Philosophy Monday (3)

By Revival Ojedapo.

These are five more questions (and discussions) “about human nature and the human condition”. The questions are culled from:

11. Is it possible to live a normal life and not ever tell a lie?

What a remarkable life it would be, to live without telling a lie. Or better yet, to live a life free of deception. In order to attempt the question above, you have to admit that is practically impossible to live without ever telling a lie. Almost everyone has told a lie before, even if they meant good by it, in which case they’d call it a white lie. So, it really depends on how extreme you want to go by asking the question. Does it include every lie, white or ‘dark’, or limited to the purposeful act of deception.

If you’re like Kant, and you believe that lying is always wrong, regardless the situation, you’ll probably find him/her a queer person, who never told a lie. Also, you’ll have a hard time finding such person. If variations were allowed though, and we redefine lying to mean purposeful and hurtful deception, then we’ll still be able to say what a great feat it is not to ever tell a lie.
Admittedly, it wouldn’t be a normal life, but a liberating one. It’s true you’ll hurt someone’s feeling (yours mostly), but you’ll take comfort in Mark Twain’s words:  “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything”. Feels like freedom, doesn’t it?

12. Does a person’s name influence the person they become?

Nomen est omen is the Latin phrase that encapsulates the hypothesis of nominative determinism, which is the idea that names can influence ones choice of work. Some psychologists assume that people may be subconsciously drawn to things that sound or relate to their names.

In the field of psychology itself, there are examples, such as Freud (meaning joyful) advocating for principles of pleasure; Adler’s (meaning eagle) incorporation of ‘will to power’, and a few others.
Other than the subliminal effect of names, it is also true that some people would allow their names to influence their behaviour, especially, when they’re named after someone.

But, all things considered, your name would have to combine with other variables for it to have any effect on your destiny. When we meet someone, we ask their names, and we immediately connect it to their lifestyle and work. However, when we get to know them better, we find other more prominent factors that made them. As Dr Martin Ford posits: “names only have a significant influence when that is the only thing you know about the person. Add a picture, and the impact of the name recedes. Add information about personality, motivation, and ability, and the impact of the name shrinks to minimal significance”.

13. Is the meaning of life the same for animals and humans?

Meaning defines everything, and if the meaning of life is the same for animals and humans, then there’d be no distinction between the way we live and the way animals live. It would mean that humans are no different from animals in essence.

Evolutionists opine that the difference between human beings and animals is only a matter of degree. Thus, like animals, our basic outlook on life is survival and reproduction. And any other meaning we find along the way would only be personal and secondary.

Unlike animals, however, we humans have the ability to ask this sort of questions. This feat in itself could only mean something—that human beings can’t be satisfied with such an oversimplified outlook. It would seem that mankind is in constant search of something it has lost. That’s why it is assumed that animals live mostly in the moment, while humans spend most of their  thinking of the past or future.

We’re a peculiar species, with a big diversity, but our ability to pass knowledge from generation to generation has helped us to stand out. So, we might be similar to animals in our desire to survive and multiply, but there exists a peculiar purpose for mankind. It flows through the stream of knowledge that keeps flowing from generation to generation.

14. If someone you loved was killed in front of you, but someone created a copy of them that was perfect right down to the atomic level, would they be the same person and would you love them just as much?

We want to assume that the created copy comes along with all the memories and attributes of the real person.
Well, the dead would still be dead, but you’ll have an exact copy of them. Surely, it would be an unusual phenomenon; and when you finally recover from the counter-shock of beholding this uncanny copy, your relationship with them would definitely be different.
Seeing them die in the first place would have left an emptiness within you, and it is left to see if the copy can fill it.

Perhaps, you’d have a different perception if you didn’t see them die. But still, the whole situation could depend on the grief that’s felt, and the disruption of it. Also, you’ll probably seek to know the identity and purpose of the person who created this copy. All these could affect your long-term relationship with the copy. Maybe if we didn’t use the word ‘copy’, we could paint a more acceptable picture. But copies are copies, what can you say?

15. If you could become immortal on the condition you would NEVER be able to die or kill yourself, would you choose immortality?

There’s probably a large number of people who’d choose immortality if it were up for grabs. But, they’d do so only if some requirements were ascertained. For example, you wouldn’t want to live forever if the world would be at risk of colliding with the sun one day. Also, no one would want to live forever if they can’t be young forever. Neither would you consider immortality if there were risks of having a serious deformity along the line.

But, then, you would have been specifically engineered for eternal life, in such a way that you cease being a true version of yourself.
I believe we all crave immortality, but there’s something in our nature that makes us inadequate for the gift.

However, the idea of immortality remains ever present in our mortal endeavours. When we talk about such things as soul and life achievements, we often allude to a sort of transcendence. So, yea, one form or another, immortality would seem appealing, but definitely not in this present disposition. In fact, it is not against our nature to crave this experience.

Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote: “If you were to destroy the belief in immortality in mankind, not only love but every living force on which the continuation of all life in the world depended, would dry up at once”.

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