• DingoJones
    1.3k
    As the title indicates, Im curious about in what way people might think life is sacred or has intrinsic value. To illustrate what I have in mind by “sacred” or “intrinsic value”, I will contrast it with the kind of value I think life does have.
    I think the value of a life comes from the merits of that life. A life filled merits, however you want to define merit (a moral life, a productive life, a life that creates well being for others..whatever), has value and one with no merit (again, however one might define that, bringing misery and pain to everyone, having no ethics or morality, leeching off others work and doing none yourself etc) has no value.
    So contrast that with what I hear people say about life being sacred, or having value even without any merit...the idea that life is important to preserve based on nothing other than that its life.
    An example to finish: Charles Manson, kept alive for 40-50 years or whatever, provided with food and shelter, his health preserved, let out once a day for an hour, not allowed to do interviews anymore after a certain point, not allowed communication with the outside world...all to preserve his life because presumably that life has some intrinsic value that supersedes his dark deeds.
    Can anyone defend the assertion of this intrinsic value life is supposed to have? Why is my position, that the value comes from some kind of merit rather than from the life itself, the wrong one?
  • TheMadFool
    4.2k
    I think you're right - that life, in and of itself, doesn't have value of any kind. Isn't that what philosophers have been saying since its inception 2 thousand odd years ago?

    Heaven, eudaimonia, nirvana, moksha, etc. are all tell-tale signs, if not clear, unequivocal evidence, of the fact that the plain vanilla version of life is just not satisfactory. We need and strive for that exciting and fulfilling mod/add-on to really get our juices flowing.
  • OmniscientNihilist
    147


    value is related to pleasure

    worth is intrinsic
  • DingoJones
    1.3k


    Interesting, although not at all what I was talking about.
    Edited: Also, I didnt say life has no value of any kind, so we would be is disagreement rather than agreement
  • DingoJones
    1.3k


    I wasnt using those definitions...and I dont even see where I used “worth” at all.
    The “value” I have in mind is more about utility or importance.
  • OmniscientNihilist
    147
    The “value” I have in mind is more about utility or importance.DingoJones

    utility or importance are both related to pleasure aquasition
  • DingoJones
    1.3k


    Im not following you, how does that answer my questions?
  • OmniscientNihilist
    147
    how does that answer my questions?DingoJones

    life has intrinsic value if you enjoy being around life even if it does nothing external for you

    everything has intrinsic worth
  • DingoJones
    1.3k


    I see. Well the value isnt intrinsic if there are things (merits) that you enjoy. Its those things in life you are enjoying, that are of value. What Im asking is what value does life have without those things.
    Maybe we just mean different things by intrinsic. What about sacred? Do you think there is something sacred about life that we should always preserve it even in cases where the life has no real value to anyone or actually have a negative far outweighing any merits such as in the case of a serial murderer?
  • OmniscientNihilist
    147


    do you enjoy living things even if they do nothing external for you? if yes then it has intrinsic value, if no then it doesnt. because value is related to pleasure

    is life sacred? well we know that its complex, and hard to create, and probably rare, and that we are heavily dependent upon its existence for our happiness and survival. so perhaps that is enough.
  • Judaka
    430

    Going to start off with what should be obvious; life has no objective value. However, it doesn't matter what kind of life, just objective value in the sense we're using the word doesn't exist. If you recognise this question to be highly subjective then it needs to be worded differently and if not then I'd say you're lost.

    My personal answer is that life does have intrinsic value to me, if I would throw out one of my possessions because it's useless to me, I wouldn't have to think about that but I wouldn't consider your life to be worth nothing just because it's not useful to me. Charles Manson is a more contentious example because rather than just having failed to meet some kind of pre-requisite for value, he's done things which make him less than useless but rather undesirable.

    I think to not see life as having intrinsic value reflects a lack of value in the potential or beauty of life. Charles Manson's life has no potential and no beauty and so it's hard for even most people to see it as valuable. It's not just a value for life that protects someone like him but also because most people aren't capable of being a ruthless killer like Manson was. Putting him in jail and refusing to kill him is also a statement about how society condemns killing for any reason and refusing to kill even horrible criminals is the biggest possible commitment to that.
  • I like sushi
    1.7k
    Thank you very much for taking the time to outline what you mean by the terms used :D

    Other posters of new threads please take note. Meaning we’re all quite capable of using a dictionary. Dictionaries don’t suffice when we get into detailed analysis though.

    Anyway, little complaint over :)

    Dingo ... I guess it’s simply down to how we view ‘value’. Life for me has intrinsic value because it is a very curious phenomenon. I would even argue against saying that ‘selfishness’ or ‘misery’ is inherently void of any merit. That said I’m deeply suspicious of certain forms of moral relativism.

    I would perhaps ask you where/if you can distinguish between value judgements? Meaning ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in terms of morality, aesthetic tastes, reason, etc.,. I don’t mean to burrow into a semantic debate, nor to play an endless game of reduction, but to at least open up the discussion to explore and out to use categories of ‘value’ that can then be applied to the question at hand in order to reveal a possible common thread (if possible?).
  • DingoJones
    1.3k


    It doesnt really matter to me how “value” is defined/viewed, in the sense that im not asking for anything like an objective fact about any of this. Wherever you think the “value” comes from isnt important (to me at least), im not taking a position on that I just want to know about how the values are being applied. For example, you made a value judgement about charles manson, so lets start there. Would you view his life as having no value, when he was alive?
  • I like sushi
    1.7k
    Clearly his life has value now. We know who you’re talking about, so there is clear value there. How he is of value is another question entirely. I imagine for criminal psychologists he is an extremely fascinating character. For the families of his victims the ‘value’ is most probably going to be quite, quite different - maybe blaming the ‘system’ or blaming the individual himself?

    There is an echo here of what I was talking about in the thread on humanity’s ‘destructive’ capacities.
  • DingoJones
    1.3k


    Things do not always have value if they are “very curious”, except if being very curious is what made it valuable in which case isnt it being very curious that has the intrinsic value?
    As far as the standard of “value”, I have No particular preference or expectation, I just dont think it matters that much. Its the application I think is interesting.
  • DingoJones
    1.3k


    Right, I suppose what I have in mind is a more practical set of values, and meant in a broad sense of humanity. Value to us, our societies. (Though not necessarily the law).
  • I like sushi
    1.7k
    In that case I’d say the occasional punch in the face is valuable for humanity - I’d just rather it wasn’t always the same person getting punched in the face, but the law of averages dictates that someone will inevitably get an uneven share.

    We used to burn people as witches. People like Sapolsky think we’ll look back to today’s age and comment that how we treated Charles Manson was inhumane - because he merely had a cognitive defect that they can ‘correct’.

    If there is anything to value in the universe I’d say ‘life’ is something that seems quite a rarity and quite fleeting. Even if life is abundant - although nothing seems to point to that being the case - I’d still rank it as of inherent value (I’m bias of course!)
  • DingoJones
    1.3k
    [reply="I like sushi;348481"

    Again though, you are talking about the inherent value of something other than life, in this second case “rare” and “quite fleeting”. Those are the things you see as having inherent value, but what about life itself? (In the sense that we should preserve it regardless of practical consideration)
  • I like sushi
    1.7k
    I didn’t. I said ‘even if ...’

    I value life probably due to the bias of being among the living. I kind of enjoy being alive. I’m also glad that I’ll die too or life wouldn’t really have ‘meaning’ for me without regard for mortality.

    If you don’t find life of value you’ll probably not live much longer.
  • I like sushi
    1.7k
    We’re ‘expressions’ of life after all when you think about it. I make moral judgements about other ‘expressions’ of life, but to judge ‘life’ seems rather contrary if that is what you are getting at?
  • Judaka
    430

    It's an issue of proximity, he had nothing to do with me but yes, his life meant nothing to me and I would place no value in it if he was still around. If his life was entrusted to me, it might be a different matter. It's like how I value bicycles and people being able to ride around using that method of transportation and recreation but if you ask me if I value YOUR bicycle then it's a bit difficult to answer, no, I don't but what's that got to do with me valuing bicycles.

    I don't know how to value anything that I'm basically unaware of, I didn't even know Manson was dead until this thread and it wouldn't have made a difference to your argument if you had named a lesser-known criminal.
  • TheMadFool
    4.2k
    Interesting, although not at all what I was talking about.
    Edited: Also, I didnt say life has no value of any kind, so we would be is disagreement rather than agreement
    DingoJones

    Sorry. Misread you.

    You did propose an add-on viz. merit.

    What about antinatalism? Where does it figure in your weltanschauung?

    I think people would prefer not to exist but once they're in the thick of living they aspire for what you call "merit" - that little bit of something that makes life truly worth the effort.

    I remember the animation The Croods where the vivacious daughter screams at her overprotective father "Not dying isn't the same as living". Do you agree or disagree?
  • Echarmion
    990
    Can anyone defend the assertion of this intrinsic value life is supposed to have? Why is my position, that the value comes from some kind of merit rather than from the life itself, the wrong one?DingoJones

    It sounds like what you're actually asking is "do people have intrinsic value". Life has the status it has because it's the most basic prerequisite to "being a person".

    There's plenty of investigations into why people have intrinsic value. Do you disagree with the basic idea of the "golden rule"?
  • Coben
    1k
    Can anyone defend the assertion of this intrinsic value life is supposed to have? Why is my position, that the value comes from some kind of merit rather than from the life itself, the wrong one?DingoJones
    Yeah, I think a universe devoid of life is worse. I am not sure how to prove that. But since whatever values go into 'merit' will be subjective also, then I will stand on my subjective value judgment that a lifeless universe is worse and a life filled on is better.
  • DingoJones
    1.3k


    Well Im trying (unsuccessfully it seems) to illustrate a distinction between life and the contents of life. Im not trying to judge life as having nothing of value in it but rather question what value a life has when it has nothing of value in it, if that makes sense. Does life on its own have some sort of sacred, inherent value, so that we should preserve it for its own sake regardless of its contents?
  • DingoJones
    1.3k


    I meant to use Manson as an example of a general principal but I take your point.
  • DingoJones
    1.3k


    Well Antinatalism is about an individuals value assessment and I am trying to frame this at a societal level.
    Also, I do not agree that Antinatalism is correct or even coherent.
  • DingoJones
    1.3k


    The basic idea of the golden rule is pretty useful, yes.
    To me if you are framing it as about people having intrinsic value then you are talking about the merits/demerits of that life, where as Im curious about what value life is supposed to have absent those specific things that are encompassed by personhood.
  • DingoJones
    1.3k


    It was more the context of something like someone braindead but kept alive by medical technology. Does life have value just on its own, so that we should respect and revere it even if it has nothing else going for it but itself?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    "Sacred" is usually a religious idea. If you think that anything is sacred, you believe that a god exists. So someone who thinks that life is sacred (a typical definition of sacred is "connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration"), then sure, you're going to think that it has intrinsic value, either imbued by god(s) or simply arising as part of god-nature or something like that.

    We could try to nail down a non-religious sense of "sacred," though.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    292


    "Intrinsic value" is a bit of a problematic concept. We value things, or give a value to somethings as human beings. There's nothing really intrinsically valuable, as in having some objective value in itself outside of someone valuing it.

    That said, most people value being alive (as opposed to being dead), as it is a prerequisite for everything else really... you need to be alive before other things even can have value to you.

    So even if it is not necessarily sacred or intrinsically valuable, etc... life seems to be pretty important however you slice it.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment