Why do people think of themselves (and humans) as important?
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24-06-2012, 08:26 AM
Why do people think of themselves (and humans) as important?
After watching the recent "Afterlife" video of The Thinking Atheist, and other types of things in the past, it made me wonder something, why exactly do people think of themselves as that important/meaningful/whatever?

In the video, the thought of us being nothing more than one small item within a larger item, and that makes us insignificant.....

Yet....

When I think of death, I don't have to think of ourselves in terms of the universe, the solar system, or even our planet as proof of just how insignificant we are. Imagine you die. Within a few weeks, shy of people saying they need help to get over it, even your closest friends and family will stop reliving your death and start to go on. Even if 100 people personally mourned your death and couldn't live without you--would a town of a few thousand even miss 100 people? Even people that change the world, I'll say Steve Jobs for an example, people move on.

Humans (generally) don't even mourn the deaths of their own kind (shy of friends/relatives).... why on earth would they think anyone else would, or that anyone would consider one of us dying, or even all of us, is anything more than an insignificant blink in anything?



I even work with a man who said his wishes for a funeral are as follows: Everyone show up, listen to loud music, party and get drunk--it's how he lived life, and it's what he wants them to do.
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24-06-2012, 08:54 AM
RE: Why do people think of themselves (and humans) as important?
People think what they need to think to get by life happy. If they need to think of themselves as happy - they will. If they need to believe in an afterlife to be happy - they will. But, if they'd rather know the truth to be happy - they'll look for the truth.

I personally don't think I'm "important" for the bigger picture at all. I'm important for a few people around me, and so are they to me. That alone is enough for me to get by Smile
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24-06-2012, 09:04 AM
RE: Why do people think of themselves (and humans) as important?
Hey, elemts.

I don't understand what you're asking.

Are you talking about human exceptionalism? That the universe was made for us? That our lives have value? That no one misses you when you're gone? The existential absurdity of life? I just don't get what level you're operating on.

I mean, my life matters. If it didn't, why the fuck would I bother living it?

Or are you on a Hamlet level?

Quote:To be, or not to be, that is the Question:

Whether 'tis Nobler in the minde to suffer

The Slings and Arrowes of outragious Fortune;

Or to take Armes against a Sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them: to dye, to sleepe

No more; and by a sleepe, to say we end

The Heart-ake, and the thousand Naturall shockes

That Flesh is heyre too? 'Tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish'd. To dye to sleepe,

To sleepe, perchance to Dreame; I, there's the rub,

For in that sleepe of death, what dreames may come,

When we have shuffel'd off this mortall coile,

Must give us pawse. There's the respect

That makes Calamity of so long life:

For who would beare the Whips and Scornes of time,

The Oppressors wrong, the poore mans Contumely,

The pangs of dispriz'd Love, the Lawes delay,

The insolence of Office, and the Spurnes

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When he himselfe might his Quietus make

With a bare Bodkin? Who would these fardles beare

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscovered Countrey, from whose Borne

No Traveller returnes, Puzels the will,

And makes us rather beare those illes we have,

Then flye to others that we know not of.

Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,

And thus the Native hew of resolution

Is sicklied o're, with the pale cast of Thought,

And enterprizes of great pith and moment,

With this regard their Currants turne away,

And loose the name of Action.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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24-06-2012, 09:19 AM
RE: Why do people think of themselves (and humans) as important?
If you don't look out for your interests, I can guarantee that a god won't look out for them, either.

I watched part of Seth's video, and it just didn't give me a boner. Atheists in the 21st Century can do better than this. Instead of tolerating this death nonsense, we push the development of cryonic suspension so that today’s dying people can take an ambulance ride across time to try to benefit from the better medical capabilities of future societies.

Refer to:

1. General but outdated background information on the idea, mainly of historical interest now:

The Prospect of Immortality (1964), by Robert Ettinger:

http://www.cryonics.org/book1.html

2. Cryopreservation of rat hippocampal slices by vitrification (a peer-reviewed scientific paper):

“Microscopic examination showed severe damage in frozen–thawed slices, but generally good to excellent ultrastructural and histological preservation after vitrification. Our results provide the first demonstration that both the viability and the structure of mature organized, complex neural networks can be well preserved by vitrification. These results may assist neuropsychiatric drug evaluation and development and the transplantation of integrated brain regions to correct brain disease or injury.”

http://www.21cm.com/pdfs/hippo_published.pdf

3. Mike Darwin’s Chronosphere blog:

http://chronopause.com/

Mike goes back nearly to the beginnings of cryonics in the late 1960’s, and his blog offers a metaphorical gold mine of information, including references to a lot of scientific papers, about the field and its current but probably surmountable limitations.

4. MIT neuroscientist Sebastian Seung defends cryonic suspension as a feasible scientific-medical experiment in his book Connectome, and I have it on good authority that he plans to speak at Alcor’s conference in Scottsdale, AZ, this October:

http://hebb.mit.edu/people/seung/

http://www.amazon.com/Connectome-How-Bra...0547508182

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/New_C...ssage/2609

http://www.alcor.org/blog/?p=2492
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24-06-2012, 09:58 AM
RE: Why do people think of themselves (and humans) as important?
Couple of thoughts:

First, we are all egocentric & narcissistic to a degree - that's everyone's nature - so we see everything subjectively, including what is important to us & our own importance in the world. I'm sure my wife the psychologist can explain it a lot better than me, but we care about what (we perceive) affects us directly more than abstract concepts, including people across the world or the master race of aliens on planet Zuron. So why do we consider ourselves important? Well, duh, I'm the only me that I have. I also see myself as the provider & caretaker of my immediate family, and attach importance to my ability (and responsibility) to provide them as good a life & living conditions as I can. Egocentric? Sure, but really, on some level, aren't we all?

Second, death is not only natural, but necessary. If we stop dying, at a certain point, we'll have to stop breeding as well, due to overcrowding & overtaxing of resources. At that point in time, our evolution as a species ceases. And that would suck.

Just sayin'.
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24-06-2012, 11:04 AM (This post was last modified: 24-06-2012 11:10 AM by kim.)
RE: Why do people think of themselves (and humans) as important?
(24-06-2012 08:26 AM)elemts Wrote:  Humans (generally) don't even mourn the deaths of their own kind (shy of friends/relatives).... why on earth would they think anyone else would, or that anyone would consider one of us dying, or even all of us, is anything more than an insignificant blink in anything?

Why on earth, indeed? Wink

Species become extinct all the time.

The giant California Condor; for the longest time, the Condor's numbers were becoming drastically low and the California public was warned about disturbing their natural habitat. Some said ooh yes, we care about this giant bird.... and they went on with their lives, doing little and possibly caring less. Numbers further dwindled. Then came the last condors in the wild.

A few of the chicks were taken so breeding programs could be set up. I remember the day it was nationally announced the last wild Condor was dead and that now the species only exists in captivity, an entire population of twenty-seven. Curators of these captive birds were interviewed and they seemed quite distraught and frustrated with what they perceived as the nation's indifference that the planet may possibly lose such a magnificent wild creature forever.

The last wild Condor died twenty-five years ago. Today, because humans cared, the Condor once again cruises the sky in California in comparatively significant numbers. I'm certain the curators who fostered these birds and saved this species, are elated. I have no idea how the Condors feel about their near extinction, but they are quite magnificent.

We are a species. Species become extinct all the time.

I suppose some like to think there is someone who cares about the human species; that's why aliens, gods, elves, vampires, etc., that's even why reincarnation -a system to care about ourselves. Instinctively, we all desire to be cared for. The moment we are born, we become separate from each other, yet that desire to be cared for remains. We actively seek it while simultaneously recoiling with just as great a desire for independence. The push and pull of desire catapults us to loftier thoughts about ourselves and greater needs for something other, to care for us- -to take control... to take responsibility.

Ironically, if we don't begin to care for ourselves -really value each other individually, and as a species- we could very well participate in our own extinction. It would be very easy for any species to do so, but then; we're special; we desire. We let so many desires distract us; we let other things that have little value to our survival, take the place of valuing each other. Our continued survival might be just as simple; as simple as setting aside that which makes us different, and paying closer attention to the things that make us the same.

Species become extinct all the time. I see that and can only wonder if anyone else understands it, or if it's even on their mind at all. Shy

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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24-06-2012, 01:36 PM (This post was last modified: 24-06-2012 01:41 PM by TrulyX.)
RE: Why do people think of themselves (and humans) as important?
(24-06-2012 08:26 AM)elemts Wrote:  Why exactly do people think of themselves as that important/meaningful/whatever?

Both because we can, rationality allows for it, and because we are.

We live in systems in which we are tremendously important. That is kind of why you have to view things on a universal scale to show our actual importance overall. If we never came into existence as a species, the universe would still operate, and no thing, and seemingly no one (assuming there isn't a god/s or some other type of being/s out there watching us), would care. We do, however, exist, and in the systems we exist in, we are extremely important. Like Kim pointed out in her post: we are important evolutionarily and environmentally, on Earth, in regards to other species and natural resources, and we are also important to other people in society, and to future generations.

Quote:Humans (generally) don't even mourn the deaths of their own kind (shy of friends/relatives).... why on earth would they think anyone else would, or that anyone would consider one of us dying, or even all of us, is anything more than an insignificant blink in anything?

To mourn death is one thing, but to remember a person and/or be affected by their actions, regardless of whether or not you're aware of either (i.e. their death and/or their impact/influence) is another.

As far as society goes, especially today, every individual has importance, some a lot more than others, but everyone, within our societal system, has a good amount of importance. It is based on our own "hypothetical imperatives", if you will, but it's very significant in it's own specific regard, regardless of how much that affects anything else outside of it.

When you live your life you have importance and impact/influence on people currently and into to future. Even if you think it's just a little ripple, and even if it is, the significance of that ripple can be tremendous.

It really does have to be viewed on a universal scale, and overall, to equate us to insignificance, and even then it is only really in terms of our own existence (as humans). We don't live our lives on that type of scale, and it's pretty much granted that if we didn't exist, it'd mean nothing, at least to rational thinking people. Given the scale we do live our lives on, just as an individual within, not as a family, community, state, country, plant, solar system, galaxy, universe, or multi-verse??, I'd have to say we view ourselves as that important, because we are that important; It's all relative.

The reason why those types of videos are made is to show how our insignificance is our significance, or how leads to it.

Some people believe that our significance comes from a God, or supernatural beings, who created the universe for us, and thus we are the second most important thing in the universe and everything is owed to the first. That has huge implications, of which I assume you are aware. Videos like "Afterlife" are made to get people thinking of the irrationality behind such a claim. That could lead them to accepting that the universe has no order of importance and their existences was based on luck, and because of that recognition (i.e. their insignificance), they can realize the magnitude of their true importance to themselves and others (i.e. their true significance).

The Paradox Of Fools And Wise Men:
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.” ― Bertrand Russell
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24-06-2012, 02:00 PM
RE: Why do people think of themselves (and humans) as important?
Maybe it's as simple as the fact that we are conscious, self-conscious. In that regard, it seems we are special. But special insofar as evolution has created us. Meaning is something else.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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24-06-2012, 03:19 PM
RE: Why do people think of themselves (and humans) as important?
Upon closer inspection, I appear to be wearing loafers.

Also, the thought struck me that a combination of preservation instinct + self-awareness + the ability to assign value, probably leads to our sense that our lives are important...... if that's what you were going for, elemts.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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24-06-2012, 04:07 PM (This post was last modified: 24-06-2012 04:18 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Why do people think of themselves (and humans) as important?
I don't. ... Who the fuck in their right mind thinks that?

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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