Author Topic: Philosophy Thread  (Read 1730 times)

Lord J Esq

  • Moon Stone J
  • Hero of Time (+5000)
  • *
  • Posts: 5463
  • ^_^ "Ayla teach at college level!!"
    • View Profile
Re: Philosophy Thread
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2011, 07:19:53 am »
Here's a premise...

A human being enjoys two measures of objective value. The first is the value of belonging to the human species, by which we possess by virtue of our existence all those traits which we share in common, and upon which we justify the crucial human rights. The second is the value of our personhood, which we possess individually and only upon earning that value through our thoughts, words, and deeds. This second form of value, because it must be earned, exists varyingly or not at all between individuals.

It's not a particularly novel premise. Societies past and present use some version of this in organizing their laws and developing their social mores. The most innovative part is that I insist upon individual evaluation and not the categorization of people according to an undescriptively broad group, while at the same time I implicate an essential worthlessness in those who fail to earn significant value as individuals. Usually, a culture will uphold just one of these components. You don't often see both together.

My explorations of humanity, here and elsewhere, have led me over the years to the conclusion that it is better to treat stunted people (of little worth) like children, slowly encouraging and challenging them to improve upon themselves but protecting them from the full exposure to reality, and likewise to treat completely failed people (of no worth) like highly privileged pets, with kindness and a sense of responsibility, not driving them toward improvement and not holding them responsible for their shortcomings on the understanding that they possess no entity to accept such a burden.

I am continually too egalitarian for my own good, and for the good of others. I hold the door to greatness open for most people, or perhaps it is better to say that I point them in its direction, on the true but misguided conviction that most people are capable of achieving excellence. I do so at the expense of ignoring the fact that most people, in the present moment, possess little or none of that excellence and could not possibly cross through that door in that time. Holding people up to standards they will not meet only ends up aggravating everybody.

It's condescending to frame any human being as a child, let alone a pet, but there is no dishonesty in treating people in accordance with what they have chosen to become. I cannot help but reflect on what a positive impact I have had on some people, and what a poisonous affect I have had on others, without failing to come to the conclusion that the people whom I have affected for better were already in possession of something essential to the achievement of individual worth. In other words, I may not be as persuasive as I have sometimes fancied myself to be. I may just be good at arousing curiosity in the curious, ambition in the ambitious, passion in the passionate, intelligence in the intelligent, criticism in the critical, humanism in the humanistic, and so forth. A lot of the rest is heat and friction against people who rebel at the very ingredients of human excellence. I don't need to be lighting quite so many fires.

I see this as a higher truth than the one I previously held. My egalitarian regard for all humanity is so much wishful thinking, in which I persisted because I am a humble person who does not presume to know much about people whom I have never met. But, having met what many people I have, I think it is time, with regard to the people who I do meet, to judge them more honestly and less wishfully. My only regret is that I know that of the people who are destroyed in their pursuit of achieving great worth are destroyed not by inner conflicts, but by external ones, and bear no responsibility for the magnitude of the failure thrust upon them. That is a great injustice, and one I shall continue to strive to end.

But in the meantime I can't bring the dead back to life...

I haven't met anyone on the Compendium whom I could judge to be a totally failed person (which I point out because I know some of you will otherwise be tempted to mistake this heartfelt revelation for some bullshit guttersniping directed at tushantin), mainly because I haven't learned enough about anyone here to confidently make that judgment. (I have met a few of you in person, though, most of whom have turned out to be some outstanding people.) On the other hand, there are only a few who have ever logged into these hallowed halls whom I have admired for their glittering and overwhelmingly obvious human excellence purely based on these forum posts. There are those for whom I have high expectations, and those for whom I fear the worst, and of course there is tush whom we all know doesn't fare well in my personal assessment...but mostly there are the mediocre ones...the people I barely notice and care little about. Perhaps some of them would turn out to be excellent if I got to know them better. I certainly wouldn't blind myself by my own bias of perspective against that inevitability. But, at the same time, I have gotten to know enough people in real life to understand that, even though deep down most people are decent within their limited ability to conceive of decency, and certainly most people are social and care for their family members and tribesmates as a legacy of our animal heritage of sociability, a whole bunch of people are just boring, or jerks, or boring jerks...who possess so little sapient elegance that I have pitied them sincerely, for years, and will probably continue to do so until all the pity runs out. I don't doubt that many people here are like that, even though I don't know of it, if only because the statistics demand it.

What this all means is that I shall now strive to be more diligent in reserving certain displays of honor and respect for those people who have explicitly earned it, not here at the Compendium per se so much as everywhere in the world including the Compendium. I shall also not assume excellence of a person when I have no indication of its presence. I suspect that few of you will notice any changes, except that I might be a little kinder on the whole.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2011, 07:21:32 am by Lord J Esq »