Dragons of Eden Quotes

Rate this book
Clear rating
Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence by Carl Sagan
17,619 ratings, 4.18 average rating, 704 reviews
Open Preview
Dragons of Eden Quotes Showing 1-30 of 81
“Those at too great a distance may, I am well are, mistake ignorance for perspective.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“In general, human societies are not innovative. They are hierarchical and ritualistic. Suggestions for change are greeted with suspicion: they imply an unpleasant future variation in ritual and hierarchy: an exchange of one set of rituals for another, or perhaps for a less structured society with fewer rituals. And yet there are times when societies must change.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“And after we returned to the savannahs and abandoned the trees, did we long for those great graceful leaps and ecstatic moments of weightlessness in the shafts of sunlight of the forest roof?”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
tags: eden
“As a consequence of the enormous social and technological changes of the last few centuries, the world is not working well. We do not live in traditional and static societies. But our government, in resisting change, act as if we did. Unless we destroy ourselves utterly, the future belongs to those societies that, while not ignoring the reptilian and mammalian parts of our being, enable the characteristically human components of our nature to flourish; to those societies that encourage diversity rather than conformity; to those societies willing to invest resources in a variety of social, political, economic and cultural experiments, and prepared to sacrifice short-term advantage for long-term benefit; to those societies that treat new ideas as delicate, fragile and immensely valuable pathways to the future.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“Once intelligent beings achieve technology and the capacity for self-destruction of their species, the selective advantage of intelligence becomes more uncertain.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“And reading itself is an amazing activity: You glance at a thin, flat object made from a tree...and the voice of the author begins to speak inside your head. (Hello!)”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“While ritual, emotion and reasoning are all significant aspects of human nature, the most nearly unique human characteristic is the ability to associate abstractly and to reason. Curiosity and the urge to solve problems are the emotional hallmarks of our species; and the most characteristically human activities are mathematics, science, technology, music and the arts--a somewhat broader range of subjects than is usually included under the "humanities." Indeed, in its common usage this very word seems to reflect a peculiar narrowness of vision about what is human. Mathematics is as much a "humanity" as poetry.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“The price we pay for the anticipation of our future is anxiety about it.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“Much of the difficulty in attempting to restructure American and other societies arises form this resistance by groups with vested interests in the status quo. Significant change might require those who are now high in the hierarchy to move downward many steps. This seems to them undesirable and its resisted.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“the future belongs to those societies that treat new ideas as delicate, fragile and immensely valuable pathways to the future.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“Russell commented that the development of such gifted individuals (referring to polymaths) required a childhood period in which there was little or no pressure for conformity, a time in which the child could develop and pursue his or her own interests no matter how unusual or bizarre.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“Perhaps the most striking aspect of this entire subject is that there are nonhuman primates so close to the edge of language, so willing to learn, so entirely competent in its use and inventive in its application once the language is taught. But this raises a curious question: Why are they all on the edge? Why are there no nonhuman primates with an existing complex gestural language? One possible answer, it seems to me, is that humans have systematically exterminated those other primates who displayed signs of intelligence.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“In good speaking, should not the mind of the speaker know the truth of the matter about which he is to speak?”
Carl Sagan, The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“If chimpanzees have consciousness, if they are capable of abstractions, do they not have what until now has been described as "human rights"? How smart does a chimpanzee have to be before killing him constitutes murder? What further properties must he show before religious missionaries must
consider him worthy of attempts at conversion?”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“...two chimpanzees were observed maltreating a chicken: One would extend some food to the fowl, encouraging it to approach; whereupon the other would thrust at it with a piece of wire it had concealed behind its back. The chicken would retreat but soon allow itself to approach once again--and be beaten once again. Here is a fine combination of behavior sometimes thought to be uniquely human: cooperation, planning a future course of action, deception and cruelty.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“It is precisely our plasticity, our long childhood, that prevents a slavish adherence to genetically programmed behavior in human beings more than in any other species.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“All the explanations proposed seem to be
only partly satisfactory. They range from massive climatic change to mammalian predation to the extinction of a plant with apparent laxative properties, in which case the dinosaurs died of constipation.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“Like other mammals, they are capable of strong emotions. They have certainly committed no crimes. I do not claim to have the answer, but I think it is
certainly worthwhile to raise the question: Why, exactly, all over the civilized world, in virtually every major city, are apes in prison?”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“Lashley also reported no apparent change in the general behavior of a rat when significant fractions—say 10 percent—of its brain were removed. But no one asked the rat of its opinion.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“Significant change might require those who are now high in the hierarchy to move downward many steps. This seems to them undesirable and is resisted.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“And despite the insignificance of the instant we have so far occupied in cosmic time, it is clear that what happens on and near Earth at the beginning of the second cosmic year will depend very much on the scientific wisdom and the distinctly human sensitivity of mankind.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“It may be that there are kernels of truth in a few of these doctrines, but their widespread acceptance
betokens a lack of intellectual rigor, an absence of skepticism, a need to replace experiments by desires.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“So far as I know, childbirth is generally painful in only one of the millions of species on Earth: human beings. This must be a consequence of the recent and continuing increase in cranial volume... Childbirth is painful because the evolution of the human skull has been spectacularly fast and recent.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“On the other hand, mere critical thinking, without creative and intuitive insights, without the search for new patterns, is sterile and doomed. To solve complex problems in changing circumstances requires the activity of both cerebral hemispheres: the path to the future lies through the corpus callosum.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“It is very difficult to evolve by altering the deep fabric of life; any change there is likely to be lethal. But fundamental change can be accomplished by the addition of new systems on top of old ones.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“It is very difficult to evolve by altering the deep fabric of life; any change there is likely to be lethal. But fundamental change can be accomplished by the addition of new systems on top of old ones…Thus evolution by addition and the functional preservation of the preexisting structure must occur for one of two reasons-either the old function is required as well as the new one, or there is no way of bypassing the old system that is consistent with survival.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“It is interesting that it is not the getting of any sort of knowledge that God has forbidden, but, specifically, the knowledge of the difference between good and evil-that is, abstract and moral judgments, which, if they reside anywhere, reside in the neocortex.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“I would expect a significant development and elaboration of language in only a few generations if all the chimps unable to communicate were to die or fail to reproduce. Basic English corresponds to about 1,000 words. Chimpanzees are already accomplished in vocabularies exceeding 10 percent of that number.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“El intelecto humano lo debe esencialmente todo a los millones de años que nuestros antecesores pasaron en solitario colgados de los árboles.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
“Washburn has reported that infant baboons and other young primates appear to be born with only three inborn fears -of falling, snakes, and the dark-corresponding respectively to the dangers posed by
Newtonian gravitation to tree-dwellers, by our ancient enemies the reptiles, and by mammalian nocturnal predators, which must have been particularly terrifying for the visually oriented primates.”
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence

« previous 1 3