Fuego

Nature as a basis for understanding life

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I started writing this as a response in a thread about abortion. But it soon became my thoughts about how humans view life and how our philosophies can conflict with natural "law". Some would argue that we should rise above nature, and that our ability to think and ponder means we should choose ways that are "better" than brute nature. I wonder if that is simply a loop in thinking that justifies itself as "better" and pats itself on the back. The reverse is an equally valid view, that such philosophies weaken and endanger mankind, if not as a whole, then smaller groups or individuals. So here is what I composed (or rambled):

 

I'm popping in kind of late here. I'd like to make an observation from nature. Humans place value on things that other creatures do not, and we often do so arbitrarily. We say we value life and not killing without good reason, but then we snuff out other kinds of life when they are a bother to us: pests like flies, whole colonies of ants, mice, moles, coyotes, invasive mussels, etc. We also kill animals that are threatening us, including other humans. War wipes out humans by the truckload almost daily on Earth. We say we don't want war, but overall we keep it going. On one hand we have a philosophy of benevolence, but humankind regularly displays how tremendously cruel we are to each other and to animals. I just read a blurb in the news today about East Indians burning a baby elephant with a flaming tar ball, and they have mobs that apparently do this for fun.

 

Many "higher" life forms on Earth eat their prey without even bothering to kill it first, unless that helps keep it from getting away. Human see that as cruel, plus we tend to cook our food instead of eating it raw. But nature overall doesn't tend to value life for the sake of life, or kindness towards other species (or even its own outside of the tribe) but sees it as an open contest for survival. Each species values eating and breeding to make more of the same. Humans mate all the time for the enjoyment of it, sometimes for procreation, sometimes as rape, sometimes as child abuse. We also abstract sexual pleasure into fetishes that sometimes have no direct relation to sex (shoes, popping balloons, latex outfits, etc.)

 

Because of all the abstraction we do, there is a tendency in humans to see ourselves as not part of the nature that surrounds us. Our philosophies place a value on life that exceeds that of nature. We value the weak, the sick, the mentally deficient or mentally ill, sometimes even protecting those that are overtly harmful. Nature usually culls these if they are not somehow more adapted to survival, and the strong attack the weak even when it isn't needed. I see this every morning when I do a bit of bird watching/feeding. The literal pecking order removes those that can't compete, and seeks to damage those that do compete.

 

In abortion, we have found ways to terminate human lives that are inconvenient, abhorrent due to deformity or rape, dangerous, or otherwise perceived as threats to already existing humans. While unnatural in the sense that these methods don't exist in nature, the act of removing the unwanted one is very much part of how nature behaves. Some animals bear unwanted offspring and just abandon them. Even a wrong smell from one of them and they are kicked out of the nest or left to starve and become food for preditors. Prior to abortion, some cultures practiced culling of the weak or deformed by abandonment to the elements. Many unwanted pregnancies still result in abandonment or surrendering to adoption, regardless of the health of the infant. I just read a news article about a 16 year old girl that gave birth unexpectedly in her backyard, and shoved a rock down the baby's throat to kill it. She's now being prosecuted for 1st degree murder. Had no one known about it but her, no one would have punished her and her life would go on relatively normally. People have decided that she did something very very bad and have to now put her in a building with bars so that she can't roam around killing babies or something. The baby can't feel any justice, it is dead. No other humans were inconvenienced or harmed, and thus looking for justice. Only other humans can feel any outrage, and decide that to protect the line of civilization they must punish her for taking a life. Religions have rules that include the demands of invisible imaginary beings. Some religions even kill those who transgress these rules (since gods don't seem to do this themselves, outside of stories in books).

 

I hear a lot of "shoulds" in the arguments for and against abortion. There is no question that a life is being terminated, and sometimes with tremendous impact on the woman (and occasionally on the man emotionally). But pulling back and looking at nature, it isn't that big of a deal. But some choose to make it so. I suppose that one could argue in the same way that wars are not that big of a deal, and from nature I think that is true. Chimps raid other chimp camps and kill and eat the others, even babies. From our perspective as humans, we've read about millenia of wars, pillage and rape of villages and cities, and we continue to do so around the world. Abortion is just one other way we deal with people we don't want, and may not be able to raise.

 

I was once part of Operation Rescue, and blocked the doors of clinics. This issue was near and dear to me. I had pictures of aborted babies on my car windows. I was arrested once. Now that I'm outside of Christianity, I see life as a come-and-go sort of thing. I doubt that I'll be remembered for long after I'm dead. It is that way with most humans. Billions have died horribly, others have lived horribly, and the humans that died in abortion can simply be tallied with the others. There are at least hundreds of thousands of junkies, murderers, rapists, child abusers, and so on that could die today and the world would only be better for it. Not all human life is precious, nor should all of it be protected.

 

While it may seem horrible to some, I see the choice of abortion as people who are already in charge of their own lives making choices that best suit them for their own continuing life. Should we make laws to protect the unborn? I think only if they are wanted. Once they have made it to the outside and are breathing, we already have laws that govern their lives and those who gave birth. Without a line somewhere, we have no civilization. The line for me is birth.

 

I realized as I wrote that last bit that the line is arbitrarily drawn, and some cultures have historically let the parents decide or at least a governing board, whether a child should be raised or abandoned. Either way, there is a semblance of civilization. Even the barbaric culture of the early Bible is a kind of civilization, though some of their rules seem insane to us today (such as making a girl marry her rapist). The Spartans would destroy babies that were deformed, seeing it as a threat to national security, which was actually true given their culture and those around them.

 

All in all, I don't know that abortion is such a huge crime against humanity when seen from the angle of nature. Mostly people are reacting to their own sense of how things "ought to be". We are unaware of the aborted fetuses for the most part, and their deaths had no direct impact on us. Then again, we are unaware of the deaths and genocides in most 3rd world countries, and even when we learn about them we don't tend to react with much outrage. Perhaps that is because of general emotional detachment from human suffering, perhaps because they have skin a different color, perhaps because such places tend to be ruled by dictators and slaughter seems normalized to us.

 

Overall, I see nature as a sort of reset button for all the philosophies and religions we have about life. Nature is life, and the struggle for survival, resources, mating, etc. It can be seen as cold, brute, and cruel, or simply as normal. We can however, choose to behave and even think in ways that bring overall benefit versus harm.

 

The choices we make have consequences. Some of those are good and healthful, sometimes the same choices bring problems or ruin. Good philosophies, in my opinion, are those that lead towards a better internal mindset about self and boundaries, leading towards a better harmony between people. Individuals tend to have better lives when we all try to be kinder to each other, and behave respectfully. Religions seem to only cloud the actual issues by introducing imaginary friends that have a set of demands and actions required by followers. Cut to the chase and we are the gods we invent, though our power is limited to our abilities to choose what actions we will do, and the tools we create with the abstractive ability of the human mind. I can choose to react to things or let them slide by; I can hit my brakes and fight a guy that flipped me off for no reason, or I can keep driving and let the question of why go by since it is irrelevant. I can choose to let insults go by, or if they are annoying enough make a choice to stop them. Each choice has a consequence, and my life takes on a direction with each one.

 

 

 

 

 

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Last time I checked, humans are a part of nature. Whatever we do is therefore natural. 

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What you're noticing is the social construction of reality. Human groups define what is cruel, what is not, what is acceptable and unacceptable and this changes over time and place. Exposing unwanted infants was once "normal" if frowned upon, for example. As society changes, beliefs and practices about cruelty, what counts as life, gender, race, and everything else about the social world changes. It's part of the social realm, which is very "natural" for us as a species. The social is how we adapt to our total environment, which is more than physical.

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On 12/19/2017 at 12:22 AM, Fuego said:

I started writing this as a response in a thread about abortion. But it soon became my thoughts about how humans view life and how our philosophies can conflict with natural "law". Some would argue that we should rise above nature, and that our ability to think and ponder means we should choose ways that are "better" than brute nature. I wonder if that is simply a loop in thinking that justifies itself as "better" and pats itself on the back. The reverse is an equally valid view, that such philosophies weaken and endanger mankind, if not as a whole, then smaller groups or individuals. So here is what I composed (or rambled)

 

Your realizations are well founded. I'm not too fond of people pussy footing around the issue of how cruel and barbaric it actually is, regardless of how early the stage of development. Bottom line, it's harsh. Those who can't seem to wear that for what it is are precisely deluding themselves. And I don't find much honor in deluding oneself to avoid guilt or whatever. Harsh is harsh, bottom line. 

 

But upon calling it what it is, harsh, brutal, etc. - this secondary realization comes well into focus about the harshness and brutality of nature and also accepting that for what it is. I suppose that why I ultimately have to step back and let it be because I realizing that trying to change it would be a deluded venture in and of itself. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the pro life argument that was being made because it was being made in a very intellectually honest type of way, demanding respect. And I've respected it as such, much to the dismay of a few pro choice proponents who couldn't quite seem to wrap their minds around the truths that were being said. That, I do not respect too much. Although ultimately having to land on the pro choice side nonetheless, due to the factors discussed in your post and as above in my commentary. I just can't see landing on the side of pro life over pro choice at the end of it all. 

 

On 12/19/2017 at 4:16 PM, florduh said:

Last time I checked, humans are a part of nature. Whatever we do is therefore natural. 

 

This is true. Even to the extant that if you think hard enough about it, even our man made cities are natural to some degree in as much as we are nature and natural, so by extension so too is what we create - what nature itself (us included) creates or does. 

 

So at the end of the day nature has interacted with itself the entire time, picking and choosing what aspects of itself it chooses to allow or eliminate. 

 

In my case, this interaction took on the form of my ex wife eliminating a 5 month old baby girl without my knowledge or consent. Nature interacting with itself, I completely get it. And at the end of the day it just is what it is. The horrors and emotions involved with any of it can be overlooked by taking a deeper insight and perspective, as outlined already. Any sense of "fuck her," is actually a sense of "fuck nature," and by extension, "fuck myself," being that I am nature itself, as well as her. So it all gets lost in pantheistic philosophy in this way, and horrors can dissolve in this way as well, if we're brutally honest to this extent and depth of truth seeking...

 

 

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10 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

Any sense of "fuck her," is actually a sense of "fuck nature," and by extension, "fuck myself," being that I am nature itself, as well as her. So it all gets lost in pantheistic philosophy in this way, and horrors can dissolve in this way as well, if we're brutally honest to this extent and depth of truth seeking...

 

 

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Harmony over arching all 'perceived conflict' is more of that classic Watts. Good stuff. I can't imagine a better way of approaching human spirituality than the ways in which he approaches and explains it. 

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