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Isn’t “Nature doesn’t care about humans” a form of dualism?
Posted: 19 December 2010 01:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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brightfut - 19 December 2010 12:41 PM
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?

The comparison of relative significance is a false argument. The universe is only the causal foundation for all that exists. In that respect humans are gods of the earth and special within their environment and I agree that we can certainly strive to be responsible gods (we have god like powers). However, even our intelligence and virtue will not save us from the universe’s inevitable workings. What if this future collision does wipe out all life on earth? Where does that leave the intelligent humans and their special capabilities. Eventually we all turn from universal dust to universal dust.
Moreover, there is no reason to reject the proposition that there may be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. They would also be special in their environment. But then again, life may be abundant (common) in the universe.

[ Edited: 19 December 2010 01:38 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 19 December 2010 02:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Write4U - 19 December 2010 01:22 PM

The comparison of relative significance is a false argument. The universe is only the causal foundation for all that exists.

This sounds like dualism again.  Maybe my comparison was a dualism too.  You are separating causes from effects.  Universe = causes, human society = effects.  My understanding of the definition of “universe” is that it is the sum of EVERYTHING, everything that causes and everything that has been caused.  True, that part of the universe created us (Earth, sun, natural laws, mathematical laws, laws of reasoning).  Also true that a part of the universe may destroy us (asteroid).

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Posted: 19 December 2010 05:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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brightfut - 19 December 2010 02:08 PM
Write4U - 19 December 2010 01:22 PM

The comparison of relative significance is a false argument. The universe is only the causal foundation for all that exists.

This sounds like dualism again.  Maybe my comparison was a dualism too.  You are separating causes from effects.  Universe = causes, human society = effects.  My understanding of the definition of “universe” is that it is the sum of EVERYTHING, everything that causes and everything that has been caused.  True, that part of the universe created us (Earth, sun, natural laws, mathematical laws, laws of reasoning).  Also true that a part of the universe may destroy us (asteroid).

Which would prove the indifference of the universe as to the fate of humans.
However, we do have the good great fortune to inhabit a very hospitable planet, which allowed for an abundance and variety from which humans evolved. But a hospitable environment does not imply “caring”. It just is that way and human evolution (as well as all living things on earth) is a result of a fertile environment (in this little nook of the universe), not from an intentional intelligent care giver.

[ Edited: 19 December 2010 05:18 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 19 December 2010 05:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Write4U - 19 December 2010 05:10 PM

Which would prove the indifference of the universe as to the fate of humans.

Which would prove the indifference of PART of the universe as to the fate of humans.  Humans are part of the universe and they would care what happens to humans.  I don’t know how to do the math to add up the parts of the universe that don’t care with the parts of the universe that do care to come up with the sum or net total for the whole universe.  Most parts of the universe have no opinion on what happens to humans.  Those parts would represent a caring value of zero or “does not apply” since those parts are not even capable of caring one way or the other.  Maybe man eating alligators actually want to see humans die, but most of the universe is not anti-human in an intentional way.  Humans either kill animals that are man eaters or partition them away from human society.  Life forms that intentionally want to see humans die often cease to be part of the universe any more.

[ Edited: 20 December 2010 09:53 AM by brightfut ]
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Posted: 19 December 2010 07:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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brightfut - 19 December 2010 05:50 PM
Write4U - 19 December 2010 05:10 PM

Which would prove the indifference of the universe as to the fate of humans.

Which would prove the indifference of PART of the universe as to the fate of humans.  Humans are part of the universe and they would care what happens to humans.  I don’t know how to do the math to add up the parts of the universe that don’t care with the parts of the universe that do care to come up with the sum or net total for the whole universe.  Most parts of the universe have no opinion on what happens to humans.  Those parts would represent a caring value of zero or “does not apply” since those parts are not even capable of caring one way or the other.  Maybe man eating alligators actually want to see humans die, but most of the universe is not anti-human in an intentional way.  Humans either kill animals that are man eaters or partition them away from human society.  Life forms that intentionally want to see humans die often cease to be part of the universe any more.

I am sorry brightfut, but that logic makes no sense to me. Does a virus care about human life? Does an ant care? Does a jellyfish care (some jellyfish may be immortal, but do they care?). All living things care only about one thing, survival. If something has to die for something to live, so be it. Do we care about the millions of chickens and cattle we kill and consume?
Actually, if we add it all up we end up with just a few people (family, friends) and pets (dogs) who may care when someone dies. When there are mass extinctions from genocide in some country half way around the world, we care only about the numbers, we have no knowledge of individuals. Thus the caring only extends to small localities within our little planet itself, the rest of world-care would represent perhaps 1% of the total population. There are exceptions when a great world leader dies or is assasinated. But millions of people die and we don’t even know it, let alone care, except in an abstract sense.
Ideally, yes, we should care (humanism), but we are still subject to the natural laws of survival (as are all living things) and any meaningful caring is mostly directed toward immediate family and friends.
The Universe? In the scheme of things we are but viruses living on a grain of sand among trillions of grains.

[ Edited: 19 December 2010 07:50 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 19 December 2010 08:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Write4U - 19 December 2010 07:44 PM

But millions of people die and we don’t even know it, let alone care, except in an abstract sense.
Ideally, yes, we should care (humanism), but we are still subject to the natural laws of survival (as are all living things) and any meaningful caring is mostly directed toward immediate family and friends.

Oh gosh, you’d go insane,

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Posted: 20 December 2010 03:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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brightfut - 19 December 2010 02:08 PM
Write4U - 19 December 2010 01:22 PM

The comparison of relative significance is a false argument. The universe is only the causal foundation for all that exists.

This sounds like dualism again.  Maybe my comparison was a dualism too.  You are separating causes from effects.  Universe = causes, human society = effects.  My understanding of the definition of “universe” is that it is the sum of EVERYTHING, everything that causes and everything that has been caused.  True, that part of the universe created us (Earth, sun, natural laws, mathematical laws, laws of reasoning).  Also true that a part of the universe may destroy us (asteroid).

If that is dualism, then it is impossible not to be a dualist, except you are a parmenidan monist.

Write4u’s statement is wrong as well. The universe is all there is and happens, not the cause of it.

brightfut - 19 December 2010 10:17 AM

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?

Well, it resonates with me, even if ‘size’ is not everything. The ‘size-awareness’ comes in when I realise how some personal catastrophes (car breaking down, illness) compare to cosmic catastrophes, like stars being torn apart by black holes or something, but also how personal human catastrophes (relationship end, death of a beloved) compare to how normal these catastrophes are (they happen everyday millions of times), and bigger catastrophes like natural disasters or even planetary disasters. So yes, size matters. Of course humans have no ‘special size’ except that they have the size that is physically possible: not to small, so they can have complex structures (one cannot build a complex structure of only a few atoms), not too big so that it breaks down under its own gravity.

brightfut - 19 December 2010 12:41 PM

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?

Can’t they be significant both, for humans?

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason -

Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more frequently and enduringly the reasoning reflection is occupied with them: the star spangled sky over me and the moral law in me.

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Posted: 20 December 2010 04:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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GdB
Write4u’s statement is wrong as well. The universe is all there is and happens, not the cause of it.

Sorry, I was not clear. I was trying to say that IMO the universe is causality to all that is ‘wihin’ it, not to what lies outside it (if anything). The causality of the formation of the universe itself was not a necessary ingredient in context.

[ Edited: 20 December 2010 04:14 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 20 December 2010 10:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Write4U - 19 December 2010 07:44 PM

I am sorry brightfut, but that logic makes no sense to me. Does a virus care about human life? Does an ant care? Does a jellyfish care (some jellyfish may be immortal, but do they care?).

That says more about those organism’s capacity for caring (or lack of it) than it does about the value of human life.

Actually, if we add it all up we end up with just a few people (family, friends) and pets (dogs) who may care when someone dies. When there are mass extinctions from genocide in some country half way around the world, we care only about the numbers, we have no knowledge of individuals. Thus the caring only extends to small localities within our little planet itself, the rest of world-care would represent perhaps 1% of the total population. There are exceptions when a great world leader dies or is assasinated. But millions of people die and we don’t even know it, let alone care, except in an abstract sense.
Ideally, yes, we should care (humanism), but we are still subject to the natural laws of survival (as are all living things) and any meaningful caring is mostly directed toward immediate family and friends.

I would contend that the reason we only care about a small circle of family, friends, and pets is that our capacities are limited.  We only have so much attention, mental faculties, and our bodies can only do so much.  It’s not like we would not like a guy who is presently living in Antarctica if we met him, but our attention is currently consumed by our inner circle.  (If we are lucky enough to have all the social connections we can handle.)  When people die or leave people’s inner circle the person goes out into the world and and finds new people to fill the gap.  Also, people give money to charities, to medical research, and to the government that (when it’s not wasted) goes to infrastructure and services that will benefit many people not in the inner circle.  Also, our attitude changes when the fate of an entire species is at stake.  We decrease thinking about our inner circle and ourselves, then.  Some humans even risk their own lives for the fate of entire non-human species such as Bengal Tigers or Humpback whales.  Even though a Bengal Tiger probably would only see a human as a threat to survival or its next meal and would not value human life, still, some humans feel their species still has enough value to be worth saving.

 

The Universe? In the scheme of things we are but viruses living on a grain of sand among trillions of grains.

This is the kind of quote I hear intelligent people making.  What are we supposed to take away from that quote?  That we don’t have value?

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Posted: 20 December 2010 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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write4u
The Universe? In the scheme of things we are but viruses living on a grain of sand among trillions of grains.

brightfut
This is the kind of quote I hear intelligent people making.  What are we supposed to take away from that quote?  That we don’t have value?

Not really. just that he Universe does not care, but then it is not supposed to care, it is not intelligent. Humans are important to each other and to their immediate (and now global) environment. Helping in a good cause is a reward in itself, but in relation to the universe it is of no significant consequence.

[ Edited: 20 December 2010 01:51 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 24 December 2010 10:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Some people think that beating the crap out of their kids is a demonstration of how much they truly love and care for them.

I don’t think this has to do with dualism. From reading some of the posts I’m getting that rather chauvanistic tendency of humans to anthropomorphize that which is not human and to assign a ‘weight’ of meaningfulness to human constructs and assigning that in turn to other things. I could be wrong. I always keep the notion of ‘What you say, what your dog hears’ firmly in mind when considering that which is not human let alone the entire universe.

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Posted: 25 December 2010 03:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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pelagic - 24 December 2010 10:47 PM

Some people think that beating the crap out of their kids is a demonstration of how much they truly love and care for them.

I don’t think this has to do with dualism. From reading some of the posts I’m getting that rather chauvanistic tendency of humans to anthropomorphize that which is not human and to assign a ‘weight’ of meaningfulness to human constructs and assigning that in turn to other things. I could be wrong. I always keep the notion of ‘What you say, what your dog hears’ firmly in mind when considering that which is not human let alone the entire universe.

Yep, many see (humanlike) spirits, gods, angels, demons, manifest in natural occurrances. But in reality, these are antromorphic interpretations of how nature works (without intelligence, let alone human “intention”).

[ Edited: 25 December 2010 04:08 AM by Write4U ]
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