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What's the point?

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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:12 pm

To follow on the image of a bee, I ask, what is the being of a bee? And if we can find this, perhaps we can then ask, what is the being of a human being?

Consider the following:

Plato wrote:Socrates
I seem to be in a most lucky way, Meno; for in seeking one virtue I have discovered a whole swarm of virtues there in your keeping. Now, Meno, to follow this figure of a swarm, suppose I should ask you what is the real nature of the bee, and you replied that there are many different kinds of bees, and I rejoined: Do you say it is by being bees that they are of many and various kinds and differ from each other, or does their difference lie not in that, but in something else—for example, in their beauty or size or some other quality? Tell me, what would be your answer to this question?

Meno
Why, this—that they do not differ, as bees, the one from the other.

Socrates
And if I went on to say: Well now, there is this that I want you to tell me, Meno: what do you call the quality by which they do not differ, but are all alike? You could find me an answer, I presume?

Meno
I could.


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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:40 pm

Baker wrote:
adrianus wrote:Nor did you say that some groups of humans are superior to others, but "some groups act more human than others".


Is this not true?

No
Non est.

Differences of action won't make someone any the less human. Just as differences between bees can't affect what it means to be a bee. And doing things that aren't uniquely human doesn't make you a lesser human.
Discrimina inter actiones hominum specialum ad id quod significat hominem esse non spectat, sicut discrimina inter apes ad quod facit apem. Nec humilior homo is qui facta non unica humana faceat.
Last edited by adrianus on Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:59 pm

But what does it mean to be human?

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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:03 am

Look at yourself. Look at others. That's what a human is.
Te ipsum inspice. Et alios inspice. Sic est homo.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:11 am

So I can look at myself, but when I try to look at "others," how do I know that what I see is a human?


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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:46 am

If the other looks like a bee, they aren't human.
If they look like your species, they might be human.
If you are dreaming, they won't be human.
If their parents don't look human, they won't be human.
If they look like your species, show vital signs like you do and you can communicate, they are human.
If a demon is tricking you, an exorcist may help.
Alternatively, a psychiatrist can sometimes help in such situations.
Depending on your philosophy, you may feel it is impossible to know. In that case, what does it matter if you can't.

Is qui faciem apis habet, homo non est.
Qui faciem hominis habet, homo sit.
Si somnis, homo non est.
Si parentes istius non similes homini sunt, homo non est.
Si alius contemplatus speciei tui similis est et vestigia vitae sicut tu demonstrat et inter vos communiare potestis, homo est alius.
Si daemon te decipit, fortassè adjuvet exorcistus.
Aliter his locis nonnunquàm adjuvet psychiater.
Ratione philosophiae tibi propriae, forsit tu certitudinem habere non potes, ut credas. Eo casu, quid refert si ignoras.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:06 am

If it is biologically human, it is human throughout.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:18 am

Sceptra Tenens wrote:If it is biologically human, it is human throughout.

Baker can't dissect the other. He could be arrested. You shouldn't encourage him, Sceptra. Only with bees.
Non licet dissecari alium. Baker prehendi potest. Eum hortari ut is sic faciat non debes, Sceptra. Solùm apibus.
Last edited by adrianus on Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:22 am

Oops, good point. I wouldn't want that on my conscience.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:14 pm

You seem to think that it is obvious what a human is. But what is it that makes us uniquely human? Is it only the "biological" parts of us? Our way of communicating? It certainly isn't that we all have hair, or two eyes, etc. because that would include other animals. Your response suggests that it is all too obvious and that I am simply being a PITA. Please help me understand what seems so obvious to you.

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Re: What's the point?

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:16 pm

Would you market pork as beef if the pig acted like a cow?

My niece is mentally handicapped - she doesn't do much at all that is "uniquely human" - she doesn't talk, read, or write. She laughs and, in her own way, plays. She is scared of the dark and shows some enjoyment, or at least amusement, in movies and music. All of these things occur in some way in animals.

She is still human. She is born of humans, is biologically human, and is recognized and treated as human. The moment you suggest that she is the less human for her handicap is the moment that I will have had enough to do with you.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:50 pm

No thing alone makes us human, because it may be possible to remove that thing and still be human. It is typical for humans to have two eyes, but someone could lose an eye or be born with one or no eyes and still be human. Humans share this and other characteristics with many animals, and the degree to which such characteristics are shared can be used as an indication of evolutionary relationships between animals, if you believe in that sort of thing, as I do. Such things make us human animals. Maybe, though, you are a creationist, Baker. Maybe you have a problem with that and prefer to believe that humans are a creation separate from other animals.

Again no one thing makes us human but a related family of things makes us so. There are indeed characteristics that distinguish the human species and some appear at a superficial level and don't require you to dissect the other to say that they're human (see http://www.statemuseum.arizona.edu/crservices/human_animal_bone.shtml). An individual might lack any of these things also and still be human. It would be a very unusual, I think, for someone to lack all of these fully-developed characteristics but if the individual has human DNA, they qualify. (Legal rights are different; at what point a foetus qualifies for legal human rights is contentious. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/abortion/child/alive_1.shtml.)

As for cultural things (which is what you want to talk about really, I suspect), there are many characteristics unique to humans but again the absence of any of them in an individual can't disqualify them from membership of their species, since that is determined by the DNA from their parents. (On genome variation, see http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/resources/whats_a_genome/Chp4_1.shtml) And the idea of being more or less a human doesn't make sense, except in a science-fiction sort of way.

It is utter nonsense to suggest that some groups are more human than others or act more human than others because they do something uniquely human more than another group or imagine that they do. This is nonsense but it becomes dangerous nonsense when people who should know better in a dominant group draw consequences from it to sway the gullible and to discriminate against a weaker group.

I believe such questions as "What makes us truly human?" are loaded questions, asked by someone who seeks justification for discriminating between people, sometimes in an arrogant but innocent way, as in "I get it but not everyone does so I'm special", sometimes to justify a position of privilege, as in "members of our class are privileged because we deserve it and the unprivileged deserve to be unprivileged", sometimes to justify horrific measures, as in "that group is of a lesser human order and should be exterminated".

Nullum solum nos humanos facit, quod fieri potest hominem adjunctum particuliare carere sed qualitatem humanam in eo manere. Hominis est duos oculos sed homo quidam unoculus vel exoculatus fiet vel crescat et semper homo restat. Sic est hominis et multorum aliorum animalum, et proinde id est indicium affinitatis evolutivae inter hominem et alia animalia, si talia credis ut ego credo. Sic humana animalia nos facit. Tu autem, Baker, forsit es creationista, qui id neges, qui hominem creationem unicam extra regnum animalia esse credas.

Iterum nulla singularis res sed collectio rerum nos humanos facit. Sunt quidem adjuncta quae speciem nostram distinguunt et non pauca horum ad oculos manufesta, ut alium dissecetur non requirentia (de hoc vide http://www.statemuseum.arizona.edu/crservices/human_animal_bone.shtml). Particularis homo ullum horum careat, adhuc is homo maneat. Perrarò, nisi fallor, vivat homo qui alia horum adjuncta plena perfecta careat at eodem tempore verus homo sit cum genomatem humanam possideat. (Non idem praeter jura humana, qua controversum est quando talia jura mereat fetus humanus. Vide http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/abortion/child/alive_1.shtml.)

De rebus culturalibus (de quibus te dicere velle suspicor) sunt multa adjunta homini speciei unica. At iterum dico, non sufficit inopia ullius ut particularis speciei socius non jam socius fiat, quod res geneticam solam spectat. (De variatione genomatum, vide http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/resources/whats_a_genome/Chp4_1.shtml.) Quo delira est quaestio an plùs an minùs humanus sit aliquis, separatim fictionis scientificae sensu.

Nugas dicit qui dicit quidam greges humaniores aliis gregibus esse vel humaniùs agere quod ei aliquid speciei proprium frequentiùs quàm aliis faciant vel sic credant. Deliramentum est at periculosum deliramentum cum ei gregis fortioris qui sapientiores sint hâc ideo utuntur ut socios suos nimis credulos contra gregem debiliorem agere hortentur.

Quaestiones ut quid nos veros humanos faceat praejudiciales credo, a quibus rogatas qui avias excusent, aut superbè at simpliciter, ut cum "ego intellego at non alii, dein exsimius sum", aut ad privilegium defendendum ut cum "privilegiatus sum quod mereo et alii non privilegiati item quod commerent", aut ad facta foeda justificanda, sicut "inferior in gradu humano ille grex et proinde delendus."
Last edited by adrianus on Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby MatthaeusLatinus » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:20 am

I would definitely have to agree with that. This whole "equality of man" in some national constitutions is but a myth.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby beerclark » Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:28 am

MatthaeusLatinus wrote:I would definitely have to agree with that. This whole "equality of man" in some national constitutions is but a myth.


Are you talking theory or practice??

I think 'in theory' we are all just different kernels on the same ear of corn. Basically what I think adrianus has spelled out pretty well. You may have different opinions on Hitler and Mother Theresa but they are both just different aspects of humanity. Or for that matter, the life-long servant vs the adventurous explorer!

If you mean 'in practice'... well, when Augustus called himself "First Citizen"... he may well have said "I'm not an Emperor , I just happen to be the ONE in charge!". Some people are just more equal then others. :twisted:
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Sat Jan 21, 2012 3:20 pm

adrianus wrote:Again no one thing makes us human but a related family of things makes us so. There are indeed characteristics that distinguish the human species and some appear at a superficial level and don't require you to dissect the other to say that they're human (see http://www.statemuseum.arizona.edu/crse ... bone.shtml). An individual might lack any of these things also and still be human. It would be a very unusual, I think, for someone to lack all of these fully-developed characteristics but if the individual has human DNA, they qualify.


In the end, you suggest that DNA is the final arbiter in the question of what is human. But you use the word "human" so freely that you know what is human before you need to understand the DNA. The sense that we need something else, like modern scientific experiments, to decide what something is, is strange because we use the words with a full idea of what that thing is.

If I ask, "what is an eye?", we would agree that it has something to do both with its form and its function. But when it comes to whole living things, the function part becomes more vague. But do we agree that there is more to being human than just plain form? If so, DNA cannot be the final arbiter. There is something that makes us human in our actions, even if we have no purpose or function. I would suggest that it is somehow tied up in doing things like learning Latin, a language for which we have no "need" in living day to day, eating, sleeping, making love, etc. Learning Latin enhances that living, I think, and it is the way in which we enhance that seems to make us different from cats, dogs, sheep, insects, plants, etc.

My daughter is mentally handicapped as well, Sceptra, and I would never suggest that she is not human. I would also not suggest that a person who is a slave is somehow less human than her master. Even a prisoner, without any tools of modern technology, acts human by the thoughts he has and the drawings he makes on the walls and floor of his cell.

I don't think questions like, "what is a human," have simple answers but only organic ones that expand and contract as part of the conversation. A dictionary is a poor tool for truly defining anything but technical terms. If we look up virtue or justice, it fails almost completely. I like to ask these types of questions because I think they are the most important thing for us, as humans, because they help us to think about how we should live. I don't adopt the position that there is no best way to live. I don't think I or anyone else will actually live in the best way, but that does not mean there isn't some ideal that we can explore and try to understand.

Michel de Montaigne wrote what he called Essays. He meant by that what the French word means, attempts. He was attempting to understand some truth via writing and he wrote as if he were having a conversation with that truth, probing it from many angles but never expecting to fully comprehend it. Today we write essays that take a "position." We prefer to pose what we see as the truth rather than make continued attempts at understanding within the same piece of writing. We make thesis statements. Others can argue with us but we then just defend our position. In my opinion, there is less benefit in this way of seeing the truth. We like to think that being open minded is a good way to be, but in that we tend to mean that there is no truth, just different perspectives. I think this is a tragedy.

And no, adrianus, I am not an "anything-ist." This type of thinking divides us more than anything. You say that my question is loaded and asked by someone seeking justification for discriminating between people. But doesn't calling someone an "ist" do the same thing? You are not to blame for this; this type of thinking is imbibed by all of us at the well of modern thought. It has become common to say that some are arrogant in assuming themselves to be superior or privileged, at the same time thinking ones own position of acceptance and equality of all is itself superior.

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Re: What's the point?

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:20 pm

The problem is that I see no need to take it to an elevated and esoteric philosophical level. Humans are humans, bees are bees, eyes are eyes, etc. There is no need for anything more than the technical definition of "human" (our ancestors who first spoke this word didn't have to debate over its definition), and we are sufficiently equipped to recognize members of our own species without a DNA test. Have you ever with all seriousness had trouble recognizing a creature as being a specimen of homo sapiens? Is there anyone that you have ever met that you were honestly unsure whether they were born of humans?

If you have, and it wasn't justified by the person wearing a gorilla costume or something of the sort, then you have a defect. Being able to recognize human beings is an important part of our programming, and I can recognize a corpse as human whether his/her actions in life prove it or not.

What you're asking seems to be not so much how do we as humans recognize humans, but how would a Venusian without inborn visual, auditory, somatosensory, &c. object recognition and lacking any form of technology capable of placing species would be able to identify homo sapiens. Only a Venusian could answer that.

But, I can say that even if someone "was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws", he would still be human despite his insanity and his actions.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:40 pm

Sceptra wrote:But, I can say that even if someone "was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws", he would still be human despite his insanity and his actions.


If that is the case, then someone born a human can be excused for tearing apart the flesh of his neighbor when he finds him dead in his living room, just as a vulture would do? If not, why not?
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:51 pm

Baker wrote:If that is the case, then someone born a human can be excused for tearing apart the flesh of his neighbor when he finds him dead in his living room, just as a vulture would do? If not, why not?


Excused in what sense? Legally? That depends on the government. Socially? That depends on the community (although I believe that such actions are universally* taboo). Psychologically? He would probably be deemed insane. He clearly diverges from the norm, but he is still human and would be recognized as human, even as he is shipped off to the Padded Walls.

If I excused him, I would still be human.

*"Universally" as "in all communities" rather than "in all hearts".
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:08 pm

Let's say psychologically. If he were deemed insane, why wouldn't the vulture be deemed insane when he did it.

Also, if recognizing a human is part of our programming, what would distinguish a robot that looked in every way like a human, acted in every way like a human, and provided no sensual clues as to its origin from being deemed human. If you couldn't tell if the robot were real or not, would it be human?
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:04 pm

Edit (to answer the vulture thing): A vulture is programmed to eat carcasses, and that is the only way that they know how to survive. However, if a vulture were somehow raised eating ravioli, it would still be a vulture.

The human breaks through socio-political programming with such force that the average human being is unable to do comfortably. He has alternatives, and has been raised up to know these alternatives, and is expected to know that his actions are at best frowned upon, but may well be completely unaware of all of this. Despite all this, he is still human.

So far there is nothing fitting that description. If there were, it would fall short on account of the fact that it was not born of humans (the figurative "birth" of construction does not count), and the fact that the matter composing the machine is quite different from the organs, muscles and tissue that make up a human being.

I stop short of mentioning self-awareness, as there are humans who lack this quality (and are, as we say, vegetables). This sometimes occurs at birth, sometimes later on in life.

The quality of humanness without which you seem unable to identify human beings may be tested in ways lain out by Frank Herbert, particularly the test of the gom jabbar. In accepting this sort of definition of humanity, though, you reduce millions, possibly billions of individuals to non-human. From your position, it would seem that you could justify the slaughter non-human specimens of homo sapiens for food at least as well as the taboo butchering of dogs and monkeys.

Even if you did justify it, though, you would still be human.

Edit 2: An attempt to separate humans into two or more different creatures strikes me just as an attempt to make oneself sound superior to others.
Last edited by Sceptra Tenens on Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:12 pm

Excuse the double post, but you may well have already read the previous post (note the edit at the top).

What is this animal?

Image

Can you make a guess with some degree of certainty, or do you have to observe it for a few weeks to make your verdict?
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:03 pm

That is obviously a picture of a cat. :)
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:10 pm

How do you know that it was a cat in the picture?
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:18 pm

You're absolutely right. It looks like a cat but I can't be certain.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:29 pm

I suppose that's where we differ. I am certain, beyond a shade of doubt, that it is a cat. If it were proven not to be a cat (which it won't, because it is one), it would simply turn out that this image was the result of human trickery, which loves to exploit the flaws in human cognition.

There is no motivation here for someone to trick us, and certainly if it were a machine or artistic rendering, someone would be all too happy to take the credit for this very realistic creation. But that's not what I'm getting at here - I'm not talking about the possibility that the image is not of something that can be scientifically proven to be felis catus. We will both assume, for the moment, that it is biologically feline.

Based on your position, it seems that it is possible that a biological feline may be a non-cat based on its actions. I contest this - you immediately recognized it as a cat without inquiring on its habits. Recognizing humans is quite similar, as is their classification.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:40 pm

I agree with what you say about the cat. It would have to be some serious trickery to make a nice looking cat like that. But I think humans are strangely different than cats in that it takes more to make a human. Granted I could see a nice image of a human and conclude in the same way that I am pretty darned sure it is human. But there is again that strange difference whereby a human is almost two things. There is the one that is biologically human, and I do not wish to argue that we are all that and there is nothing that could change our conviction of knowing one of those when we see one. But then there is the other side of being human. That other humanness is the strange one. It is the one who harbors envy, greed, and hatred. It is the one who likes or dislikes conversations such as this one. It is the one who helps strangers in need and feels compassion for those who have experienced some horrific disaster. It is the one who cringes at the actions of a Hitler and rejoices in the actions of a Mother Teresa. You seem to assume that when I say someone acts more human than another, he does so in a "good" human way that makes him superior. On the contrary, he might also do it in the many "bad" human ways. In any case, it is always this "second" part of being human I care about. The first part of being human is not really open to much discussion, as you yourself would surely agree.

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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:47 pm

Baker wrote: There is something that makes us human in our actions, even if we have no purpose or function. I would suggest that it is somehow tied up in doing things like learning Latin, a language for which we have no "need" in living day to day, eating, sleeping, making love, etc. Learning Latin enhances that living, I think, and it is the way in which we enhance that seems to make us different from cats, dogs, sheep, insects, plants, etc.

I would say that you use language in a loose way and then try to draw undue consequences from your choice of words. For instance, our actions characterise our humanity; they don't make it. And no one will argue with you that,—apart from in fables,—cats, dogs, sheep, insects and plants don't endeavour to communicate in Latin,—but then again many humans don't either. So learning latin can characterize human capability but it certainly doesn't make us human. A parrot that learns some Latin can't be considered more human than a person who does just because the parrot has even less need of that language.

A privileged Latin speaker will be one born into a culture where Latin is regularly spoken and someone could be judged a better or superior speaker of Latin. People aren't the same and some types of discrimination are perfectly reasonable, some can be ridiculous, some can be illegal.

Laxè linguâ uteris, id mihi videtur, dein conclusiones immeritas trahis ob vocabula electa. Exempli gratiâ, actiones nostrae de humanite nostrâ detrahuntur non vice versâ. Etiam irrefragabile est, separatim in fabulis, non studere feles canes oves bestiolas legumines latinè communicare,—item verè quoad multes homines. Latinum docere signum quidem facultatis humanae est; non sufficit autem sic facere in ipso ut nos humanis fiamus. Quam homo non humanior psittacus pauca dicta latina tenens qui illam linguam minùs egeat.

Privilegiatus qui nascitur ubi Latinum cotidianè loquitur; superior ut orator qui meliùs alio fatur. Latè variant homines et sunt aliae species discrimationis consequentissimae, aliae ridiculae, aliae inlicitae.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:18 pm

I agree that learning Latin per se does not make us more human. I should have been more exact and said that it is an example of an action that is uniquely human.

I was not using my words loosely when I said that, as you phrase it, our actions make us human. I was, again, disregarding for the moment the physical human that we all are and focusing on the second way. But in that way, I meant exactly that our actions make us human. One of the means by which we attempt to define something is through asking what it does. A chair may be made of various materials and each chair may have a different shape but what it does, or its end, is most of all what makes it a chair. If you cannot sit on it, it is not really a chair. This, as with all analogies, is not perfect in relation to humans. For what do we do or what is our end? For that matter, what is the end or action unique to a cow or a plant? Perhaps a living thing does not have an end in the way a man-made thing does. However, to return to the analogy of an eye, an eye is defined most of all by its action. If an eye does not see, it is not a functioning eye and as such is not really any different than a glass eye. We call it a glass eye due to its similarity in shape but not in function to a real eye. It isn't fully an eye.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:09 am

Baker wrote:For what do we do or what is our end? For that matter, what is the end or action unique to a cow or a plant? Perhaps a living thing does not have an end in the way a man-made thing does.

Again, this is very loose. "For what we do" is that an alternate to "what is our end" or a synonym for it? Is "the end" of a cow (I resist the joke) meant to mean the same thing as a "unique action" of a cow or an alternate to it? Why wouldn't you imagine as a certainty that living things don't have ends (by which you surely mean purposes) in the way that some man-made things are made for a deliberate purpose (leaving aside man-made things made for no purpose)?

Iterum, remissè scribis. Factum et finis, suntne synonyma vel alternata? Itidem, finis bovis (jocum manufestiorem praetereo) et actio bovis unica, synonyma vel alternata? Mirum est te certum non ducere hoc: animalia non habere fines vel affectiones eodem modo ut habeant res consultò factae et utiles (rebus inutilibus neglectis).
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:20 am

Why wouldn't you imagine as a certainty that living things don't have ends (by which you surely mean purposes) in the way that some man-made things are made for a deliberate purpose (leaving aside man-made things made for no purpose)?


What about the eye? What is man-made that is not made for a purpose?
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:25 am

By the way, adrianus, are you writing the Latin first or second in your response? Your last response in English uses improper arrangement of words in one case and confusing arrangement in another. However, it works perfectly in Latin.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:37 am

Baker wrote:One of the means by which we attempt to define something is through asking what it does. A chair may be made of various materials and each chair may have a different shape but what it does, or its end, is most of all what makes it a chair. If you cannot sit on it, it is not really a chair.

I could sit on a pin but that doesn't make a pin a chair. I couldn't sit on a chair that was encased in concrete but the chair hasn't ceased to exist.
Capax sum considendi in acu at non sella acus. Non capax sim in sellâ concreto clusâ considendi. Continuò autem sella clusa exstat.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:43 am

Baker wrote:What about the eye? What is man-made that is not made for a purpose?

Possibly you believe in purpose and intelligent design in nature and find in that evidence of God. I don't.

An unintended pregnancy can result in the production of an unwanted baby and no one could be said to have purposefully made the baby, or purposefully have made the baby's eyes, unless you want to tell me that God did. Man-made purposeless things include any noise a person makes but doesn't mean to and any unavoidable or accidental impact on their surroundings that they make, including damage or just traces or tracks, and waste products, including body waste, food waste, workings waste.

Fortassè argumentum teleologicum credis et vestigia dei in naturâ reperis. Ego non credo, non reperio.

Fieri potest fetum non desideratum infantem prodere de quo nemo dicat eum expressè fecisse, non minùs eum ullam corporis partem expressè creavisse, nisi Deus fuerit qui creavit, dicas. In rebus caecis ab homine facis includuntur et haec: sonitus involutarii vel incidentales et vestigia in circumjecto ut trames, ut signa pedis, sanguinis, sudoris et sequentia, ut faeces, ut detrita, ut sentina, ut purgamenta.
Last edited by adrianus on Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:56 am

I don't believe in intelligent design or creationism. I know that most people who discuss this issue in the way that I have do believe in such things, so I don't blame you for thinking as much. I was honestly thinking of make in the sense of "put together" or "build." I see your point about the things you say humans make with no purpose.

I see your points about the chair but I still think you agree that part of what a chair is involves what its purpose is. To the statement about the pin, it is not a chair because it was not made for that purpose. The chair encased in concrete is no longer acting as a chair and, as such, is a chair that is no longer being used as one. That doesn't make it less a chair but, when it was made, I would guess that the designer did not intend for it to be immediately encased in concrete. If he did, we might call it art.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:07 am

If an eye does not see, it is not a functioning eye and as such is not really any different than a glass eye. We call it a glass eye due to its similarity in shape but not in function to a real eye. It isn't fully an eye.


There are blind people in this world with real eyes in their sockets, and if you will find that they react to physical stimuli (wood chips, for example) the same way that any eye does. They are fully eyes in the sense that every part of them is part of an eye, but they are not full eyes in the sense that they lack in some respect. What is there is undoubtedly eye, just as a slice of pizza is still pizza.

What is man-made that is not made for a purpose?


Neck ties (don't answer).

So, let's cut to this: Is a person in a coma human? How about a person born deaf, blind, and without the capacity to move his limbs or receive the necessary stimuli to produce uniquely human thought?

The example of my niece isn't such an extreme example as all that, but I don't know if I could name one "uniquely human" thing that she does, seeing that much or all of what she does can be observed in some form in the animal kingdom. I don't say this because I think less of her, but because I'm trying to see how on earth she could fit into your definition of humanness.

For the sake of the debate, I recant my statement that I will be finished with you should you classify her as theoretically nonhuman.
mihi iussa capessere fas est
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:33 pm

So then you agree that it is not fully an eye in every respect?

As to the human in a coma, etc., I would say what I said before about how humans are what they are in two ways. I understand that this description of mine is incomplete but I don't know at the moment how to fill it in better. Perhaps you could help? Do you agree that humans are different from other animals in that they have both a physical/instinctual being as well as this other one whereby we start wars over women named Helen and then spend many days sulking in our tent because our superior took our girlfriend, only returning when our best boyfriend was killed in the fighting?
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Sun Jan 22, 2012 2:27 pm

Short on time, only have time to address this:

Baker wrote:So then you agree that it is not fully an eye in every respect?


It is fully an eye, but it is not a full eye - a slice of pizza is fully pizza, but not a full pizza. In the case of blindness, there may even be a defect somewhere other than the eye that causes blindness. Perhaps a man's eyelids are swollen shut, as I have seen before, or perhaps the part of the brain that processes vision does not function.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby timeodanaos » Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:40 pm

I think this topic should be moved to a more appropriate board. By now, it has very little to do with learning Latin.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Baker » Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:02 pm

timeodanaos wrote:I think this topic should be moved to a more appropriate board. By now, it has very little to do with learning Latin.


I agree, by now it has very little to do with anything. :)

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Re: What's the point?

Postby paulusnb » Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:33 pm

To me, the place of Latin is somewhat similar to that of cursive. Everyone says throw cursive overboard. Butttttt, kids who write in cursive perform better on the writing portion of standardized tests. No one knows why, so cursive hangs in there.

Everyone seems to be done with Latin. Butttt, interesting things are connected to the study of Latin. Tests? Who cares. Great souls are connected to Latin and Rome. I am scared to do away with it. Read Montaigne and try to imagine him without Latin or Plutarch (I know. Greek). Montaigne would not be Montaigne. Is that what we want? I will torture millions of future schoolchildren with the dead language if we can get a Montaigne every 500 years. To think of it, we are due right about now.
When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. ~Swift
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