thread: 2006-08-31 : I think my expectations are screwed

On 2006-09-07, Devin wrote:


As an atheist, human existences have infinite worth to me because I don't think of the meaning and value to be experienced in the universe as finite* and I believe that every bit of that meaning and value comes from human beings.

You're looking backward, from "times eternal life" to "times finite life" and finding that wanting (quite rightly, from where you stand).  To those of us who never believed in eternal life, though, that calculation is invalid.  Instead, it becomes more of an "all gold comes from supernovas" situation, where human existence has infinite worth compared to anything else because nothing else has worth.  (Oddly, this dovetails with the ontological argument for the existence of God: I can conceive of a value which might be greater than the value of a human existence, but it is imaginary [to me, though not to you] and so it is not greater at all).

I don't know how that compares to Vincent's take, though.

* That is, while perhaps in your calculus of finite but positive times eternal life it is finite, since no human could possibly ever exhaust the range of human meaning, it is infinite for all I believe.

I am curious to hear your opinions on something Vincent mentioned in passing: Evolution is not about what's "good," it's about what survives.  Humans survive, but that's been disasterous for many other species.  Herpes survives, but we'd rather it didn't.  It's been argued that advanced hunter-gatherer societies had a higher standard of living than early agricultural societies.  But since agricultural societies had far higher population densities, they outcompeted hunter-gatherers.  (Whether hunter-gatherers really were better off doesn't matter as long as we agree that agriculture would have outcompeted them either way). This would be a case where a cultural factor had greater fitness to survive, but that property had nothing to do with its effect on human happiness.


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