Re: virus: An impassioned rant!

Haphaestus (
Thu, 16 Oct 1997 10:30:31 -0500 (CDT)

The Nateman and I reach round two...

[A message from our sponsors: Could you stop sending your posts in RTF,
Nateman? My mailer at the University can't handle them, and it takes me
longer to edit the post to clarity than to actually write it. Thanks in

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!)

Are you referring to emotion as a neurochemical / endiocrinal
phenomenon? What about the use of the nervous system as a rapid simulator
for real-world phenomena (ref. _Energy and the Evolution of Life_, R. Fox
and yes, it is hard-core science)? I consider that thought, albeit not of
the formal and conscious variety.
Sometimes animals treat there own better than humans do. Ex.:
squirrels. Ever see how one squirrel will pair up with another who has
become partially blind and act as its guide?

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 systems.

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

No, I'm a proud and voracious carnivore, and when I eat, I value
human beings more than I do animals. Context, remember? However, I would
result to cannibalism if it became necessary; I just don't see that the
conditions requiring that adaptation would be anything other than
exraordinarily severe.

"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!)

Of course it wouldn't get anywhere. I don't own a dog.

... 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?

Biological warfare. Bio- and nanotechnology. Vaccinations. Getting
research grants.

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.

Regarding the law of the jungle: two words: Thomas Hobbes.
What relationship at all does self-treatment have to the treatment
of those who are being observed? If a person is engaging in self-mutilation,
I assume that you would not use that as a justification for stabbing them.
Likewise, if a species or society establishes a "reasonable rule of law,"
that does not mean that it will treat us well and that we should abide by
it. Example: the Hindu caste system. It was certainly reasonable from the
Aryans' point of view.

On the whole, yes, I am [trying to reduce human status to that of bugs].
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!)

Nice pun, but what with this Prince of Darkness thing (and for the
movie appeal), don't you think that termiNATEor would be better?
No, I wouldn't kill the drunk for smashing the bug. I would fine
him. Context, Nate.

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

N, after a long <snip> on the NSDAP and CCCP, topping off with a dose of the
Founding Fathers:
"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.

Great document. Read it numerous times myself. However, it says
nothing about the ends to which a person is to be applied or is obligated
to. Remember: indentured servitude was also practiced by these authors, and
then there is their attitudes toward the natives to consider.
Interestingly, that appears in the Declaration but not in the

N, after another <snip> regarding the nihilistic / existential effects of
the "ends in and of themselves" meme:
See the above quote and then see if you still think that.

Yes, I still do. See my response.


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.

No, it doesn't imply the golden rule, although it works
synergistically with it. It prevents the activation of anti-exploitation
memes. I agree, though, that it does imply the second principle in a limited
form: that noone has a natural claim to anyone else's body, productivity,
etc. It refutes inborn servitude. This is more of a metaphysical matter than
a social one, though.


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