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Old 03-26-2010, 05:11 PM   #101 (permalink)
MB quadrant's JM Vincent
 
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^

That is why I don't believe in each person having a unique and individual soul, as I mentioned earlier, but a kind of "oneness" connected to life. There is absolutely no evidence that we consist of two separate entities (a body and a soul). Dualism is what lead to categorizing and separating everything we see, which in turn lead to an "us and them" mentality.

You do make an interesting point about self awareness being a consequence of our evolution. I knew what caused it, but never really thought about it in that way exactly. Here is an interesting question, then...is self awareness helping or hurting us? Would we be able to live more in harmony with the Earth if we were not self aware? Assuming we still have this average level of intelligence, minus self awareness, would we still be able to make the advances we have made?
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Old 03-26-2010, 05:48 PM   #102 (permalink)
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I don't think we'd be more harmonious with the earth if we were not self-aware. I think the idea that animals are in some kind of harmony with nature is a romanticized version of the truth. Even though most of them are by our understanding not self-aware, they're still driven by the same basic selfishness we are. The selfishness stems from the fact that it's the ones who are good at passing on their genes who persist. That does not equal the most harmonious, in fact it often means what we think of as the contrary.

Here's a video from youtube which illustrates my point. It shows infanticide in the animal world, a male lion killing several lion cubs.



It makes perfect sense to do it. They're not his cubs and if they grow up, they could be competitors. Even more important, while the females are weening the cubs, they can't be pregnated by him. If he kills them, the females will get ready to mate again and he can pass on his own genes. The males who employ this strategy do well and pass it on to their offspring and the same is seen in many other species. If they can use resources of the earth to better spread their genes, such adaptive strategies can and will evolve as well - and they have. Animals use the earth as well without any special regard for treating it nice. In Norway, we used to have lemming cycles until recently where the little buggers would come and eat everything during peak years.

The main difference between them and us is that we're smarter so we're better at it. There's a popular myth that humans are "evil" animals. Actually, as an example comparison, populations of chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, can be 1000 times more violent than human populations .. at least according to a professor who lectured in a primate behavioural ecology course!
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:28 PM   #103 (permalink)
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I had no allusions about perceived "evil" behavior of animals. What I meant by harmony could be phrased more like...they follow the Earth's natural patterns. Most animals, save for human interaction, keep a balance through the food chain, environmental conditions, and natural selection. Humans have all but done away with natural selection in the classic sense (and this could spark a whole other debate, I know). Humans do anything but keep with the Earth's natural activity. In fact, we do all we can to control it. The biggest problem I see that comes out of this is overpopulation. We keep the sick and old living for as long as we possibly can, which ends up costing us vital resources for the young and potentially healthy. Of course, this could spark a moral debate, but since it is completely pointless to deal in morals when we were just talking about animal behavior that could be considered "evil", I felt I should mention it.

I guess what I really want to know is how you think self awareness has impacted our behavior as animals. Would we have the same moral standards if we did not have self awareness?
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:40 PM   #104 (permalink)
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Ah Now I get you. Although I haven't thought long and hard about this, I think self-awareness allows us to empathize with others' feelings. We can only know or imagine other people's sadness when we know our own. Recognizing yourself as a distinct person helps you recognize everyone else also is. I think a "moral standard" would be hard to find in organisms without self-awareness, but to give a better answer, I think it would promote morals.
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Old 03-26-2010, 07:53 PM   #105 (permalink)
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That's what I thought, also.

I'll try to keep the thread on track. I mentioned earlier my belief that we are all connected to the same life experience, and by extension are actually "one". So, if the world were all a big trick, I don't think it is one big trick for one person. We all exist and are being tricked, if we are. Think the Matrix. I think it is incredibly arrogant to think "I am the only one that exists and this is all a dreamworld meant to deceive ME". If self awareness increased empathy, it also greatly increased arrogance and selfishness.
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Old 03-26-2010, 08:56 PM   #106 (permalink)
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Ever since I read the Wiki article for solipsism I cannot stop thinking about it. I had a discussion with my flatmate about it and she had such good answers to my arguments of how it couldn't work. My brain hurts.
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