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Isn’t “Nature doesn’t care about humans” a form of dualism?
Posted: 14 December 2010 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I hear the following claims made often by philosophers: Nature/the Universe doesn’t give a crap about what happens to people.  People are insignificant to the Universe.  Morals/caring about people was created by people to serve people. 
    If people created morality so that people would care about the well being of other people, then aren’t people and whatever they create part of nature?  The claims by philosophers sound like a form of dualism where man-made, artificial creations are somehow considered to be outside of nature.
    While I agree that protons and electrons don’t care about human well being, morals were created by brains which used ideas to synthesize moral beliefs.  The brains and the ideas came from nature/the Universe.

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Posted: 14 December 2010 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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brightfut - 14 December 2010 09:51 AM

I hear the following claims made often by philosophers: Nature/the Universe doesn’t give a crap about what happens to people.  People are insignificant to the Universe.  Morals/caring about people was created by people to serve people. 
    If people created morality so that people would care about the well being of other people, then aren’t people and whatever they create part of nature?  The claims by philosophers sound like a form of dualism where man-made, artificial creations are somehow considered to be outside of nature.
    While I agree that protons and electrons don’t care about human well being, morals were created by brains which used ideas to synthesize moral beliefs.  The brains and the ideas came from nature/the Universe.

Caring requires intelligence and compassion. Are you willing to assign the properties of intelligence and compassion to the universe? Not just part of it but the whole of it as a conscious entity that is capable of caring?

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Posted: 14 December 2010 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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brightfut - 14 December 2010 09:51 AM

I hear the following claims made often by philosophers: Nature/the Universe doesn’t give a crap about what happens to people.  People are insignificant to the Universe.  Morals/caring about people was created by people to serve people. 
    If people created morality so that people would care about the well being of other people, then aren’t people and whatever they create part of nature?  The claims by philosophers sound like a form of dualism where man-made, artificial creations are somehow considered to be outside of nature.
    While I agree that protons and electrons don’t care about human well being, morals were created by brains which used ideas to synthesize moral beliefs.  The brains and the ideas came from nature/the Universe.

Well, I can’t speak for everyone making these kinds of claims, but they certainly needn’t be dualistic in the sense you suggest.  After all, it’s basically just a negative claim:  this part of the universe doesn’t care about that part of the universe.

You’re right that humans are natural beings, we are ourselves part of the universe, and so in a sense “the universe” (or at least part of the universe) does care about itself and other parts of the universe. But the universe taken as a whole doesn’t, or anyway it certainly doesn’t seem to.

All this gets into problems with what we really mean by words like “natural” and “artificial”, which you suggest in your question. Surely there is some sense to be made of the term “artificial”: it’s something intentionally constructed by humans. But since humans are themselves natural, and it also seems true that anything produced by something natural is itself natural, in a sense everything artificial is natural as well. But it’s a different sense of “natural”. In this latter sense, it’s not clear that anything can really be artificial.

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Posted: 17 December 2010 01:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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brightfut - 14 December 2010 09:51 AM

I hear the following claims made often by philosophers: Nature/the Universe doesn’t give a crap about what happens to people.  People are insignificant to the Universe.

I think it’s more a matter of nature not ‘caring’ any more about humans than it does about any other life that’s evolved on our fantastic planet.  Many folks think that “this caring universe” somehow implies we are the center and focus of universal ‘caring,’ something that seems most decidedly silly to me.

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Posted: 17 December 2010 01:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Brightfut-
People are insignificant to the Universe.  Morals/caring about people was created by people to serve people. 
Start with this. People didn’t create morals/caring-just like we didn’t create sleep to help us relax and regenerate.

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Posted: 17 December 2010 10:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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VYAZMA - 17 December 2010 01:19 PM

People are insignificant to the Universe.

That sounds like a value judgment.

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Posted: 18 December 2010 01:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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brightfut - 17 December 2010 10:07 PM
VYAZMA - 17 December 2010 01:19 PM

People are insignificant to the Universe.

That sounds like a value judgment.

Yes, as ‘the universe does not care’. More correct would be to say it is a category error. The universe is not such an entity that the category ‘care’ can be applied to it. As for the opposite. How should I see a universe that does not care about us?

“Hi universe, you see these those humans on that planet? Do you care about them?”
“Well no not really, I am too busy to keep the natural laws running. After all, I have all in one: as long as the natural laws work, they can exist, and they they should care for themselves”

So literally, one cannot say that the universe does not care either. It is like acts that can be moral or immoral, but also non-moral. ‘Care’, and its negative just do not apply.

And same for insignificant. One can only talk about significance in a certain context, and this context is essentially human. One single electron is insignificant in lightning. In a physical experiment it can be significant. Now, is the ‘electron as thing in itself’ significant? Ask again: are humans significant for the universe? What is it that makes the context in which this question can be answered?

GdB

[ Edited: 18 December 2010 01:23 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 18 December 2010 02:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I think the seeming dualism springs from the fact that we humans (and other life-forms as well, terrestrial and extra-terrestrial) constitute the conscious aspect of the universe. As sentient beings we can’t help but feel certain ways about certain things, besides that’s the essence of life—consciousness. However, the universe at large, we included, can’t be said to have such feelings, or care a hoot what our desires are. That is why it is sometimes said that life has no purpose (except that which you give to it).
Think of life as the brain of the universe, that way we arrive at some sort of epiphenomenalism.

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Posted: 18 December 2010 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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brightfut - 17 December 2010 10:07 PM
VYAZMA - 17 December 2010 01:19 PM

People are insignificant to the Universe.

That sounds like a value judgment.

Why are you quoting me here?
These were your words from your first post! rolleyes

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Posted: 18 December 2010 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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brightfut - 14 December 2010 09:51 AM

I hear the following claims made often by philosophers: Nature/the Universe doesn’t give a crap about what happens to people. People are insignificant to the Universe.  Morals/caring about people was created by people to serve people. 
    If people created morality so that people would care about the well being of other people, then aren’t people and whatever they create part of nature?  The claims by philosophers sound like a form of dualism where man-made, artificial creations are somehow considered to be outside of nature.
    While I agree that protons and electrons don’t care about human well being, morals were created by brains which used ideas to synthesize moral beliefs.  The brains and the ideas came from nature/the Universe.

These are your words. Where did you hear these claims? You say you “heard” the following claims. Where? When? Who exactly made those claims?
If you did in fact here these claims..are you taking them out of context? Who knows? Your opening statement is very amorphous and vague. It’s misleading.
Plus above you quote me as having said it.

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Posted: 18 December 2010 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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VYAZMA, My mistake.  Sorry.  I didn’t see the blue box around that quote and thought you were saying it.  I’ve read a lot of posts since I wrote the original one.  I’m glad I made the mistake, though, because I think Gdb did an excellent job of explaining where the flaw is in that statement.  Actually, I hear intelligent people making that statement quite a bit.  Maybe I’m misinterpreting what they are trying to say, but then that is what this forum is good at doing; flushing out misconceptions.

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Posted: 18 December 2010 04:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I wonder what would happen to people’s perception if the earth were struck by another asteroid (which is almost certain to happen again) wiping out all (but a few). Would that be proof of the insignificance of man in the universe? Or would the survivors claim “special” status in the universe (or god).

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Posted: 19 December 2010 01:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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brightfut - 18 December 2010 03:23 PM

VYAZMA, My mistake.  Sorry.  I didn’t see the blue box around that quote and thought you were saying it.  I’ve read a lot of posts since I wrote the original one.  I’m glad I made the mistake, though, because I think Gdb did an excellent job of explaining where the flaw is in that statement.  Actually, I hear intelligent people making that statement quite a bit.  Maybe I’m misinterpreting what they are trying to say, but then that is what this forum is good at doing; flushing out misconceptions.

Yeah, I didn’t blue box it. I italicized it and put your name on top of it. Sometimes I thought I saw that being done here as an alternative way to quote short phrases.
I didn’t want to be quoted as saying that particular phrase. My stance is: people are the universe. Just like everything else is the universe.
Anyways, no need for an apology friend. Just keep on communicating!
Yes, I’ve heard people say that phrase too. It’s just bumper sticker wisdom. Or it’s just an entirely simple way of conveying an idea of insignificance.

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Posted: 19 December 2010 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Write4U - 18 December 2010 04:47 PM

I wonder what would happen to people’s perception if the earth were struck by another asteroid (which is almost certain to happen again) wiping out all (but a few). Would that be proof of the insignificance of man in the universe? Or would the survivors claim “special” status in the universe (or god).

According to Aristotle and many others, what gives people’s lives meaning is rational activity in accordance with virtue.  If this is the value judgment at the basis of people’s “special” status then it would not be affected by an asteroid strike.  The argument that people make where they say that the Universe is so big and people are so small in comparison does not resonate with me.  People do not attribute their “special” status to physical size anyway.  What difference does it make?

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Posted: 19 December 2010 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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brightfut - 19 December 2010 10:17 AM
Write4U - 18 December 2010 04:47 PM

I wonder what would happen to people’s perception if the earth were struck by another asteroid (which is almost certain to happen again) wiping out all (but a few). Would that be proof of the insignificance of man in the universe? Or would the survivors claim “special” status in the universe (or god).

According to Aristotle and many others, what gives people’s lives meaning is rational activity in accordance with virtue.  If this is the value judgment at the basis of people’s “special” status then it would not be affected by an asteroid strike.  The argument that people make where they say that the Universe is so big and people are so small in comparison does not resonate with me.  People do not attribute their “special” status to physical size anyway.  What difference does it make?

My argument is precisely that, no matter what we think of ourselves and how special we see our place in the universe (in god’s image), a simple process, started perhaps a billion years ago, may erase all or most life on earth. Can you assure me that only the virtuous who would survive? Moreover, do you think those who did survive would care much about virtue? And lastly, do you think the universe (or god) would care at all?

[ Edited: 19 December 2010 11:39 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 19 December 2010 12:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Write4U - 19 December 2010 11:32 AM

My argument is precisely that, no matter what we think of ourselves and how special we see our place in the universe (in god’s image), a simple process, started perhaps a billion years ago, may erase all or most life on earth. Can you assure me that only the virtuous who would survive? Moreover, do you think those who did survive would care much about virtue? And lastly, do you think the universe (or god) would care at all?

I didn’t mean to suggest that only virtuous people have value (special status).  Virtue is doing something really well.  Most humans, unless they have serious brain damage, are at least capable of thinking rationally and behaving rationally.  So these humans at least have a baseline of value.  Some humans are capable of thinking and behaving at such a high level of skill that they would be considered “virtuous.”  To live life with virtue is the positive ideal that people strive for even if they fail to achieve it.  I think the survivors WOULD care about virtue if they care about continuing living.
Maybe my thinking is flawed in what I am about to say, but consider this:  If humans are capable of moral reasoning as well as virtuous rational thought and action, but the universe as a whole is not capable of either, then does that mean that the moral reasoning and rational cognition/behavior of humans is so far superior to the universe’s that the universe’s is “insignificant” in comparison?  In other words, if the universe is not capable of caring then can humans do something the universe cannot do?

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