WTF is this "life" everybody talks about, anyway?

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This topic contains 38 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  jakelafort 2 weeks, 4 days ago.

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  • #43798

    Autumn
    Participant

    And why do we typically mourn more for children and women who are killed than men?

    I feel like we could fill multiple volumes trying to untangle who matters more than whom in the public sphere and why. There are many women and children who simply don’t count. There are cases where women count more for reasons that are strangely misogynistic or even racist. We’re a weird species.

    Seems our animal heritage and social hierarchies are imprinted in our thoughts.

    That’s my feeling. We build up culture around it so it seems more rational and civilized, but there is probably more tribalism and herd mentality than we’d care to admit.

    Still there is an underlying assumption that life has value. It has intrinsic value.

    It’s less likely we’d succeed as a species if it didn’t. Mosquitos, as an example, breed in such a manner that plenty of them can die and it doesn’t threaten the population that much. Humans don’t breed the same way. Even then, once upon a time mortality rates were much higher pretty much across the board where age was concerned. You have to wonder if that shaped our mentality around how we value life.

    Life has intrinsic value. If that is true then it is as wrong to take a newborn as it is a healthy child. Irrespective of knowledge or termination without suffering life has value.

    Does it have intrinsic value, or does perpetuation of our kind have a sort of tautological value to a living species?

    #43799

    _Robert_
    Participant

    The “killing is bad” concept is complicated when one kills for food. The “dominion over animals” justification doesn’t work as well when we finally figured out we are just animals too and they are very much like us, pests or not. And then we have war…where killing people is actually celebrated and/or required just to survive. A billion shades of grey. Compared to all the other sanctioned killing, abortion is where the xtians have drawn the line. Even execution for crime is OK with most of them (sorry jeebus). Seems rather arbitrary except that for centuries religious leaders have encouraged high birth rates to reinforce their armies to do more killing.

    #43805

    Autumn
    Participant

    It definitely creates a considerable blind spot when we tell ourselves we are morally opposed to killing while killing regularly happens to prop up our existence in all sorts of ways we’re okay with (or even actively advocate for). The degree of unchecked moral relativism with which we sedate our consciences is frightening.

     

    #43808

    jakelafort
    Participant

    From Autumn a sentence i love:

    The degree of unchecked moral relativism with which we sedate our consciences is frightening.

    I agree about the lip service to women and children. I suspect it is based on paternalistic notion that men are in charge and have been unable to protect their property. Or some such sentiment…

    As to life spans, mortality rates and skeeters perhaps the medieval custom of serfs/peasants having lots of kids to become workers out of economic necessity and the attendant mortality rates reduced the value of each person. It is hard to know how people felt. At least i can’t recall reading many first hand accounts. But any time life is cheapened it stands to intuition if not reason that the imputed value of life is diminished.

    I was thinking about octopi. They have such short life spans and yet are super intelligent. Presumably their intelligence evolved to compensate for their vulnerability to predators. But then if that is true why haven’t snakes done same. Or have they? Or are their survival skills less dependent on reason? I assume the latter. But for an octopus perhaps their year or two of life feels like our 80 or 90.

    Value of life? I think it is inextricably tied to meaning. And meaning is a construct. Fundamentally there is nothing more than replicating, perpetuating and that is it. Our perception of the value of our lives is utterly dependent on the particular brain state we are in. If you pay attention at all you see how external events cause your internal assessment.

    #43809

    Autumn
    Participant

    I was thinking about octopi. They have such short life spans and yet are super intelligent. Presumably their intelligence evolved to compensate for their vulnerability to predators. But then if that is true why haven’t snakes done same. Or have they? Or are their survival skills less dependent on reason? I assume the latter.

    Human intelligence comes with a cost, to my understanding. There is an associated energy cost with cognitive function, and brains take up space. If that cognitive function can’t provide a clear advantage, it might be selected against or at least net neutral. I don’t know if the same applies to cephalopods, but there is a lot of matter and complexity dedicated to their nervous systems. Corvids are another interesting example. I’d wager for some animals heightened intelligence led them to new niches or made them more adaptable. For others the extra grey matter proves to be dead weight.

    More in line with the thread, I’ve known a number of people who eat seafood, but not octopus or squid because of their intelligence. Possibly there is elevated concern that these animals are too aware of their fate leading to increased suffering. Or perhaps the idea of their intelligence stimulates our sense of sympathy too much.

    #43810

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Autumn, i strongly suspect intelligence makes animals more adaptable and perhaps leads to new niches as well. But yeah there is a cost for a bigger brain. Hell, i can’t even find a hat that fits.

    Count me in as someone who eats seafood but not octo. I feel at ease devouring a bivalve though.

    Surprisingly none of us have mentioned that the opposition to suicide and abortion is driven by the sanctity of the soul. Save my soul. Smoke a bowl. Have orange juice at the ready. Although i understand some atheists do oppose abortion without a nudge from the Church.

    #43811

    Autumn
    Participant

    #43815

    Unseen
    Participant

    Interesting factoid about octopuses that may help to explain their high intelligence despite their short lives:

    Octopuses have not one, not two, not five, but nine brains. We humans are burdened by having only two.

    #43816

    jakelafort
    Participant

    i knew about their biology but also thought it was octopi.

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