Rodin created “The Thinker” as one of the pieces for his work “The Gates of Hell” which was based on the scenes from the first section called “The Inferno” from “The Divine Comedy” of Dante (The Divine Comedy is an epic poem depicting the soul’s journey towards God through Dante’s travel across Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven). Some argue that “The Thinker” was created to represent Adam who sat and pondered upon the misfortune he and Eve had bought upon mankind by his sins.
Whatever the interpretation may be, this masterpiece is used as a form to represent intellectual activity and philosophy and has captured the imagination of many. One does wonder how human beings became intellectually superior. When was the modern human behavior first achieved?
It is said that we humans achieved our physical form some 2,00,000 years ago when Homo sapiens first emerged in Africa as the 5th Ape. The fossil and DNA evidence proves this. The path that humans took to spread over the world from a small place in Africa is interesting and can be seen on wikipedia at Human spreading over history.
Ethnologist had a problem explaining how this small group (they claim it would not be more than 100 members) managed to cross the vast African desert to enter Europe, until it was proven that around the time they travel, the African desert was lush green providing them with enough food and water.
From 2,00,000 years ago till 30,000 years ago we humans did nothing except to leave back our fossil remains. We had no human behavior as such even though we were anatomically humans, and then voila! Cave paintings! which showed our first signs of intellectual human behavior. We started gathering culture, forming religions, and making inventions. Did you know that some of the earliest cave paintings depict half-human half-animal forms, perhaps our first sign of Therianthropy, and were done to represent shamans who acquired the special abilities of animals as they spoke to the underworld etc.
We made discoveries but the process has been painfully slow in the start, and now in this age we have grown rapidly. Why did the human race start so slowly from the behaviour aspect and why are we making such rapid progress now. Have we put on our thinking cap more often now? If Africa was our birth place why is it that its the most backward? Why is it that there are still tribes there that live like how cave men did?
The answer to our technological growth could be population. We have to agree to the fact that this culture this superior scientific progress, religion etc have been contributed by a small segment of the society right from the start. Most of us including me die away without giving any significant contributions to the human race. These few like Thales, Plato to Galileo, Newton to Michelangelo to Einstein to Stephen Hawking are some of the few who have taken us to where we are now. The percentage of such people who did contribute to our intellectual growth is very small as compared to the overall population. The earths population of human in the start was limited, as we progressed population has increased many folds. Also better ways of communication and travel helped tranfer technology faster, eg the Indian number system was adopted by Arabs which were later called Arabic numerals and adopted by Europe in the Middle Ages.
I am currently reading “Supernatural” a book I highly recommend to anyone interested in this field.
So what was Rodins thinker really thinking. This is what Rodin has to say.
“The Thinker has a story. In the days long gone by I conceived the idea of the Gates of Hell. Before the door, seated on the rock, Dante thinking of the plan of the poem behind him… all the characters from the Divine Comedy. This project was not realized. Thin ascetic Dante in his straight robe separated from all the rest would have been without meaning. Guided by my first inspiration I conceived another thinker, a naked man, seated on a rock, his fist against his teeth, he dreams. The fertile thought slowly elaborates itself within his brain. He is no longer a dreamer, he is a creator.”
In this photograph Neha was reflecting on something.. or was just plain bored.