Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, March 4, 2013

Obliged to life

No new Bioethics cases from Glenn McGee today, we’re patiently working our way through midterm report presentations. (Joshua first, then Andrew, Cassie,...) Good opportunity to step back and ponder larger questions. Life. The Universe. Everything.

Well, what about life? What obliges us to preserve, protect, and defend it?

Komron’s report on physician-assisted suicide muddies the question. It seems the very least  a conscientious healer can do for some patients, in loyalty to life, is help them terminate an untenable and intolerable existence. Not to help, in those toughest cases, is to harm.

What’s wrong with misanthropy? Isn’t it the most rational stance, given our history? Why shouldn’t we notice and deplore and finally renounce all the collective harm we do to our planet and other species, and decide (with Vincent) that we  really ought to pull the plug on ourselves?

Continues at Up@dawn | reflections caught at daybreak


  1. oh, *sigh
    well I think that pondering about killing one’s self is sad, and that the thoughts come upon someone for many reasons.
    but in reality, we all have a PURPOSE and are meant to live

  2. Me too, or atleast that we CAN have a purpose and decide to live. As Prof. Dawkins says, w"e're the lucky ones: we got to live."

    And Glenn, as I noted in reply to your tweet message: we've been finding your cases "provocative," indeed. As William James said his goal as a philosopher was to defend life (personal experience) AGAINST philosophy that overreaches, it's clear to me that you intend in your work to defend life against narrow medical professionalism (not to mention drug & insurance companies et al).

  3. "What’s wrong with misanthropy?"

    I think it's an ironic situation. If humans were truly benevolent, we could collectively agree to pull the plug on the horrors of humanity in an effort to save the planet and all other creatures on it. But, then the wisdom of taking responsibility for our effect on the world through acting out this choice would make it unnecessary. And, since we are not able to clearly comprehend the tragedy we bring into the world simply by existing in it, we very possibly will never consider making such a monumental sacrifice because of our self-serving mindset. Of course, this almost guarantees the necessity to do so.

    Perhaps predictably, I'm one of the selfish many, and don't actually think we should kill ourselves in order to preserve the planet. I do think we should insist on a way of existence that does more good than harm, if that is at all possible. And, if it's currently not, we need to work and think harder to find a way that it can be possible.

  4. Through the many years of my life pondering since I was about 6-7 years old, I've always questioned existence. Why do we even exist at all? Why isn't there just nothing? My theory as of now is that we all have our own consciousness and there is not greater being other than ourselves. And when we pass away, we will not exist any more but.. we will be born again; not as the same 'soul' or reincarnation or anything like that. We will take on a new identity/being and wonder the same questions. We will have a new consciousness and not from a previous life form. Just as how you can introspect your own existence, so can I. This "I" will keep continuing to question its own existence.
    It is really hard to explain through words and even models. It is something that I have so far been able to understand myself.
    As for the misanthropy topic, I would like to question who is to say we are the lucky ones to live? For some that don't live quite the lavish/happy life, it may be torture and suffering. I wouldn't label the earth as lucky but rather a rare event or occurrence. To say that we have a purpose, to me, is trying to find a meaning to life so that we aren't just here to be here. Even the most important man or the scums of society will eventually pass. We all try to make a legacy, but as we have seen through history it all passes. I don't mean to be a Debbie downer or anything but life is not as meaningful as some may think it is (of course I probably speak for myself). Perhaps there may be a deity waiting for my judgement day and burn my soul for an eternity for my lifetime of sinning. Who's the evil one now?
    I had an unintelligent friend once tell me, "I'm here for a GOOD time, not a LONG time." And I don't think that quote could be any more true of how to live a life. I promise I'm not crazy guys! haha

  5. Hmmm...

    Maybe your unintelligent friend really just agreed with George Santayana: “There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.” Enjoy it, and make something meaningful of it.

    Here's why Dawkins says we're the lucky ones. I agree with him, and with you that some of us are much luckier than others.

  6. Oops, forgot to add the link: http://osopher.wordpress.com/2010/01/26/dawkins-spirituality/