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  1. #41
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    We are not better than non-human animals by any outside perspective, but we're programmed to value humans more than non-human animals. It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective.

    All animals have their niches. People that think humans are the best are just defining the comparison in such a way that humans can't lose. It would be like me saying "I'll race you to the seat I'm sitting in.... I win!".

    Edit: Whoa, I'm reading through this thread and everyone keeps talking about being able to think more or better or whatever. I don't get why the ability to think complex thoughts gets automatic value. It's just our particular specialty as a species.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    We are not better than non-human animals by any outside perspective...
    So you have access to all outside perspectives?

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    ...but we're programmed to value humans more than non-human animals. It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective.

    All animals have their niches. People that think humans are the best are just defining the comparison in such a way that humans can't lose. It would be like me saying "I'll race you to the seat I'm sitting in.... I win!".

    Edit: Whoa, I'm reading through this thread and everyone keeps talking about being able to think more or better or whatever. I don't get why the ability to think complex thoughts gets automatic value. It's just our particular specialty as a species.
    Flabby relativism.

  3. #43
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zarathustra View Post
    So you have access to all outside perspectives?
    Come on, man, I know you can do better than strawman-ing me.

    Flabby relativism.
    Flabby how?

    I'm just questioning the assumption that what makes us different automatically makes us better. "Better" is a metric-dependent term; it's easy to define a metric with anything on the top.

    I'm not saying I flat-out disagree that humans are better -- I can't help but agree by instinct. But the fact that I agree by instinct makes me want to question the premise even more, at least from a philosophical perspective.

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Come on, man, I know you can do better than strawman-ing me.
    That's no strawman.

    That's a perfectly acceptable critique of what you said.

    Let's say there is a God, and that God does look at us as superior to other creatures: then your claim is false.

    Hell, let's take religion out of it: let's say there are highly intelligent aliens, and they also look at us as the most significant animal on Earth.

    You just can't go and make an unqualified, indefensible claim like that, as if it is truth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Flabby how?
    It's just boring.

    It's what I would call "the rote scientific establishment perspective".

    All it does is engage in an uncritical relativism to show "why humans are no different than every other animal".

    Trust me, I understand the perspective. It is by no means out of my purview. Fuck, we're taught that shit all our lives.

    It's just... when I look at that truth claim anymore, I can't honestly judge it without thinking that it's very weak, dull, not sharp.

    I'm not saying it's necessarily wrong; I'm just saying that it sure as shit ain't necessarily right. It's just... flabbily relativistic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    I'm just questioning the assumption that what makes us different automatically makes us better.
    And I'm just questioning the assumption that, just because we're different, we can't possibly be better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    "Better" is a metric-dependent term; it's easy to define a metric with anything on the top.
    Well, yea, obviously.

    I assure you, I understand this.

    The point is that maybe there's something to our brains and our ability to use reason and think critically that does make us inherently superior.

    Maybe these qualities are actually qualities worthy of being used to determine the inferiority/superiority of an individual or a species.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    I'm not saying I flat-out disagree that humans are better -- I can't help but agree by instinct. But the fact that I agree by instinct makes me want to question the premise even more, at least from a philosophical perspective.
    I think I've just already gone that route.

    Eventually, I found it boring and unsatisfying.

    There are other approaches that ring of more truth.

  5. #45
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zarathustra View Post
    That's no strawman.

    That's a perfectly acceptable critique of what you said.

    Let's say there is a God, and that God does look at us as superior to other creatures: then your claim is false.

    Hell, let's take religion out of it: let's say there are highly intelligent aliens, and they also look at us as the most significant animal on Earth.

    You just can't go and make an unqualified, indefensible claim like that, as if it is truth.
    Here's what I meant. Obviously we can't escape our own subjectivity...but since "better" is a relative term, it has no meaning without context. Outside perspective just meant context-free perspective. I personally can't get context-free and neither can anyone, but I can conclude that a context-free perspective can't ground a context-dependent term.

    Also, the hypothetical God or alien perspective is irrelevant since it's subjective in the same way.

    It's just boring.

    It's what I would call "the rote scientific establishment perspective".

    All it does is engage in an uncritical relativism to show "why humans are no different than every other animal".

    Trust me, I understand the perspective. It is by no means out of my purview. Fuck, we're taught that shit all our lives.

    It's just... when I look at that truth claim anymore, I can't honestly judge it without thinking that it's very weak, dull, not sharp.

    I'm not saying it's necessarily wrong; I'm just saying that it sure as shit ain't necessarily right. It's just... flabbily relativistic.
    K.

    And I'm just questioning the assumption that, just because we're different, we can't possibly be better.
    Since anyone can define better any way they want, that doesn't mean anything. Sure, we can be better. As long as we define it correctly.

    Well, yea, obviously.

    I assure you, I understand this.

    The point is that maybe there's something to our brains and our ability to use reason and think critically that does make us inherently superior.
    The term "inherently superior" is my main problem with your stance. It is literally meaningless. Or tautological, depending how you look at it.

    Maybe these qualities are actually qualities worthy of being used to determine the inferiority/superiority of an individual or a species.
    I agree with this. Once we're at the stage of creating metrics for judgment, we shouldn't throw out this particular means.

    I think I've just already gone that route.

    Eventually, I found it boring and unsatisfying.

    There are other approaches that ring of more truth.
    Like?

    The only other route is to pick an assumption and ground yourself in it. Like, if we use complexity as a metric or something. I have no problem with that; I just acknowledge that I have no way of defending that particular step without hitting infinite regress.

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Here's what I meant. Obviously we can't escape our own subjectivity...but since "better" is a relative term, it has no meaning without context. Outside perspective just meant context-free perspective. I personally can't get context-free and neither can anyone, but I can conclude that a context-free perspective can't ground a context-dependent term.
    Yeah, I know.

    I get this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Also, the hypothetical God or alien perspective is irrelevant since it's subjective in the same way.
    Well, first off, it's questionable as to whether it's proper to say that God's perspective would be subjective.

    But, more importantly, I used those examples not to eradicate all possibility of subjectivity, but to offer realistic hypothetical examples that would contradict your original statement that "We are not better than non-human animals by any outside perspective".

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Since anyone can define better any way they want, that doesn't mean anything. Sure, we can be better. As long as we define it correctly.
    The important part is bolded.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    The term "inherently superior" is my main problem with your stance. It is literally meaningless. Or tautological, depending how you look at it.
    It's not meaningless at all.

    You are much more correct about it being tautological.

    Have you ever heard the statement that all truth is essentially tautological?

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    I agree with this. Once we're at the stage of creating metrics for judgment, we shouldn't throw out this particular means.
    Well, that's all I'm really saying.

    If you can agree with me on that, then we have found common ground.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Like?
    The one I'm arguing for now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    The only other route is to pick an assumption and ground yourself in it.
    Yes, this is exactly what I am saying.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Like, if we use complexity as a metric or something. I have no problem with that; I just acknowledge that I have no way of defending that particular step without hitting infinite regress.
    This is true, but that doesn't mean it's not right.

    You must keep in mind the two things that I said above:

    • We're fine, as long as we define it correctly. (I actually just bolded your writing)

    • Even if we do define it correctly, it will inherently be tautological.

    Actually, there's another key element to keep in mind:

    • Even if we define it correctly, and it is thus tautological AND correct: there will still always be uncertainty.

    I just keep those in mind, and then consider different possibilities for that tautological truth.

    Otherwise, you just spin your mental tires and run into issues ever acknowledging something as true.

    Then you start running into flabby relativism, cuz you start avoiding ever throwing down your truth stake at all.

  7. #47
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    I think it's ironic that perhaps other species feel themselves distinct among their surroundings, but since humans are gregarious, they don't always dehumanize others of their species.

    But yeah, rational faculties seems to be the answer, and one consequence of rational faculties is man's desire to organize civilizations.

  8. #48
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    @Zarathustra: I'm pretty sure we agree completely. That's why I was saying you were using a strawman against me... my point wasn't to reject "throwing down the truth stake", just to acknowledge that's what we're doing (which I correctly assumed you understood).

    I just have little patience for "better" wars.

    Regarding the God thing -- the argument about context-free perspectives not being able to ground context-dependent concepts still applies. (It's more obvious with aliens, but you get my point.)

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Zarathustra: I'm pretty sure we agree completely.
    Yeah, I think we're just emphasizing different aspects of a mutual understanding, though.

    Because...

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    I just have little patience for "better" wars.
    I, likewise, have little patience for flabby relativism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    That's why I was saying you were using a strawman against me...
    Ok, well, I'm still don't think that was the proper term.

    I still think they were proper counterexamples to your claim.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    ...my point wasn't to reject "throwing down the truth stake", just to acknowledge that's what we're doing (which I correctly assumed you understood).
    Ok, I completely agree with you on this.

    We absolutely must acknowledge what we're doing.

    It had just seemed to me like you were against doing it at all.

    Or, perhaps better said, considering what we're doing as potentially "correct".

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Regarding the God thing -- the argument about context-free perspectives not being able to ground context-dependent concepts still applies. (It's more obvious with aliens, but you get my point.)
    Well, yeah, I'm with you about context-free perspectives/context-dependent concepts.

    I'm just saying that perhaps, if there is a God, she/he/it has the right rubric.


  10. #50
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zarathustra View Post
    Yeah, I think we're just emphasizing different aspects of a mutual understanding, though.

    Because...



    I, likewise, have little patience for flabby relativism.
    Indeed.

    Ok, well, I'm still don't think that was the proper term.

    I still think they were proper counterexamples to your claim.
    What I meant was, I thought it was obvious I meant context-free perspective, and you argued as if I meant non-human perspective.

    Ok, I completely agree with you on this.

    We absolutely must acknowledge what we're doing.

    It had just seemed to me like you were against doing it at all.

    Or, perhaps better said, considering what we're doing as potentially "correct".
    I hear ya.

    Well, yeah, I'm with you about context-free perspectives/context-dependent concepts.

    I'm just saying that perhaps, if there is a God, she/he/it has the right rubric.

    Perhaps. I must be honest, though -- I can't even hold the premise (that there is a God) in my head long enough to comment on the matter.

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