The Logic of Consequence: A Metaphysical(?)Approach
Firstly, you'll probably avoid reading this, I realise how scary all this text seems. I 'unno, save it for when you're bored?
It's simplified english, as I've made it. So if you feel it's too complicated for you to comphrehend just because of it's language, it shouldn't be a concern.
If this religiously offends you, my apologies.
This was initially a discussion me and a friend had regarding the dilemma of a murder and it's consequences. This is what I concluded and (sort of) documented.
To understand my theory it is very important that you know what the term life defines.
Life as I see it, is the will to exist individually, to grow and reproduce. The word 'will' here is used very literally. It is cruel to it's meaning that you understand what this means.
-Does the human life carry any essential value?
We all know we do matter, as an entity. But it is very important to understand why and what conditions needs to be satisfied in order for us to carry any significance.
For the sake of argument, a man who spends his own life in solitary confinement and dies, (practically speaking) never mattered at all. No one had to shed tears, and even though materialisticly his absence would've been noticed, that was where it ended. "If a tree fell in the woods and non one heard it, did it make a sound?" That concept is being applied here.
On the contrary, if that man leads a normal life and meets people, interacts and relates to them, his death would now matter. His death would create new emotions and influence everyone he has known just as his life did.
From this we can conclude that life has no 'essential' value. An individual within itself carries no influence without another entity it could influence, which happens to be one of the conditions that have to be satisfied for something to carry value. Hence my life as a person carries no value but our lives as people do. So life holds a 'relative' value. We are important to others is why we are important to ourselves.
-Now here's where it gets complicated. To define anything to begin with, something of contrast should be established.
One cannot know what how small something is until he has seen something bigger. There has to be difference, something of an opposing value to define one. Life would carry no meaning if death wasn't an inevitable fact. Hence we say that death is the absence of life.
So to define the value of a human life, we need something of comparison.
-What does carry true value?
The Big Bang Theory states that the universe started from a 1-dimensional point the size of an atom, so there had to be 'will' present for it to disperse and then infinitely expand. Which would mean, if we ever decided to travel towards the edge or the center of the universe, we'll always be infinitely distant from it.. eh?
Now think of life, it's value is nothing because it started from nothing and to balance the equation, it would have to end in nothing. With me so far?
-But the universe started from something, we we are almost certain of. So the universe does carry value. So far:
Our lives don't carry value individually
The universe does carry a value
And 'we' constitute(make up) the universe.
-So yes, individual life carries no value. But when two lives relate, as in a relationship.. that has value. And all relations, material and non-material (physical and spiritual) eventually constitute the universal value.
-Hence when a murder kills someone, he has caused something of negative value to happen. In order to counter this, a positive value has to be formed, to keep balance. So a living being somewhere else is born (not necessairily human) and since the universe which could be taken to have the value '1', it is infinitely and exponentially expanding, as in.. 1X1X1X1 no matter how may times you multiply it, the 'essential' value which the universe carries is inaffected. Sine the amount of matter never changes as it all started from the same 1-dimensional point. Everything has 'expanded' rather than increasing.
So the value stays the same no matter what. But when a person dies, in a sense value has been in that particular place lost.
Here's the dilemma, do we imprison/execute (punish) the killer?
Ofcourse, this is all just my theory, hardly even strong basis for an ethical paradox. And as a friend of mine did, most of you would impulsively answer 'yes'. But the execution (the killers death) doesn't directly bring positive value to the situation so for the person who died, it really changes nothing at all.
-Now Metaphysically, all humans should be able to go around killing each other without consequences, the strongest survive and form a most efficient and positive community till they eventually die out an somewhere out there in the billion stars, an alien specie replaces us. But that would be an eugenic concept and that is ethically wrong.
-Ethically speaking, taking another life is a crime, a sin, it's not against human nature but it's against the natural law that governs the human nature. That nature should left alone to do it's own job, eventually and naturally kill this human. (although some would consider murder that too)
Ofcourse they need to be punished for them to 'learn' a lesson but there is no gurantee to this, so we end up ruining another human life so other's can feel safer.. a selfish motive? Is that ethical? I'm quite honestly ambivalent.
Here, do you side (support) physics or ethics?
-No matter what happens, this universal value is unaffected?
Infinity square root 2 is till infinity, but you couldn't say it hasn't lost value, right?
-Does material relationship affect value?
Yes, but the subject is living human beings, lets keep it spiritual.
-How does this value end?
A loves B, B loves A. They both die and with it their memories which carried the value of their relationship hence that value is now lost. If only one of them dies, 'some' value is lost.
It would result similarly if they both lost their memories. So memory plays a part, and death does end it since the neurons and philotes in your brain decompose into simpler substances and information is lost.
-Aren't everyday values 'feelings'?
No, values are mere numbers to lay the basics of a metaphysical argument. Values aren't classified (or catagorized) as feelings are, hence they are different.
Please point out any flaws, opinions, criticism. This is metaphysics, not religion. So please refrain from dragging in the inaccuracies of the Big Bang theory... since I'll be at a faliure to answer.
Neither, I support practical approach. If we allow people to go around killing each other civilization will collapse or at the very least progress would be slowed. Further the murder of an individual is the loss of a potentally productive resource. As such even if you attach no value to the life of an individual, it's still more efficent to forbid murder.
I think considering the value of the system as a whole, in this case the universe, is flawed reasoning. While the value of the system is unchanged apon someone's death, that does not mean that individual's life did not have value. That value, relative to the system as a whole is irrelevent, however, on the scale we live on, it is most certainly signifigant.
I do agree somewhat that the value is not in the life itself, but in the connections we make to others though. It works fine in daily life, but does lead to some problems when you view things on a large scale.
As to your man in solitary confinement, even if he never comes into contact with another human being, his life might still have value. He could have spent all his time thinking, and come up with unique ideas on the nature of the universe. That his life passed without those ideas becoming known is most certainly a loss, even if the world never knows it. However, if he wrote then down, and one day those works are discovered, his value may be revealed.
Though that last sentence probably violates the spirit of your case. :heh:
Um.. by saying he never made contact means he never learned to speak or read or write or to this. And his work will never be published if there was any. And he died without anyone ever having the knowledge that he existed, now does he matter?
We kill people to punish them or make them incapable of murdering ever again, on the assumption that they will go around killing more people eh? Isn't that unethical in itself? To trust our 'reasonable' assumption to end a persons life in one way or another? It would be at the 'risk' of other lives but we don't know what the risk is until we've taken it.
The concept of eugenics, the survival of the strongest also comes into play. Ofcourse we'll try and reach perfection, and we'll all end up dying and in death shall we find the perfection we were looking for. So we'll be replaced by another specie elsewhere, that's my theory. It's just ignorant of us to think aliens don't exist :/ So as our population increases, some other species on a different planet unknowingly pays the price. So the value isn't increased or decreased.
I agree with you that on our individual lives, the scale is different and that it does matter and hold value. And only because we exist around others. If both loves die, their love has died. It may inspire new relationships but those will be form different patterns. Either less or more complicated. So while it matters to us, in a generalization it doesn't make much difference. So we could punish our little killer for what he did either for the sake of revenge or gratification (selfish) or on the assumption that he'll make our lives less safe (selfish) both being somewhat unethical.
It's almost a circular paradox ethically, so I tend to support metaphysics :/ it's a little confusing even for myself I guess. But you had some strong arguments.
As short as I can possibly be ... when someone is murdered.... not only has a consciousness been snuffed but the *bonds* with every single other consciousness has been violated/nullified.
Its an entanglement issue, neither can exist without the other - each is created by the other in some way.
Interesting thread :)
For me I believe your individuality means nothing and it has no value if you cannot contribute anything to society in any kind of forward progression. With you example of the man in the basement that does nothing, his life for me has no value. For very few would even remember him when his death come, and few would even mourn his death and it doesn't affect much at all. If you include Kamui assumption that he did do some studies but never got the chance distribute his ideas to the world but maybe found later on, then his life/value would have some significance after his discovery would be found.
While the Earth itself holds little value, it "can" hold life, which creates a "significant" force for itself. Well... in the spiritual sense.
Ahhhh!!!! It's logical thinking!!! Run!!!!!
Jk. The metaphysics approach is of nature. Y'know, survival of the fittest? If you are a lion, and you can't competitively hunt, you will starve, and die. Technically, us humans should be following this rule, as we also are animals, and born of this planet naturally.
But somehow us humans have worked our way to the top, and we are following the ethics rule. But we still keep animals in battery farms, feed them diets which will lead them to maximum profit, and most value for money.
Yet within our (human) society, we are using the ethics approach. Mentally, and physically handicapped individuals are supported by the society, since we consider it unethical to leave them to die. The people who (nearly always) work harder and longer get paid less (e.g. factory workers)
God, my brain hurts. I support a hybrid of ethics and metaphysics. Metaphysics can be applied to business, economics, work, etc where efficiency is the most important. Ethics can be applied to our human society.
This thread is damn interesting. Cookie for Bornsatin for creating this.
To answer your first question directly, I'll first assume that you're essentially agnostic. In the first place, no self-respecting theist would have suggested the premises you have proposed. To be sure, your ideas sound rather heretical from an existentialist viewpoint as well. :p
From there, I'll tell you quite simply what I believe: essence precedes meaning. We are hurled into existence (Kierkegaard), not out of any prior choice nor with any accompanying instructions. And for as long as we live, we'll never really know why we came into existence in the first place.
Meaning comes later, as an act of Will. Through our will, we impose meaning on our surroundings (Schopenhaur). We detect patterns, interpret signs, in the vain-glorious hope of making some sense out of our transient existence. That's one reason why artistic experession is the noblest form of human endeavour - it is a conscious act of human will, to impose order on our lives, and to create beauty in the process (Schopenhaur, and to a certain extent, Nietzsche). Beauty makes our otherwise miserable existence tolerable.
I have no idea where you derived your "metaphysical relativity" from. It sounds a bit like a very confused interpretation of Taoist dualism. Without a clear understanding of your context, it's rather difficult to comment further on what you've suggested. If you ask me, it sounds like a sure recipe for suicidal depression. :heh:
Very simply, life matters, because this is the only one existence you'll ever have. No second chances. No after-life to look forward to. You die, that's it. You become nothing.
What remains are the memories that people have of you. You don't have to be famous, unless you want to. All it takes is for at least one person who cares to remember you. The Great Gatsby had at least one true friend to see him off at his funeral. It was a pathetic way to go, but at least he wasn't completely forgotten.
So, in this sense, at least one part of your ideas sound reasonable. Yes, it's true that part of the value of a human life is made up of the relationships he forms.
But you can't ignore the idea that all human lives have intrinsic value. It's utterly depressing to think it doesn't. I mean, if that were so, what's stopping you from jumping off a cliff right now?
So, yeah, live long and prosper. Don't think too hard. ;)
Well..Say you got put away in prision in Highschool, and you die like 50 years later in there...You've learned to speak, read, write, etc....And eventually you'll probably be forgotten..I mean, If you know someone in the 10th grade you you move and don't see them or keep in contact for 20 years..chances are they wont remember you. So just because you have made contact with people, does not excuse the fact that you could be forgotten and you die with out meaning. It's really a thing like this..The beginning of your life had meaning, but towards the end that meaning was lost.
Now...What I believe is that "No good deed is done with out a bad after effect, and vise-versa." Meaning, every good deed you do, will always have a bad outcome, and every bad deed done will have a good outcome. Which is where my argument on good and evil comes in. I do not belive in good nor evil...We are all neutral. We all are good and evil. So, when someone dies to keep the balance another child is born? I say that this is true. Then you have someone who kills someone...Then they are tried and punished. That goes with my belif. So, someone kills someone- Most would think it's a bad deed commited yes? So, they are tried and and lets say they get the death sentence. So bassically by kiling this guy, they are just taking another life to make up for the other one. So they are murdering them, which like you said is ussually for a selfishness. Again that is a bad deed is it not? So lets look at the chain shall we....Someone kills someone-Bad---Person is then given a punishment for what he has done- Good---IS killed for what he is done---Bad.....So it goes, Bad, Good, Bad...So by doing a bad deed, a good deed was caused, but that good deed cause another bad deed.
Now, you theroy on this is very logical and something that I would possible to believe is true. Now with what thousands of other people belive, to them your theory has many flaws.
Now, as for the human life having value. I believe that every human life has value, it's just some tends to loose it's value eventually. Say, two parents have a child and then that child dies...The value of that was it gave the parents hope (or what ever else you could get.). Every life has value, wheather or not it's acknowleded or known. When you are born, you have value...It's just if you tend to be anti-socible and never interact with people, you your self are lowering the value of your life.
Well according to your theory, in the long run life has no value whatsoever (as eventually every life will end and therefore any impression any life has had will end) which is really depressing when you think about it. I don't agree with this model, I prefer the magical number 2 model (the number 2 is not a material thing and therefore cannot be destroyed. The essence [consciousness, soul, spirit, whatever you prefer] of any human is also not a material thing and therefore also cannot be destroyed and will always exist.)
To me every life has some intrinsic value just by existing.
Now on to the killing of a murderer. In your theory it doesn't matter, as whether or not it is a good or bad deed to kill the murderer has no impact in the grand scheme of things. Also you can look at it purely metaphysically; the murderer is "weak" enough to get caught and therefore deserves to die for not being "strong" enough to escape.
Everyone who lives knows someone who died. We pause and remember them for how they affected our lives. We rarely pause and reflect on those we don't know, who died, and influenced our lives without us knowing.
Death is imperfect. What's the point of life if death is all that awaits you? Sure, you can look at life as the most basic terms - consume, excrete, sleep. Humans are more than that. We also create, destroy, question, improve. We're far more complex than the circle of life. So what's the point of being human and having all of this "baggage" if we're simply meant to be animals and die quietly?
It's hard for me to accept that we'll move beyond humanity when one of our most basic and enduring questions is what it means to *be* human.
Humans would not be the top of the chain today if we weren't strong. In our species view, the murderer is the weak one. He does not help our society, he disrupts it.
The murderer has simply acted upon what he thought was 'free will' as he didn't see himself bound by ethical or religious boundries while he was committing the 'crime'. I'm not defending murder but rather giving it a different, less cruel perspective.
By death I meant extinction, you are right.. a human life does have more to it. But once you are dead, you are over. Another memory, without sentience or another 'shadow' of an entity that existed. Ofcourse I'm an Atheist to not look forward to a heaven or hell :/ but I warned about that earlier.
Life isn't perfect because you can be half dead even while you live, and life can be changed and improved and lived. Death is the absence of everything. Everything has imperfections thus the absence of everything would leave nothing to bear any flaws. To put it in another context, it's as perfect as an imaginary friend, a friend you created to perfectly fit your needs?
Though that won't apply to this situation, since Jack has never known a friend or anyone, so his feelings would be just as unreal as anything else and although you might think he has created value by loving this creature, he has influenced no enteties :/
Please point out any errors, I'm almost making this up as I go :/ improvising.
Some people just like to watch the world burn.
Humans are weird.
Thank you, actually. The whole point of this is to refine my idea's as much as possible ^_^
Life and death have to be decisive because we were nothing before we were born and to 'balance the equation' it has to end that way, o.o in my humble opinion
The why is important, but the when matters more. Unfortunately you can't predict the when. So we all just blunder through our lives making the best of it we can until our time comes to leave. How we choose to spend that time is really the only thing that matters in life, in my opinion.
If you imagine the universe as a giant chain of events, things *have* to happen in order to give rise to new events. So to say someone is nothing before they were born and consequently are nothing when they die sounds negative, if not fatalistic. That's not to say you are powerless to choose your own destiny, but things will play out unforseen no matter what you do. The destination might not change, but the path is yours to travel.
If you want a circle of life kind of answer, you can also reflect upon existence in this manner: Action and reaction. You are born, therefore you must die. But why do you have to be born? You, specifically. What couldn't it have been one of thousands of eggs and millions of sperm, across billions of males and females coupling that produced a different person. Why you?
The balance of life is that you have to die to make sure the system is never overburdened with constant new lives and older lives that never expire. There are many built in safeties, but man is slowly overcoming them. It's safe to say that the system nature built is being eroded by mans ability to move beyond it. The only safety nature could create to keep this in check would be something so fatal the species would be wiped out.
So again, balance is subjective. Life and death are transient stages of existence. Knowing only what your time is like during your life holds little value before or after this existence as you are now. At least, to you personally. To those who are still living, your value is only decided upon by them.
Yes, perhaps a bit philosophical, but it's some of the reflections I've been pondering for a few years now.
You end up thinking in circles. Perhaps that's where reincarnation originates from. For example - creating a new account/name on a message board you frequent. You're still "you", but to everyone else you're not the same person. Even if someone was keen enough to recognize some of your traits from your previous persona, it would be impossible for them to know without you either a.) making it blatently obvious, or b.) a higher source telling them, like a moderator.
My brain hurts. :heh:
I couldn't read every single post but here's what I had in mind, quite random thoughts, not refering to any other post except maybe the first:
Yes, if someone who absolutely had no contact with anyone, his existance would be useless to the society. But his existance still carried something, because when he dies, he will decompose and 'return to nature'. He contributes to the carbon cycle, grows some fungi, algae and other micro organisms, maybe his corpse will also feed some larger scavenger or something lol
Its very hard to deem an existance completely meaningless and useless. Though I'm someone who thinks that our (human) existance is near insignificant, for now. Until we can leave our planet and cross several light years, humans are probably going to end up as nothing, just like the murder example in the original post.
I like to view things at a bigger scale:
Our planet is just one planet among the trillions of solar systems of stars in our galaxy, which is among even more galaxies.
When the Sun goes into a red giant, our human existance for a mere 15000 years or so would become nothing, even the Earth's 4.5 billion years is nothing.
Unless Voyager 2 actually ended up in someone elses scope/camera view, computer screen or even crashed into their planet.
If we still aren't able to make ourselves 'known to the universe', our existance would be useless in the first place. But of course, we may have already been known, by aliens that really are observing our planet.
An existance can only be insignificant at most, but can't completely have no value.
To deem a human existance useless, the planet must be destroyed, but then we may have already affected something in our galaxy. So to deem the planet useless we must destroy the galaxy. Next we have to destroy the galaxy itself, but at such a large scale, the destruction is sure to leave behind alot and cause alot more, so we must destroy the local galaxy cluster. Then we will have to destroy the universe itself and so on.
- you haven't explained what what you call "will" is, or its relationship with the Big Bang.
- You haven't explained why "value" changes as in a zero-sum game.
- The quantity of matter in the universe isn't constant.
- Your murderer isn't strong. He got caught and turned the environment that supported him into something hostile.
- Eugenism presupposes you know what it means to be strong, what it takes to come out on top. It's arrogant and stupid. A society that can build tanks and planes will beat a society of musclemen who can't use anything more elaborate than clubs, but ten thousand years ago, did we know that?
Solace: interesting. I'm more of a "what" person, myself. You are here and this now. What do you do?
I'm afraid I might be underthinking things but I really have to disagree with your statement
As far as we know all aware beings are multi faced. As an example a part of me doesn't want to post this because it fears scrutiny and the possible rejection which that may cause. It can also be assumed that if the universe is sentinent or aware it is also made up of parts. This all simply means that if relationships create value then aware beings which as far as we know have internal relationships should have value. I would also like to point out that things that don't exist, while not having value also have no need of value and thus don't suffer for it.
Now I'm going on to a part I know I'm underthinking. In the case of the murder, punishment occurs for four reasons
1. To cause suffering to the murderer. Ie revenge
2. To show would be murderers that they will suffer if they murder. Ie dissuation
3. To stop possible repeat offenders from repeating crimes. Ie isolation
4. To force them to engage in behaviour to help them reintergrate into society Ie redemption
Out of these 2 and 3 cause further negative value to not come into existence. While 4 directly causes positive value and even in the case of an execution 3 is at least always invoked with 2 usually invoked as well. Most other forms of punishment at least invoke one of 2,3 and 4 as well.
So then your saying that everything is already pre-planed then? I might be reading it wrong (probably am..got like 1 hour of sleep last night studying for my finals, just got done with algebra finals and am supposed to be doing a project on the computer :heh: so please excuse my mis-interpitation if i'm wrong).
If you ask me, your life is pre-determined by the choices you make...Your life is not completely set, you are set on a path in which you must take, it's just the choices along the way will effect the outcome....So, makeing your life have value or not would be entierly up to you....So your life is not pre-determined, just the path you walk on is....
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