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chefranden
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What makes us human?

 

 

Travel the Grand Trunk Road between Lahore and Islamabad, and you come to the city of Gujrat. Awash in the smog and sewage produced by its million-odd inhabitants, it is an unlovely place best known for the manufacture of electrical fans. It is also the location of a shrine to a 17th-century Sufi Saint by the name of Shua Dulah. For at least 100 years, but perhaps for centuries, it has been, though is no longer, a depository for children with microcephaly. The rest of the article here
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I don't know if any of us will ever find a satisfactory answer to "What makes us human," but I'm pretty sure that what I've bolded, below, in the last paragraph of the article, is one of the major factors in making us inhuman.

 

It is easy to see why. The care that Pakistan provides for the mentally disabled is negligible. "What," said Rubina, speaking of her microcephalic children, "will happen to them when I am gone?" "Who will look after them?" "They will become" - she could barely say the word - "chuas". She wept; we filmed her; I did not know what to say.

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Thanks Chefranden! :thanks:

 

You always have magnificent articles with such depth, they change me in a way I can't explain, but I am thankful.

 

One piece of information I found amazing, is that our brain has tripled in size in the last 3 million years! Now I'm curious to know if that happened proportionately to time, or if that is happening at some kind of exponential speed? If it is progressing at a faster rate with time, think of what that will mean for our future generations! If our brain triples in size again in the next 3 million years, I'm wondering what that would mean? Heck, even if it just doubles!?! :scratch:

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I don't know if any of us will ever find a satisfactory answer to "What makes us human," but I'm pretty sure that what I've bolded, below, in the last paragraph of the article, is one of the major factors in making us inhuman.

 

It is easy to see why. The care that Pakistan provides for the mentally disabled is negligible. "What," said Rubina, speaking of her microcephalic children, "will happen to them when I am gone?" "Who will look after them?" "They will become" - she could barely say the word - "chuas". She wept; we filmed her; I did not know what to say.

 

 

Perhaps as little as 2 weeks ago I would have agreed with you, but I've read the monkeysphere through a couple of times since then.

 

This is not inhuman behavior. It is human behavior. I think that if we really wish to make a better world we have to start with things as they are and not as we think it ought to be. That way we can do things that are possible rather than waste time and effort on the impossible.

 

One thing I notice in recorded history is that there has been 4 or 5 thousand year effort of trying to fit round human pegs perfectly into square civilized holes. In that amount time of the effort hasn't really worked, and probably will never work because it ignores the law of life. Humans, like all the animals, have evolved to fit into the mosaic of life. In that mosaic compassion has its place, but it cannot be all encompassing. No one aspect of life can be all encompassing, because it takes all the aspects of life for life to work. We are in the crappy mess we are in because of the attempt to make only a few aspects of life all incompassing.

 

We feel compasion for the "rat pepole" from afar, but it is an artifical compassion. It is artifical because it is mediated. Mediated compasion ingores the fact that we aren't involved and we don't know all the dynamics. We look down on those who are not acting as we suppose from afar that we would act. "I would be more moral than they," is what I'd like to think. But I don't really know how I would act in their place. I am not in their place. Since we are physical beings physical and temproal proxemity is primary in social behavior. How could it be otherwise?

 

I think that the very question "What Makes Us Human?" Means, "what is it that showes that we are not part of nature?" "What proves that we should fit into the square holes?" That's a question of misdirection. This article it important because it shows that what makes us human is no different than what makes a dog. That is a lesson that we need to learn and soon, if we hope to have a future.

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Thanks Chefranden! :thanks:

 

You always have magnificent articles with such depth, they change me in a way I can't explain, but I am thankful.

 

One piece of information I found amazing, is that our brain has tripled in size in the last 3 million years! Now I'm curious to know if that happened proportionately to time, or if that is happening at some kind of exponential speed? If it is progressing at a faster rate with time, think of what that will mean for our future generations! If our brain triples in size again in the next 3 million years, I'm wondering what that would mean? Heck, even if it just doubles!?! :scratch:

 

Gosh, thanks.

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I understand what you're saying, Chef, but if mediated compassion is all we're able to feel for those beyond our Monkeysphere, at least it's compassion... that is to say, if the alternative is reading such an article and reacting with, "Yeah, so what? big deal," doesn't that eventually harden us to even the anguishing situations of those in our own Monkeysphere? Isn't dismissiveness and unconcern for those in the broader sphere, with which we can't connect, the first step toward eroding empathy and care for those with whom we can connect?

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It looks like I'm going to have to find a different vacation spot! :ugh:

 

Shit! I knew it would grab somebody's attention at some point! :banghead:

 

:HaHa:

 

=================================================

 

This is the part of the article that grabbed me:

 

There is bittersweet irony in the discovery that the genes underlying a disorder as disabling as microcephaly should have also been responsible for the thing that we, as a species, are most proud of: our brains. Yet for all intellectual fascination of these discoveries, we should not neglect one more thing that they have given us: a way to meliorate the disease that pointed to their discovery.

 

Microcephaly cannot be cured. But it can now be prevented. Now that some of the mutations have been found, parents from families with a history of the disorder can have their newly conceived embryos tested. If the embryo has two copies of the mutation, it can be aborted.

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I understand what you're saying, Chef, but if mediated compassion is all we're able to feel for those beyond our Monkeysphere, at least it's compassion... that is to say, if the alternative is reading such an article and reacting with, "Yeah, so what? big deal," doesn't that eventually harden us to even the anguishing situations of those in our own Monkeysphere? Isn't dismissiveness and unconcern for those in the broader sphere, with which we can't connect, the first step toward eroding empathy and care for those with whom we can connect?

 

I'm still thinking about this, not ignoring you.

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I understand what you're saying, Chef, but if mediated compassion is all we're able to feel for those beyond our Monkeysphere, at least it's compassion... that is to say, if the alternative is reading such an article and reacting with, "Yeah, so what? big deal," doesn't that eventually harden us to even the anguishing situations of those in our own Monkeysphere? Isn't dismissiveness and unconcern for those in the broader sphere, with which we can't connect, the first step toward eroding empathy and care for those with whom we can connect?

 

I'm still thinking about this, not ignoring you.

 

Do we just not act upon our compassion because we think we lack the resources to do anything significantly about it? Isn't our available time and resources overwhelmed by the constant surmounting plights of so many other life issues out there? I think we have to disociate sometimes just to make it for ourself. Gosh, I think I'm the worst to be sucked into situations, where I have to finally step back from it, let it go, and not let my own ship sink! It seems to me to be a constant fine line for many of us. *sigh*

 

We probably need a sincerely motivated person to organize something that approaches these issues on a basis of most needed, and a concept as to what the root of the problem is. Then people as ourself can either donate money and/or time to these worthy causes. Perhaps someone like Chefranden? :grin: I don't mind donating to such worthy causes when I can, it is just that it is hard for many to examine where the priorities lie, and how soooooo many organizations seem to keep almost all the money for themself and only give maybe 10% to their cause. Then, perhaps people are left doing nothing because they feel rather helpless in that situation? :shrug:

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I understand what you're saying, Chef, but if mediated compassion is all we're able to feel for those beyond our Monkeysphere, at least it's compassion... that is to say, if the alternative is reading such an article and reacting with, "Yeah, so what? big deal," doesn't that eventually harden us to even the anguishing situations of those in our own Monkeysphere? Isn't dismissiveness and unconcern for those in the broader sphere, with which we can't connect, the first step toward eroding empathy and care for those with whom we can connect?

 

I don't think that most people could read the article and be left with, "so what? big deal", that is, with no feeling. Most probably would be momentarily angry, sad or otherwise riled. Nevertheless, what ever they feel, in the end the reaction is "so what?"

 

So What?: 1. 99.9% reading this article will have forgotten it before an hour has passed. For example, in requires to this article I haven't though so much about the plight of these people so much as how to answer you. 2. While the feeling that this raises is real feeling, it will almost invariably result in no action directed towards the welfare of these people. From 1&2 an independent observer of reaction to this article could well conclude that it is indeed no big deal. Though I felt anger and sadness at the plight of these folks, it didn't even cross my mind to rush out and get a ticket to Pakistan and take care of these people. It didn't even cross my mind to look for "Save the Rat People" on line. I didn't even write my congressmen.

 

If I spent my time working for these people, as my feeling tells me would be moral behavior, who would take my grandson to the park? Feeling aside, for me the plight of these people is in my real life no big deal. The need of my grandson to play with some other kids is a big deal so I take care of that.

 

I'm beginning to suspect this mediated compassion as a great time waster and consumer of limited human energy. I'm beginning to suspect that mediated compassion when it motivates action, causes more harm than good. I can imagine that the great harm stemming from missionary movements was in large part supported by mediated compassion.

 

I'm thinking that mediated compassion also contributes to the black and white thinking that is necessary to support war in far off lands. Mediated compassion easily gives rise clear cut good and bad guys. Bad guys immediately loose their status as human, they become inhuman.

 

I'm not trying to pick on you in particular. Your post was just the catalyst that began gelling this idea for me.

 

If this monkeysphere idea says something about human nature, I'm drawing the inference that useful compassion is mostly, if not entirely local. I think the local people that may or may not be ignoring the Rat People's needs have compelling monkeysphere obligations to behave as they behave. These obligations must be something like my obligations to Elijah.

 

Anyway, a human can't be inhuman in the same way that a cat can't be in-feline. My judgment of what another human ought to do is not necessarily what that human really ought to do. The farther away from my monkeysphere the other human is, the more likely that my guess as to what she should do is in error. That would include telling you that you ought not to call others inhuman.

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Do we just not act upon our compassion because we think we lack the resources to do anything significantly about it? Isn't our available time and resources overwhelmed by the constant surmounting plights of so many other life issues out there? I think we have to disociate sometimes just to make it for ourself. Gosh, I think I'm the worst to be sucked into situations, where I have to finally step back from it, let it go, and not let my own ship sink! It seems to me to be a constant fine line for many of us. *sigh*

 

Absolutely! We are limited in everything including our moral behavior. We have not evolved into creatures that can really think globally. Unfortunately civilization technology has made it possible for a minority of people to act globally. The farther outside of their monkeyspheres they reach with their acts, the more likely that act will be detrimental.

 

1. We probably need a sincerely motivated person to organize something that approaches these issues on a basis of most needed, and a concept as to what the root of the problem is. Then people as ourself can either donate money and/or time to these worthy causes. Perhaps someone like Chefranden? :grin:

 

2. I don't mind donating to such worthy causes when I can, it is just that it is hard for many to examine where the priorities lie, and how soooooo many organizations seem to keep almost all the money for themself and only give maybe 10% to their cause. Then, perhaps people are left doing nothing because they feel rather helpless in that situation? :shrug:

 

1. No. There is nothing worse than "programs". "No Child Left Behind" is a program designed to take care of the needest first. War is perhaps the ultimate "program". We are fighting in Iraq cause those folks are in desparate need of democracy and a mall. Send no money. Outside of my monkeysphere I'm just as much of a moron as George.

 

2. My advice (which isn't much good outside of my circle) is to keep all your extra resources local.

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I don't think that most people could read the article and be left with, "so what? big deal", that is, with no feeling. Most probably would be momentarily angry, sad or otherwise riled. Nevertheless, what ever they feel, in the end the reaction is "so what?"

 

My reaction was so what. :scratch:

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Outside of my monkeysphere I'm just as much of a moron as George.

 

THAT piece of wisdom is an awakening slap in the face, that is so refreshing. Thanks. :)

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I don't think that most people could read the article and be left with, "so what? big deal", that is, with no feeling. Most probably would be momentarily angry, sad or otherwise riled. Nevertheless, what ever they feel, in the end the reaction is "so what?"

 

My reaction was so what. :scratch:

 

 

I said "most people" Asimov. If I'da thought of you at the time, I would have used you as a counter example.

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I don't think that most people could read the article and be left with, "so what? big deal", that is, with no feeling. Most probably would be momentarily angry, sad or otherwise riled. Nevertheless, what ever they feel, in the end the reaction is "so what?"

 

My reaction was so what. :scratch:

 

 

I said "most people" Asimov. If I'da thought of you at the time, I would have used you as a counter example.

 

I'm honest enough to admit that I have no feeling for people I do not come into contact with and who only contain potential value, unlike many people who say "that's terrible! Someone should do something!" and then finish eating their meals and go about their day.

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Any kind of human suffering is terrible.

 

But not all suffering is equal. Someone suffering pushing a rock up a hill instead of using a crane is not something to really be concerned about. Said person is just being stupid, by thier own choice.

 

Asimov is right, people don't really have an regard for others, someone else will worry about it, but that offer them lip service for support.

 

I am not to terribly depressed over the plight of the rat people. It's sad, but it's also sad their primitive culture won't adopt the medical technology and expertise required to help such people.

 

If someone is a pariah and they believe it, it's fault for accepting such irrational concepts as truth and they suffer the consequences for it. Their is difference between suffering imposed by a government or another force suppressing the individual and an individual who forces himself to suffer.

 

And what the hell is a monkeysphere?

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And what the hell is a monkeysphere?

 

Monkeysphere

Chefranden, I see validity to these concepts of the monkeysphere... and I've been thinking about what you've said in that we need to really just worry about our own sphere, because we lack the insights of the total dynamics in other's speres. I just have a problem in considering the aspects of being complacent about other's plights.

 

What can I do if...

*I don't know the true dynamics,

*if I question those who chose to intercede are credible for my support,

*if I lack the resources to contribute,

*and I just disociate from what I perceive as tragic,

would that then be complacent?

 

Let's say that we hear they are just slaughtering the elephants for their ivory, do we do nothing here in America? I'm confused about this. :shrug:

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Chef, I think Amanda is touching on a point I've been mulling over for a couple of days, and that is our ability to intellectually and emotionally extrapolate from our knowledge of "The Other."

 

A kid very naturally watches worms, ants, birds, etc. and in a daydreaming kind of state, extrapolates on the behavior s/he witnesses -- s/he imagines and feels and projects and concludes. Because humans aren't merely perceptual, but conceptual, this witnessing and organizing of our observations and emotional reactions is essential to our understanding of ourselves and others and of our place among all sorts of "others".

 

As s/he matures, s/he notes that shouting and throwing things goes on in the neighbor's house, and she reacts emotionally. Or, it may be going on in his/her house, while the neighbor's house is full of laughter and music, so s/he takes that into his/her conceptual bank as well.

 

As more is learned of people and practices even farther away, this information feeds into a developing ethical code, determining how s/he will treat others and will choose to be treated.

 

I believe it's good if this extrapolating never stops, globally. Sure, it can lead to missionaries and their abuses but it can lead to a myriad of beneficial things, as well... the same balance one would probably find in simply tending to one's own Monkeysphere.

 

When I read about Chuas enslaved and degraded in an uncaring country, I'm a kind of kid again, watching and emotionally reacting and integrating new information into my ethical super-structure. And whether I do anything about the Chua or not, this experience itself helps. It helps me to be better in touch with myself and with existence and with all that I think and feel about myself and others, and to apply my (newly reinforced or altered) moral principles where I can, and it helps me to become again maybe that most quintessential of humans -- a kid.

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And what the hell is a monkeysphere?

 

Monkeysphere

Chefranden, I see validity to these concepts of the monkeysphere... and I've been thinking about what you've said in that we need to really just worry about our own sphere, because we lack the insights of the total dynamics in other's speres. I just have a problem in considering the aspects of being complacent about other's plights.

 

What can I do if...

*I don't know the true dynamics,

*if I question those who chose to intercede are credible for my support,

*if I lack the resources to contribute,

*and I just disociate from what I perceive as tragic,

would that then be complacent?

 

Let's say that we hear they are just slaughtering the elephants for their ivory, do we do nothing here in America? I'm confused about this. :shrug:

 

I'm not jumping to any conclusions about what one should/shouldn't do. I'm only trying to think, "what is the real world really like?" Or, more specifically, what are humans really and what are we really doing to cause ourselves to behave as if we were insane?"

 

I watch Cesar Milan on the telly, 'cause I'm facinated by his ability with dogs. He understands dogs from a dog's perspective. He shows people how to treat a dog like a dog and by so doing stops crazy behavior in the dog. I can't help but think, what if we understood people in the same way? A dog is a pack animal. When it feels as if it has a proper place in a pack it is more sane. Humans are pack animals too, or lets say troop animals as we are primates.

 

My guess is that we can live concretely with maybe 150 other individuals. After that social notions become increasingly abstract and probably induces behavior counter to the common good.

 

Now lets think of the Elephants plight. How would you intervene on their behalf, and how will you determine if your intervention will actually improve their lot? Their plight is more complicated than poachers. For example, even if you were part of a successful effort to greatly reduce poaching, the elephants are going to die from lack of a place to be rather than a poacher. How will you give them space? You can only do it by taking it away from people. How will you do that? Eradication of the pest humans in elephant territory won't do it, because population pressure will just cause that land to fill with people again. That means if you want to save elephants you have to reduce human reproduction over all. How will you do that...? The chain is endless, and even if you manage to save the elephant, your solution is very likely to break something else.

 

It's fustrating because of the way we are educated in some of our values. For several hundred thousand years elephants and humans got along pretty well, but then we learned how to make things "better". The Iraq mess is the result of people here thinking they can do better at making things "better" there than the people there can. That is just one example. I'm wondering that if we stop trying to make things better outside of our own monkeysphere maybe things will stop being broken in the first place. Back before we learned intervention, the goddess managed to keep things fairly balanced between elephants and humans without any elephant saving programs.

 

Let me say this about that: I don't know how to do it, or rather not do it. I don't have any prescription. If I do come up with a prescription, you would do well to ignore it.

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...As more is learned of people and practices even farther away, this information feeds into a developing ethical code, determining how s/he will treat others and will choose to be treated...

 

I'm not sure I follow you here. Not all ethical behavior found in far places will fit in her place, so if she is smart she won't use it in her place. For example she may learn that it is perfectly alright to go naked in Bornio, but she better wear clothes to the mall. Any ethical behavior that would fit in her place she will learn in her place.

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My guess is that we can live concretely with maybe 150 other individuals. After that social notions become increasingly abstract and probably induces behavior counter to the common good.

 

Chefranden, I can appreciate everything you have said. It's insight gives me a much deeper perspective to the world around me. Therefore, it brings up a whole new set of questions.

 

Yes, we are the ones to have the most insights of the dynamics into our own monkeysphere. However, it seems to me that a direction can develop that can be tolerated to keep the peace, complacency, propaganda, till it is totally out of control. Sometimes there is a sly person with alterior motives who cunningly seeks to control the monkeysphere. Sometimes we don't realize it has happened, till it is too late! I actually see this happening in our own country! Sometimes, it seems to me, a suggestion or insight from another person, out of our monkeysphere, about ourself can be a positive influence. Now... where to draw the line, how this can cause unnecessary unrest, what possible value could come of this? IDK. I do think that it was good that the world intervened against Hitler in WW2 though. :shrug:

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Humans are humans and monkeys are monkeys.

 

The concept of the Monkeysphere is bogus.

 

I'm not exactly for sure how they apparently put a human brain in a monkeys or how the monkey even survived the transplant.

 

Considering the theory is posted on "pointlesswasteoftime.com" I don't think it's meant to be taken very seriosly in the first place.

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  • 2 weeks later...

However funny it's presented the Monkeysphere does bring interesting points about our perception of the world from the viewpoint of average Joe. It's a matter of social structure, where people closer to you seem to have more importance than the nobody living across the continent. Pretty interesting and bookmarked!

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