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in a perfect world

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libertygrl
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Posted 05/04/05 - 2:45 PM:

do we live in a perfect world?

if not, what's wrong with it? which things need fixing, in your opinion? what would a utopian society look like to you, and do you think that one is possible?

do you think it's possible to have a world without crime?

what about a world without illness (for instance, a world where people only die of old age)?

what about a world in which no one ever makes mistakes?

any thoughts?
Rudi
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Posted 05/05/05 - 1:13 PM:

The world was stopped from ever being able to be perfect the day that humans split from the rest of the animal kingdom. For a perfect world we would need perfect humans and unfortunately perfection is not really part of the human character.

Rudi


smokinpristiformis
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Posted 05/05/05 - 2:29 PM:

i have serious doubts about the concept of perfection

other than that.. humans are nothing more than a species on the loose
in a runaway exponential expansion
it's not even an unnatural process in my view

trouble is we might end up causing a lot of suffer this way
so the idea is harmony
finding ways to implement ourselves into our environment without destroying it and without destroying ourselves

i'm convinced technology has a very important role to play in this
but also people must become aware of their own role and start fighting some old biological mechanisms they still carry around but are no longer useful

in a perfect world all of this wouldn't be necessary
but humans created a world for themselves where is expected higher standards than spreading genes only

i can only be glad for this, but it also means we have become imperfect
our biological conditioning, our gene structure is no longer fit for a perfect world

and that's something we have to cope with... our ratio, good will and common sense has to take over and create harmony in as much it is possible

smiling facenod
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Posted 05/05/05 - 4:22 PM:

People through all cultures would have to agree on the meanings of these words, like 'perfection', 'crime', 'mistake' .... in order to strive towards a better world as a whole.

I too think, the process of the human race is as natural as any other species. Unfortunately for most , our existence seems to be costing a lot ,…and if not corrected, eventually it may cost our own survival as well.

"I’m convinced technology has a very important role to play in this"

I agree. Maybe technologies like the internet can be used to come to an agreement, on what a perfect world should be.

Personally, the Utopia of Sir Thomas More, is a pretty good one.

e.
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Posted 05/06/05 - 4:11 AM:

smokinpristiformis wrote:
i have serious doubts about the concept of perfection

other than that.. humans are nothing more than a species on the loose
in a runaway exponential expansion
it's not even an unnatural process in my view


smiling facenod


Hi Willem,

You make a sophisticated philosophical point here. If we accept the obvious, that humans are a part of nature, then it follows that the nature of the world allows for some species to expand to the cost of all other species, and eventually probably to themselves.

This seems to make a mockery of any notion of 'balance of nature'. It is hard to understand a world which can self destruct so easily as 'perfect' for our notions of perfection have the character of security and and form which just don't seem to be here.

I remember Pangloss in Voltaire representing 'The best of all possible worlds' (a Leibnitzian idea) but I was never convinced. I'm not satisfied.

Cheers, e.


smokinpristiformis
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Posted 05/06/05 - 7:04 AM:

e. wrote:
I'm not satisfied.


neither am i, e

that the incredible expansion of mankind is not unnatural at all
doesn't mean we have to agree with it

like we both said in a different context, e
maybe we should fight ourselves a bit more..
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Posted 05/06/05 - 11:10 AM:

smokinpristiformis wrote:


neither am i, e

that the incredible expansion of mankind is not unnatural at all
doesn't mean we have to agree with it



Yes indeed. A complicating problem is the tendency in recent times for the word 'natural' to be conflated with the word 'good'. This happens most obviously in ecology and also increasingly in alternative medicine. But it is an illusion.

There is a confusion and a circularity in this problem. When we think about 'good'in this context we might ask ourselves - good for what?

Philosophy anyone?

Cheers, e.

PS - I mispelled 'Leibniz' but what the heck, no one's perfect!





libertygrl
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Posted 05/06/05 - 11:45 AM:

hmm... perhaps "perfect" was a poor choice of words. what about a "healthy" society? can one exist, and if so, what would it look like?

e.
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Posted 05/07/05 - 4:14 AM:

libertygrl wrote:
hmm... perhaps "perfect" was a poor choice of words. what about a "healthy" society? can one exist, and if so, what would it look like?



Hi Lib,

Well, there is some good philosophy in the 'perfect' case, which I wouldn't want to waste just yet.

Leibniz' argument is that we are living in a perfect world because it is'the best of all possible worlds'. How does he justify this claim? Well he argues that God would obviously actualise the best world that he/she/it could, and as this is the world which has been actualised, then it must be the best possible.

His argument can be made in a non theological way, by claiming that the world which exists must be better then a world which does not exist, therefore this must be a better world than any that we could imagine, because it has the advantage of actually existing.

It is at this level of abstruse philosophy that I usually reach for the whisky glass, but I can assure you that professional philosophers do take this stuff seriously.

What it tells me is that reasoning about reality can be a sad business, 'nitpicking' as some critics say. But it's the best we have in this 'perfect' world!

Cheers, e.
libertygrl
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Posted 05/07/05 - 10:08 AM:

"His argument can be made in a non theological way, by claiming that the world which exists must be better then a world which does not exist, therefore this must be a better world than any that we could imagine, because it has the advantage of actually existing."

but what if, metaphorically speaking, we're just comic book sea monkeys living in the $2.99 fishbowl that god bought with his weekly allowance instead of in the barbie dream house that his older sister got from their aunt jane for her birthday? not that i'm saying that god is american, mind you, although i know a good number of americans seem to think so. rolling eyes

"Well he argues that God would obviously actualise the best world that he/she/it could, and as this is the world which has been actualised, then it must be the best possible."

but do we have the best possible world, or can we actualize a better one for ourselves? naturally, the 'world' in question must then relate to matters of human society which are presumably within our control, and not so much to laws of physics, which are presumably beyond our control.

when we talk about a "perfect" world, we must have a mark to aim for, right? and the question still remains in my mind: what are we shooting for, if anything? or perhaps it's really a question of whether we will ever be happy with what we have.

lib
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Posted 05/07/05 - 11:03 AM:

nicu,

prompted by your mention of it, i'm currently checking out sir thomas more's 'utopia' ( http://www.d-holliday.com/tmore/utopia.htm ). i will say for starters that i definitely like the idea that the utopian priests and magistrates will provide assisted suicides by administering opium to those who seem to have no hope of recovering from their pain. the utopian military 'discipline' is fascinating to me. on the other hand, i've so far encountered a few points that don't resonate very well with me but i think it's going to take some time to contemplate all of the utopian manners of living to see how the whole picture fits together.

out of curiosity, is there anything that you find specifically appealing about more's utopia?

lib
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Posted 05/07/05 - 11:55 PM:

Hey Lib,

Even if 'utopia' is not aligned with all my sensibilities,.. I thought he’s come up with a system, that could make sense for the most part. What do I agree with? Hmm… from what I rememeber...

I like, the simple court/ political system - democratic, 'human factor' taken in to account, and constantly made to be in communication with the people…City planning- much thought put in to the citizens, their comfort and enjoyment … Travel and trade- amazingly reasonable, and thoughtful expectations from it‘s occupants… War- their general distaste for war…

This is making me want to read it again. It was a good read..smiling face The book is quite small, but worthy of a thread.
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Posted 05/08/05 - 6:01 AM:

libertygrl wrote:


but what if, metaphorically speaking, we're just comic book sea monkeys living in the $2.99 fishbowl that god bought with his weekly allowance instead of in the barbie dream house that his older sister got from their aunt jane for her birthday? not that i'm saying that god is american, mind you, although i know a good number of americans seem to think so. rolling eyes

lib


Lib,

Quite so, My old philosophy prof, Edo Pivcevic, used to say that God might well be an evil demon and the world his travelling show, intended for the purposes of sadistic entertainment in the universe. He used to say rightly that we have no way of knowing that this isn't the case.

Anyway, that aside, I think that we can distinguish between cosmology and ethics here. As you say, we can't do much about the cosmology, but we can do something about the ethics - UNLESS - the evil is rooted into the fabric our psychologies. There is a massive literature on this, from the Augustinian 'fall' to Buddhist kamma.

Now that is where the struggle with philosophical ethics really lies, in my view
and maybe why Utopias tend to stay on the paper.Sorry to be cynical on this point, maybe I've just seen too much inflicted suffering, as opposed to afflicted suffering that we can't avoid.

Cheers, not very cheerily,e.

NICU- Don't know much about Thomas More but, like lib, I'm having a look.
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Posted 05/08/05 - 11:20 PM:

there's an incredible power contained in our ability to imagine and believe in what's possible; this is the very same stuff that built the pyramids and sent man to the moon. that much having been said, here's my take on the question.

i do think that a healthy global human society is possible. one where people die of old age, not from plagues or wars, not from killing each other in the streets in sickness and anguish. i think we're a long way from being able to actualize that kind of existence worldwide, but i do think it's possible, and in fact i do think it will happen, maybe thousands of years from now, maybe hundreds of thousands of years from now. the maturation process will be long but necessary, perhaps even inevitable. i can't even imagine what we would be like, what we would look like, thousands of years from now, but i have to say that the idea that some form of human being will still be around appreciating what we've accomplished throughout the millennia gives me a good feeling. smiling face

meanwhile, i think that as a species we are still children in the midst of realizing our potential, still discovering who we are and what we're capable of doing. and i wholeheartedly feel that we should realize our potential - as individuals, and as a whole. but realizing our potential includes realizing the potential to do harmful things. i don't think there's any way of getting around that part of the process. we are still barely becoming aware. we're still navigating a fraction of the vast terrain unfolding inside our own heads, along the neural pathways of our brains.

e., you mention ethics and i think that one of the things that we as a species keep snagging ourselves on as we grow along (and perhaps rightfully so) is the idea that the actualization of our ideals must involve writing and stringently adhering to certain codes of behavior, rather than trusting ourselves to (eventually) follow these codes naturally. you make a good point about considering the difference between 'good' and 'natural'. left to our own devices, we could 'naturally' end up overpopulating the earth so much so that we put ourselves out like a cancer. but it seems to me that we, at least some of us, are also 'naturally' becoming sensibly aware that we don't want to go out like that. some of us are realizing the damage we've done and moving in the direction of making repairs.

as i see it, we have no choice but to become globally civilized; our ultimate survival as a species depends on this. i honestly believe it's simply a matter of time before everyone (who is meant to survive) fully realizes the truth of this, even on a biological level.

for now, it seems to me that we need a new mythology to lead us away from the 'be fruitful and fill the earth' mentality that got us this far. of course, the possibility exists that we may not change our ways at all - we may figure a way to get off the planet after we've sucked it dry and move outward into the cosmos like parasites in search of similar resources to consume. somehow, though, this doesn't strike me as being likely to happen, or perhaps i should say rather that it's not the kind of future i'd like to envision.

my 25 cents,
lib



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Posted 05/10/05 - 10:26 AM:

the idea of natural perfection takes a battering when confronted with the theory of 'bottle-neck evolution'. the short of it is that phenomina shape our path as animals on earth and our diversity at the time of catastrophe supplies the greatest chance of survival for the species. for instance, if a meteor strikes agian, having human populations on every land mass is prefferable as a long-term survival strategy. so perfect for survival as a species equates to diversity if bottle-neck evolution is on the cash.

perhaps it is humans ideals tha are in question here. the virtues; what they are (classically and currently) and are they valid?

do i have a second?

beans smiling face
e.
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Posted 05/10/05 - 10:50 AM:

lib,

You make a good case for optimism about human evolution/progress and I respect that.It reminds me of those 18c landowners who landscaped gardens and planted trees that they knew they would never see themselves. No surprise that the age of enlightenment was one of immense optimism.

I think it is good for the couch that we have an optimistic and forward looking administrator. Just imagine what it would be like if we had the opposite!

In the interests of candid debate I have to admit that I don't really buy the 'progress' thing.To believe the progress theory I would have to account for the 'throwbacks' (sorry George) that keep appearing, and they sure do keep appearing.

It's a bit like my observations on poverty/wealth distributions. In the medium term there isn't much evidence for change. Maybe my timescale is a bit short?
I'm thinking that we may have become a good deal cleverer over the centuries (although even that could be debated) but have we become better? Not so sure.

Beans - So if a meteor strikes europe or the US at least there will be someone safe - you!! Good to hear from you.

Cheers, e.
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Posted 05/11/05 - 9:06 AM:

beans: "so perfect for survival as a species equates to diversity if bottle-neck evolution is on the cash."

good point.

beans: "perhaps it is humans ideals tha are in question here. the virtues; what they are (classically and currently) and are they valid?"

another good point. two virtues that typically come to mind are patience and kindness. what could these virtues possibly be without such things as would try one's patience, or such wounds as would make an act of kindness mean something worthwhile?

i noticed that some of the success of more's utopia depends on the vices of neighboring towns... and this all leads back to the philosophical argument that we need what's bad in order to know what good is.

e: "I think it is good for the couch that we have an optimistic and forward looking administrator."

e. - thanks for the vote of confidence. smiling face

"I'm thinking that we may have become a good deal cleverer over the centuries (although even that could be debated) but have we become better? Not so sure."

do you suppose we've been realizing our potential?

lib
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Posted 05/11/05 - 9:59 AM:

Smokin said:

"maybe we should fight ourselves a bit more.. "

Although I do not think you mant it this way, Willem, I think that we have been doing this for millenia... fighting each other to impose our notions of the perfect world... disapproval

e said:

"I think it is good for the couch that we have an optimistic and forward looking administrator. Just imagine what it would be like if we had the opposite!"

We need not imagine... I think we've seen that elsewhere... crying

Lib said:

"... and this all leads back to the philosophical argument that we need what's bad in order to know what good is."

This makes me think of the need for balance... perhaps "perfection" is in fact nothing more than an optimum balance between good and bad... because after all, what may be good to you may be bad for me, and getting the whole world to agree on what is good and what is bad is probably impossible... so finding a balance that optimises people's satisfaction may be about as perfect as we can get. Of course, people will also disagree on what is an acceptable level of satisfaction for them versus others...

Rudi





Edited by Rudi on 05/11/05 - 10:05 AM
e.
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Posted 05/12/05 - 5:28 AM:

Rudi wrote:


e said:

"I think it is good for the couch that we have an optimistic and forward looking administrator. Just imagine what it would be like if we had the opposite!"

We need not imagine... I think we've seen that elsewhere... crying



LOL - it's a while since I've seen that allusion on the couch!
wink
Cheers, e

Rudi
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Posted 05/12/05 - 7:29 AM:

e said:

"LOL - it's a while since I've seen that allusion on the couch!"

What can I say... I'm an unforgiving viperous bastard... whee

Rudi


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Posted 03/11/09 - 10:22 PM:

The world was stopped from ever being able to be perfect the day that humans split from the rest of the animal kingdom. For a perfect world we would need perfect humans and unfortunately perfection is not really part of the human character.


if i had a dime for every time i heard something like that... the biggest problem is that in our arrogance (or naivete) we're always operating under the assumption (or belief) that we can (or must) create something that is perfect-for-everyone.

the biggest failure of our leadership is to think something that works can work for everyone. rather, things are never perfect, but they become much more tolerable when everything isn't top-down.

entertainment is a fine metaphor... since when has one channel pleased everyone? different strokes for different folks, and yet this seems to never be applied to government, where it's far more important.

i have nothing against waxing philosophical about utopian society, the more the merrier, but on the practical side of things, the only reason we go on about utopias is because we're so caught up in ruling each other that we paint ourselves into corners and confusion where we can't please anyone because we're trying to build a system for everyone. it's like saying we can't build a boat that floats because we can't find the materials or design to build a boat that holds every person on earth, yet you can manufacture a billion boats just fine without the assistance of isambard kingdom brunel or even tim "the tool-man" taylor. the problem is the question. actually, the question is fine, unless it's the only one we ever ask, as it seems to be. sometimes to change the answer you have to change the question.

Edited by happycynic on 03/11/09 - 10:27 PM
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Posted 04/05/09 - 10:43 PM:

We do not live in a perfect world. I think that in order to live in a perfect world humans would have to submit to constant education on what the entire human race agreed to what problems needed solving. It would be impossible to achieve perfection much like the saying "no one if perfect". We as humans are extremely individualistic and tend to have the nature to rebel against group thinking. The reasoning behind rebellion is to solve problems that one does not agree with. Although rebellion is a very poor problem solving technique we as people tend to find this as natural instinct.
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Posted 04/06/09 - 5:53 AM:

We as humans are extremely individualistic and tend to have the nature to rebel against group thinking.


I beg your pardon ?

Humans have a HUGE drift towards group thinking. Most of our lives are defined by the group and our position within it (or outside of it).
There is such a thing as being a selfish narcistic bastard, but even that is something that's defined by the group you measure against.
Those are in much the same corne: the one with the primal, tribal reflexes.
Anyway, the accumulated misbehaviour of all the average joe's in the world is much more of a global drama than those few evil criminals. Violations of eachother and the planet through warfare and pollution (often the same thing, you'd be surprised) happen because we, bloody sheep, let them.


There's also holistic, out-of-the-box, careful and thorough consideration about the whole of the planet. Something that isn't hardwired into our brains through evolution, but we might need it anyway.
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Posted 04/11/09 - 12:46 PM:

I agree and you do make a great point, group thinking is actually more human nature then rebel is. But what you should think about is how a rebellion would naturally begin, one person tends to find problems with what it is they want to rebel against and then group thinking begins. If one person can introduce a larger group to a particular problem that a group agrees with then the group would tend to rebel along with that person. I do agree and realize that "individualistic" was a poor choice of diction.
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Posted 04/14/09 - 3:04 AM:

hayden24 wrote:
I agree and you do make a great point, group thinking is actually more human nature then rebel is. But what you should think about is how a rebellion would naturally begin, one person tends to find problems with what it is they want to rebel against and then group thinking begins. If one person can introduce a larger group to a particular problem that a group agrees with then the group would tend to rebel along with that person. I do agree and realize that "individualistic" was a poor choice of diction.



This is a very interesting line of thought. Especially with respect to the recent 'twitter-revolutions' or in a different context; populistic political parties or such. Somehow, a point of view that has a certain appeal can mobilise a lot of people very quickly. A movement can be created out of thin air, it would seem.
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