View Full Version : Sort of philosophical drivel

Jan 19th, 2005, 05:30 PM
I was thinking last night about predators. My son has an unnatural fascination with cougars. We were watching the Legend of Cougar Canyon and it was a very realistic portrayal of a cougar lifestyle. Do any of you find yourself abhorrent of predators, even though it is obviously nature's way and they can do no different? I found myself from there pondering exactly where humans fit into this scheme. It seems that nature has provided a perfect system based on the premise that everyone takes what they need from this earth and humans are obsessed with taking what they can get. I read the book Ishmael a long time ago and I remember being offended at the apparent veiw that humans are somehow outside the ecosystem. I understand now that we are uniquely in this position of being able to manipulate the ecosystem at will. We kill off all the natural predators in the area and then we install hunting season to thin the population of deer.

Are we, by our very natures, destined to be monsters, ravaging the earth and replacing nature with an artificial version of our own making? What can be done, assuming we can communicate this situation to all the people of the world, to give us a proper place in the ecosystem? I mean starting from where we are right now. My husband's family actually had a discussion with me about somethings like this recently and I was sounding off about factory farms. Thier responses were things like "Farm turkeys aren't anything like wild turkeys. They would die in the wild. If you leave them out in the rain they will drown from looking up at it." and "Where would all those cows go if we let them loose?" It struck me that they were in another dimension. I was thinking of how awful we are to have mutated a species for use as a food resource and they were thinking of how stupid farm turkeys are. Anyway, I didn't happen to marry a companion who shares my views, nor even my bent for philosophising.

I am reading a book right now called The Genious Within. It is about how humans believe the brain has a monopoly on intelligence and goes into great detail about the remarkable intelligence of bacterial colonies, slime molds, immune systems, etc. I tried discussing it with my husband and he said "Can we not talk about this? I feel like I'm in class." :( Since getting married and having a child there is an intellectual component to my life missing. I mean, I find teaching, raising and watching my child fascinating but all of my conversations are one sided these days. Ah, well. If anybody has the time and inclination to dig through this tangle of ramblings I might get a decent conversation out of it. So just throwing it out there.


Jan 19th, 2005, 08:26 PM
I have long pondered humans place in the ecosystem, we are obviously physically designed to be herbovoires, yet some (most?) humans seem to have a desire to kill and eat other creatures, how did this desire start and how is it continued? I don't know, but I have thought about it.

Jan 20th, 2005, 05:12 AM
I don't know that I can say we are obviously designed to be herbivores. I mean we have protein needs that would be very hard to satisfy in many areas of the world as an herbivore say, hunter gatherer. I do know that with the well connected society we have today there is no reason to eat another animal. Why kill if you don't have to? I can't understand it. My husband has a close friend who does and has always hunted. I have spent time with him and really like him. He is close with his family and a good friend. He is intelligent and interesting, but we cannot agree on this. He maintains that he prefers to kill his own food because it is better to know that it was a wild creature with a life and not tortured on some factory farm. He won't consider the thought of not eating animals. To him it is unthinkable, just not in his realm of reality. I find it so hard to resolve my contradictory feelings. I mean, my core values urge me to condemn this person but in my heart I know him to be well intentioned.

Jan 20th, 2005, 06:04 AM
I tried discussing it with my husband and he said "Can we not talk about this? I feel like I'm in class." :(

Wow. I couldn't live with a partner who doesn't love being intellectually stimulated. Maybe someday your son will grow up to have your love of philosophy :) . You could stay up until the wee hours of the morning talking with him! That's how my boyfriend was with his mother. It was so sweet and fascinating. Sorry to go off-topic, that was just floating around in my head.

I disagree about the protein needs thing. I think mainstream ideals about human protein intake are scewed and have read alot of evidence from nutritionalists who think our protein needs are much different, and very intune to a natural herbivore's. I mean, scientists have found that it's impossible for a person's diet to be deficient in protein unless abundant amount of processed sugars are included. I think the regional foods of any areas would provide natural foods that would not make protein intake a problem, unless you live in an area where food doesn't grow.

About the start of our killing other creature, I don't think it was out of desire. It was probably started out of necessity, when plant life became scrarce, and in more modern times, the bare facts are either not thought about, or those who do feel that desire do not feel a sense of wrong doing due simply to the common acceptance of the killing of so called "lesser" beings. Sorry for the run-on; I don't have alot of time right now before I pass out of sleepy pills.

Jan 20th, 2005, 03:47 PM
LOL sorry but that last part sounded like me :) You have read articles saying that we don't actually need all 8 essential amino acids? or just that we need less protein in general? I was saying that with the amino acid chart I have that lists foods where they are found it looks like you need such a variety of food and I didn't think that would just happen to grow in some areas. I took my son to a nutritionist because my husband doesn't like veganism and she wasn't a vegan but she gave me a bunch of info and was very supportive of us being vegan she said that she had no worries that we could get all we needed without really planning it out. the only thing that concerned her really was iron intake. I don't trust the FDA or most independent researchers. They all have an agenda so it's really hard to sort out the garbage. I just try to make sure I don't just accept the stuff I want to hear and throw out what i don't. I majored in chemical engineering in college so I sort of have and analytical mind and I want to see a firm, one variable study before I buy into things, which you will never get with human nutrition. As for my hubby, we do talk about politics and he studies sociology but I think that stuff is crap. Statistics are the astrology of math. Anyway he does work full time and go to school full time right now so I guess it isn't fair to complain if he is wrung out at the end of the day. I am starting back at school next quarter and he will graduate soon so I think we will both have more of a balance. Off the subject here but I found a vegetarian diet for my dog and she absolutely refuses to eat it. When she gets really hungry she comes up and paws me asking for treats. So I had to buy some cage free eggs to mix in with it. Ryan thinks that is funny. Oh well. She's a good girl.

Jan 20th, 2005, 06:40 PM
I was speaking strictly about volume, but I understand what you're saying. We probably evolved to get those animo acids from the natural surrounding of one place, before we started spreading around like loons. I guess some of the places groups of humans wondered off to just might not have the vegetation required for our bellies.
I'm feeling a bit silly right now. Probably because I can't wait to finish posting so I can go outside! There's a bench that needs sitting on and a book that won't read itself.

Jan 20th, 2005, 07:25 PM
please could people put spaces between paragraphs? it is hard to read when it is in a solid block :o

Jan 20th, 2005, 07:38 PM
Can do. Must be nice to be able to sit outside. It is practically a blizzard here. Mind if I ask what book?
Since my first post was a monster, how about if I break it up. Anybody read Ishmael?

Jan 20th, 2005, 09:08 PM
Right now I'm reading Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray because it occured to me that I've never actually read it, and I love Oscar Wilde.

Jan 21st, 2005, 05:12 AM
It seems that humans are the only living things on the planet that consume the earth to (it seems) no ends. Why are humans the only creature , who so far, cannot seem to live in harmony with their environment? You talk about people being "destined" to ravage the earth and create artificial environments. I don't know if that is true. I think if humans are destined for anything, then it hasnt happened yet. If there is a divine reason for us being here, then I haven't seen it. That doesn't mean that it may not be coming though.
As for evolution, that seems to strive for perfection. A species wouldn't evolve into something that would hinder it's own existence in any way. Maybe I'm wrong ,but since the appearance of humans , mass extinctions have occurred, the environment has been devastated, and we constantly take from the earth in excess. All of these not only hinder our own existence, but the existence of all living things. Does this seem like a step toward perfection? It almost seems like a step down from chimps. Maybe were just a stage in an evolutionary process, yet all other living things have found a near perfect balance in nature. I think all other living things almost have an instinct about themselves and their environment, and they respect it. Yet we lack it and I dont know why.
Many people have permanently removed themselves from their natural envirnoment. I think it was probably centuries in the making, but humans have removed themselves physically and mentally from the natural environent. The majority of humans in the west anyways, believe they are superior to everything else, and that they are entitled to ravage the earth. I think it will probably be centuries until this view is erradicated. Veganism is a start though, I believe were on the right track.

My friend has been raving about Ishmael, I guess maybe I should finally take up his offer and read it. I read Guns, Germs , and Steel and he was pissed. "What?? You read Gun Germs and Steel, and you haven't read Ishmael?? Dude!! What are you thinkging?" I never really knew what he meant, maybe I should find out!

Jan 21st, 2005, 06:24 AM
Really when I said destined I had no supernatural context in mind. I simply meant are we on the track with no brakes. Ishmael is a really fascinating book. I didn't think I would like it because I am not your typical eco vegan left winger. I am pretty right wing actually, but I did like it and it made me think. That makes it a good book in my veiw. Also I think it gives wolves undue credit to say that they "respect the environment". I think it's more a case of they do what they need to survive and no more no less and that works for mother nature. Survival isn't enough for us and I think that is the major difference and puts us all in a quandry.

Jan 21st, 2005, 09:15 PM
Yes I think wolves respect their environment. You said it yourself, they take what they need no more and no less, and this causes them to be in harmony with their surroundings. They do what their capable of doing to sustain their habitat. It sounds like your saying that by random chance this just so happens to work for mother nature too. I dont think that's true, every other living being seems to live by the same philosophy and it works. But I think your right, survival isnt enough for humans and that;s what separates us.

Jan 22nd, 2005, 04:21 AM
What I was getting at is that wolves don't have a philosophy. They have instincts and mostly rely on those. While humans, equipped with self-awareness, consciousness, and an overinflated sense of self-importance have the capacity to think of a million and one cockamamie ways to mess crap up.

Jan 31st, 2005, 07:59 PM
Animals don't have a sense of awareness, a conciousness, or any feelings of self importance? I don't think that's true at all.

I believe it *is* a human's instinct to be somewhat greedy, violent, and destructive (especially the male species). If you look at history this is what humans have always done. Even Native Americans who were so "in touch with nature" burned down massive amounts of forests. Our ancestors hunted many animals to extinction for the shear thrill of mass killings. They killed and tortured both humans and animals for the fun of it. So why have people behaved this way? They obviously did it out of their own free will, they did it because they *felt* like it, so you could conclude that that was their instinct. And maybe the more intelligent and civilized humans become, the less destructive and violent we will be, but it seems that modern humans are hell bent on going in the opposite direction. :rolleyes:

Quote--"The majority of humans in the west anyways, believe they are superior to everything else, and that they are entitled to ravage the earth."

That belief is not even close to being limited to Western countries.

Quote--"I don't know that I can say we are obviously designed to be herbivores."

I don't think so either, humans are omnivores and have the freedom to chose what they eat and what they don't eat. And Eskimos and other people who don't get alot of exposure to the sun and who can't grow very many crops on their land would have serious deficiencies if they didn't eat meat. Nothing is black and white.

Quote-"As for evolution, that seems to strive for perfection. A species wouldn't evolve into something that would hinder it's own existence in any way. Maybe I'm wrong ,but since the appearance of humans , mass extinctions have occurred, the environment has been devastated, and we constantly take from the earth in excess."

Evolution isn't about perfection, it's about adaptation and survival. The destruction done to the environment by humans is largely the result of human overpopulation. And now we have the technology (that's "evolving" right along with us) to trick mother nature into allowing infertile people the ability to give birth to multiple offspring. So in a way, modern humans will never again be in harmony with nature because we have the capability to avoid the process of natural selection, which is quite an accomplishment. You have people walking around that were never really meant to exist. You have people cheating death by taking a baboons heart and using it as their own. You can be completely paralyzed from the neck down and still live a relatively normal and fulfilling life. We are not bound to the laws of nature anymore. There is no "survival of the fittest" among humans... for us it's more "survival of the richest".

Feb 1st, 2005, 06:36 AM
I have a couple of comments here. First, I know and knew when I wrote it that I did not mean to say that animals do not have consciousness. I meant that they base thier decisions on more "natural" instinctive drives. Humans have the capacity to add all sorts of inane things into the equation when making a decision. They have the capacity to do what they know to be wrong or self destructive even. Animals just aren't there contemplating thier existance or their place in the universe. Just my opinion. I suppose I've never spoken to one, not in depth anyway.

Next, I find myself thinking that we have completely reversed the process of natural selection. I mean the average well educated, financially stable couple has far fewer children than the average uneducated, impoverished person. When you factor in affirmative action (which is common practice even in places where they say it isn't) you have not the fittest candidate succeeding but perhaps an unsuitable one that fits a description. This is a personal example so I may be biased. My husband applied for a job with the police department at the same time an 85lb girl who worked with him did. These are the people who are supposed to protect the streets from crime. My husband was in the Marine Corps and is a fitness buff. He served as security for the president at camp david. This girl was a on again off again college student, not even a good one with pretty much no experience whatsoever. They asked her to pull the trigger on a gun 20 times and she could not do it. Yet when it came time to fill the class she got a spot before my husband. We try it seems to force nature to fit with our changing political and social structures.

Last, I don't necessarily believe that it is our instinct to be greedy and cruel. I think more likely that behavior is a product of the added stress which comes with the added cognition we have. I mean life got a whole lot more complicated as our neural networks evolved and continues to do so as technology evolves. I believe that violence and cruelty are partly caused by the fact that people live thier lives in a manner which is inconsistant with thier core beliefs. When I became vegan it was a huge weight off my shoulders. I had pushed down these values and feelings because they didn't fit in with the world around me and I was very unhappy but I didn't know why. When I realized that it is much more important for my beliefs to fit in with me than the world around me I felt like a knot untangled inside me. People go to church and are taught that compassion is the way of the lord and then they go out and cut throats to get what they want. You can't run from yourself. This is my absolute only outlet for conversation since I am staying at home with my son so forgive me if I ramble.

Feb 1st, 2005, 10:27 AM
Not to start up anything big, but personally I think the animal consciousness is closer to ours than most people give them credit for. I read a story the other day of two baby chimps who could sign. One of them broke a toy of thiers, and when asked about it, he said the other one did it. :) What a nasty, though adorable, thing to say.
I just think people generally undermine the thought processes of a "lesser evolved" being because we tend to not notice much about those we don't view as equal to ourselves. (sort of like the whole a bigot of a certain race may not be able notice things about them, like not being able to "tell them apart" thing) I just love reading about behavioral studies that shock people because they don't think of animals at complicated being. (Sort of on this subject, if you haven't read that article on octopi on a recent Discover issue, you SHOULD)

Feb 1st, 2005, 03:12 PM
I don't think of animals as lesser beings but they certainly have a lesser amount of "hidden" neurons, which are those responsible for data storage and recall. I am reading a fascinating book right now about how species with lower network intelligence have higher genetic intelligence. By that the author means that they utilize genetics to learn. They essentially evolve much faster than we do. Admittedly by both the author and myself we do not have a way to quantitatively measure intelligence as such so this could be so much drivel but we do study behavior and map brain activity in both animals and humans and find it works much the same with the brain storing things in related "clumps". The author postulates that DNA is simply a method of data storage so that a future generation doesn't have to go out and relearn things that it's ancestors already knew, like walking. Species with smaller brain mass tend to have more instinctual information stored in thier brains so that they are born with much of what they need to survive while humans reserve more space in the brain for individual learning and that is why children play. They need to reinforce survival skills which are not so strongly hardwired in the brain at birth as in other animals. That is not to say other animals have less intelligence, just that more of it is hardwired from birth. For instance, researchers have long looked for evidence of play in insects and there has yet to be a documented case. They already know by and large what they need to survive at birth. We have replaced this, I believe, with our technology and societal structures, i.e. with our individual learning.

Feb 2nd, 2005, 02:57 PM
What is the book? Sounds like something I'd love to read.

Feb 2nd, 2005, 03:22 PM
Oh, sorry. It is called The Genius Within (Discovering the Intelligence of Every Living Thing) by Frank Vertosick, Jr. He's a neurosurgeon but writes surprisingly well anyway :) He is humorous at times and, unlike most doctors, has the ability to write to people other than doctors. Did you finish Dorian Gray? How was it? Do know what issue of Discover the octo article was in? I suppose it wouldn't be hard to find at the library. I think I'll go there today. Meg

Feb 3rd, 2005, 01:44 AM
I haven't finished Dorian Gray because I've been reading other things during the day. I'm not so much a fiction girl, so it's easier for me to just read a chapter before bed every night.
Once I checked, the issue of Discover was much older than I thought. October 2003. There was also the most amazing article of gravity.
I'm going to see if I can find that book.