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[RD] Why is there so much suffering in the world?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by caketastydelish, Nov 4, 2019.

  1. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    Genuinely greedy people are far and few between. It's just that those people have disproportionate influence in this hubristic society we've built.

    Also, you're discounting First World suffering, which is probably at least equal to Third World suffering. It's much harder to perceive or measure, though.

    Global society is a product of human hubris. We have no proof that it is inevitable because we haven't observed a situation in which people are genuinely united against it. There's no fundamental reason for why they should continue to support technological utopianism, internationalism and 'human progress', and the fact that those ideas are still quite popular even under the current state of things is proof that human arrogance is boundless.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
  2. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    Whut? :hmm:

    I am not discounting First World issues at all. In fact, that's what I was talking about. The POS who is now the premier of my province has just made cuts to benefits for disabled people, seniors, child care funding, public post-secondary education (he didn't touch the Catholic institutions), and now he's intending to push a bill through that allows medical personnel and pharmacists to not only refuse to perform or provide services that go against their "conscience", but also refuse to refer them to another doctor or pharmacist.

    This is blatantly shoehorning his personal religion into legislation, and that is WRONG. And yes, it will cause more suffering than the Catholic hospitals and seniors homes have already caused, what with refusing terminally ill patients and residents the same services that are available to patients and residents in non-Catholic facilities.
     
  3. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    I'd ask you to please sit and think on this for a while; and get back to me if you have realized how much of an entitled, ignorant, sociopath this makes you sound like.
    Existential ennui is emphatically not of the same level of suffering as dying from malaria or fleeing your home due to armed conflict.
     
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  4. tjs282

    tjs282 Un(a)bashed immigrant

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    Sounds to me like you're thinking of the short story, 'The Last Question', by Asimov... ;)
     
  5. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    It didn't seem very realistic, though. I vaguely remember that the super-computer somehow utilized shadowy areas of space, or bordering space (other dimensions) or similar.
    At least it defeated the death of the universe.
     
  6. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    The beauty of this story - and it's one of Asimov's most well-known short stories - is that there's enough science to satisfy the atheist reader and enough metaphysics to satisfy the religious reader.

    Keep in mind the time in which Asimov wrote it, and that RL knowledge is considerably more detailed now than it was then. There are quite a lot of short stories by the older Grand Masters that have not withstood the advance of science. Many of Heinlein's SF books are nearly unreadable now because I can no longer take it seriously when he writes about domed farms on the moons of Jupiter, or humans and aliens interacting on the surface of Venus. Bradbury's track record is even worse, when it comes to non-Earth settings. The only way The Martian Chronicles makes any sense now is if you ignore everything that happens on Mars and concentrate on one of the most depressing SF short stories ever: "There Will Come Soft Rains."
     
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  7. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo Deity

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    A lot of old science fiction failed to anticipate the rapid improvement in electronics and their ubiquity in our culture. I chuckle whenever I read Clark stories that feature tape-based computers that they interact with only once or twice in the whole story. I think Star Trek is one of the few examples of someone getting it right but even then they aren't checking facebook on their communicators in TOS nearly enough to be realistic.
     
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  8. yung.carl.jung

    yung.carl.jung Hey Bird! I'm Morose & Lugubrious

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    I was simply making the point of anthropomorphism - We can only imagine animal experience as analogous to human experience. So we project all kinds of things onto animals: When they whince we conclude that they're sad, when they waggle their tail we conclude that they are excited. We can never know their experience though.

    I actually do believe that animals are capable of both suffering. I have stated that actually, but I also know for a fact that I can't prove it. I take all the consequences for that fact. I do think we should fight animal suffering, even though I cannot even positively prove that animals suffer analogous to humans. Maybe you should've read my post a bit more closely, i don't think we're in disagreement about anything.
     
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  9. Narz

    Narz keeping it real

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    The same could be said about other humans.
     
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  10. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    I always thought of the computer achieving godhead in that story as a sort of positivist apotheosis.
     
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  11. yung.carl.jung

    yung.carl.jung Hey Bird! I'm Morose & Lugubrious

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    sure, I would agree. but at least we have that amazing tool of intersubjective exchange called language. a similiarly deep communication with other species has never been possible, or at least that we know of. we have a decent idea that humans suffer because hundreds of humans have reported theirs.

    a linguist would even say, though animals do communicate through sound and gesture, that they do not even have a proper language. then the question becomes: "how close is our concept of suffering tied to our language, culture, way of thinking", to which I would reply: "probably very deep".

    it is still entirely feasible that animals suffer in a similiar way to us, or perhaps in a way different from us. it seems relatively clear to me that one thing that all humans share is that we do suffer in similiar ways.
     
  12. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    Well, it's reassuring that you believe animals are capable of suffering. As for anthropomorphising, it's simple common sense that they feel pain, and pain is not something that is pleasant. Saying animals don't suffer is something an abuser would say. Animals feel a full range of emotions just like humans do (I'm speaking of cats and dogs, as I'm most familiar with them).

    The linguists can go stuff themselves. Cats and dogs have a language that includes vocalizations, gestures, muscle movements, and so on. Each one means something that is crystal-clear to others of their species, but humans are finally beginning to learn and understand them. Of course we can't accurately reproduce them ourselves, as we don't have the same anatomy. But after over 50 years of interacting with various pets of my own and other cats and dogs, I've got a fairly good handle on interpreting what their vocalizations and movements mean.

    It's people who don't take the trouble to learn about vocalizations and body language who have some really bizarre ideas of what it means when a cat says or does something, and as a consequence may say or act inappropriately so the cat really does get scared or defensive.
     
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  13. Narz

    Narz keeping it real

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    When I'm away for more than 24 hours my cat very clearly says "Wtf man, where were you? Now lie down so I can cuddle/occasionally mwao/yell at you more"
     
  14. Narz

    Narz keeping it real

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    I'm not convinced suffering is tied to language (tho plenty of self-help books promoting affirmations and positive-self-talk would disagree)

    We have plenty of words surrounding food and sex and certainly our culinary and erotic words/mental constructs are going to affect our experiences but ultimately our experiences of either are gonna activate the same circuitry as our mammalian cousins.

    The main difference w humans re : suffering is our sense of future which can either deepen despair or give hope. I'd say even that isn't as unique as it might seem on the surface, even dogs can acquire learned helplessness and understand routine and experience anticipation (granted they can't anticipate something months away but getting psyched about their owner putting their shoes on, implying a walk on the way, is probably lightning up their brain similarly as us daydreaming about a beach trip w friends next weekend)
     
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  15. yung.carl.jung

    yung.carl.jung Hey Bird! I'm Morose & Lugubrious

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    I agree on all points. The idea that animals cannot feel pain or suffer has only been historical legitimation in order to exploit them utterly. you still see this today with many people believing that fish cannot feel pain, for example.

    Language I don't think is a prerequisite for suffering, that far I agree. Though I would argue that language ultimately determines one's thinking to a meaningful degree. In turn that'd mean other animals probably suffer in a different way than we do, I would extent the same to earlier hominids.

    I wholly agree with suffering being tied to a sense of future, in fact as I wrote earlier to @Birdjaguar I believe a sense of time and existing throughout time is a necessity for suffering.

    animals and humans can definitely communicate in a meaningful way, that much is for sure. even further, animals can make use of our language, as has been displayed by various primates constructing sentences with the help of human training and a computer. what is weird though is that while primates are capable of abstraction, mental representations, of issuing warning calls and solving conflicts, they never (as far as we know) go beyond the "words" (not exactly accurate) and sentences already established. this is analoguous to how many animals use tools. for humans, our infants are capable of neither language nor tool use and learn these key skills through mimesis. with animals those skills of using tools or communication are often inherent, not learned.

    whether or not animals truly speak a language is in the end semantics. the way bees communicate through dancing and ants through pheromones is infinitely more interesting than human language if you ask me. but the main components of a language are still missing. from a paper I was reading:

    I don't know if the TOM question has been resolved in any interesting way, the paper is quite old. If anyone is interested: https://tannerlectures.utah.edu/_documents/a-to-z/c/Cheney98.pdf . Certainly recent studies have had different results pertaining TOM in animals: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_mind_in_animals , but I think the question is still unresolved. It's a really interesting one to ponder: Ravens adjust their caching behaviour according to whether they have been watched and who was watching them. Rhesus macaques selectively steal grapes from humans who are incapable of seeing the grape compared to humans who can see the grape. (all examples from wiki)

    of course one might argue that by defining language in purely human terms, like words and syntax, we automatically exclude non-human animals. that is a fair point, though there are also many ways in which humans developed very similiar to other mammals, so to me it seems plausible that e.g. primates could develop a language with words and syntax like ours, they just never had the right environment, nor selective pressure for that.

     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2019
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  16. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Retired Moderator Supporter

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    IIRC whale songs use syntax. :)
     
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  17. Narz

    Narz keeping it real

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  18. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Veteran of 1000 psycic wars

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    While I won't argue with anything you said about Mouthwash's post, my experience tells me that your premise is flawed. Suffering is not exclusively related to <fill in whatever cause> or even in a causality relationship with events at all. We may supply pity to some sufferers under the banner of "their cause is just," while not accepting others, but at the end of the day I will always fight for "your life is 1% what happens to you and 99% how you respond, and the only cause in the matter of how you respond is you." I most assuredly did a whole lot more suffering during those years of my life when I, objectively speaking, had the least justification than I have done in the years since my life, again by most 'objective standards,' went down the crapper.
     
  19. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    Nope, I disagree. When you're in agonizing pain, you're not necessarily thinking about the future, you just wish the pain would stop. That's if you're thinking at all. When you're in that kind of pain, your sense of time becomes one long, endlessly agonizing present.

    You can't tell me that the pets I had who died of cancer weren't suffering. I don't think they were thinking of future walks or treats. They were in agonizing pain, and that's all that they could perceive. I don't think my cat even knew me when I last saw her at the vet's. She didn't respond to my voice or touch, and cried when the vet picked her up.
     
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  20. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    It is one problem with (most?) animals (if we don't count humans as animals) : they do not appear to be at all aware that death is a thing.
    One has to assume that this would be a significant factor in lack of changes, even if they had the ability to change in the first place.
     
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