Less Than Human

13

Comments

  • lilbuddha wrote: »

    I am not a utilitarian.
    Your position regarding the disabled certainly seems so.
    [/quote]

    Well, it isn't. My interest is always on the individual and not what's best for the group which is the opposite of utilitarianism. I just don't regard the severely mentally disabled as individuals.

    For me it's always about individual freedoms and to have individual freedoms we have to remove social pressure to do one thing rather than another thing, with the proviso that we do not impede the freedoms of others while exercising our freedoms.

    The idea that there is a social expectation that someone would put their own life on hold indefinitely while they care for someone who has low or zero quality of life appals me.

    Bottom line is this: the current system failed my mother and sentenced her to six years she did not wish for.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    edited August 23
    You describe yourself as an atheist, but I feel you are making a God of intellect. We do not experience the world, ourselves, our sorrows and joys through reason alone.

    No we don't. But it is our ability to do so that makes us human.

    Nope.

    I’m sure my step-niece is perfectly able to reason, she just can’t communicate any of her thoughts.

    What makes us human is how we care for others. She can’t do that physically, but in her interactions she can show that love. Similar to those who have severe Downs - see the clip above with Frank Skinner. That child brought far more into the world than 1000 academic ‘reasoning’ people. He brought an example of how to love, how to bear no grudges and the ability to live happily in the moment. Priceless.

  • Boogie wrote: »

    No we don't. But it is our ability to do so that makes us human.

    Nope.

    I’m sure my step-niece is perfectly able to reason, she just can’t communicate any of her thoughts.

    What makes us human is how we care for others. She can’t do that physically, but in her interactions she can show that love. Similar to those who have severe Downs - see the clip above with Frank Skinner. That child brought far more into the world than 1000 academic ‘reasoning’ people. He brought an example of how to love, how to bear no grudges and the ability to live happily in the moment. Priceless.

    We don't agree. It is our ability to reason that makes us something other than the vast majority of non-human animals.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    We don’t need to be different from other animals. We just need to care for one another - and other animals! There is nothing else, in the final analysis, than love.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited August 23
    I just don't regard the severely mentally disabled as individuals.

    I don’t understand why you hold this view. I consider this view to be both uncivilised and evil, it appals me.
    The idea that there is a social expectation that someone would put their own life on hold indefinitely while they care for someone who has low or zero quality of life appals me.

    I would be interested to understand on what you are basing your estimate of quality of life - specifically why you feel that these people, whom you don’t regard as human, are subjectively experiencing a poor quality of life. Do you, for example, regard yourself as having a good quality of life if you experience happiness x% of the time ? Or do you regard quality of life as predicated on some subjective or objective measure ?
    Bottom line is this: the current system failed my mother and sentenced her to six years she did not wish for.

    At some point, your mother had some awareness of a change in herself, she did not kill herself. Most people who become disabled do not, even when they know they have a progressively deteriorating condition either physical or mental - whatever they may have answered if you asked them about it a decade beforehand.

    I am truly sorry for what your mother and her family have gone through, and are going through - I lived through this with members of my family too. However, I profoundly disagree with the sense you have made of it.

    So what, perhaps, it is not my mother, my life or my decision.

    The decision Mrs Beaky and her family have made to care for their child is to a large extent only possible because, and is dependent upon, wider society accepting his humanity, his worth, and therefore the need to maintain the resources and expertise necessary to support his care.

    Therefore what the majority of members of our society believe about this matters, beyond our personal circle, because it ultimately effects public policy and decision making.

  • Yes, I would see that child as less than human, however you and your family are free to make that commitment. I would see no point in doing so.

    Are you seriously implying that people like Ted Bundy or Jim Jones are more fully human than people with Downs Syndrome or brain injury, because they're more "intelligent"? Jesus H. Christ. You don't have to be religious, or believe people have souls, to see the problems with that.
  • MrsBeakyMrsBeaky Shipmate
    For the record I would like to clarify that "That child" survived when he was taken off the ventilator- he wasn't expected to breathe and our daughter and husband had said goodbye to him and were willing to let him go if that was what was going to happen.
    However against all the odds he did breathe independently and then woke up and responded. So they committed themselves to loving him and caring for him in his humanity.

    @Colin Smith I also find it somewhat odd that you chose to describe him as "That child" rather than writing "Yes, I would see your grandson as less than human...."
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Well, it isn't. My interest is always on the individual and not what's best for the group which is the opposite of utilitarianism. I just don't regard the severely mentally disabled as individuals.
    That is a cop out, especially, as I mentioned before, there is no clear line separating types of mental disability.
    For me it's always about individual freedoms and to have individual freedoms we have to remove social pressure to do one thing rather than another thing, with the proviso that we do not impede the freedoms of others while exercising our freedoms.
    No one in any society lives without impeding the freedoms of others.
    The idea that there is a social expectation that someone would put their own life on hold indefinitely while they care for someone who has low or zero quality of life appals me.
    This is a separate thing. And someone will be fucked if this is viewed as competitive rights, it does not need to be seen this way. However, I understand the feeling that one's life is in submission to the care of another.
    Bottom line is this: the current system failed my mother and sentenced her to six years she did not wish for.
    I do not know your mother or what she is going through. But I've watched one grandparent slowly deteriorate from age and other things, two friends go from intelligent, thoughtful people into confused children before they died and am currently witnessing another friend go through the same.
    I totally get the "That is not them any longer, I do not need to care anymore." I have felt it. I have had the "Everyone would be better off if they were dead." thoughts. Doesn't make it about them, though. Those thoughts were about me. Oh, it is easy and tempting to think about their "quality of life", and I try not to judge those who choose that. Doesn't change anything, though.

  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    I'm going to try another tack.

    Colin Smith, what sort of laws and what sort of enforcement of them would enable your view to be applied in practice in the UK?

    Otherwise, without some ideas about what a coherent social policy would look like, and how it might be applied, I think you're just shooting the breeze.
  • I usually hesitate to comment on threads like these because it’s too much of a busman’s holiday (Palliative care consultant in real life) but I’m disturbed by the equivalence given to withdrawing or withholding treatment and the idea of someone not being human.

    I am often involved in decisions to stop or not start treatment because someone has reached a point where their condition is such that either they, or those who are making decisions for them if they have lost capacity, feel that burdens are outweighing benefits. While those are never easy decisions, there is never any question that the person is fully human and is treated as such throughout. Legally, ethically, practically and compassionately.

  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Agreed. And that is my experience in dealing with health service professionals in the UK.
  • I find it unlikely that Colin is a healthcare professional.
  • edited August 24
    lilbuddha wrote: »

    I am not a utilitarian.
    Your position regarding the disabled certainly seems so.
    Well, it isn't. My interest is always on the individual and not what's best for the group which is the opposite of utilitarianism. I just don't regard the severely mentally disabled as individuals.

    For me it's always about individual freedoms and to have individual freedoms we have to remove social pressure to do one thing rather than another thing, with the proviso that we do not impede the freedoms of others while exercising our freedoms.

    The idea that there is a social expectation that someone would put their own life on hold indefinitely while they care for someone who has low or zero quality of life appals me.

    Bottom line is this: the current system failed my mother and sentenced her to six years she did not wish for.
    Who decides the line where you consider some worthy of life and others not?

    More importantly, you've introduced your personal family history and personal feelings as the reasons for your view. The saying "one swallow doesn't make a summer" applies. One personal experience is not something to base upon. It also seems transparent that you wish to justify yourself for your prior decisions re your mother. Many of us disagree about your view regarding anyone's mother.

  • Nihilist would be closer.
  • Boogie wrote: »
    We don’t need to be different from other animals. We just need to care for one another - and other animals! There is nothing else, in the final analysis, than love.

    In practise, that isn't how the world works. We kill members of many non-human species of animals because it is useful or convenient for us. Where is the love in that?
  • I just don't regard the severely mentally disabled as individuals.

    I don’t understand why you hold this view. I consider this view to be both uncivilised and evil, it appals me.
    The idea that there is a social expectation that someone would put their own life on hold indefinitely while they care for someone who has low or zero quality of life appals me.

    I would be interested to understand on what you are basing your estimate of quality of life - specifically why you feel that these people, whom you don’t regard as human, are subjectively experiencing a poor quality of life. Do you, for example, regard yourself as having a good quality of life if you experience happiness x% of the time ? Or do you regard quality of life as predicated on some subjective or objective measure ?
    Bottom line is this: the current system failed my mother and sentenced her to six years she did not wish for.

    At some point, your mother had some awareness of a change in herself, she did not kill herself. Most people who become disabled do not, even when they know they have a progressively deteriorating condition either physical or mental - whatever they may have answered if you asked them about it a decade beforehand.

    I am truly sorry for what your mother and her family have gone through, and are going through - I lived through this with members of my family too. However, I profoundly disagree with the sense you have made of it.

    So what, perhaps, it is not my mother, my life or my decision.

    The decision Mrs Beaky and her family have made to care for their child is to a large extent only possible because, and is dependent upon, wider society accepting his humanity, his worth, and therefore the need to maintain the resources and expertise necessary to support his care.

    Therefore what the majority of members of our society believe about this matters, beyond our personal circle, because it ultimately effects public policy and decision making.

    Quality of life for me is the ability to engage with the world and with everything in it with a reasonable level of intelligence.

    It's debatable whether my mother had that awareness. Unfortunately, she had 'previous' when it comes to being in denial concerning serious medical problems, nearly dying of aplastic anaemia some forty years ago, and during the time her symptoms began to get serious she was in complete denial that she was unwell. My main regret with her condition is that there was never an opportunity to discuss what she wanted.

    I must disagree with you regarding your penultimate paragraph.
  • MrsBeaky wrote: »
    Snip.

    @Colin Smith I also find it somewhat odd that you chose to describe him as "That child" rather than writing "Yes, I would see your grandson as less than human...."

    I had probably not made that connection.
  • Are you seriously implying that people like Ted Bundy or Jim Jones are more fully human than people with Downs Syndrome or brain injury, because they're more "intelligent"? Jesus H. Christ. You don't have to be religious, or believe people have souls, to see the problems with that.

    Unfortunately, yes.
  • MrsBeakyMrsBeaky Shipmate
    MrsBeaky wrote: »
    Snip.

    @Colin Smith I also find it somewhat odd that you chose to describe him as "That child" rather than writing "Yes, I would see your grandson as less than human...."

    I had probably not made that connection.

    I find this a bit odd too as in my first post I made it very clear that I was talking about my grandson.
    I did not for one moment expect you to change your stance on these matters but I did expect a level of honest human engagement!
  • Barnabas62 wrote: »
    I'm going to try another tack.

    Colin Smith, what sort of laws and what sort of enforcement of them would enable your view to be applied in practice in the UK?

    Otherwise, without some ideas about what a coherent social policy would look like, and how it might be applied, I think you're just shooting the breeze.

    Compulsory living wills in which people state what kind of care they wish to receive should they suffer from mental impairment through disease or illness to the point where they are no longer able to form an opinion regarding the nature of that care.

    Family members of a victim of severe mental impairment, advised by medical experts, should be free to decide whether that victim's care should continue or be withdrawn.

    Parents of those diagnosed with severe mental and/or physical abnormalities before birth should be strongly encouraged to abort.
  • Who decides the line where you consider some worthy of life and others not?

    More importantly, you've introduced your personal family history and personal feelings as the reasons for your view. The saying "one swallow doesn't make a summer" applies. One personal experience is not something to base upon. It also seems transparent that you wish to justify yourself for your prior decisions re your mother. Many of us disagree about your view regarding anyone's mother.

    Yes, to some degree I am justify my decisions regarding my mother. However, I didn't have an opinion on the care for those with severe mental impairment until I saw what it did to my mother.

    Re your first point, family members backed up by medical advice.
  • I find it unlikely that Colin is a healthcare professional.

    Last job in the world I would want to do.
  • MrsBeaky wrote: »
    MrsBeaky wrote: »
    Snip.

    @Colin Smith I also find it somewhat odd that you chose to describe him as "That child" rather than writing "Yes, I would see your grandson as less than human...."

    I had probably not made that connection.

    I find this a bit odd too as in my first post I made it very clear that I was talking about my grandson.
    I did not for one moment expect you to change your stance on these matters but I did expect a level of honest human engagement!

    I've reread your post, and yes it is clear that you were talking about your grandchild. As you might have noticed, I am not big on family relationships and assumed you were using your grandchild as an example of children in that situation. Hence I answered in the abstract rather than specifically regarding your grandchild.
  • MrsBeakyMrsBeaky Shipmate
    MrsBeaky wrote: »
    MrsBeaky wrote: »
    Snip.

    @Colin Smith I also find it somewhat odd that you chose to describe him as "That child" rather than writing "Yes, I would see your grandson as less than human...."

    I had probably not made that connection.

    I find this a bit odd too as in my first post I made it very clear that I was talking about my grandson.
    I did not for one moment expect you to change your stance on these matters but I did expect a level of honest human engagement!

    I've reread your post, and yes it is clear that you were talking about your grandchild. As you might have noticed, I am not big on family relationships and assumed you were using your grandchild as an example of children in that situation. Hence I answered in the abstract rather than specifically regarding your grandchild.

    Thank you for the clarification
  • MrsBeakyMrsBeaky Shipmate
    @Colin Smith I find these statements from two different posts you have made somewhat contradictory:
    "Family members of a victim of severe mental impairment, advised by medical experts, should be free to decide whether that victim's care should continue or be withdrawn."
    "As you might have noticed, I am not big on family relationships"

    Taking this away from you personally, it rings alarm bells for me about certain situations.
    How would you ensure that the relative of someone really had their best interests at heart if they were "not big" on family relationships?

    My own mother died this year. She had a DNR in place which she had initiated and we all honoured that request because we were truly for her wishes but I can think of other situations I know of where relatives were gagging to get their hands on the inheritance and as a consequence urging certain decisions to be made.

    IMO as with all ethical decisions consent is crucial. Without that consent we enter an ethical/ moral minefield.
  • MrsBeaky wrote: »
    @Colin Smith I find these statements from two different posts you have made somewhat contradictory:
    "Family members of a victim of severe mental impairment, advised by medical experts, should be free to decide whether that victim's care should continue or be withdrawn."
    "As you might have noticed, I am not big on family relationships"

    Taking this away from you personally, it rings alarm bells for me about certain situations.
    How would you ensure that the relative of someone really had their best interests at heart if they were "not big" on family relationships?

    My own mother died this year. She had a DNR in place which she had initiated and we all honoured that request because we were truly for her wishes but I can think of other situations I know of where relatives were gagging to get their hands on the inheritance and as a consequence urging certain decisions to be made.

    IMO as with all ethical decisions consent is crucial. Without that consent we enter an ethical/ moral minefield.

    Fair question. If medical opinion was that the victim still had a reasonable quality of life then the family members would not be able to authorise a withdrawal of care. I am in no way qualified to decide what a reasonable quality of life is, albeit I have strong opinions on the subject.

    Regarding consent, it cuts both ways. We may well be keeping victims alive without their consent.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    Boogie wrote: »
    We don’t need to be different from other animals. We just need to care for one another - and other animals! There is nothing else, in the final analysis, than love.

    In practise, that isn't how the world works. We kill members of many non-human species of animals because it is useful or convenient for us. Where is the love in that?

    There is no love in that.

    But we can’t base our behaviour on the worst things the human species does.

  • MrsBeakyMrsBeaky Shipmate
    MrsBeaky wrote: »
    @Colin Smith I find these statements from two different posts you have made somewhat contradictory:
    "Family members of a victim of severe mental impairment, advised by medical experts, should be free to decide whether that victim's care should continue or be withdrawn."
    "As you might have noticed, I am not big on family relationships"

    Taking this away from you personally, it rings alarm bells for me about certain situations.
    How would you ensure that the relative of someone really had their best interests at heart if they were "not big" on family relationships?

    My own mother died this year. She had a DNR in place which she had initiated and we all honoured that request because we were truly for her wishes but I can think of other situations I know of where relatives were gagging to get their hands on the inheritance and as a consequence urging certain decisions to be made.

    IMO as with all ethical decisions consent is crucial. Without that consent we enter an ethical/ moral minefield.

    Fair question. If medical opinion was that the victim still had a reasonable quality of life then the family members would not be able to authorise a withdrawal of care. I am in no way qualified to decide what a reasonable quality of life is, albeit I have strong opinions on the subject.

    Regarding consent, it cuts both ways. We may well be keeping victims alive without their consent.

    I agree this is certainly true in cases where people have made their position clear- this is why advanced directives are so important. My father had to fight to be allowed to die but thankfully in the end his wishes were honoured.
    It is far more muddied when no such directive is in place.
  • Boogie wrote: »
    Boogie wrote: »
    We don’t need to be different from other animals. We just need to care for one another - and other animals! There is nothing else, in the final analysis, than love.

    In practise, that isn't how the world works. We kill members of many non-human species of animals because it is useful or convenient for us. Where is the love in that?

    There is no love in that.

    But we can’t base our behaviour on the worst things the human species does.

    As a society we accept meat eating and the use of animal skin for shoes and clothing, along with killing vermin species. Many individuals draw the line at killing an animal only for its fur and some are vegetarian or vegan. I know quite a few who are veggies/vegan and I admire them while not wishing to be one. I would never willingly wear animal fur.

    So we need some quality to distinguish humans from most other animals because otherwise there is no rational reason to treat humans differently from those animals. We may out of self interest decide that we should treat humans differently from most other animals but that doesn't seem a reliable way of making a decision.

    I will kill bacteria without a thought. I will swat a fly if it refuses to be shooed out of a window. I will never use a lethal mousetrap. I will always stoop to pet a cat or dog.

    There is no rational basis for my behaviour and I'd hate for the whims of C Smith to be the basis of any moral code.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Boogie wrote: »
    Boogie wrote: »
    We don’t need to be different from other animals. We just need to care for one another - and other animals! There is nothing else, in the final analysis, than love.

    In practise, that isn't how the world works. We kill members of many non-human species of animals because it is useful or convenient for us. Where is the love in that?

    There is no love in that.

    But we can’t base our behaviour on the worst things the human species does.

    As a society we accept meat eating and the use of animal skin for shoes and clothing, along with killing vermin species.
    Because it is natural and, indeed, part of why we were able to become what we are.
    Conscious vegetarians and vegans, often make the determination that since we are capable of reasoning beyond the level of the rest of the animals, we can now change our behaviour beyond mere nature.
    So we need some quality to distinguish humans from most other animals because otherwise there is no rational reason to treat humans differently from those animals. We may out of self interest decide that we should treat humans differently from most other animals but that doesn't seem a reliable way of making a decision.
    I'm not certain there is an objective reason, beyond ecosystem preservation, to treat the average animal well. We do because of what makes us human.
  • Quality of life for me is the ability to engage with the world and with everything in it with a reasonable level of intelligence.

    @Colin Smith you must surely accept that the quality of life for someone in a concentration camp and someone in a holiday camp is different, for reasons unrelated to intelligence ?

    My impression that beyond your experience of your mother’s illness you have not known anyone with severe mental impairment, either congenital or acquired.

    You described your views as Nihilist, I am not very familiar with the philosophical perspective that implies - but it basically seems to say there is no point or meaning to anything, so a rational course of action is to prioritise your own interests entirely. I disagree (as I’m sure you have gathered) but I would also question whether pure egotism actually serves one’s own interest.

    There is pleasure to be had in the giving and receiving of love and compassion, also in seeing others achieve pleasure or skills as a result of an effort you have been part of.

    What do you see the point of a relationship with another person to be ?
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    Because it is natural and, indeed, part of why we were able to become what we are.
    Conscious vegetarians and vegans, often make the determination that since we are capable of reasoning beyond the level of the rest of the animals, we can now change our behaviour beyond mere nature.

    Arguing that we do x because it is 'natural' and we do y because we have the power to change our (alleged) natural behaviour doesn't get us very far. It is perfectly natural to abandon our offspring at birth because that's what many animals do. It is perfectly natural for one sibling to kill another to increase its own chances of survival because that's what some animals do. It would be perfectly natural for a step-father to kill its step-children because that's what some animals do. Saying "because it's natural" doesn't get us very far when a lot of natural behaviour is deeply unpalatable.

    lilbuddha wrote: »
    I'm not certain there is an objective reason, beyond ecosystem preservation, to treat the average animal well. We do because of what makes us human.

    But what is it that makes us human?


  • @Colin Smith you must surely accept that the quality of life for someone in a concentration camp and someone in a holiday camp is different, for reasons unrelated to intelligence ?

    My impression that beyond your experience of your mother’s illness you have not known anyone with severe mental impairment, either congenital or acquired.

    You described your views as Nihilist, I am not very familiar with the philosophical perspective that implies - but it basically seems to say there is no point or meaning to anything, so a rational course of action is to prioritise your own interests entirely. I disagree (as I’m sure you have gathered) but I would also question whether pure egotism actually serves one’s own interest.

    I was at error in saying I was a nihilist. The error arose because I was irritated at your wish to put me in a box. I have little interest in philosophy but from what I can gather I agree and disagree with some of what Singer has said and I agree and disagree with some elements of individualism and nihilism. My personal attitudes are based on self-interest.

    There is pleasure to be had in the giving and receiving of love and compassion, also in seeing others achieve pleasure or skills as a result of an effort you have been part of.

    What do you see the point of a relationship with another person to be ?

    Agree with the first para, which is why I run a writing group and partly why I have a couple of voluntary jobs.
    The point of a relationship with another person is in the receiving and the giving, particularly in "seeing others achieve pleasure or skills as a result of an effort you have been part of. " I am less interested in love and compassion and in particular do not believe the severely mentally disabled have anything to offer me,

  • ....I am less interested in love and compassion and in particular do not believe the severely mentally disabled have anything to offer me,

    For starters, they would offer you more love and compassion - in their own way - than you offer them.

    Life, intelligence, consciousness - these things are not binary categories. If you really want to define humanity by a unique characteristic, it's obviously mathematics. Yet we don't treat people who suck at math as less human ... no, they get a lot of compassion from other humans who suck at math.

  • For starters, they would offer you more love and compassion - in their own way - than you offer them.

    Life, intelligence, consciousness - these things are not binary categories. If you really want to define humanity by a unique characteristic, it's obviously mathematics. Yet we don't treat people who suck at math as less human ... no, they get a lot of compassion from other humans who suck at math.

    I am not interested in being loved by someone I look down on.

    I don't actually want to define humanity by a unique characteristic as I'm happy to accept that chimpanzees and other animals like them are effectively human. I am also happy to eat bacon. The question is where does one draw the line and by what measure.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    edited August 26

    For starters, they would offer you more love and compassion - in their own way - than you offer them.

    Life, intelligence, consciousness - these things are not binary categories. If you really want to define humanity by a unique characteristic, it's obviously mathematics. Yet we don't treat people who suck at math as less human ... no, they get a lot of compassion from other humans who suck at math.

    I am not interested in being loved by someone I look down on.

    I don't actually want to define humanity by a unique characteristic as I'm happy to accept that chimpanzees and other animals like them are effectively human. I am also happy to eat bacon. The question is where does one draw the line and by what measure.

    I hope I don’t look down on anyone.

    I am happy to eat bacon, so long as the pigs were raised and killed humanely. That’s where I draw the line, to treat everyone - animal and human - with kindness if at all possible.

  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate

    For starters, they would offer you more love and compassion - in their own way - than you offer them.

    Life, intelligence, consciousness - these things are not binary categories. If you really want to define humanity by a unique characteristic, it's obviously mathematics. Yet we don't treat people who suck at math as less human ... no, they get a lot of compassion from other humans who suck at math.

    I am not interested in being loved by someone I look down on.

    I don't actually want to define humanity by a unique characteristic as I'm happy to accept that chimpanzees and other animals like them are effectively human. I am also happy to eat bacon. The question is where does one draw the line and by what measure.
    To call chimpanzees human is both hubris and condescending, as if something must be like us to matter.
    And there is no perfect line. Our society eats pigs, but not dogs. Pigs are as smart as dogs.*

    *Though, intelligence is not linear. Which makes things more complicated.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus

    I am not interested in being loved by someone I look down on.

    I always reckoned I was smarter than our cat (most things above the level of a brick were) but I never felt any less pleased by her love.

    To be loved by any sentient entity is a gift to be received graciously. To love - and I mean to care about, wish good for, do what you can bring it about - is the best of us.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited August 26
    If one is going to chose one trait to define humanity, which is a largely foolish goal, I’d probably go with compassion over intelligence. Not all humans have the capacity, but evidence for compassion (rather than pair bonds or parent child relationships) in other species is quite sparse.
  • This is a very strange thread. Having been with several people I'm closely attached to in various life-threatening/life-ending medical and palliative situations, that a health care system does not look after the needs of those with incurable conditions, high pain, are burdensome on their families etc, should have nil to do with deciding that their life is not worth continuing.

    I find myself thinking that the case of CS's mother didn't have the supports that should be in place for the family and the individual members of the family. I know what it is like to be with someone on a daily basis who is suffering and who is a great burden to care for. I'm doing it right now, and have done it 3 times in the past. There isn't adequate support at all. And it costs money and personal well-being. Sometimes for years. I hold that life is not about happiness, pursuit of same, and neither is it about suffering. It's about deciding what is ethical and reasonable, attending to the suffering of others before your own and living by that. It also is not about how I might like my end of life to be. I might decide differently than I support others about. Don't know yet, not there.
  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    edited August 26
    If you really want to define humanity by a unique characteristic, it's obviously mathematics. Yet we don't treat people who suck at math as less human ... no, they get a lot of compassion from other humans who suck at math.

    Ummm...

    --BBC-Earth: "The animals that have evolved the ability to count".

    --" Dolphins May Be Math Geniuses: The brainy marine mammals could be far more skilled at math than was ever thought possible before." (Seeker)

    --"Math - In Animals?" (Helix)
    Recent studies are turning up mathematical abilities in many different species of animals. Chickens, bees, and of course monkeys have all shown promise in being able to deal with simple mathematical operations, like differentiating between numbers, counting, and summing. The animals are performing math linguistically like we do – they are not physically counting out objects or identifying numbers. Rather, it is some sort of innate ability constituting rough math.

    I'm curious as to why you think math is obviously the dividing line. If I may ask, is it something you are particularly good at and/or love?

    Thx.

  • Mathematics is much, much more than counting, adding, or subtracting. When a dolphin invents calculus or a chimp discovers the solution for all quadratic equations, call me.
  • HuiaHuia Shipmate
    Dolphins have much more interesting and fun things to do with their time than calculus. In fact I think the majority of human beings do too, if they have the imagination.
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    To call chimpanzees human is both hubris and condescending, as if something must be like us to matter.
    And there is no perfect line. Our society eats pigs, but not dogs. Pigs are as smart as dogs.*

    *Though, intelligence is not linear. Which makes things more complicated.

    I agree that caring for another animal species only in proportion to how much it resembles us is hubristic. I was trying to point out the absurdity of caring for some species and treating others as useful to our wants and needs and the difficulty of drawing any line anywhere.
  • Huia wrote: »
    Dolphins have much more interesting and fun things to do with their time than calculus. In fact I think the majority of human beings do too, if they have the imagination.

    Do you have any idea of how much imagination and creativity went into the mathematics that made it possible for you to diss math ON THE FUCKING INTERNET?

    Math underlies everything in our modern world. One doesn't have to like math or be good at it to appreciate the talents and contributions of the humans who do.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    To call chimpanzees human is both hubris and condescending, as if something must be like us to matter.
    And there is no perfect line. Our society eats pigs, but not dogs. Pigs are as smart as dogs.*

    *Though, intelligence is not linear. Which makes things more complicated.

    I agree that caring for another animal species only in proportion to how much it resembles us is hubristic. I was trying to point out the absurdity of caring for some species and treating others as useful to our wants and needs and the difficulty of drawing any line anywhere.

    I agree - the line is very hard to draw. But I would always try to draw it as far as possible down the line of sentient beings.

  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Huia wrote: »
    Dolphins have much more interesting and fun things to do with their time than calculus. In fact I think the majority of human beings do too, if they have the imagination.
    Maths can be beautiful and wondrous,* It is just a different way of seeing things.

    *Plodding and tedious as well. Maths is a tool, the beauty is in the use.
  • Vocabulary problem going on here. It really doesn't work to say "human" when what you really mean is "deserving" or "rational" or "a person" (whatever that means) or "sentient"...

    Human is a species.
  • Boogie wrote: »
    I’m sure my step-niece is perfectly able to reason, she just can’t communicate any of her thoughts.

    You say this line it’s a good thing, and for your niece it may be, but speaking personally I’d rather be completely unable to reason. It’s frustrating enough right now when I can’t get someone else to understand what seems so clear in my own mind, but the idea of being perfectly able to think, reason and understand but not to communicate anything is my idea of hell.

    If I’m in a PVS with no higher brain function at all then leave the machines on all you want - I won’t be there any more to care one way or another so do what makes you feel better. But if there’s any chance that I’m fully conscious but in a permanent locked in state where I can’t see, hear, move, speak or anything then for God’s sake pull the fucking plug and release me.
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