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Local Rebel
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0 posted 02-13-2006 12:13 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Theoretical physicist Howard Bloom describes our being in stark terms.  He defines us as machines with the purpose of gathering the necessary raw materials for the little factories inside us that manufacture the human genome.

Of course, on a strictly physiological level he's correct.  But, God or no god (which is not the question of this thread), have we transcended our own genetics?  

Rabbi Harold Kushner:

quote:

I am convinced that it is not the fear of death, of our lives ending that haunts our sleep so much as the fear ... that as far as the world is concerned, we might as well never have lived.

Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness.

We are here to change the world with small acts of thoughtfulness done daily rather than with one great breakthrough.



Is our capacity to love, for altruism, for art -- truly a transcendence of nature -- or are they too traits that have been selected by and for survival?  
Christopher
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1 posted 02-13-2006 10:48 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

I'd say they're still survival traits - just on a societal basis, rather than an easily recognized individual one.

Considering the society we thrive in as individuals, and that we've effectively phased out the abilty to relive our primitive hunter/gatherer past, it only makes sense that an individual focus on survival expands to maintaining and growing the society which substitutes our need for more direct survival techniques.
Midnitesun
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2 posted 02-13-2006 11:33 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

*sigh* we are so much more than simple baby making machines. I feel it in my heart and bones, that love is requisite to the survival of civilization.
Essorant
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3 posted 02-14-2006 04:58 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Is our capacity to love, for altruism, for art -- truly a transcendence of nature -- or are they too traits that have been selected by and for survival?  


Yes  

Brad
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since 08-20-99
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4 posted 02-14-2006 07:53 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I realize this is my blind spot, but I don't get it.

How does being a baby making machine or not make Shakespeare, Pollack, or U2 more or less interesting?

What's wrong with being a baby making machine?

What would constitute transcendence?

You titled this purpose. Is this just another way of asking what is the meaning of it all?

Hasn't Doug already answered the question?

Local Rebel
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5 posted 02-14-2006 08:28 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

So long and thanks for all the fish!

I titled it purpose because it's what Bloom and Kushner are both talking about.  Contrasting (not exclusive though) concepts of 'purpose'.  Do people still look for purpose?  Is this a philosophy forum?

Bloom isn't precisely talking about being baby making machines though -- he's talking about manufacturing, over and over again, the genome in each one of our cells.

Ostensibly this leads to making babies.

Are art, altruism, and love conducive to making babies?  Do people like creative, kind, affectionate people?  

I don't know what specifically constitutes transcendence?  Any thoughts?  Kacey and Ess seem to think so... perhaps they'll elaborate.

Chris -- true -- we're a cooperative species, by nature.  Why do you suppose we have such a hard time doing it?  How does your answer explain war?  I'll get to Bloom's answer to that question later.  
Essorant
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6 posted 02-14-2006 08:29 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"What's wrong with being a baby making machine?"

Nothing; what's wrong with being more than a baby making machine?
Essorant
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7 posted 02-14-2006 08:43 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"I don't know what specifically constitutes transcendence?  Any thoughts?  Kacey and Ess seem to think so... perhaps they'll elaborate."

I think transcendence is making a difference.  Life isn't exactly the way it used to be and that's quite transcendant both in a creative and evolutionary way.  Doesn't mean it doesn't have what it used to , but I think it means that life became different and even better in many ways.


Midnitesun
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8 posted 02-14-2006 10:17 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

LOL, there is NOTHING wrong with making babies. it was a joyous experience for me.
But Bloom, according to your interpretation, makes it sound as if we are little more than bio-machines, while the rabbi seems to assume a person's whole life must be to do good for others in order to have meaning.
I don't think anyone can define life's purpose for anyone else, and I'm not even sure I can spell out what my own purpose is here on terra firma. That doesn't stop us from trying, though, and that's what essentailly makes us different from other animals. As far as I can tell, other species don't philosophize, except in our storybook adventures. But somehow, I expect we are far more than a string of codes that just happen to emote. (I sure do love that emoticon!)  
Maybe I didn't understand what point you were making, Reb, and if that's the case, feel free to ignore my input. I ask myself nearly every day, what in the blazing saddles am I doing here? and I'm talking about life in general. I know why I come into this forum, even when I don't offer input, it's almost always a mind tickler. Your thought provoking comments always make me want to transcend all the mundane machinations my daily existence requires of me to guarantee I shall still be here tomorrow. (huh?...LOL)
BTW, Happy Valentine's Day to each of you!
And I'll be back again later today or tomorrow...
on purpose.
Local Rebel
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9 posted 02-14-2006 11:15 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Am I making a point at all?  Or am I juxtaposing two philosophies against each other?

quote:

I ask myself nearly every day, what in the blazing saddles am I doing here? and I'm talking about life in general.



Cogito ergo sum.

We (humans in general in the tech fields) talk often about 'machines' (computers) gaining intelligence, or sentience at some point in the future.  Transcending their physiology, so to speak.

Bloom speaks of us as 'machines'.  Kushner speaks of us as transcendent (perhaps).  I'm not disuaded from suspecting there is a gestalt that we could term the human 'transcendence' -- but, I'm interested in exploring that, and what of the multitude of universal human concerns constitutes transcendence above and beyond what Bloom has defined as our mechanistic 'purpose'.

Happy V day.. or , um.. evening.
Midnitesun
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10 posted 02-15-2006 12:09 AM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

LOL, I'll return tomorrow with my waxing,
but to spill the beans right now?
I just love it when you rub two philosophies together   my philosphy muse is in a feisty mood, but is stranded here all alone!
isn't this the forum for transcendence? I could sure use some transcendental intercour...never mind, I really did mean conversation


(tomorrow I will try to behave)
Huan Yi
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11 posted 02-15-2006 12:37 AM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi


The overwhelming majority of the Earth’s population
is or would be perfectly content to live their lives
in peace unnoticed by the world.  This notion of
the importance of making an impact is a Western
idea/angst not at all universally shared.


Christopher
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12 posted 02-15-2006 09:17 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

war, Reb?

I see two viable possibilities:
  1. War is a method by which [Nature] culls an overgrown species, much as is done in the wild.
  2. I can't site them specifically, but have heard more than one study showing an extreme growth in society following majors wars, which would, of course, lead to a better overall society.
I don't know as how I necessarily believe this, but am just presenting it as an alternative viewpoint.
Local Rebel
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13 posted 02-15-2006 09:45 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Still waiting Kacey!

What is the appropriate attire for rubbing philosophies?  

Huan... remind me -- what part of the West was Ghandi from?  Chairman Mao?  Hirohito?  They all didn't want to change the world? (albeit some for the better some for the worse -- depending upon perspective)

While attaining freedom from desire is a stated Goal of some Eastern religions I doubt seriously that any culture can ever quash the human desire to create an 'ideal' world for progeny.  As long as there are parents there will be that desire.  It's kind of like sex and Christianity.  We all know nobody in the West has any sex outside of marriage right?

I'm going to hold off on Bloom and war right now Chris -- let's pick that up later -- but those thoughts are coming from the general direction of Bloom.  He can point to some pretty good analogs in nature too.

Is there any human activity we can point to and say that it is evidence of 'transcendence?'
Essorant
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14 posted 02-15-2006 11:34 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"Is there any human activity we can point to and say that it is evidence of 'transcendence?' "

The four ages of man.  Every human transcends each age in order to make it to the next one.

Huan Yi
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15 posted 02-16-2006 04:37 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi


I write:

“The overwhelming majority of the Earth’s population
is or would be perfectly content to live their lives
in peace unnoticed by the world.  This notion of
the importance of making an impact is a Western
idea/angst not at all universally shared.”

You respond:

“Huan... remind me -- what part of the West was Ghandi from?  Chairman Mao?  Hirohito?  They all didn't want to change the world? (albeit some for the better some for the worse -- depending upon perspective)”

Well, 3 versus billions; that certainly overwhelmingly
answers my point.

Local Rebel
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16 posted 02-16-2006 07:37 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Not at all Huan.  Not even underwhelmingly.  It merely points to the obvious fact that there are fewer leaders than followers.  300 hundred million Americans... only one President.

Where your statement is correct is that the majority of the world's population DOES live in relative obscurity.  Show me one parent from any culture that isn't a sociopath and that parent very much would like to make a positive impact -- but most are too busy attempting to make an impact on the family budget.

Let's try this though.  When looking for data separation in Design of Experiments sometimes we use the BOB and WOW method.  BOB stands for 'Best of Best' and WOW stands for Worst of Worst.

If thread participants can name who they think of as the BOB's and WOW's of human history then we can look at characteristics and see what patterns emerge.

Essorant
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17 posted 02-16-2006 09:20 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"BOB stands for 'Best of Best' and WOW stands for Worst of Worst."

http://piptalk.com/pip/Forum8/HTML/000645.html#3
Local Rebel
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18 posted 02-17-2006 08:35 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I don't know if Ghandi secretly molested children and tortured them afterwards Ess... but, looking at his aggregate actions would call such an accusation into question.

We can look at the net effect of the actions of persons and judge the results on merits, which can allow us to place Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jesus of Nazareth, Mother Teresa, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, etc. into the BOB column, and Hitler, Moussolini, Ghengis Kahn, Pol Pot, Albert DeSalvo, etc. into the WOW column.
Essorant
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19 posted 02-18-2006 01:03 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"net effect" "actions" "results" "merits"

...are not people.
Grinch
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20 posted 02-18-2006 08:51 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
Is our capacity to love, for altruism, for art -- truly a transcendence of nature -- or are they too traits that have been selected by and for survival?


For two of the above, love and altruism, I’d have to say yes, selection for survival would play a major part. Art however is a different story, I believe its origins are tied to survival but as a consequence not as a prerequisite – when mans ability to survive reached a level that allowed time to spend on other things art and language filled the gap.

quote:
have we transcended our own genetics?


I think so.

flamencoguitar
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21 posted 06-21-2006 06:15 AM       View Profile for flamencoguitar   Email flamencoguitar   Edit/Delete Message     View IP for flamencoguitar

Guess what? There is no reason for it at all. Read Arthur Schopenhauer - but don't jump to the wrong conclusion that he was a pessimist.
LeeJ
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22 posted 06-21-2006 07:51 AM       View Profile for LeeJ   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for LeeJ

I do believe our purpose is to propagate, but it doesn't end there...that is, to me, only the beginning, and I totally agree with
Rabbi Kushner adding to his great words, that until we learn to allow, to have confidence in ourselves enough to educate our own selves, we cannot know the trueness and effects of love...maybe he meant we are machines or becoming machines in a somewhat negative manner...though true, we do carry on the genes...inevitable...to me, it rings clean that we are given free will to change...?

love is all emotions...all things, knowing we are all connected, to all things and our thoughts decissons, actions, so affect the lives of others....
Stephanos
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23 posted 06-22-2006 12:55 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Flamencoguitar
quote:
Guess what? There is no reason for it at all. Read Arthur Schopenhauer - but don't jump to the wrong conclusion that he was a pessimist.


Will Durant once noted that Shopenhaur considered the "stealthiness of love ... due to shame in continuing the race", and then asked "Could anything be more pedantically absurd?"


So are you serious in suggesting that Shopenhaur was not pessimistic?  


Of course I do agree with A.S. on this account ... with man as his own starting point (without a divine word), the World is reduced to unqualitative "will".  Hence the world becomes essentially negative, painful, and absurd.  However I would not agree with Shopenhaur that there is no purpose to human life.


Just curious, do you really play Flamenco guitar?  I play Classical.


Stephen.
kif kif
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24 posted 06-22-2006 04:18 AM       View Profile for kif kif   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for kif kif

Interesting, Rebel.

I believe that the Earth 'peoples', just as an apple tree produces apples.

People are communicators, just as an apple has seeds in the core...for the survival of the species.

I don't believe we've 'learned' art, or *love, just as I don't believe an apple has 'learned' to produce seeds, it's inherent in our make-up. As sentient beings, however, we think we're intelligent enough to decide what constitutes  communication. That's where things start to go skew-whiff.

An apple tree doesn't decide one day to make pears, yet we humans think we can simulate all life. In reality, we're just a tiny part of it, like spores. Important in our own way, but quite destructive to the other life-forms we live off. At least an apple tree gives back to the land it grows on.

Is this where altruism is supposed to come in? We've learned to repress that one, in our race for supremacy, which is a tad more than survival.

*love=desire

Yeah, I'm a pessimist. Shopenhauer's right on. Yet, in saying that, I believe evidence of trancendence can be found in polyrhythms. Maybe I'm not so pessimistic, after all!
 
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