• Gingethinkerrr
    9
    Hello forum,

    I have briefly looked over some of the posts and conversations previously posted on this site and I am already feeling in awe and out of my depth at the observations and opinions of members of this group. But totally enlightened by the vivid and transparent description of different interpretation of each argument.

    I am unsure how the group would feel about a newbie asking questions that might have been addressed many debates previous.

    My question is....are there any stupid questions??

    I feel I am very much a novice

    Thank you

    Gary
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    My question is....are there any stupid questions??Gingethinkerrr

    Yes, there are. I think you know which they are, and also that you can formulate intelligent ones.

    What interests you? What's burning a hole in your imagination? It doesn't matter if something's been discussed before - some of us are old and forget things; some like to rehash old arguments; almost everyone is up for a new perspective on popular subjects, and if somebody's not interested, they don't have to respond.

    So - fire away!
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    I feel I am very much a noviceGingethinkerrr

    Welcome.

    I'm here because I never privileged philosophy in my life. Wanting to find out what I may have missed. I am not a philosopher, nor do I have the disposition for philosophy. But that doesn't mean I'm not interested in views unlike my own. I'm also interested in exploring the presuppositions or building blocks of my beliefs, to see what can be ditched or improved upon. It seems philosophy is extremely difficult to do well. This place is more of a discussion group about philosophical ideas, peopled with the curious, the blinkered, the learned and the monomaniacal.
  • Gingethinkerrr
    9
    Thanks for that encouragement Vera Mont, where to start???

    Ok.....

    The value of a single human life?

    I believe the individual experiences and safety of every individual on the planet is equal. And I strive for the safety and security of my own life and those immediately connected to me with a unwavering urge for my appreciation for life and it's right to exist.

    And I believe that is universal.

    Yet history and current international events repeatedly show me that is a disallusion.

    My question is my desire and hope a naive wish nutired by modern society? Or should I look at history's lessons to prepare for the worst?

    Apologies if my question is confusing.

    Thanks

    Gary.
  • Gingethinkerrr
    9
    Basically is life cheap?? Or a wonderous miracle??
  • Shawn
    12.7k
    My question is....are there any stupid questions?Gingethinkerrr
    The value of a single human life?Gingethinkerrr
    Hello Gary,

    Some questions have varying answers. In the ascription of value towards one's life, why would anyone let someone else ascribe it to you? Unless it is someone you trust or have a relationship with.

    Hope that helps.

    I think the value of life can only be put forward in an analysis towards one's self, and thus seems an endeavor in psychoanalysis, yes?
  • Gingethinkerrr
    9
    I'm not familiar with how quick to expect a response but please feel free to ridicule and mock my propositions

    This was my first stab at a basic question
  • Shawn
    12.7k
    I'm not familiar with how quick to expect a response but please feel free to ridicule and mock my propositionsGingethinkerrr

    Nothing to mock. Mocking doesn't happen on this forum.

    This was my first stab at a basic questionGingethinkerrr

    Seems like a very important question.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    Welcome Gingethinkerrr!

    Are there any stupid questions? To other people maybe, but you are the ultimate judge right? If you don't know something, it doesn't matter if everyone else does. The only way to know sometimes is to ask a question that's perceived as stupid by some. But there will always be people who understand and want to tell you.

    Ask away!
  • Gingethinkerrr
    9

    Hi Shawn, yes after I posted this I was concerned I was asking for some free psychotherapy.

    I think possibly I was trying to gauge if my own indifference to events physically far from me about loss of life was the norm.
  • Gingethinkerrr
    9
    thanks Philosophim
    for your response. I have lots of stupid questions but I am still unsure as to this forums etiquette. Am I allowed to jump from one theme to another in the same chat?? I find I can make leaps from one question line to another depending upon the logic of the response. Is that allowed?
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    The value of a single human life?Gingethinkerrr

    Put it in perspective.
    Put in all the different perspectives you can imagine.
    What is the value of the life of a defective child to its mother? What is its value to the community? What is its value to the society? What is its value to a complete stranger who a) just reads about it in the newspaper b) brought the defective infant into the world c) has to pay for its medical care and special handling d) desires to cleanse all humankind of genetic anomalies e) desires to improve the genetic stock of his fatherland ? Very different perspectives; very different values.

    Thing is, there is no objective or universal valuation of anything. Some people think bullocks and chickens and lab rats deserve to live as much as people do; some people think lions and elk exist solely for hunting trophies. Some people think all human life is sacred, while all other life is for humans to harvest. Some people think human lives are sacred, except the ones of which they disapprove.

    I believe the individual experiences and safety of every individual on the planet is equal.Gingethinkerrr
    I believe that that's a good thing to believe. Vladimir Putin doesn't. Go, figure!
  • Wayfarer
    21k
    The value of a single human life?Gingethinkerrr

    You might be pleased to learn that the inestimable value of each human life was a foundational principle of the great philosopher Immanuel Kant. He argued that human beings possess intrinsic worth, which he calls "dignity," because of their capacity for rationality and autonomy. This dignity makes each person deserving of respect and moral consideration. Kant insists that we must never treat others merely as means to an end but always as ends in themselves. This means recognizing and valuing the inherent worth of every individual, thus ensuring that our actions support their ability to make autonomous decisions and pursue their own goals. This principle is intended to guide all human interactions and forms a foundational aspect of Kant's ethics, emphasizing duty and the universality of moral law.

    And welcome to thephilosophyforum.
  • Gingethinkerrr
    9


    Ok. Thanks for your words and candour. I think we may have veered from my original focus but mostly because those view points are new to me.

    I can more appreciate the viewpoint of Kant as described by Wayfarer.

    I would like to thank all of you who have replied to me tonight. Thank you

    Maybe my next question will be less mundane and more abstract but I am glad it will get some attention.

    Ciao
  • Fire Ologist
    234


    Welcome to the forum.

    Any honest question is not a stupid one. No reason to ever feel shame for asking a question, or else we should all feel shame. And if it takes bravery to be mocked for asking an honest question others call stupid, then you are just asking the wrong people, so thanks for being brave and giving us all the opportunity to show respect and value in your questions.

    What is the value of a single human life? A great question and one everyone should consider more often.

    If I set out to rank the value of all human lives, I should start by ranking myself least and go from there. That’s because, if I set out to value a single person, I conclude that every human life is a universe of value.

    When it comes to judging the value of other people, I don’t think it is really possible - the universe behind human eyes is too vast.

    And anyone who wants to sum up other people as stupid, or low, or of less value, doesn’t even know who they are themselves.
  • unenlightened
    8.8k
    The value of a single human life?

    I believe the individual experiences and safety of every individual on the planet is equal. And I strive for the safety and security of my own life and those immediately connected to me with an unwavering urge for my appreciation for life and it's right to exist.

    And I believe that is universal.
    Gingethinkerrr

    I agree. I think you are right. But we are not done there, let's try and ask why it is so, and look at each word and elucidate. Let's try and persuade everyone else, that we don't just believe for no reason but that this is a true moral principle that we all should live by.

    I'll start with "value". 'Value' is a relational term; X values Y. Straight away, it seems we are necessarily talking about a living thing as X. So, yeast values sugar; dung beetles value dung; birds value worms; I value a morning coffee. But a rock values nothing, it is all the same to if it crumbles or melts or falls in the sea or falls into the sun.

    So life is the source of values. One might suggest that an individual life has infinite value to itself, as the source of all its values. So far so good, but what makes humans so special? I'll leave it there for now.
  • Fire Ologist
    234
    what makes humans so specialunenlightened

    We can value anything, and everything, or nothing.

    This conversation is nowhere else in the universe but in our minds here together.

    Doesn’t mean we are better or higher - but certainly special.
  • Lionino
    1.8k
    My question is....are there any stupid questions??Gingethinkerrr

    A dumb question to some is a smart one to others. Someone who never studied math past high school will be in awe at the integral proof of the sum of a convergent/divergent series, though in many countries 18 year olds breeze through that. A quick look at the threads on the first page now will show that there different threads of different levels.
  • RogueAI
    2.5k
    That seems easily defeated by the basic Trolley Car scenario (I don't think Kantians will pull the lever). We can load up Trolley Car to absurd limits (Hitler on the tracks, trolley car full of a million children), and the Kantian's position of not pulling the lever becomes absurd.
  • unenlightened
    8.8k
    We can value anything, and everything, or nothing.Fire Ologist

    I disagree with you here. One can claim to value anything or nothing, certainly, but try not valuing breathing, and not only is it very difficult to stop breathing, so that one discovers the value rather quickly, but if one should succeed to the point of losing consciousness, the organism will automatically start breathing again as soon as the bullshitter becomes unconscious.
  • Fire Ologist
    234


    “Yeast values sugar”.

    I disagree. An act of valuing, is an act only a person can do. That’s not what valuing means.

    And any suicide doesn’t value breathing at all.
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    An act of valuing, is an act only a person can do. That’s not what valuing means.Fire Ologist

    Any sentient organism can and every sentient organism does place relative values on the things in its environment. There is no 'act' of valuing; we just consider some things more important - at any given time - than other things. We also calculate, consciously or unconsciously, how much effort or energy we can afford to spend on getting what we want and what/how much we're willing to give up for it.
    Yeast may not have the brains to prioritize, but beetles do.

    And any suicide doesn’t value breathing at all.Fire Ologist
    Or values something - e.g. the cessation of pain - more highly than breathing.
  • unenlightened
    8.8k
    And any suicide doesn’t value breathing at all.Fire Ologist

    You or they may make the claim, but they will be contradicted as they make it by the fact - that they are breathing as they claim not to value breathing.

    That’s not what valuing means.Fire Ologist

    Yes it is. In order to make it an exclusively human affair, you would have to define it as an entirely cerebral and verbal affair, whereas it is commonly experienced as visceral, even where it concerns such elevated topics as poetry or music.
  • Fire Ologist
    234
    they are breathing as they claim not to value breathingunenlightened

    So by breathing, they have already shown they value breathing.

    Or more simply put, by acting, we display our values, like the yeast acting upon sugar.

    You or they may make the claimunenlightened

    So words are just a claim. Like a lie is a claim, or a hypothesis, or a fairy tale is another claim.

    In order to make it an exclusively human affair, you would have to define it as an entirely cerebral and verbal affair, whereas it is commonly experienced as visceralunenlightened

    You are talking about two things at once. Which is fine with me.

    You talk of the “human affair” as “entirely cerebral and verbal”. That’s one thing, where you place the “valuing” act I presume.

    Then you talk about “whereas it is vicseral” where “it is experienced.” That’s a second thing.

    You need both to say anything about one of them. And what did you say about them both?

    yeast values sugar; dung beetles value dung; birds value worms; I value a morning coffee. But a rock values nothing, it is all the same to if it crumbles or melts or falls in the sea or falls into the sun.unenlightened

    You also said value is relational. Which I totally agree with. In order to have a relation, we need relata, or separated things that have a relationship. So I agree that you are talking about at least two things in every example.

    But then you also said:

    One might suggest that an individual life has infinite value to itself, as the source of all its values. So far so good, but what makes humans so special? I'll leave it there for now.unenlightened

    So you are saying one might “suggest” a person has great value (call it “infinite” and so forth to exaggerate and put a finer point in it), but only that this is of “value to itself”, as itself is the source of all its own values.

    But starting this gently with “one might suggest” you go out, seeming to me, with more of leaning towards value having nothing to do with anything but oneself which is a visceral cerebellum and not more, still in the form of question you adjudge:

    what makes humans so special?unenlightened

    And you put it italics, as if to give it special significance.

    But you used yeast and sugar, you used yourself and coffee, birds and worms, to show examples of “valuing.” You said yeast, as it relates to sugar, is in the act of valuing sugar. You made value the verb. You said exactly “”yeast values sugar”. The act of valuing relates (another verb) the yeast to the sugar. That is what your words seem to mean.

    And you said there are two objects again where you separate the “exclusively human affair” from the “experienced as visceral.”

    But conclude the human is nothing special?

    What happened to the sugar?

    You placed both the yeast and the sugar on the side of the “human affair” where you emptied the visceral experience into the “verbal” which I take to mean humans using their cerebral functions.

    With the “self” creating its own values with words like “self” as in “I value coffee”, values need not relate to anything else but the self, which is like the rock which values nothing.

    You’ve lost the relation in an act of valuing.

    Lastly, I’ll ask, if there are things like a rock which cannot value anything as they are pummeled to dust, but we humans can make values and relate things to our own actions, might we be not so much special, but simply unique in having these conversations in the universe, like an orchid is unique, and each species of yeast is unique?
  • unenlightened
    8.8k
    But conclude the human is nothing special?Fire Ologist

    Oh no, I did not conclude that! Rather I left folk to consider what is special; I am glad you have engaged. This is a perennial question that, the more one examines nature, the harder it is to articulate an easy answer. Apes, orca, and ants show intelligence and social cohesion and communication, various species use tools, care for their young, and so on.

    Personally, I rest, for the moment, with the observation that I am human, and so human values have special value to me. We are born into dependency, unable to feed ourselves or navigate the world, and because we depend for our lives on being valued by [m]others, our concern for human values is vital.

    With the “self” creating its own values with words like “self” as in “I value coffee”, values need not relate to anything else but the self, which is like the rock which values nothing.Fire Ologist

    This is where things get complicated, and I skated over it with 'infinite value'. And it is where we leave nature for the landscape of thought. The self, I would say, is a structure of thought that distinguishes I from not-I. (It is always the small words that contain the deepest philosophical difficulty)

    This means that the simple "I value coffee." is actually ambiguous between a factual behavioural statement of this individual's habit in relation to coffee, and a description of this individual's self-understanding of its habit in relation to coffee.

    It is in the ambiguity that one can then reflect on one's own value to oneself, and conclude that oneself is necessary to any value whatsoever, and is therefore of infinite value. But notice that this is pure thought, not limited by physicality. And that is why it can also become inverted, as Vera pointed out above. The negative value of suffering is also infinite.

    And any suicide doesn’t value breathing at all.
    — Fire Ologist
    Or values something - e.g. the cessation of pain - more highly than breathing.
    Vera Mont

    But neither is 'true' in the sense of representing a matter of fact.
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    And any suicide doesn’t value breathing at all.
    — Fire Ologist
    Or values something - e.g. the cessation of pain - more highly than breathing. — Vera Mont


    But neither is 'true' in the sense of representing a matter of fact.
    unenlightened

    How so? It is a fact that people commit suicide.
    Some do it for reasons that other people consider irrational. Some do it as a form of escape when there might have been other options. Some have solid, logical reason. In each case, a hierarchy of values is in place. Breathing is incidental to all of them.
  • Fire Ologist
    234
    Apes, orca, and ants show intelligence and social cohesion and communication, various species use tools, care for their young, and so on.unenlightened

    a hierarchy of values is in placeVera Mont

    I think we are skirting the question of “what is a ‘value’?”or “what does ‘valuing’ mean?” or “how does ‘valuing’ happen or function?”

    We are providing examples of what we each think valuing is, without really saying it.

    Because it is hard to say, so I don’t blame us.

    But I think it is making each of us hard to follow for the others.

    I agree that valuing is a type of relating - so I would need to posit two separate objects in relation to one another to find a valuing of something. That was said by Unenlightened.

    And I agree that there is a type of hierarchy or prioritization going on when valuing. Hierarchy was just inserted by Vera Mont.

    But I disagree that the relationship between yeast and sugar has anything to do with valuing. Same with organisms valuing breathing - that is not valuing. Those relationships are more like the rock that falls downhill.

    I agree that valuing occurs in organisms, but see it only among humans.

    Valuing has to to with considering options (so prior to action upon separate objects, one must reflect upon either this or that), concluding a hierarchy or prioritization among the options, and then choosing one over the other as valued.

    I still haven’t defined “valuing” but am trying to set out some of the moving parts as I see them.

    So maybe, if this act of valuing hides in the verbal which hides in the functioning brain, and is an illusion we have invented to deal with a brain that is “self” aware, if this means that there is no real ontological weight to an act of valuing outside these constructions, that is a separate question. Valuing still only happens when a mind considers separate objects and choses one over the other. It involves separate objects related in a prioritized way by choice.

    The yeast doesn’t appear to consider or choose, it just reacts to sugar, like a rock thrown in the air reacts to gravity.

    And every act is not an act of valuing. People do things without thinking, without the consideration of identified options. Or they consider the options but make no choice as when they follow others like sheep and make no choice (or maybe choose to value the one they follow like sheep).

    I happen to see only people display this behavior of valuing. I can only see it when they speak. Without words, I can have no idea whether some other two objects that seem to relate to one another are relating through a valuation or not. This seems to me only visible in a mind and only visible in some demonstration of another mind, as in speech.

    Apes may be getting there, but who knows. We can only infer some sort of valuation process and not a complex reaction to complex stimuli.

    So given all of the above, I see reasons to value humans as the lone evaluators in experience.

    Maybe, again, you don’t value evaluation, you are not impressed by the purely human. I am amazed by it, and once in a while, actually learn something new through words alone. The human is of unique value in the universe.

    P.S. - bringing in hierarchy or prioritization, means I am now skirting over the use of “good” which would measure the priority. More hard to define concepts tied up in the hard to define concept of “value”.
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    I think we are skirting the question of “what is a ‘value’?”or “what does ‘valuing’ mean?” or “how does ‘valuing’ happen or function?”Fire Ologist

    I think those questions have all been answered.

    But I disagree that the relationship between yeast and sugar has anything to do with valuing. Same with organisms valuing breathing - that is not valuing. Those relationships are more like the rock that falls downhill.Fire Ologist
    About the yeast, what with its lack of brain cells, you're right. Breathing, for some organisms, can be optional - that is, consciously controlled - though it's rarely considered in isolation the way you introduced it: it's simply a function of being alive. So the choice is not between breathing and not breathing, but between and dying. That is a question of what the subject values in what order of priority.

    Valuing still only happens when a mind considers separate objects and choses one over the other. It involves separate objects related in a prioritized way by choice.Fire Ologist
    Of course.

    I happen to see only people display this behavior of valuing.Fire Ologist
    You should look around more. A dog wants the bisquit, but wants his human's more, so he waits for permission to eat the bisquit. An elephant enjoys rolling in the grass, but hears another elephant call out in distress and rushes to help, because she values her friend more than her leisure. Other sentient species make conscious, deliberate choices all the time.

    Maybe, again, you don’t value evaluation, you are not impressed by the purely human.Fire Ologist
    I can't be impressed by a self-serving fiction.
  • Fire Ologist
    234
    I can't be impressed by a self-serving fiction.Vera Mont

    That undercuts everything you just said about valuing. Is it self-serving or object relational? Is valuing real or not??
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    That undercuts everything you just said about valuing. Is it self-serving or object relational? Is valuing real or not??Fire Ologist
    I was responding to:
    you are not impressed by the purely human.Fire Ologist
    I do not believe there is anything "purely" human.
  • unenlightened
    8.8k
    But I disagree that the relationship between yeast and sugar has anything to do with valuing. Same with organisms valuing breathing - that is not valuingFire Ologist

    That's acceptable. I draw the line as low as I can. If you want to draw it higher, so be it, though I would appreciate some indication of where the line is for you and why it is there. For me it is simple, Yeast absorbs sugar and expels CO2; I do the same. Sugar was the foundation of the British Empire and was the main stimulus for the slave trade; sugar is highly valued in human society. So I conclude that yeast is not all that different from humans in terms of its valuation of sugar. I have not actually consulted a yeast cell on the matter.
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