Most of the creatures that roam this planet use their brain primarily to survive. I guess there are animals that have some leisure time, but we humans definitely have a surfeit of leisure time. An animal has leisure time to the extent his species has mastered the survival game.
Humans pay other humans to grow and kill plants (agriculture) and kill/butcher animals. This frees up a lot of our time which, in turn, creates a demand for recreational activities AND My God do we have a boundless array of them! We watch an endless variety of contact sports, we watch programs about other folk’s problems (soap operas), and we consume substances to alleviate boredom and depression. Pornography is a 14 billion dollar a year industry partially due to the fact humans have a very strong sexual impulse and plenty of time to act on it!
Let me propose a thought experiment that might illustrate how thoroughly we have developed our survival skills: You are hiking in the woods and come upon a clearing where one bear is sitting across from another bear with a chess board separating them. One of the bears is scratching his head as he contemplates his next move! Now, after you verify that you are not having another acid flashback, you would most certainly conclude that these venerable creatures could only be enjoying the Royal Game if they had the time for such a leisurely pursuit.
How our brains got this way certainly would be an excellent topic for another article.
The Runaway Brain by Christopher Willis explores and elucidates how our brain morphed into its current state. Another possible explanation is Neoteny or juvenilization where adults in a species retain the traits of the species juveniles. So an adult’s brain size/learning capacity might be a continued extension of the baby’s brain.
I will close and use my overdeveloped organ to explain to my beautiful wife why I have been spending more time writing than with her. And, no honey, not that organ!