave lions, a young human girl finds herself orphan because of an earthquake. Her survival instincts are put to test at their maximum, but she knows very little of surviving on her own. This desolate picture changes when she is rescued by a group of Neanderthals, the “clan of the cave bear”. She looks like them a bit, but at the same time she is too different to be accepted without it raising a few concerns.

I liked this story, not for it’s detailed description of a world that is as strange to us, as our world surely is to the prehistoric people, but mainly because of the triumph of the human intellect above anything else. I was deeply moved by the rationalization of Ayla, the main character, and how she struggles to overcome her fears and adapting herself to the customs of the clan. I recommend this book be read with a keen eye on these intellectual moments, they are both emotional and entertaining.

When reading this book I realized that the triumph of the human intellect is what really makes me fall for a story. The very same feature that makes us human is what makes us succeed. In every single story that I’ve found amusing, if not by wits or careful planned strategy or even divine inspiration in the form of genius, the plot is moved on and finally solved by the use of our intellect. Anything departing from this direction I find absolutely boring1. Our intellect is what makes us stronger, faster, resilient, and ultimately truly human.

  1. I can’t stand an author that describes absolutely everything, from the ceiling fan to the toilet, and above else uses five different adjectives that technically mean the same thing. I care about the human character, not so much about the decor.