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Does it change anything if human life is finished?

+4 votes
Suppose you had completely infallible knowledge that atmospheric conditions would within, say, 300 years, completely eradicate all possible food sources for humans and so cause the extinction of our species -- that this will happen as a consequence of chemical processes already at work, and it will happen in essentially the same way even if tomorrow every single factory and workshop closes its doors, every metal thing is dismantled and its parts gently placed back in the earth, every scrap of plastic carefully fished out of the ocean, every captive creature let loose, and so on. Absolutely nothing can, according to this prophecy, change the fact of certain species extinction. Would, or should that knowledge change your ambitions and priorities? I mean that to be a way of asking: would you then decide that the hope of social emancipation was beside the point and turn to something else? Religion or something. Or would (should) you think that makes the anarchist project no less/all the more urgent?
asked Jan 31 by asker (8,200 points)

"freedom is teleological positing, it's when you use abstractions to reason about what goal you want to pursue. "

interesting definition of "freedom". to use abstractions to reason about what goal you want to pursue. i must admit that does not clarify for me what you mean by freedom, particularly in the context above in which you used it. but i don't know that it matters.

if i knew for a fact that human life would cease to exist in 300 years, it would make literally no difference to my life, desires, priorities, etc. i might feel a touch disappointed that i won't be around to witness whatever ends this failed experiment. i would not suddenly change my lifestyle, or start voting, or devote myself to the future of humanity.

on the other hand, if i knew for a fact that human life would cease to exist in 1 year, i suspect i might have some ideas about things i'd like to do differently.

I very often imagine that I have that knowledge even though no one could have it for a certainty. But I don't have any defensible answer. I just end up doing what most people understandably do: things that seem meaningful in the context of my immediate surroundings and finite life, like read poems and try to be nice to my partner and so on.
i didn't want you to feel like you had to defend anything....i just felt interested in your thoughts about your question....i assumed you had used it as a thought experiment and had some ideas in mind of what you would do differently.
"things that seem meaningful in the context of their immediate surroundings and finite life"

right on, that is how i want to live every moment! and i personally believe that if everyone did that quite a bit more, this world would look very different.

thinking about the future - beyond the very immediate future - is something i have always been largely incapable of. it has not even been a conscious choice on my part, although when i read "be here now" (by ram dass) back in the 70s (my teens), it was maybe the most profound thought i had ever come across. of course, i was tripping my ass off on acid at the time, so there is that too...
i overall don't care about "the human species" or "the environment", i feel like the things being asked here are way too abstract. Catastrophic scenarios are kind of fun to think about but can't really even be thought about until they happen. I'm definetly interested in witnessing any changes that may occur from climate change etc.

A lot of the time i still find myself thinking about starting "that cabin in the woods" but overall i don't feel like i have enough of a reason to do it.

1 Answer

+2 votes
no.  I do not identify with the idea of a species outside of specific biological conversations.  there is no such thing as humanity and as such they can all go to hell.

on another note I know full well that I am going to die and yet I still take an interest in my life, the same interest I would take if death was uncertain.  if I did believe in humanity I imagine I could say a similar thing about 'social progress' or whatever it is humanists are into these days.
answered Jan 31 by shin (2,170 points)
Sure, I mean, you can answer this whole problem by deciding you don't care about teleological purpose in any way -- that seems like a kind of defeat to me.
not looking for something that cannot be found seems to me less like a defeat and more like a means of limiting stress.

to state that not finding teleological purpose is defeat is to presuppose its existence, i.e that it exists and both can and should be found.  i have very little use for the word should anymore.

could you give me an example of a teleological purpose you think we have established?  because i dont think there are any.
I mean, I think that much history happens under different kinds of compulsion but pretty good examples of people deciding on a purpose for their life might be early orders of monks drawing up documents to describe the form of life they aspire to -- or, I don't know, the German peasants' war which intended to establish a kingdom of heaven on earth.
i dont think that they would satisfy aristotles notion of a final cause. final causes are supposed to be intrinsic to objects, not human goals applied to objects.  and all objects are supposed to have them.

and i dont even necessarily believe that 'objects' discretely exist.
no, you're right, I wanted that as a shorthand, but it's true, Aristotle isn't trying to explain human activity when he defines the four causes.