We are afraid of Alzheimer’s. What distinguishes us from the other species, at least most other species is the size of our brain. We have a sophisticated way of living a sophisticated civilisation which places us apart from the other species. We have come to dominate the planet. We live long lives. Our lives don’t seem long because time flies by so quickly. But our life spans are longer than could be expected in the normal course of events. Elephants & whales have bigger brains. Birds can do things with their brains which we cannot.
The human race has invented the World. The World, the human race has invented a parallel world full of buildings, cities, transport, television, information, food, agriculture. Medicine, ideas, language. It is a World of machines. It is the World full of machines. We find it hard to imagine what it is like to be any of the other species. We, the human race, have created the World as we know it . We live longer. We expect to have the same brain power or nearly the same when we are born & when we die. But it is not so & cannot be so. I am writing this on a computer; a peculiar invention of the 20th century. But other species have invented very little if anything. Some ape tribes in Australia use tools. Elephants talk to each other all the time. Elephants care about other species. They visit the places where members of their tribe have died. Whales have brains which weigh a ton & communicate with other family members hundreds of miles away.
Other species are sometime endowed with god like features. Monkeys, cats, snakes… Chinese years are designated as animal years, dogs, pigs monkeys etc…also dragons.
What would we do without domestic animals? With many people, their household animals are their only friend, their only companion. Many animals are imbued with human qualities. But the qualities they are imbued with fear, love, affection, hunger, the need for sleep, the need for companionship, the need for solitude are not the qualities which mark out the human race as being different. They are universal qualities found in all animals. At least one assumes so, if we believe that we are the result of a single cell & that since then all the different species have developed from that cell.
Towards the end of our lives – if we live beyond middle age & by that I mean mid forties our intellectual powers begin to wane. In fact members of the human race do live far beyond what in strict biological terms could reasonably be expected to occur. Some lessening of the intellectual powers & indeed all powers are only to be expected. With regard to health generally, I am sceptical about genetics. I do no doubt that there is some genetic preponderance towards some diseases in some people. But it is hardly ever inevitable. Apart from anything else there are new diseases which keep appearing.
Alzheimer’s may have been around for thousands of years but it does seem like a relatively modern disease. Maybe it is new disease. Maybe it was called something else. But it is one we are much preoccupied with. It is hard to know what is going inside the mind & brain of sufferers of the disease but they do always seem reasonably happy. But their condition is one which non-sufferers fear. We all like to think we are on the ball all the time; that our intellect prevails. But often it doesn’t. We often react in a primeval way.
Alzheimer’s disease is indeed to be feared. But it isn’t inevitable.