Re: virus: An impassioned rant!

Nathaniel Hall (
Tue, 14 Oct 1997 09:18:28 -0600


Haphaestus wrote:

Nateman and I square off in a dusty alley:

        Humans often appear to be unthinking animals. Likewise, livestock
often appear to think (albeit in a different manner than do humans). If they
didn't, what function does their nervous system perform?

Sensory input and control. The controls for unthinking creatures is emotion. For people it can be thought which controls action but people  do have the option of acting like any other animal. (But I wouldn't recomend it!)

        This appears to be a way of justifying the "humans are not just
another animal" viewpoint. It is useful in certain contexts, but I find it
more effective to judge value based on context rather than species caste

Are you a vegaterian? If not you may find yourself eatting those words!

        These are literary terms...

Thanks for taking the time to write those definations. I'll try and remember them for the future

        "Humans are not just another animal," stated forcefully. I have seen
(and experienced) no reason to take up this meme...

Well I'm working on it! (Try sending an e-mail to your dog and see where it gets you!)
... I agree, there
are differences between a human being and, say, an amoeba. For one, we are
multicellular; for another, we nourish ourselves by different mechanisms.
But are human beings just "theoretical objects for observation?" No, no more
than is a microbe.
 In what context would you give a microbe more value than a person?

        Your last two sentences confused me a bit, but here's my stab at a
response: Yes, we have values primarily for the benefit of human beings, but
that is because (1) we are human beings, genetically, and (2) we have
survival as a basic drive. [There are circumstances in which this second
point does not apply, where suicide serves to better the social organism.
Ref. Bloom's _The Lucifer Principle_, Atlantic Monthly Press, 1996; several
chapters on this point, but I don't have my copy handy. Alas.] Yes, our
existence is conditional on our values -- but then I thought that was the
basis of memetics in the first place. I don't see how this relates directly
to any specific view of human life vs. other life (as a basic principle).

Yes we are human beings: That is why we value Human life. For animals the rule of law is simple: the law of the jungle. We can certainly treat animals the way they treat themselves. Should some animal ever establish a reasonable  rule of law then we should treat that animal likewise.

>It's more than just "mere" semantics. It's an effort on your part to reduce
>to the same status as a bug!

        On the whole, yes, I am. However, how I determine a bug's value is
different from how you do it. If, as some (Japanese?) scientists were
attempting, I had the opportunity to use an electrically-guided cockroach
with a small video camera to explore the inner workings of a malfunctioning
nuclear reactor, I would definitely value that bug more than I would a
nonproductive alcoholic in Sparta, WI.

Then again, I would value the developers of that technology more highly than I would the roach. In one sense, you're right: If I were forced, at gunpoint, to kill one of the three, I would kill the alcoholic. However, the values implied in that action do not relate to how I value humans as a whole compared to cockroaches as a whole.
So if that drunk went and smashed that "bug " you'd give him the dealth penality! At least you stand by your values but I think fining  the bum and throwing him in jail would be the proper response myself! (I hope I never damage any of your property : I may end up being termiNATEd!)


>>         Question: does consideration of an individual as "an end in and of
>> themselves" serve any practical purpose?

>Sure does! If the people of Germany in 1939 had believed that they were
"ends in and
>of themselves"  instead of the counter belief that they are merely objects
>purpose it is to serve the state do you think they would have let Hilter
come to
>power as he did?

        Yes. I think that they felt that they would benefit from the regime
-- and there was some proof to that effect in the economic conditions
accompanying the rise of the NSDAP.

If they truely believed that the individual was "end in an of themself" those "benefits" would not have mattered.They would have rejected Hitler on principle. You are saying they voted on the "pragmatism" (do whatever seems to work) set of beliefs, not on the belief I'm promoting.
N, cont.:
>If the Russian people had generally thought of themselves as
>individuals with soverign individual rights rather than mere units of
>whose duty it is to be consumed do you think the Russian people would have
>themselves to all those years of poverty and suffering under communism?

        Yes. They probably perceived themselves as being exploited under the
Whites, and thought that they would benefit under the Reds.

Again your equating "pragmatism" with "end in and of themself" .They are different, and by quite a bit I might add.
N, cont.:
>If  the
>fathers of the American Revolution had thought of themselves as the duty bound
>servants of somebody in power who claimed he spoke for God (Such as the King of
>England) rather than as individuals with inalienable rights do you think that
>America would be the shining beacon of hope in the world that it at least
>remains today. (I say partly because of the encrouching and deadening hand of
>socialism upon this fair nation!)

        I do think that the Founding Fathers had an abstract authority that
they functioned for: Freemasonry. The American Revolution, I think, was
inspired in a large part due to a "duty" to Freemasonic ideals ("ideals,"
not conspiracies).

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men arecreated equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness."
That sounds like the treatment of individuals as ends in and of themselves to me! (They threw in a little superstitious belief but the essense is the same). As for Freemasons, I don't know enough about them to pass judgement.

N, cont.:
>Far from being a trival item of little importance
>it is the substance of which history itself is determined!

        If you are referring to the valuation of a human being, I agree
(although I think that such valuations chance according to purpose and
circumstance, and you obviously don't). If instead you are referring to the
specific definition of a human being as "an end in and of themselves," I
disagree: I have seen no effects attributable to that meme other than the
rise of existentialism and nihilism.

See the above quote and then see if you still think that.
A literal interpretation of the meme
suggests that (1) I don't have to do anything unless I want to do it, and
(2) there is nothing which can dictate what I want to do except my own
To treat an individual as" end in of themself" implies the golden rule: Treat others as you'd have them treat you. You are an "end in and of yourself" but so is everybody else. (Rand put it this way: Judge and yourself be judged) It does imply that nobody has claims to your work and effort unless you have agreed to it however.
>> Where would psychology (or
>> memetics) fit in? What about self-development?

It fits in where you'd like it to. Afterall it's YOUR life and YOU
should should
be the boss of it. You are afterall "an end in and of yourself ! "The Nateman

        Perhaps you did not intend to evade this question, which was about
the mechanics of memetics, et. al. and how they related to the
self-determination that Rand's definition of "individual" suggests but does
not analyze. Unfortunately, your answer still appears to be an evasion. Try

I'm not an expert on memetics or psychology. I'm not qualified to give a better answer than the one I have.The Nateman