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dajaffaman t1_jdr01zn wrote

"What flying and hunting are for the eagle, reflection and morality are for humans."

All, some, or just people who are interested in philosophy?


N0_IDEA5 t1_jdr1xeq wrote

They want it to apply for all people, most ancient western philosophers thought what separates all people from animals is our capacity for rational thinking.


Starlit-Tortoise t1_jdulvwl wrote

Is it not?


N0_IDEA5 t1_jdusge6 wrote

Depends who you’d ask. Some say there are other animals that are able to rationally think, typical the example given is crows or chimpanzees. Other people don’t like the idea as that would somewhat dehumanize people with mental disabilities who are unable to rationally think at times.


Kaarsty t1_jdv3hto wrote

You raise an interesting point and some don’t like the idea that animals are rational thinkers like we are because we use it to justify so much of our animalistic behavior. AI though, will force us to ask those questions and in rapid fashion. By demonstrating that we’re not “special” in our ability to think (machines can do it - not now - but soon) we will call into question our own existence and ideologies. Crazy time to be alive.


N0_IDEA5 t1_jdv6kg2 wrote

Now your getting into the Phil of mind (my bread and butter) I will say I don’t necessarily think AI will bring the question of animal intelligence much more into light than it already is. What I typically hear as a rationale for AI intelligence over animal intelligence is that because we created it, it can have equal to our intelligence. I could see it bringing the question of animal intelligence a bit more into the discussion, but honestly I think it’s already is pretty prominent in the discussion.


MrCW64 t1_jdunes6 wrote


The defining characteristic of a human being when compared to animal life is the ability to self reflect. To ponder the nature of the self, and its purpose.

Animals can not do this.

The eagle is for flying and hunting

The human is for self realization


Shield_Lyger t1_jdr40x8 wrote

This article starts out shaky for me, and never really finds its footing. Consider the following passages:

> On one level, we can ask whether human life is valuable in the sense of having inviolable moral status: life is worth living always and unconditionally.


> One may believe that terminally ill patients ought to stay alive and yet maintain – without inconsistency – that their life is not worth living for them.

An obligation to life, whether one understands that as lives ought not be taken by others for any reason, that everyone alive has an affirmative duty to maintain their lives regardless of their circumstances or both, has nothing to do with whether a life is worth living. It's trivially easy to have an obligation to some task that is broadly, or even unanimously, understood as valueless.

If the claim that...

> If your character and intellect are irreparably corrupt, you should hasten to exit life no matter what other goods, including bodily health, you may happen to enjoy. The reason is not that you do not deserve to live, from the legal or moral point of view, but that such living is bad for you – whether you are aware of it or not. to be evaluated, any idea of life having some "inviolable moral status" must be moot. Not in the sense that it's potentially wrong, but in that is irrelevant. Because whether one believes that this status renders "life is worth living always and unconditionally" or simply that it must always be lived worthwhile or not, then what is the point of examining whether it is in fact, worthwhile, if the answer to the question cannot or need not be acted upon?

If a philosopher concludes that someone's isn't worth living because it blatantly betrays their station in society and the Universe at large, what next? If the person disagrees, the philosopher is free to decree that they pity the person all the more for being somehow "not aware of their misery". But what good does that do? (Although there are some definitions of meaning that posit understanding the self to be better than others plays a role.) If the person agrees, and seeks to end their life, life's inviolable moral status prevents them for having a socially-sanctioned means of doing so. (And should they do so anyway, and the philosopher's involvement is learned of, they will likely have a lawsuit on their hands.) Because of this it's understood that should the person simply tell the philosopher to "get bent," the philosopher has no recourse. So the invocation of life's infinite value due to its "inviolable moral status," and further discussion of same, is a digression that adds nothing to the piece.

Devoting those portions of the article to laying out (and perhaps making the case for) how Mr. Machek believes "the ancient philosophers" would have defined a given person's "station in society and the Universe at large" (and/or how Mr. Machek believes modern people should define them) would have been more useful. Those criteria must relate to the individual in question (or their circumstances), or the second half of the title: "For the ancients, it depends" is inaccurate.

I think this would have been especially useful in the sense that a human has a station in "the Universe at large," given how debatable a point that is. As far as many people are concerned, any given, or even all, human life is absolutely irrelevant in the Universe at large. If the argument here is that this viewpoint is fundamentally unsound to the point that it can render one's life not worth living for holding it, direct support for that, even in brief would have enhanced the article.


NEWaytheWIND t1_jdsd47y wrote

The article is an okay survey of three ancient contemplations:

  • Whether life is unconditionally worthwhile, duty-bound or otherwise
  • Whether life is conditionally worthwhile
  • Whether life is an unworthy pursuit/is (per some read-in nihilism) "ultimately" meaningless

In that way it's a totally sufficient pop-philospphy article. These articles are easy reading for those cursorily interested in the classical problems. I would have preferred reading the more ambitious divergence you suggested, for sure.


N0_IDEA5 t1_jdqskcm wrote

Always nice to hear what the ancient philosopher thought. The idea that a human worth living is one that can fulfill its function is an interesting one. I appreciate its avoidance of the extremes on either side of the argument but I don’t think it’s quite enough as it could exclude the disabled from having a life worth living.


DrNickMawani t1_jdr3dg3 wrote

Disability spawns adjusted arguments about the matter because the life value criteria changes depending on the disability and the individual perception of limitations experienced.


surfmoss t1_jdtmp3t wrote

I recently went to a homeless shelter to drop off clothes. A guy in a wheelchair was employed there. It seems like he was helping others despite his limitations that I perceived.


MrCW64 t1_jduri3x wrote

No it doesn't. All life is valuable.


MrCW64 t1_jdur9ac wrote

You're assuming that the function of that humans life is being limited by their disability.

e.g. can you really appreciate the need for compassion in life if you've never experienced the need for it yourself?


N0_IDEA5 t1_jduszv4 wrote

Yes that would more or less be the assumption. The function that was likely being referred to in the article was rational thinking. And some people with mental disabilities are impaired or sometimes unable to rational think, and likely they would say that it is not a life worth living. For me I feels that is incorrect, however I do know this idea of there theory is to exclude certain people from having a life worth living, so maybe that exclusion is ideal for them. Or maybe they can just set the bar of rational thinking super low and include these mental disabled as fulfilling there function.


DDWingert t1_jdrmuxq wrote

I read most of the article, not too deeply, and found myself wondering: IS this what the ancients thought, or is it the blogger's interpretation of what the ancients thought?

I've read a bit of Plato's works, through which I was introduced to Socrates, and I've dabbled in the Stoics, among others. Not a philosopher at heart, my soul argues against most of what's written about the meaning of life.

My life means something to me, and could just as easily mean something else to another observer. My opinion is all that matters, to my way of thinking.

We each live in this silo of our own making, and we act in accordance with our biorhythms, and external stimuli. We do not have the option of straying far from the path our feet take us over. Our life is experiential and we rarely get to choose our experiences.


ASpiralKnight t1_jdt0kel wrote

Is the strictest manner of speaking no one can have certainty of the thoughts of others without reading their minds.

Socrates through Plato is as close as one can get, given his own lack of writing. That too suffers language and other barriers.

I don't personally see history of philosophy as primarily deriving value through perfectly accurate accounts of beliefs, but rather though exposing the range of rationals and justifications previously explored, for the benefit of ones own philosophical evaluations (or amusement).

Consider for example how early members of the academy had little consideration of the possibility of the lack of a free will, because the topics has little exposure and exploration at the time. Their writing might therefore sound less compelling to you than later philosophers.

Of course the stoics were determinists, but also compatibilists who emphasize the importance of choice.


DDWingert t1_jdtifz6 wrote

Thank you for your thoughtful reply, but honestly, I don't have any idea what you've said.


DDWingert t1_jdwso0b wrote

After re-reading this, I get it. Thanks. :)


dolphin37 t1_jdt3i81 wrote

I’m sure you would have a view on how your life should interact with other lives. I think that’s the crux of the issue here. In a world with an array of interacting life, some kind of hierarchy is inevitably created. It’s perfectly fine to say your own value of your own life is all that matters to you, but there is more going on and it’s just whether you choose to make an attempt to define some standards in that space or whether you just leave it to the individual in every case. The result could be a pedophiles life is worth living because it means something to them, which is a legitimate outcome but might have some objections!

To your first question though, it’s definitely the interpretation of the reader. As with anything, a lot of translation and interpretation has to happen. Even if you asked the men themselves, they may give you a different response at a different stage in life. It’s rare we settle on something forever!


DDWingert t1_jdtjd8i wrote

>I’m sure you would have a view on how your life should interact with other lives. I think that’s the crux of the issue here.

"I’m sure you would have a view on how your life should interact with other lives. I think that’s the crux of the issue here."

Actually, no. I do not have a view on how my life should react to others'. The point, as I understand it is, as whether the ancients thought "a self-examined life is worth living." My answer did not agree. It is not the act of self-examination that gives our life meaning.


dolphin37 t1_jdtok3x wrote

Hmm well you said it means something to you and your opinion is all that matters, which isn’t a disagreement to self-examination. It’s actually in the path to agreement. Disregarding that, you’re now saying you have no view on interaction with other lives. So to you murdering somebody would be the same as helping somebody? If I assume the answer is that there is a difference, you are assigning a value to other lives and it’s a natural step to say that taking a life would be a bad use of life. It’s then a natural step to discourage that bad use of life, as it has a negative affect on life overall

Like I said it’s fine to take different views such as value not being dependent on self examination. But I don’t think it adds up to say we just live in an option-less silo. It seems to quite evidently not be the case


EasternArm2352 t1_jdu9fb7 wrote

You can murder to help someone. Assault victims for example. They aren't mutually exclusive


MrCW64 t1_jduqr1j wrote

> you’re now saying you have no view on interaction with other lives. So to you murdering somebody would be the same as helping somebody?

No. You are taking it out of context. You omitted the word "how"

The point that was being made is that there is no preconceived idea. Not that nothing matters.


dolphin37 t1_jdus2dv wrote

Can you explain why you think that makes any difference?


MrCW64 t1_jdupsao wrote

There is only one choice. From that choice alone the illusion of freewill is born out.

Consider a simple thing like visiting an ice cream vendor and picking a flavour of ice cream. Are you actually making a free choice? Or are you in reality merely reacting in accordance to the sum of all your experiences to date? E.g. did you pick vanilla because that was what your mother always gave you? Or rum raisin because you haven't tried it yet, and your father rigorously impressed upon you the importance of trying new things? Or are you standing there lost in a daydream about the philosophical implications of the ability to be able to choose or not because of some comment you read on reddit that one time? Or are you simply unfortunate to be born in world that has mundane trivialities like choices of ice cream when you could have been lost in the endless bliss of pure love of God?

The thing about philosophy is, it doesn't tend to get you anywhere. You can speculate endlessly about anything, often with very good rational arguments that set a coherent and complete system of thought. But if it isn't grounded in reality it remains only speculation and thought. Real knowledge is realized from experience.


Frozenlime t1_jdsoujy wrote

The point of life is to try to enjoy it as much as you can before you die.


MrCW64 t1_jduqypk wrote

That is the point of animal life. Not human life. The point of human life is self realization


Frozenlime t1_jdur66w wrote

I disagree, enjoying life is the most sensible purpose of life, they are not however, mutually exclusive.


DarthBigD t1_jdqogdn wrote

Thanks for the report


FlounderOdd7234 t1_jdqu7q9 wrote

Interesting article. We are here for such a short time, hopefully we did some good along that path


iamlikewater t1_jdrk84b wrote

You can read about the lives and words of these philosophers. The meaning of being alive is being alive.

What is the meaning? You define this by everything you do. If you spend your time reading ancient philosophy, that becomes the meaning. You define your life.


shooplewhoop t1_jdst467 wrote

I am just shocked they left out the most famous ancient philosopher's views on what is good in life, "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women"


MrCW64 t1_jduru6t wrote

It's better to not have enemies. The endless killing gets tiresome.


breadandbuttercreek t1_jds5jpy wrote

The ancient philosophers didn't like intellectual laziness. The idea is that you don't just live your life doing what seems best, you have to constantly examine your own behaviour, assumptions and attitudes to be as sure as you can be that you are living the "best" life possible. To many people that seems pointless in itself, you know what you want to do so you do it.


Caring_Cactus t1_jdsffri wrote

Seems like they weren't inherently focused on life's functionality, as the author said they were moderates. What they were trying to convey sounds like they despised complacency, as all it does it post pone the inevitable, so one ought to accept the moment, either embrace it as a challenge or succumb to helplessness. There's no right/wrong path as long as one is active in the process of creating their belief, meaning with purpose.

It's not so much how long one lives, but how one uses their life to the fullest.


surfmoss t1_jdtn4su wrote

Some people still live like this and it is infectious. I served on an elite army unit and also worked around many folks with PhD's. These groups of people despise complacency. I liked being around that, it kept me sharp. I still try to live like that.


Caring_Cactus t1_jdtotzf wrote

Agree, because how many tomorrows are we going to keep telling ourselves when we only live within each passing present moment, the future is now, and has always been right here with us.

Whether we express pain and suffering or joy and pleasure, that means we embrace the moment! Whether or not one is doing it intuitively or intentionally does not matter, they are active in this process. When we embrace the moment as a challenge we will always derive something good from the experience -- that deeper connection/feeling of wholeness; reinforce the self instead of losing the self.


MrCW64 t1_jdusncy wrote

The inevitable?

You're going to die, everything you possess will be lost, you're going to be forgotten in the world and will leave no lasting legacy.

So suicide? Cut out the middle man?

Accepting the moment is fine, but what's it for? The often ignored yet inevitable loss of it all would suggest that there is something more to be discovered in the time allotted than the mere temporary contents of it.


Caring_Cactus t1_jdvn5je wrote

One must accept these limitations in human power in order for one to enjoy (derive meaning, a consistent wholeness in self) in this passing of life, and frankly this is something we are already doing, but many feel controlled by the conscription of others' meaning instead of their own they create through this passage.

Edit: Here's a great quote that unrelatedly talks about this:

>"The problem arises when people are so fixated on what they want to achieve that they cease to derive pleasure from the present. When that happens, they forfeit their chance of contentment." - Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


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Pwells42 t1_jdv83l3 wrote

There is nothing in particular that makes a life "worth living". Life is our soul's experience in the physical realm here on earth, so everything you experience in this lifetime, good or bad, enhances the soul. Pleasant experiences are no more important than unpleasant ones.

Here's the problem today though. All of the technology we have created that generates frequencies (radio, WiFi, satellite signals) interferes with our soul's connection to the Creator and weakens our control over the more animalistic behaviors of our human host bodies. Indeed, it can be so bad that it disconnects the soul from the host completely and you wind up with people who commit heinous atrocities. I believe the coupling during gestation can also be corrupted and you wind up with female souls in male host bodies and vice versa. There is a positive side to this last point in that it reconciles faith with homosexuality. You can be who you are and, regardless of what other people or organizations think of you or how they attack you, you are still accepted and loved by the Creator and will return to the garden when your soul is freed from your physical host.