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Topic: What's so special about humans anyway?
very important poster
a sweet title
posted 02-01-2005 04:24:52 PM
I've been wondering this for some time, and I'm really coming up blank on it.

You see people talk about "respect for human life" even as they take a bite of their steak. So I sit here wondering, what makes humans so goddamn special? We have opposable thumbs and a high level of intelligence, but those are details. I believe in the coming years we're going to continue conclusively discovering that our brains really aren't that fantastically mystical as opposed to exactly like any other brain on Earth except more evolved.

Not to mention retarded people. I think everyone can agree that the human body in itself is not something unique and that, in fact, it's probably inferior to some animals; opposable thumbs aside. So what "sets us apart" must be our minds. But what about those people that are stuck at age 4? Their minds aren't as "good" as a normal human being's brain is, or at least they never matured to the point where they can function like a normal human being's brain can (don't argue semantics on this point, please - I know someone is going to), though they probably aren't on animal level. But where do you draw the line? Who draws the line?

I'm forced to conclude that humans, in fact, aren't particularly special or worth saving/mourning any more than your average dog is. Discuss.


Edit: I'm not advocating vegetarianism, by the way, my point is at the opposide end of that scale.

Jens fucked around with this message on 02-01-2005 at 04:25 PM.

hey
diadem
eet bugz
posted 02-01-2005 04:29:52 PM
you know, your questions about morality sometimes scare me...
play da best song in da world or me eet your soul
Liam
Swims in Erotic Circles
posted 02-01-2005 04:30:19 PM
The reason we're so damn important is because there was a social precedent set that' s evolved over the years that indicates that we are.

At some point in time, one human looked at the other and decided they'd feel regret or a sense of loss if they were gone. This turned out to be a sort of wide spread thing, and as such, humans have placed a sense of self worth on them.

Either that or it's an evolutionary thing much like mother animals protecting their young.

I'm probably wrong.

diadem
eet bugz
posted 02-01-2005 04:32:11 PM
quote:
Verily, Liam doth proclaim:
The reason we're so damn important is because there was a social precedent set that' s evolved over the years that indicates that we are.

At some point in time, one human looked at the other and decided they'd feel regret or a sense of loss if they were gone. This turned out to be a sort of wide spread thing, and as such, humans have placed a sense of self worth on them.

Either that or it's an evolutionary thing much like mother animals protecting their young.

I'm probably wrong.


nah, humans are pretty much social animals. there are a lot of responces to his statement, and that's one of the better ones.

play da best song in da world or me eet your soul
Nae
Fun with Chocolate
posted 02-01-2005 04:32:34 PM
If you don't like humans so much, you can just stop being one!


what?


very important poster
a sweet title
posted 02-01-2005 04:43:46 PM
Let me clarify: I'm not as much interested in why evolution has dictated that humans should feel a sense of connection to other humans, as the uses for that particular trait are fairly obvious; what I am wondering is if there is any kind of rational reason to have "respect for human life" that I can't see or if it's all genetically coded feel-good bullshit.
hey
Chugga
Pancake
posted 02-01-2005 05:10:43 PM
quote:
Jens wrote this then went back to looking for porn:
Let me clarify: I'm not as much interested in why evolution has dictated that humans should feel a sense of connection to other humans, as the uses for that particular trait are fairly obvious; what I am wondering is if there is any kind of rational reason to have "respect for human life" that I can't see or if it's all genetically coded feel-good bullshit.

coded feel-good bullshit.

Humans have a natural superiority complex. Look at society.

Karnaj
Road Warrior Queef
posted 02-01-2005 05:22:11 PM
quote:
And now, we sprinkle Jens liberally with Old Spice!
Let me clarify: I'm not as much interested in why evolution has dictated that humans should feel a sense of connection to other humans, as the uses for that particular trait are fairly obvious; what I am wondering is if there is any kind of rational reason to have "respect for human life" that I can't see or if it's all genetically coded feel-good bullshit.

Well, it's part learned behavior, and part instinct. The instinct to "respect human life" (E.G., not arbitrarily take it) extends out to a person's family and tribe (or, in a modern context, his friends and possibly coworkers). From there, we learn not to kill others first as a pre-convential and then conventional morality(some go on to a post-conventional morality, but that's another discussion).

Now, humans are weak and slow. As you said, our brains are what set us apart. What's more, we know that we're smarter than anything else, and we know that we can use those smarts to propagate our species. Moreover, most people (except for racists, I suppose) know that people have more or less the same amount of grey matter, and thus we cannot be sure from where the next great invention to help our species will come. It then follows that it would behoove the species not to indiscriminantly kill people, as you cannot know if the person you just killed would have gone on to cure cancer. This is, in a broad sense, why we're taught to "respect all human life": it is critical for our species' survival that we do so.

Of course, in practice, shit doesn't go down like that. The species' survival is often co-opted by the nation's survival, or the religion's survival, thus narrowing the numbers and types of human life one should respect. In general, however, you can apply the above.

That's the American Dream: to make your life into something you can sell. - Chuck Palahniuk, Haunted

Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite. - John Kenneth Galbraith



Beer.

JooJooFlop
Hungry Hungry Hippo
posted 02-01-2005 05:42:22 PM
The only things keeping me from killing, butchering and eating people are law and common courtesy.

I don't know how to be sexy. If I catch a girl looking at me and our eyes lock, I panic and open mine wider. Then I lick my lips and rub my genitals. And mouth the words "You're dead."
Mod
Pancake
posted 02-01-2005 05:54:42 PM
quote:
Jens enlisted the help of an infinite number of monkeys to write:
Let me clarify: I'm not as much interested in why evolution has dictated that humans should feel a sense of connection to other humans, as the uses for that particular trait are fairly obvious; what I am wondering is if there is any kind of rational reason to have "respect for human life" that I can't see or if it's all genetically coded feel-good bullshit.

If that's what you're getting at, no there is no purely utilitarian reason to value human life as highly as we do, no absolute provable values that dictate that human life must be preserved. The problem with utilitarian arguments in such a broad context is that without knowledge of a purpose of human existance you cannot really define which course of action is utilitarian and which isn't.

However there is a lot that seperates humans from animals or machines, we are sentient, we have the ability to override instinct, we actually strive to better ourselves, we do things for reasons other than self-preservation or propagation of the species, we create art, architecture, music, games, we research for the sake of knowledge, we generally have the ability to become better than evolution made us, while a cat will die and still be a cat and a vacuum cleaner will break and still be a vacuum cleaner a human might be born as pretty much a hairless monkey and die as a scientist, having discovered something no one before him has ever known 50 years later.

I don't believe in a mystic soul or anything, but there is some property to our brains that allows us to do a lot more than any other mechanism we know of. If you bring it down to it though, yes human brains are 100% subject to the laws of physics and as such we aren't special in any divine way.

Life... is like a box of chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for. Unreturnable, because all you get back is another box of chocolates. You're stuck with this undefinable whipped-mint crap that you mindlessly wolf down when there's nothing else left to eat. Sure, once in a while, there's a peanut butter cup, or an English toffee. But they're gone too fast, the taste is fleeting. So you end up with nothing but broken bits, filled with hardened jelly and teeth-crunching nuts, and if you're desperate enough to eat those, all you've got left is a... is an empty box... filled with useless, brown paper wrappers.
Ruvyen
Cartoon Broccoli Boy
posted 02-01-2005 06:05:38 PM
We humans get a bonus feat at first level, four extra skill points at first level, and one extra skill point at each level beyond first.

Bad joke, I know...

Thief: "I have come to a realisation. Dragons are not real in a general sense, but they may exist in certain specific cases."
Fighter: "Like how quantum mechanics describes how subatomic particles can spontaneously pop into existence at random!"
Thief: "No, that's stupid and stop making up words."
--8-Bit Theater
Vise the Stompy
Title now 100% ass free!
posted 02-01-2005 06:42:10 PM
Trying to define what makes being humane*Did I speel that right?* human is more or less impossible to define because there are so many damn ways you could go about doing it and they all seem wrong if you look at them in a certain way.

There is the religious stand point, we do this for a greater purpose. Which is impossible to verify with human senses.

There is our reasoning stand point, we do this because we can reason about ideas of equality, liberty, and morality. But then again we can just as easily reason that being self destructive, egotistical, and down right dumb at times is okay too.

Then there is the we do it because its biologically built into us. But that in a way is a cope out simple answer to a question with far more factors than simple biology.

So in the end all that we can really do is keep working at it, move foreward, and maybe one day we will get lucky.

Hellbender
Pooh Ogre
Keeper of the Shoulders of Peachis Perching
posted 02-01-2005 07:42:24 PM
I believe this question has already been answered.

42.

-Tok

Dr. Gee
Say it Loud, Say it Plowed!
posted 02-01-2005 07:45:50 PM
Mostly Harmless is making though.
Gunslinger Moogle
No longer a gimmick
posted 02-01-2005 10:21:28 PM
quote:
Ruvyen had this to say about Reading Rainbow:
We humans get a bonus feat at first level, four extra skill points at first level, and one extra skill point at each level beyond first.

Bad joke, I know...


But then what makes human life any more valuable than, say, a level 1 fighter of any species?

About the only piece of 3e D&D knowledge I have is that fighter = bonus feats.




moogle is the 3241727861th binary digit of pi

Disclaimer: I'm just kidding, I love all living things.
The fastest draw in the Crest.
"The Internet is MY critical thinking course." -Maradon
"Gambling for the husband, an abortion for the wife and fireworks for the kids they chose to keep? Fuck you, Disneyland. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is the happiest place on Earth." -JooJooFlop

Elvish Crack Piper
Murder is justified so long as people believe in something different than you do
posted 02-01-2005 11:32:16 PM
We are the best paragon class.
(Insert Funny Phrase Here)
Hireko
Kill a fish before breakfast each day
posted 02-02-2005 12:52:08 AM
There isn't a particularly rational reason that could satisfy an atheist. From that view, our lives are as pointless and worthless as anything else's. Religious people respect human life because of things like souls and divine proclamations and such.
Those who dance are thought insane by those who can't hear the music.
Zaza
I don't give a damn.
posted 02-02-2005 01:04:11 AM
quote:
Hireko had this to say about Optimus Prime:
There isn't a particularly rational reason that could satisfy an atheist. From that view, our lives are as pointless and worthless as anything else's. Religious people respect human life because of things like souls and divine proclamations and such.

Sure there is. The advancement of our species, and ultimately, the advancement of myself.

Vorbis
Vend-A-Goat
posted 02-02-2005 01:08:10 AM
self-awareness, and an ability to communicate that awareness.
Snugglits
I LIKE TO ABUSE THE ALERT MOD BUTTON AND I ENJOY THE FLAVOR OF SWEET SWEET COCK.
posted 02-02-2005 01:12:13 AM
quote:
Zaza thought this was the Ricky Martin Fan Club Forum and wrote:
Sure there is. The advancement of our species, and ultimately, the advancement of myself.

Yep.

"Life feels pretty good, right? Why not keep it going?"

[b].sig removed by Mr. Parcelan[/b]
Lenlalron Flameblaster
posted 02-02-2005 01:54:49 AM
Za, two things-

First, I'm rather surprised you said it the way you did. Any particular reason?

Secondly, although this is not a direct contention, define 'betterment'. I mean, we have these technologies and such, but it seems that although we've solved many problems, it seems that many more pop up from those solutions.

Grammar is your enemy! - While being able to understand someone's sentences might seem like a good idea for a proper essay, complaining on a forum scarcely leaves time for such trivialities. Write fast! You're angry, grrr! Make that show, and forget about things like capital letters, punctuation, and verbs.
Hireko
Kill a fish before breakfast each day
posted 02-02-2005 09:54:43 AM
quote:
So quoth Zaza:
Sure there is. The advancement of our species, and ultimately, the advancement of myself.

Sure, but that doesn't make humans special... just farther along in school then most other species.

Those who dance are thought insane by those who can't hear the music.
Karnaj
Road Warrior Queef
posted 02-02-2005 10:31:23 AM
quote:
Lenlalron Flameblaster got served! Lenlalron Flameblaster got served!
Secondly, although this is not a direct contention, define 'betterment'. I mean, we have these technologies and such, but it seems that although we've solved many problems, it seems that many more pop up from those solutions.

Go live in, say, Somalia for a year. Take a wife and try to have a baby. Or bring a small child along and try to get it a decent education, or innoculations. Then you'll be able to decide if the "problems" that pop up from technology are worth the hassle. If you don't starve to death, that is.

Also, you may be confusing "problems" with "complications." Just because our life is more complex that before doesn't necessarily mean that it's more problematic. We have easy access to food, shelter, medicine, and just about every other basic convenience needed to live a relatively long life in comfort. If that doesn't detail betterment, what does? Unless you think that places where you aren't guaranteed basic necessities is somehow equal or better to our modern, hassled life?

That's the American Dream: to make your life into something you can sell. - Chuck Palahniuk, Haunted

Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite. - John Kenneth Galbraith



Beer.

Tristan
Vidi, vici, veni.
Nae's Stooge
posted 02-02-2005 05:29:25 PM
Viva the long-pig!
Veni, vidi, vici
JooJooFlop
Hungry Hungry Hippo
posted 02-02-2005 05:32:05 PM
quote:
Hireko had this to say about Knight Rider:
There isn't a particularly rational reason that could satisfy an atheist. From that view, our lives are as pointless and worthless as anything else's. Religious people respect human life because of things like souls and divine proclamations and such.

You don't like athiests, do you?

I don't know how to be sexy. If I catch a girl looking at me and our eyes lock, I panic and open mine wider. Then I lick my lips and rub my genitals. And mouth the words "You're dead."
Kinanik
Upset about being titless
posted 02-02-2005 06:48:08 PM
Morality is exclusive to religion!
Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation
Deep space is my dwelling place
The stars my destination
Trillee
I <3 My Deviant
posted 02-02-2005 07:02:36 PM
Superiority complex that's been passed down through the ages... starting when man first settled the land and built cities... They realized that they could tame and cultivate the land, kill any wild beast, thus getting the feeling that they owned even the beasts... then sanctioned it by saying that it was thier gods/god/idol of choice telling them that they were superior.

In the end it doesn't really matter. Humans die just like everything else organic on this planet. We've just managed to make stories and objects last well pass our deaths. To remind future humans what they are, where they're going... you know philasophical deep thinking stuff...

diadem
eet bugz
posted 02-02-2005 07:33:42 PM
to answer jen's question, as it was intended; there isn't, much.

you keep looking for the logic that drives emotion for reasons other than having our species survive as a whole or instinct and evolution.

there really isn't much. but you see, the thing is, to people like, it doesn't matter in the least that there isn't any. let me explain why.

we all behave due to emotions, some sort of underlying force that drives us. without these emotions or an underlying goal, we would simply sit, not move, and starve. hunger, self preservation, the desire to reproduce, these all fall under the same lines.

to many people, why we do these things isn't really questioned. you see, it is the basis for everything we do.

for you, at least as you claim, your underlying goals are self preservation and the desire to obtain more pleasure for yourself in whatever form you can. the thing is, we can ask the same question; why.

you will be faced with a similar delima. all of these reasons are based on instinct. even self preservation. what's the point, from a logical perspective.

what is logic without emotion though? numbers. nothing more than the equevlant of a computer chip that just sits there, becuase there is no point to do anything.

so it is these emotions and instincts that drive us, that cause is to try to reach wahtever goals we have. that keep us alive. that make us be.

they are our core. self preservation, sleeping, reproduction, and the protection of our species. taught, instinctual, or whatever...

for most people, protection of others of our speices, in this case humans, is part of that core belief. so if it's taught by society or instinctual, most of us don't care at this stage in our lives. it's part of who we are.

and that's why we view human life as so important. it's part of our core.

in the end, if you break everything down enough, nothing really matters. so we don't.

you are in the same boat as us, following your core. the only diffrence is the value on human life isn't there like it is in the rest of us.

so we put laws to protect ourselevs, and let you live your own life as long as you fit into these laws, becuase we value your life even if you don't value yours.

edit: Take not that many societies don't value human life, and it isn't part of their core. Take a look at aztec history.

diadem fucked around with this message on 02-02-2005 at 07:37 PM.

play da best song in da world or me eet your soul
Maradon!
posted 02-02-2005 07:38:29 PM
The rather simple fact that human beings are self-aware and sentient and nothing else on the planet is. We respect any life that is aware of it's own existence and thereby capable of cognative thought because each such entity is totally unique and has it's own identity just as we do.

We do not extend the same respect to life that is not aware of it's own existence and is thereby incapable of cognative thought because such entites are not totally unique, they are self replicating biological masses and nothing else. Humans try to attribute self awareness and cognative thought to such beings because it is human nature to project exclusively human attributes into things around us.

Humans are self aware and capable of cognative thought.

Animals are not.

If your dog learned to communicate and developed it's own thoughts and ideas, we'd extend the same respect to it's life.

The notion that self awareness and cognisance boils down to a superiority complex is idiotic.

Karnaj
Road Warrior Queef
posted 02-02-2005 07:38:56 PM
quote:
And coming in at #1 is Hireko with "Reply." I'm Casey Casem.
There isn't a particularly rational reason that could satisfy an atheist. From that view, our lives are as pointless and worthless as anything else's.

You are incorrect. Read the Humanist Manifesto, or a Secular Humanist Declaration, or Voltaire, or Spinoza, or Kant, or Locke, or Thomas Paine, or about fifty other philosophers and ethicists. Most post-conventional moral codes give reasons why human life is to be respected based on critical intelligence and rational, ethical thought. One need not be religious to respect human life, and one need not be irrational to do so, either.

That's the American Dream: to make your life into something you can sell. - Chuck Palahniuk, Haunted

Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite. - John Kenneth Galbraith



Beer.

diadem
eet bugz
posted 02-02-2005 07:45:24 PM
quote:
There was much rejoicing when Maradon! said this:
The rather simple fact that human beings are self-aware and sentient and nothing else on the planet is. We respect any life that is aware of it's own existence and thereby capable of cognative thought because each such entity is totally unique and has it's own identity just as we do.

We do not extend the same respect to life that is not aware of it's own existence and is thereby incapable of cognative thought because such entites are not totally unique, they are self replicating biological masses and nothing else. Humans try to attribute self awareness and cognative thought to such beings because it is human nature to project exclusively human attributes into things around us.

Humans are self aware and capable of cognative thought.

Animals are not.

If your dog learned to communicate and developed it's own thoughts and ideas, we'd extend the same respect to it's life.

The notion that self awareness and cognisance boils down to a superiority complex is idiotic.


actully, from what i've seen, he is right. we keep on placing defnitions that seperate us from animals that are frequently changed.... the use of tools, ability to communicate (even if that famous ape's language was VERY primative and overblown by the media), and the like.

saying that a monkey isn't self aware without proof is simply jumping to a conclusion. saying htat the cows we eat aren't self aware is simply conveinent becuase we honeslty have no way to tell.

even from an evolutionary standpoint, when did we become human? when did we stop being animals. it's not like we magicly jumped from one species to another.

so i refer to my prior post. are animals self aware? i don't know. are we better than them? it doens't matter. I'll make a species extinct to protect a single human, provided doing so doesn't put many other humans in harms way.


quote:
So quoth Karnaj:
You are incorrect. Read the Humanist Manifesto, or a Secular Humanist Declaration, or Voltaire, or Spinoza, or Kant, or Locke, or Thomas Paine, or about fifty other philosophers and ethicists. Most post-conventional moral codes give reasons why human life is to be respected based on critical intelligence and rational, ethical thought. One need not be religious to respect human life, and one need not be irrational to do so, either.


i agree. i am an athiest... or agnostic (I wan't to belive but can't).... but I don't do anything becuase of devine retribution. I do things becuase it is the right thing to do, becuase it is in my nature. people who do the "right thing" because they fear devine retribution are simply acting out of narcasisim and scare me.

diadem fucked around with this message on 02-02-2005 at 07:46 PM.

play da best song in da world or me eet your soul
Maradon!
posted 02-02-2005 08:02:18 PM
quote:
diadem thought about the meaning of life:
saying that a monkey isn't self aware without proof is simply jumping to a conclusion. saying htat the cows we eat aren't self aware is simply conveinent becuase we honeslty have no way to tell.

Cows are anatomically incapable of self awareness. Monkies may be borderline, but you don't see me eating any monkies.

Norim Stumpfighter
Milkmaid
posted 02-02-2005 08:08:33 PM
if you guys want a new insite into human culture and why we do the things we do, you should check out a book called "Ishmael" it's pretty awesome. Makes you think about things in ways you would never have thought about them.
diadem
eet bugz
posted 02-02-2005 08:13:58 PM
quote:
Maradon! probably says this to all the girls:
Cows are anatomically incapable of self awareness. Monkies may be borderline, but you don't see me eating any monkies.

what is your source on this?

play da best song in da world or me eet your soul
Pesco
Is a copyright of Peachis. Don't underestimate his pants, either.
posted 02-02-2005 08:18:37 PM
quote:
Check out the big brain on Maradon!!
If your dog learned to communicate and developed it's own thoughts and ideas, we'd extend the same respect to it's life.

If you look at it the right way, people DO extend the same respect to their pets as human life. Pets, like humans, provide a form of unsaid communication. What do you do when there is a language barrier with another human? You start pointing at things you need. Pets will do similiar things. Should someone that only speaks Spanish find me lesser because I cannot comprehend them? And likewise for the opposite? Communication is a crutch used by some who are unwilling to look at a larger picture. Just because YOU cannot understand them, doesn't mean they can't communicate. Not to mention that it's been proven animals can communicate amoungst themselves.

Not only that, but they just as capable of respect for life as we are. Again, take pets as an example. There are many documented cases of various pets doing something to assist in saving someone's life. This alone completely destroys your theory that animals are not capable of cognative thought.

Animals are just as capable as we are, our thought and phsyical abilities are just more complex. Our survival required us to find a more complex way to achieve the basic needs because we weren't really given the tools to start. In all honesty, we probably just got really lucky on the evolutionary scale.

What is boils down to is we find ourselves special because we are at the top. There is nothing that we know of that is better then us. And that even if most animals were to evolve mentally to the point we are, they'd still be at a loss due to their physical design.

Vorbis
Vend-A-Goat
posted 02-02-2005 08:27:29 PM
Animals lack language.

Whether they lack thought, I am not qualified to say.

The two, thought and language, should not be confused.

Dr. Gee
Say it Loud, Say it Plowed!
posted 02-02-2005 08:31:57 PM
It's cognitive.

Animals are capable of cognitive thought. It's much more limited, but animals learn, percieve the environment, and make judgements based upon past experience just like humans do. The real difference is simply the complexity to which humans tend to weave cognitive webs. We don't really know why humans are better than animals at this yet. We know that they are, but the switch for it yet hasn't been found. To say that animals are, "self replicating biological masses and nothing else," is idiotic and shows a lack of any study about human psychology.

Pesco
Is a copyright of Peachis. Don't underestimate his pants, either.
posted 02-02-2005 09:25:19 PM
quote:
And I was all like 'Oh yeah?' and Vorbis was all like:
Animals lack language.

Are you 100% positive of that? Language is a considerably broad term.

Hellbender
Pooh Ogre
Keeper of the Shoulders of Peachis Perching
posted 02-02-2005 09:58:07 PM
quote:
Verily, Vorbis doth proclaim:
Animals lack language.

Whether they lack thought, I am not qualified to say.

The two, thought and language, should not be confused.


Whales and dolphins communicate through defined vocal patterns. Although it's not nearly as complex as ours, I would say that qualifies as rudimentary language.

EDIT: Also, aside from the sign language that many chimps and gorillas are capable of learning, some have even been taught to speak some basic words.

-Tok

Toktuk fucked around with this message on 02-02-2005 at 09:59 PM.

Gunslinger Moogle
No longer a gimmick
posted 02-02-2005 10:08:16 PM
quote:
Pesco had this to say about John Romero:
Are you 100% positive of that? Language is a considerably broad term.

Indeed, remember that one article on the prairie dogs a while back?




moogle is the 3241727861th binary digit of pi

Disclaimer: I'm just kidding, I love all living things.
The fastest draw in the Crest.
"The Internet is MY critical thinking course." -Maradon
"Gambling for the husband, an abortion for the wife and fireworks for the kids they chose to keep? Fuck you, Disneyland. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is the happiest place on Earth." -JooJooFlop

All times are US/Eastern
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