Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The ethics of the barnyard

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What many or most secular materialists seem to want - what they ask for - is the ethics of the barnyard.

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Specifically (for the men) to live the pampered life of a stud stallion - well-fed, beautifully groomed, toned-up with refreshing exercise, frequently touring in a stylish vehicle to nice places to have sex with many and diverse partners, admired and envied by all the non-stud stallions...

And then to die swiftly and painlessly, preferably 'on the job'. 

That is, a meaningless and purposeless life - but one filled with pleasure.

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Such a life is not impossible; it is just not human.

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A human is not an animal; but a human might decide to turn himself into an animal, temporarily or permanently - by, drugs or a brain operation perhaps - and thereby lose self-awareness, reason etc.

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And then that person might simply exist, simply be, simply respond to the stimuli he encounters in whatever way he is instinctively-equipped.

He would suffer, he might also experience pleasure; but would not be aware of either, nor would he fear the future - he would just behave differently according to whether a stimulus was aversive or gratifying.

All that kind of thing is certainly possible (i.e. from a secular materialist conception of the human condition).

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I think many secular hedonists regard this kind of pampered animal life as a sort of paradisal daydream. Consciousness and rationality (and perhaps memory) are regarded as a curse. (A familiar trope in romantic literature.)

Yet, without that which makes us human, then the pampered stud stallion does not know he is happy - and from the S-H perspective he might as well be asleep: he might as well be dead.

The secular hedonist fantasy of unconscious animal bliss is therefore just one single logical step away from suicide.

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