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Anthropocentrism

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
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thundril
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#41 Post by thundril » January 27th, 2011, 2:34 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Radius wrote:
thundril wrote:But it's the central plank of your argument in favour of what you are proposing!
According to you.

(I am surprised by this revelation.)
OK, I'll withdraw this suggestion, for now. (but might come back to it later!)
Radius wrote:
thundril wrote:The primary issue in your OP is transhumanism itself, surely.
No. I just happen to think that transhumanism is the surest way to sustainability.
Likewise, I'll withdraw this suggestion, for now. (but might come back to it later!)

Radius wrote:
thundril wrote:Obviously?
Yes, obviously. More apparently, at any rate, than the idea that seriously flawed political philosophies from the dawn of the industrial age should be kept up indefinitely, come hell or no water.
That it's better than a seriously flawed political philosophy is not much of a claim, is it? And what are you saying is 'obviously' better? 'that people who aren't greedy deserve.... they are not 'responsible...'

So we come back to what you mean by your terms. Who 'deserves' what? What does 'responsible' mean? Who can distinguish between 'responsible' and 'not responsible' people?
And most significntly, in my view, Who is the judge?

Radius
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#42 Post by Radius » January 27th, 2011, 3:57 pm

thundril wrote:That it's better than a seriously flawed political philosophy is not much of a claim, is it?
Sure it is. My brand of authoritarianism would lead to sustainability. Human rights probably wouldn't.

Big difference ... huge difference!
thundril wrote:So we come back to what you mean by your terms. Who 'deserves' what? What does 'responsible' mean? Who can distinguish between 'responsible' and 'not responsible' people?
Well I think greediness can be somehow quantified in terms of resources/energy people use.
thundril wrote:And most significntly, in my view, Who is the judge?
Political / military system.

As has always been the case since Sumer or Indus, whichever came first.

thundril
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#43 Post by thundril » January 27th, 2011, 4:15 pm

Radius wrote:
thundril wrote:That it's better than a seriously flawed political philosophy is not much of a claim, is it?
Sure it is. My brand of authoritarianism would lead to sustainability. Human rights probably wouldn't.

Big difference ... huge difference!
I am not going to take seriously 'your brand of authoritarianism'. You wouldn't expect me to, surely?

Radius wrote:
thundril wrote:So we come back to what you mean by your terms. Who 'deserves' what? What does 'responsible' mean? Who can distinguish between 'responsible' and 'not responsible' people?
Well I think greediness can be somehow quantified in terms of resources/energy people use.
So this is what you are offering as 'better than these seriously flawed poltical philsophies, is it? Your opinions about other people's greed? And you should be listened to why, exactly?
Radius wrote:
thundril wrote:And most significntly, in my view, Who is the judge?
Radius wrote:Political / military system.

As has always been the case since Sumer or Indus, whichever came first.
Oh dear! I was looking forward to a serious discussion, Radius. You're beginning to sound like the 'eco-fascists' that plagued the green movement a few decades ago. I had hoped evolution would have weeded their ideas out by now.

Radius
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#44 Post by Radius » January 27th, 2011, 4:17 pm

thundril wrote:I am not going to take seriously 'your brand of authoritarianism'. You wouldn't expect me to, surely?
Yes I would.

That's why I'm bringing it up.

I don't accept appeals to ridicule.
thundril wrote:So this is what you are offering as 'better than these seriously flawed poltical philsophies, is it? Your opinions about other people's greed? And you should be listened to why, exactly?
I'm not what's important here. Evaluate my arguments.
thundril wrote:Oh dear! I was looking forward to a serious discussion, Radius.
And I'm waiting for one.

From you.

Show me that democracy / human rights / etc. will engender true environmental sustainability. I think the burden of proof is on you because of the existing heap of evidence for the other side.
thundril wrote:Oh dear! I was looking forward to a serious discussion, Radius. You're beginning to sound like the 'eco-fascists' that plagued the green movement a few decades ago.
Throwing feces isn't helping your case.
thundril wrote:I had hoped evolution would have weeded their ideas out by now.
Interesting comment.

From the same Minsky article I quoted earlier:
I suspect that we run into limitations of our brains. As a species we seem to have reached a plateau in our intellectual development. There's no sign that we're getting smarter. Was Albert Einstein a better scientist than Newton or Archimedes? Has any playwright in recent years topped Shakespeare or Euripides? We have learned a lot in two thousand years, yet much ancient wisdom still seems sound—which makes me suspect that we haven't been making much progress. We still don't know how to deal with conflicts between individual goals and global interests. We are so bad at making important decisions that, whenever we can, we leave to chance what we are unsure about.
and:
This article bears on our rights to have children, to change our genes, and to die if we so wish. No popular ethical system yet, be it humanist or religion-based, has shown itself able to face the challenges that already confront us. How many people should occupy Earth? What sorts of people should they be? How should we share the available space? Clearly, we must change our ideas about making additional children. Individuals now are conceived by chance. Someday, though, they could be 'composed' in accord with considered desires and designs.

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#45 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » January 27th, 2011, 4:30 pm

Hello, Radius, and welcome.
Radius wrote:I have a hard time swallowing the idea of humanism.
I'm not clear about what you see as the "idea" of humanism. Looking at a few definitions of humanism, we get "A secular ideology which espouses reason, ethics, and justice, whilst specifically rejecting supernatural and religious dogma as a basis of morality and decision-making" (Wikipedia); "A system of thought that rejects religious beliefs and centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth" (The Free Dictionary); "a variety of ethical theory and practice that emphasizes reason, scientific inquiry, and human fulfillment in the natural world and often rejects the importance of belief in god" (Dictionary.com); "any system of thought or action based on the nature, interests, and ideals of humanity; specif., a modern, nontheistic, rationalist movement that holds that humanity is capable of self-fulfillment, ethical conduct, etc. without recourse to supernaturalism" (Webster's New World College Dictionary, via YourDictionary.com). What is it, specifically, that you find hard to swallow in any of those definitions?
Radius wrote:Thoughts I've had for the past few years are stated rather lucidly here: http://www.metanexus.net/magazine/tabid ... fault.aspx
Oh. I see. So you're worried about the extinction of civilisation, are you? Why, exactly?
Radius wrote:tl;dr version: transhumanism should be pursued extensively to give civilization the intellectual and ethical wherewithal to preempt existential crises and is the best bet for doing so.
But why? I don't believe that transhumanism is the "best bet" for giving civilisation the intellectual and ethical wherewithal to preempt the most pressing existential crises that face us. I just don't see how there can be enough time for it to work, assuming that it would work eventually, and I'm not convinced of that either. But even if transhumanism were the "best bet", why should we pursue it? To what end? Where does the moral imperative come from?
Radius wrote:And I don't think that human civilization, on the whole, is well-equipped to cope with existential crises that arise from having industrial technology, knowledge of nuclear physics, etc.
You may be right there. But what makes you think that the kind of person-engineering technology that you're advocating is going to equip us any more effectively?
Radius wrote:Since the power to substantially disrupt civilization is now in the hands of many, in the form of e.g. climate-changing technology, then society will have to respond to facts, with agility.
Yes, with agility. I suspect that it's already too late for us to avoid substantial disruption. But the more we delay, the worse it will be.
Radius wrote:People will have to care about facts at all levels of society.
Oh, I don't think there's time to wait until that's been achieved, assuming it ever could be, which seems unlikely.
Radius wrote:Most people don't care about issues of real substance at all, even if they have ample opportunity to become aware of them. If someone shows no signs of being civilized despite having numerous opportunities to become educated and responsible, then they should be treated as such, rather than being afforded respect they don't deserve. We need to do away with the harmful, outmoded ideas that compel us to show this respect.
Like thundril, I'm struggling to work out what you mean by "respect" here. For that matter, I also don't know what you mean by "being civilized". But I think that caring about other people, feeling compassion for other people, not wanting other people to be hurt or killed [---][/---] these aren't harmful, outmoded ideas; these are ordinary human emotions. They're not universal, sadly. But I think they're as prevalent among people who are not educated as those who are. And in my view they're just as valuable as rationality, or "being civilized".
Radius wrote:To summarize, because so much of human behavior is so aimless, destructive and frankly repugnant, I just can't call myself a humanist at this juncture.
Funny. I think it's precisely because so much human behaviour is destructive and repugnant that I feel inclined to call myself a humanist. (Aimless behaviour I have nothing against.)
Radius wrote:As far as I can tell, it's another faith-based position like Christianity, clearly at odds with the facts.
That may be true of some beliefs associated with humanism. But from what I can make out, it's also true of some beliefs associated with transhumanism.
Radius wrote:However, humanism would obviously be more convenient for me or anyone else than my current viewpoint, so if you have a reason I should accept it, please come forward with it.
I am happy to use the word "humanist" because it more or less describes what I am. If it doesn't describe you, then don't accept it.

Incidentally, could we please stop talking about people "destroying the planet" or, for that matter, "saving the planet". We're not destroying the planet. The planet doesn't need saving. It will manage perfectly well whatever we do, however much it warms up. What we need to save is the planet's ability to keep us alive and reasonably comfortable. Us human beings, that is, and the other sentient creatures that are around right now. But the planet will bounce back, even if we don't.

Emma

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Re: Anthropocentrism

#46 Post by Radius » January 27th, 2011, 4:42 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:"centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth"
This bit is hard to swallow, generally speaking.

It first occurred to me that humans could be improved upon when I was in the 2nd grade.

Even if this were not necessary, why not?
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:So you're worried about the extinction of civilisation, are you? Why, exactly?
Water crises.

Nuclear weapons.

Climate change.

My own country's concern about massive upheaval over environmental issues, as revealed in official US military documents.

Desertification.

Curiously plopping Special Forces near the Guarani Aquifer which is one of the world's largest freshwater reserves.

General idiocy.

Etc.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:You may be right there. But what makes you think that the kind of person-engineering technology that you're advocating is going to equip us any more effectively?
I don't but it beats the alternative.

If you've got to play Russian Roulette, don't use six bullets.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Yes, with agility. I suspect that it's already too late for us to avoid substantial disruption. But the more we delay, the worse it will be.
So is it wrong to desire smarter people?
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Oh, I don't think there's time to wait until that's been achieved, assuming it ever could be, which seems unlikely.
That's why person-engineering is necessary.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Like thundril, I'm struggling to work out what you mean by "respect" here.
"Respect" would include e.g. efforts on someone's part to extend someone else's life.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:For that matter, I also don't know what you mean by "being civilized".
"Being civilized" includes e.g. not being profligate, not trashing the planet, etc.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:But I think that caring about other people, feeling compassion for other people, not wanting other people to be hurt or killed [---][/---] these aren't harmful, outmoded ideas; these are ordinary human emotions.
They're also frequently maladaptive.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Funny. I think it's precisely because so much human behaviour is destructive and repugnant that I feel inclined to call myself a humanist.
Then how do you manage the cognitive dissonance?
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:That may be true of some beliefs associated with humanism. But from what I can make out, it's also true of some beliefs associated with transhumanism.
Such as?

I don't believe in "the Singularity" if that's what you're talking about. I'm just talking about genetic and neural engineering. Much more modest. Both of these fields exist already. This hand, for example, feels:

Image

Technologies sufficient to engineer appropriate behavior will exist well before we ever cajole the extant human race out of its idiocy.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:I am happy to use the word "humanist" because it more or less describes what I am. If it doesn't describe you, then don't accept it.
Ok.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Incidentally, could we please stop talking about people "destroying the planet" or, for that matter, "saving the planet". We're not destroying the planet. The planet doesn't need saving. It will manage perfectly well whatever we do, however much it warms up. What we need to save is the planet's ability to keep us alive and reasonably comfortable. Us human beings, that is, and other sentient creatures. But the planet will bounce back, even if we don't.
Very comforting, George Carlin.

thundril
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#47 Post by thundril » January 27th, 2011, 4:45 pm

Radius wrote:
thundril wrote:I am not going to take seriously 'your brand of authoritarianism'. You wouldn't expect me to, surely?
Yes I would.

That's why I'm bringing it up.

I don't accept appeals to ridicule..
This is not an appeal to ridicule, Radius, it is a challenge.
Radius wrote:
thundril wrote:So this is what you are offering as 'better than these seriously flawed poltical philsophies, is it? Your opinions about other people's greed? And you should be listened to why, exactly?
I'm not what's important here. Evaluate my arguments..
Perhaps what you think is 'important here' and what I think is 'important here' is the crux. Which of your arguments are you asking me to evaluate? The one about whether 'greed' is 'destroying the planet'? OK, it's a bit vague and scattergun, (just my evaluation :D) but in essence I certainly don't disagree about the harm that unfettered consumerism is doing.And I have already said so.
The one about whether those judged to be 'greedy' 'deserve' 'respect'? I was in the process of doing that, but couldn't get clarification on what you mean by the operative words.
Or would you like me to evaluate some other particular argument that you have not yet separated out from the whole OP? If so, please specify.
Radius wrote:
thundril wrote:Oh dear! I was looking forward to a serious discussion, Radius.
And I'm waiting for one.

From you..
Sorry. Was trying. Will continue to try. At least for now.
Radius wrote:Show me that democracy / human rights / etc. will engender true environmental sustainability. I think the burden of proof is on you because of the existing heap of evidence for the other side.
Where have I said that "democracy / human rights / etc. will engender true environmental sustainability."?

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Re: Anthropocentrism

#48 Post by Radius » January 27th, 2011, 4:47 pm

thundril wrote:This is not an appeal to ridicule, Radius, it is a challenge.
Yes it is an appeal to ridicule. You are ridiculing the idea that authoritarianism can ever be taken seriously.
thundril wrote:Perhaps what you think is 'important here' and what I think is 'important here' is the crux. Which of your arguments are you asking me to evaluate? The one about whether 'greed' is 'destroying the planet'? OK, it's a bit vague and scattergun, (just my evaluation :D) but in essence I certainly don't disagree about the harm that unfettered consumerism is doing.And I have already said so.
Ok. How do you plan to fix this?
thundril wrote:The one about whether those judged to be 'greedy' 'deserve' 'respect'? I was in the process of doing that, but couldn't get clarification on what you mean by the operative words.
At this point, focus on the above. "How do you plan to fix this?"
thundril wrote:Where have I said that "democracy / human rights / etc. will engender true environmental sustainability."?
You've implied it, at least, by your knee-jerk defense of the same.

thundril
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#49 Post by thundril » January 27th, 2011, 4:58 pm

Radius wrote:
thundril wrote:This is not an appeal to ridicule, Radius, it is a challenge.
Yes it is an appeal to ridicule. You are ridiculing the idea that authoritarianism can ever be taken seriously..
Sorry if it looked to you like an appeal to ridicule, Radius. It really wasn't meant to be dismissive of the concept of 'authoritarianism' (which I take very seriously indeed). It was just the phrase 'my brand of...' that suggested you were trying to flog some dodgy home-made gear! :)
Radius wrote:
thundril wrote:Perhaps what you think is 'important here' and what I think is 'important here' is the crux. Which of your arguments are you asking me to evaluate? The one about whether 'greed' is 'destroying the planet'? OK, it's a bit vague and scattergun, (just my evaluation :D) but in essence I certainly don't disagree about the harm that unfettered consumerism is doing.And I have already said so.
Ok. How do you plan to fix this?

I must admit I haven't got all the answers. Or even one. But I haven't made any such claim.
Radius wrote:
thundril wrote:The one about whether those judged to be 'greedy' 'deserve' 'respect'? I was in the process of doing that, but couldn't get clarification on what you mean by the operative words.
At this point, focus on the above. "How do you plan to fix this?"
If you keep refusing to answer the very first questions I asked you,(and indeed the only substantive questions I have so far asked) regarding your OP I will go find something more fruitful to do.
Radius wrote:
thundril wrote:Where have I said that "democracy / human rights / etc. will engender true environmental sustainability."?
You've implied it, at least, by your knee-jerk defense of the same.
:puzzled:

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animist
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#50 Post by animist » January 27th, 2011, 5:24 pm

I suppose one response to your clamour is that the "civilisation" you are so keen to save by drastic population control, genetic modification, and the rest - presumably all directed by some self-appointed elite - would be barely recognisable as what we think of civilisation at present. Would it be worth "saving" at the cost of changing, in some sort of final solution, to create a super-race (where have I heard phrases like this before)? Yes, the problems you mention are real, and I often think that the present setups of multinationalism and capitalism will have to change somehow, but not in the ways you envisage.

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Re: Anthropocentrism

#51 Post by Radius » January 27th, 2011, 5:24 pm

thundril wrote:I must admit I haven't got all the answers. Or even one. But I haven't made any such claim.
Alright. I have.
thundril wrote:If you keep refusing to answer the very first questions I asked you,(and indeed the only substantive questions I have so far asked) regarding your OP I will go find something more fruitful to do.
I've answered "deserve" and "respect" to someone else, at least partially, to another poster. See above.

"Greedy": consuming resources and energy well in excess of necessity. Not paying attention to the consequences of doing so. Buying lots of crap that's only used a few times and discarded or set in a closet permanently.

This stuff isn't hard to figure out.
thundril wrote::puzzled:
Well I take it from the tenor of your posts that you are in favor of human rights?
animist wrote:I suppose one response to your clamour is that the "civilisation" you are so keen to save by drastic population control, genetic modification, and the rest - presumably all directed by some self-appointed elite - would be barely recognisable as what we think of civilisation at present. Would it be worth "saving" at the cost of changing, in some sort of final solution, to create a super-race (where have I heard phrases like this before)?
Christ, you're cheap.

Notice that I didn't advocate killing people anywhere.

I don't mind letting people reap the consequences of their actions though.
animist wrote:Yes, the problems you mention are real, and I often think that the present setups of multinationalism and capitalism will have to change somehow, but not in the ways you envisage.
In what ways then?

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#52 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » January 27th, 2011, 5:32 pm

Radius wrote:
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:So you're worried about the extinction of civilisation, are you? Why, exactly?
Water crises. / Nuclear weapons. / Climate change. / My own country's concern about massive upheaval over environmental issues, as revealed in official US military documents. / Desertification. / Curiously plopping Special Forces near the Guarani Aquifer which is one of the world's largest freshwater reserves. / General idiocy. / Etc.
Sorry, Radius. I wasn't clear. I wasn't asking you what you thought was threatening civilisation. I was asking you why you cared about civilisation. What is it about civilisation that is so valuable, so worth preserving? Why would the extinction of civilisation be a bad thing? If human civilisation (which is what it is at the moment, since we don't yet have any post-human civilisation) is self-evidently a good thing to you, why do you think that is?
Radius wrote:
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:... what makes you think that the kind of person-engineering technology that you're advocating is going to equip us any more effectively?
I don't but it beats the alternative.
Which alternative?
Radius wrote:So is it wrong to desire smarter people?
No. It might be wrong to try to make people (on average) smarter by letting the least smart people die. And having smarter people might not achieve what you want it to achieve. After all, smart people have done a lot of damage to our environment. And are still doing a lot of damage.
radius wrote:That's why person-engineering is necessary.
So you think it would be possible to person-engineer the planet's entire population, or a substantial chunk of it, over the next few years, in a way that would make that population less likely to behave profligately or destructively? How? And don't just say, "I don't know, but it's better than the other options," because that's not good enough. You need to supply evidence.
Radius wrote:
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Funny. I think it's precisely because so much human behaviour is destructive and repugnant that I feel inclined to call myself a humanist.
Then how do you manage the cognitive dissonance?
I don't need to. I use a broad definition of humanism that doesn't require me to have faith in human nature. I just think that human values and abilities are all we've got to work with at the moment. Maybe, one day, we will improve on those. And I don't rule out the possibility of some kind of "person-engineering" in the (distant) future. I just don't see it as the solution to all our ills.
Radius wrote:I don't believe in "the Singularity" if that's what you're talking about. I'm just talking about genetic and neural engineering. Much more modest. Both of these fields exist already.
Yes, but they're still in their infancy. I think you're being overly optimistic if you think that genetic and neural engineering can, for example, create a more "civilised" person, let alone that they could be used to make entire populations more "civilised".
Radius wrote:
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Incidentally, could we please stop talking about people "destroying the planet" or, for that matter, "saving the planet". We're not destroying the planet. The planet doesn't need saving. It will manage perfectly well whatever we do, however much it warms up. What we need to save is the planet's ability to keep us alive and reasonably comfortable. Us human beings, that is, and other sentient creatures. But the planet will bounce back, even if we don't.
Very comforting, George Carlin.
It wasn't intended to be comforting. I was being pedantic. All this talk of destroying or saving the planet is inaccurate and lazy. But actually, on reflection, I do find it comforting that the planet will bounce back. That one day, even if the worst consequences of climate change, and of all other anthropogenic changes to the atmosphere and the hydrosphere and the geosphere and the biosphere come to pass, despite our best (or worst) efforts, there might still be a beautiful blue planet orbiting here, supporting life, in a wonderful variety of forms. If that doesn't comfort you, just a little, why doesn't it?

Emma

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animist
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#53 Post by animist » January 27th, 2011, 5:48 pm

Radius wrote:Christ, you're cheap.
well maybe, but I think many people would get that flavour from your strange combination of over-concern for the race as a whole and apparent disregard for the million of individuals who comprise it.
Radius wrote:Notice that I didn't advocate killing people anywhere.

I don't mind letting people reap the consequences of their actions though.
er, not a lot of difference morally or in the effects, and anyway, who are you to know how far individual actions lead to particular conclusions? Most poor, or even moderately comfortable, people struggle to stay alive and don't have much control over their environments. I agree that collectively, we need to change, and that there are too many of us, especially in the rich and wasteful societies of the West.
animist wrote:Yes, the problems you mention are real, and I often think that the present setups of multinationalism and capitalism will have to change somehow, but not in the ways you envisage.
Radius wrote:
In what ways then?
if I knew that I would be campaigning madly for it. It is good that you are concerned, but don't reject everything - like humanism, and even human weakness

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Re: Anthropocentrism

#54 Post by thundril » January 27th, 2011, 6:47 pm

Radius wrote:

Well I take it from the tenor of your posts that you are in favor of human rights?
Yes, I certainly am. Unequivocally.

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Re: Anthropocentrism

#55 Post by thundril » January 27th, 2011, 6:55 pm

animist wrote:[ I agree that collectively, we need to change, and that there are too many of us, especially in the rich and wasteful societies of the West.
Not sure whether there can be 'too many of us', Animist, unless we get to the point where the available resources are insufficient to sustain all of us.

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Re: Anthropocentrism

#56 Post by Radius » January 27th, 2011, 7:02 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:What is it about civilisation that is so valuable, so worth preserving?
Understanding the Universe and so on.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:If human civilisation (which is what it is at the moment, since we don't yet have any post-human civilisation) is self-evidently a good thing to you, why do you think that is?
Civilization is a process more or less independent of its substrate.

Biological or otherwise.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Which alternative?
Letting a pure Homo sapiens run itself into the ground.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:No. It might be wrong to try to make people (on average) smarter by letting the least smart people die. And having smarter people might not achieve what you want it to achieve. After all, smart people have done a lot of damage to our environment. And are still doing a lot of damage.
I include certain ethical principles in "smart"
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:So you think it would be possible to person-engineer the planet's entire population, or a substantial chunk of it, over the next few years
Next few years is too fast.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:in a way that would make that population less likely to behave profligately or destructively? How?
I imagine certain limbic structures would be involved but I need to do more in-depth research. (I aim to be a philosopher and I have a lot of ground to cover in different areas.) However, some people appear to be organically less acquisitive than others. Limited introduction of schizoid traits would be beneficial I think.

Studies like these would certainly offer pointers:

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=neurobiology+greed
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Yes, but they're still in their infancy. I think you're being overly optimistic if you think that genetic and neural engineering can, for example, create a more "civilised" person
In the next few decades? Why not?
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:And I don't rule out the possibility of some kind of "person-engineering" in the (distant) future.
Perhaps sooner than you think. Research like this is promising:

http://www.darpa.mil/dso/business/faoi.htm (expand the "Neuroscience" tab)

DARPA is, incidentally, the same organization that ushered the Internet into the world and changed it forever. Hopefully, the enhanced human performance research they carry out now will bring in a more dramatic such revolution.

And though I don't personally like him, Gandhi did say something awfully profound once: "Be the change you want to see in the world." So I am. That's what I do.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:It wasn't intended to be comforting. I was being pedantic. All this talk of destroying or saving the planet is inaccurate and lazy.
You don't understand metaphor.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:But actually, on reflection, I do find it comforting that the planet will bounce back. That one day, even if the worst consequences of climate change, and of all other anthropogenic changes to the atmosphere and the hydrosphere and the geosphere and the biosphere come to pass, despite our best (or worst) efforts, there might still be a beautiful blue planet orbiting here, supporting life, in a wonderful variety of forms. If that doesn't comfort you, just a little, why doesn't it?
Even less time for a new intelligent species to evolve (and not fuck up) and less resources for it as well.

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animist
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#57 Post by animist » January 27th, 2011, 7:10 pm

thundril wrote:
animist wrote:[ I agree that collectively, we need to change, and that there are too many of us, especially in the rich and wasteful societies of the West.
Not sure whether there can be 'too many of us', Animist, unless we get to the point where the available resources are insufficient to sustain all of us.
well, maybe they are - at least, without producing all the greenhouse gas which does threaten to wreck the climate that we have adapted to: increasing sea-levels, drowning countries like Bangladesh and several in the Pacific, creating extremes of weather, deserts, and threatening natural ecosystems etc. Even apart from global warming, expanding populations of humans threaten habitats of many animal and plant species and produce huge amounts of waste, while energy needs are insatiably leading to exploitation of more and more natural landscapes. On all that I agree with Radius - don't you? I don't agree with his proposed solutions, however.

Sorry, Radius, I should not be assuming you are a "he".

Radius
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#58 Post by Radius » January 27th, 2011, 7:39 pm

animist wrote:well maybe, but I think many people would get that flavour from your strange combination of over-concern for the race as a whole and apparent disregard for the million of individuals who comprise it.
Maybe they should stop being so shitty.
animist wrote:er, not a lot of difference morally or in the effects
According to certain consequentialist systems of ethics, yes, not much difference. cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omission_bias I'm still on the fence about this idea of "omission bias" though.
animist wrote:Most poor, or even moderately comfortable, people struggle to stay alive and don't have much control over their environments. I agree that collectively, we need to change, and that there are too many of us, especially in the rich and wasteful societies of the West.
And I suppose you're going to cajole people into not having excess children and not wasting resources.
animist wrote:It is good that you are concerned, but don't reject everything - like humanism, and even human weakness
Why should I be in favor of any weakness?

Why should I or anyone else tolerate destructive stupidity?

This name "Radius" is taken from a character in Karel Čapek's play R.U.R., of the same name, who at one point says: "Svět patři silnějším." ("The world belongs to the strongest.")
animist wrote:I don't agree with his proposed solutions, however.
What have you got?

thundril
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#59 Post by thundril » January 27th, 2011, 8:12 pm

animist wrote: On all that I agree with Radius - don't you?
Not exactly. I would put my view like this: for the health of the world we inhabit (including ourselves) there is too much production and consumption going on, and this is causing all the ills you describe, which I also deplore. But the rate of greenhouse gas emissions, environmental damage, etc etc is related to the rate of industrial production/ consumption per se, not the absolute number of people. As long as there is scope to reduce/ameliorate this damage without requiring a reduction in the number of people, then there is no justification, in my view, for the claim that there are too many people. There's an awful lot of stuff we could manage without first, to no great loss.

Radius
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#60 Post by Radius » January 27th, 2011, 8:18 pm

thundril wrote:There's an awful lot of stuff we could manage without first, to no great loss.
Such as?

Can you get it voted for?
thundril wrote:Yes, I certainly am. Unequivocally.
Why?

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Alan C.
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#61 Post by Alan C. » January 27th, 2011, 8:36 pm

thundril wrote:There's an awful lot of stuff we could manage without first, to no great loss.
Radius
Such as?
If I might answer your question to thundril;

Fruit and veg out of season from all around the globe, lamb from New Zealand and Australia, beef from Argentina, cheap tat from China, oh, and let's not forget; bullshit from America.
All these things we could easily do without.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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