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Author Topic: Is existence based on violence? In both defense and criticism of human nature.  (Read 227 times)

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Offline AlexanderClemensTopic starter

Hello everyone, I'm obviously new here and I want to make more posts to get to know everyone and everything better, so I picked a topic that has been interesting me for a while.

I've been seeing this debate for the longest time, are humans inherently bad or good and I always thought the conversation to be kind of out of scope, therefore, I want to start by briefly say what I think and see what everyone thinks.

I don't think humans are bad or good, as much as any other thing in existence, we don't even understand how life and consciousness came to be, and we still don't understand how it all works, I think it is, in a way, way too early to quantify what good and bad is, let alone understand what we are in that, still, I believe existence is violence, the more violent you are, the more complex you get.

I think, however, that I need to define what violence is for me in this context, violence is here how much you take from other creatures alongside you and how, bacteria and viruses apart (which I don't consider "alive" per se) plants are usually the least violent things, they take CO2 which basically no one wants, they take the sun and water, and they take fertilizer from things which are already no more, while humans are the top of the violence pyramid, by not only taking space from other creatures, not only eating them against their will, but going as far as to domesticate them to exploit them and change their whole existence to fit us.

So, in a way, we aren't bad or good, we're just what we are, the most complex creature that ever lived and I doubt if any other creature won the Natural Selection lottery they would do any different than us.

I still can elaborate on this, but I don't want to put even more than the premise of a discussion and let everyone else drive it where they see fit.

Good day to everyone.

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With the ability to understand ones actions comes the need to reflect upon why we take them. We are not like "any other thing in existence" because we have both the ability and the power to react outside of base needs and instinct. An ant pulling apart a still living butterfly for food is not the same as a 7 year old pulling the wings of a moth for fun.

This can be seen in other creatures too, yes, and I think we all agree that with the ability to learn comes responsibility to act in a way that is responsible for ones actions. If you walk into the house and find your dog eating your shoe, then its eats go flat without you saying anything, you both know its done wrong. It knows its done wrong too. But what is the responsibility of your pet, whos base instinct is to chance, hunt and kill for you who you leave inside your home for 10 hours alone as you go to work?

Take this another way. It was once fine to stick slaves in a pit and watch them fight for fun. It was the TV of the day. Little care was given to the lowest as those in power abused those that had no recourse or ability to counter them. We (as a people) accepted it as a part of life and laughed as Christian women and children where fed to beasts (or much worse) because that was the sport of the day.

And one might argue that we have come a long way since then, but I just read Farrows book about Harvey Weinstein, the story of powerful men abusing those under them who where unable to fight back and those who stood to gain from turning away did. Powerful men walking over those lower than them for personal gain and little in the way of recourse granted to those who got walked over. We say we will not accept this anymore, but only 25 years ago we accepted this exact behaviour from a US president without much though. We change slowly. Perhaps trying to make ourselves better, but still always morally flawed.

We are not like other creatures in creation because we understand what we are doing is wrong when we do it and we CHOOSE to do it anyway.

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We say we will not accept this anymore, but only 25 years ago we accepted this exact behaviour from a US president without much though.

I generally agree with most of what you've said, but it's worth stating that - as problematic as the power differentials were, as much as it was adultery, and as much as he perjured himself later by denying it - the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship was entirely consensual, according to Monica herself. Weinstein forced himself on women, and it's worth making the distinction clear.

Offline Remiel

I've been seeing this debate for the longest time, are humans inherently bad or good

Welcome to the basis of moral philosophy.  Philosophers have debated this question for thousands of years.  Some, like Aristotle, believed that there is an inherent virtue, a code of conduct, that all people ought to ascribe to, because we can; while others, such as Sartre and Camus, figured that everything was meaningless and pointless anyway and we might as well do what we felt like, because we can.  Utilitarians like John Stuart Mill believed that it is in our best interest to treat other decently, because civilization cannot function if individuals are in constant fear of being stolen from, raped, or killed.  Sort of the "what goes around comes around" theory.  I guess I would probably subscribe to that camp.  We should be good to other people because we would like them to be good to us in return, and it probably goes toward explaining why abuse of other creatures is taken less seriously than abuse of fellow humans. 

There are people, of course, who believe that you should never abuse a cat, dog, or horse, but to them I would say, why stop there?  Why not extend this courtesy to an ant, a spider, an amoeba?

Offline Remiel

Let me clarify: I am not, in any way, advocating the abuse of pets or animals.  I am merely wondering where we draw the line, how those who think it is terrible to strike a dog but quite acceptable to step on a spider can reconcile this apparent hypocrisy.

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I generally agree with most of what you've said, but it's worth stating that - as problematic as the power differentials were, as much as it was adultery, and as much as he perjured himself later by denying it - the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship was entirely consensual, according to Monica herself. Weinstein forced himself on women, and it's worth making the distinction clear.

True, but there was still a massive power imbalance between them. Concent itself stops being as much a factor when I can ruin you if you say no.

Also my spelling was shit. I need to fix that post.

Offline Hawkwood

This was an interesting topic and very related to a book that I've just finished. I strongly commend to you "The Better Angels of Our Nature". What appealed to me about this is that it attempted to ground the moral philosophy in sensible biology.

Offline AlexanderClemensTopic starter

Just to center the discussion a little, when I said we are like any other creature, I meant it in the sense that if another creature evolved and dominated the same as us enough to reach a conscious state, they'll probably be the same as us, the main debate is, is life itself violence since you can't live (or evolve, we needed meat to evolve) without eating things that are alive.

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Sure, but that's going to happen regardless of scale or lifeform. Trees are going to break down bacteria and nutrients in the soil, bacteria will eat other bacteria. A cow lives by destroying grass, a virus lives by invading and infecting its host.

Life is a struggle. What makes us (Humans) different is our ability to rationallise, concider, choose and justify the actions we take. We may not know the full repercussions of the actions, but we can at least make a case for something we choose.

Also, it appears I can't edit in hear. My posts will forever be autocorected messes. Because I am too lazy to proof read.

Offline Lustful Bride

Life is a struggle. What makes us (Humans) different is our ability to rationallise, concider, choose and justify the actions we take. We may not know the full repercussions of the actions, but we can at least make a case for something we choose.

Not to mention being able to show mercy. Help others without repayment, control our impulses to delay gratification and to create all manner of works of art that do not benefit our survival but bring pleasure and comfort to ourselves and others.