Human condition

Discussion in 'SHH Community Forum' started by Thundercrack85, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. Thundercrack85 Registered

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    Have noticed a lack of philosophical threads on this forum.

    So, I'm curious, what do people here think, about the human condition?

    Personally I'm unsure if humans are fundamentally evil or fundamentally stupid. Perhaps a good mixture of both?
     
  2. Doctor Evo Registered

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    "Evil" and "stupid" imply an absolute scale of morality and intelligence. I don't believe that either exists. I believe that human behavior is the result of evolutionary history and social conditioning, and is far too complicated to explain and/or describe in any succinct or objective fashion.
     
  3. Thundercrack85 Registered

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    Well, beneath every human's "civilized" exterior lies a vicious animal. And beneath that lies a scared, stupid animal.

    I do believe in an absolute scale of morality though.
     
  4. Doctor Evo Registered

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    Define "civilized" and define "stupid."

    Based on what? How are you defining "absolute?"
     
  5. Thundercrack85 Registered

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    Well there's a reason most humans resent being called "apes". They fancy themselves as something more "civilized".

    As for stupid, well, your average human is rather thoughtless. Oblivious might be a better term. What limited thinking capacity they have generally goes out the window when they're angered or stressed.

    As for morality, based on the fact that all cultures have independently agreed that things like "murder" and "theft" are fundamentally wrong, it does seem that we have some sort of universal innate morality. We needed that to get this far.
     
  6. enterthemadness The Triumvirate

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    Humans made nukes....so we are evil and stupid at the same time...

    But we also have done good crap too, but now I am heading to bed.


    Also, we evolved outta apes. :wow:.
     
  7. Doctor Evo Registered

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    That doesn't really help to clarify what you mean.

    You're still being awfully vague. We can't arrive at any meaningful conclusions at this level of communication.

    What makes that absolute? How does that help us to define "evil?" How do we define "evil?"
     
  8. Thundercrack85 Registered

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    Sort of an ironic outcome, really. The most intelligent animals on the planet are the only ones dumb enough to intentionally destroy themselves.

    And we are apes, still.
     
  9. Thundercrack85 Registered

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    Ah absolute, never mind. I meant universalism. Been a while since I went through a philosophy textbook.

    As for being vague, I really don't know how to make it any more plain. Let me phrase it this way, humans seem to go through great pains to try to be something they are not. Most in fact are in denial about their true nature (though that's more for the evolution thread).
     
  10. Anita18 DANCE FOR ME, FUNNY MAN!

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    I think we're all social, deep down. We evolved as social animals and in times of panic and crisis, we will stick together.

    After all, we're pretty weak physically and individually would be easily taken down by the average dog. :oldrazz: The only reason why we have taken over the earth is because we worked together.

    At the same time, we make our biggest mistakes when we stick together....against another group of humans. :o
     
  11. Thundercrack85 Registered

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    Well that, and we have awesome endurance (something most humans don't appreciate).

    Though the thing about coming together, against another group, that will likely be our downfall.
     
  12. Doctor Evo Registered

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    It seems rather incongruous to claim that these tenets and standards are universal among humans and simultaneously claim that the human condition is largely (if not entirely) characterized by deviations from these societal and behavioral norms.

    When you say, "stupid," what is your measure of intelligence? You say that the average human is stupid and/or thoughtless, but if that is the average, then to which standard are we making the comparison?

    With respect to the comment on civility, I'm just asking for a more precise definition than, "what people think - or would like to think - they are compared to other apes."
     
  13. Thundercrack85 Registered

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    No, I think humans have some fundamental universal "morals", but that they can be corrupted. Or manipulated. By circumstance, or other people.

    I suppose the real issue is why if humans are fundamentally good that the world is such a terrible place. I'm leaning towards humans being fundamentally stupid.

    But perhaps stupid is the wrong word. Incompetent is perhaps a better word? Or perhaps it's disinterest. Procrastination? Humans are fully aware of the fact that they are actively destroying their own habitat, but the vast majority simply do not seem to care. They take no action. This is simply illogical. If it is not incompetence, I don't know what else you what call it.

    As for civility, I'm not really sure what it is (in this context). Humans just like to think of themselves as being separate from other animals. Some sort of superiority complex.
     
    #13 Thundercrack85, Oct 30, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2012
  14. redhawk23 Wrestlin'

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    I don't know about "fundamentally stupid" but early on in our social development we faced certain problems and came up with ways of addressing them. Food source too rough to chew? Cook it with fire. Conflict between groups? Kill them, or die trying. Despite the problems violence causes, in many respects it has been a potent method and became firmly established in human societies. Even if some groups didn't want to practice violence, they faced the threat of violence for others and the most tangible solution was to prepare to enact violence themselves. As Margaret Mead put it best, if a society has the concept of war and holds it as a possible response for a certain set of criteria, when met with those criteria, they are likely to go to war. Societies without that concept, that don't hold war as a useful response to their problems don't have war. Among the inuits for instance, while they do have some ritualized violence between individuals, killing is rare and they do not have war.

    War is useful, particularly for many of the people in power, it is also profitable, again for the elite. It is a long established pattern of behavior that has been passed down from one generation to the next in many different societies. There are cultural pressures and supports for its practice. But we must remember that there is nothing about it that is necessarily natural. It is an invention, a developed and constructed behavior. We still have the ability to develop new solutions to conflict and in many respects we have, but we do not yet hold war as obsolete.

    Personally I believe, that whatever the cultural pressures and admittedly myopic tendencies when under the stress of the moment, that it is our capacity for agency in determining our actions, both as individuals and in groups that is best described as the 'human condition.'
     
  15. Anita18 DANCE FOR ME, FUNNY MAN!

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    Yeah well, if there are no more issues finding food and fleeing animals that will eat you, we'll make up our own problems. :o

    As for us destroying the earth, I'm sure most people cutting down the rainforest or fracking for oil aren't doing it because they hate the earth. They feel they have to do it because we need wood/land and oil. And we need it now, whereas surely we can figure out how to save the world later. :o Like most things humans disagree on, it's a matter of priorities.
     
  16. Thundercrack85 Registered

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    Well said. Though that essentially makes humans amoral, oppurtunistic chameleons, who will resort to anything to survive.

    Under good conditions, they will behave what we today would call "morally", under bad, they would do anything.

    That's rather disturbing.
     
  17. Thundercrack85 Registered

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    Well the latter takes us into greed. The reason we have energy crisis isn't because of limited supplies. Not generally anyway. It's because this species is run by a bunch of psychopaths who horde resources.

    If there's any truth to the Gaia Hypothesis (literal or metaphorical), humans are essentially parasites.

    Can't say I'm crazy about that, but it's an inescapable truth.
     
  18. Anita18 DANCE FOR ME, FUNNY MAN!

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    I think humans would still band together to do good or bad. True loners are very very rare. There's a reason why most of the major crimes we can think of are mainly committed by groups of people. Gang warfare, genocide...a mere serial killer can't do that on his own.

    It's a culture problem, really, and a cycle of violence because if that's what you grow up with, that's what you accept in life. But no, I don't believe that humans are amoral, opportunistic chameleons who will resort to ANYTHING. Because that implies that it's every man for himself, and a single person usually feels very very vulnerable when they're on their own. People band together, for better or worse.
     
  19. Thundercrack85 Registered

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    A family that kills together stays together.

    But I figure that goes back to our fundamental nature of needing to reproduce, and all the stuff that comes with that (the basic family unit, limited altruism).

    This species, gotta love it. I'm sure some aliens find us fascinating. In a sort of horrible way.
     
  20. Hobgoblin Veritas veritatum

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    Human beings are very adaptable, which is why we have been successful as a species and have created such a wide variety of cultures across the world. We have been able to live in deserts, jungles and frozen tundras. To do this, we needed to be flexible in our thinking and actions.

    Each ethnic/racial/tribal/what have you group made up their own rules and laws over the years and they have been successful, other wise that culture would have died out or the rules would have been discarded. People tend to like structure and dislike change. They also like to be comfortable. Life in nature is pretty darn uncomfortable, so individual humans made their personal comfort a top priority. (Even in the Bible, after Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Paradise and were forced to labor.) If my comfort and survival comes at the expense of another person, so be it.

    Naturally, a person (a somewhat compassionate one anyway) doesnt want to hurt their loved ones or the people close to them. Its much better to take advantage of someone you have no connection to. Look at the Aztecs and their "Flower Wars." To keep the gods happy, they practiced human sacrifice. Not their own people, the surrounding tribes. (Yes I know, the Aztecs did use blood letting on themselves, but not an entire sacrifice.) Those "other people" were ok to sacrifice to the gods, because they werent the Aztecs personal friends. They dressed funny, ate different things, spoke a different way anyway. Plus, after that tribe was wiped out, you could take their land. War became a virtue.

    This kind of thinking prevails in humanity because it worked. And worked for a very long time. Society moved and changed because of war. Copper swords were replaced with bronze because it gave an advantage in war. Walls were built around cities to keep out invaders. Dead bodies contaminated with plague were then tossed over those walls to wipe out the enemy village. For every advancement one group made, another group found a way to circumvent it and so it went.

    These wars were carried out for a number of reasons, ranging from necessity to hate to a desire to conquer. As I said before, these things havent changed because they work. We've just gotten better at carrying these practices out. We are still using germ warfare, but with much better methods than the old "toss the corpse over the village wall" tactic. Our ingenuity is our strength and our weakness.

    Humans are brilliant and adaptable, which is what has made us the top species on earth. It also makes us unpredictable. Mistrust of outsiders, sometimes a rational response and sometimes not, is so deeply embedded in the human psyche that we taker it for granted. Its in our biology, culture and history. The world has gotten smaller but its happened too quickly for our minds to adapt to it. Again, our intelligence betrays us.

    Maybe we are starting to see that a radical change in thinking needs to occur, but I dont know if it is being realized by enough people at a fast enough rate. The world keeps getting more and more interconnected but we arent adapting fast enough. Working together, humanity could be great. But we only do that against a shared, common threat...usually other humans. "Concepty" things like global warming or the need to expand into space dont grab our minds like the threat of the people in another country does. That's what has worked for us thus far.

    United we stand...
     
  21. Doctor Evo Registered

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    You say they can be corrupted, but in your opening post you seem to imply that the human condition is characterized by this corruption, generally, which in turn implies that the corruption is the norm. Do you see where I'm going with this?

    Is the world that terrible? Terrible by what measure?

    I would say it has more to do with ignorance, personally, and an inherent obsession with self-interest. If you can't make a case for why changing their behavior will benefit them personally, that change will likely not occur. With respect to the environment, most people simply don't know how their actions can ultimately bite them in the ass. This obsession with self-interest also makes it difficult for them to care about generations in the distant future.
     
  22. The Guard Registered

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    Personally, I think it's a bit silly to try to label humanity one thing, or to label the actions of humanity one thing.

    Humans are capable of great good and great evil, and good and evil are somewhat relative.

    There are multiple truths about many things in life. There isn't any one truth about any of this.
     
  23. redhawk23 Wrestlin'

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    Pretty much all life fights for survival. Our intellect though provides us with a wide assortment of potential adaptations as we think of solutions to our problems whether that be physical, literal tools, or the utility of the social relations we construct. We do however have a tendency to ignore the externalities of our actions: We might feed huge numbers of people, but we harm the environment doing so. We might achieve social stability, but often at the expense of women's liberty. We might communicate more and faster than ever before, but it is at the expense of other kinds of interaction. We fought off many diseases, but now have to support an aging population. The list goes on.

    Cultural invention also plays heavily in what we describe as moral. In modern America we don't think twice about wasting millions of pounds of food per day. Under different circumstances, such actions might be considered serious offenses.
     
    #23 redhawk23, Oct 30, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2012
  24. redhawk23 Wrestlin'

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    No more than any other living thing that draws on the earth's resources for survival.

    Its just a matter that we have managed to remove many of the checks to our expansion. We have no natural predators and have fought off many diseases.

    Its just a further exacerbated version of the over abundance of white tailed deer, that that is also due to our actions, removing their natural predators.
     
  25. Anita18 DANCE FOR ME, FUNNY MAN!

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    We Asians do. :argh: I'm known to eat week-old leftovers. It's still good if it doesn't smell weird!
     

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