Tuesday, December 28, 2010


God is not something one believes in. God is something one does.
God cannot be defined, if one believes god is infinite.
God can only be known through action not an idea.

If we take god to mean the supernatural aspect of reality, then god manifests in reality as unconditional altruism. Unconditional Altruism means an action one does to benefit another that at the same time involves risk on the part of the helper. This does not include helping family or tribe because that can be inferred as still linked with survival (safety in numbers and sustaining progeny).

Let take a moment to think about it. If evolution is the driving force behind life, why would unconditional  altruism exist? It is so paradoxical for a form of life to care for another living thing (outside of kin or tribe thus the word unconditional)

Yet this is what makes our species so unique. It is the basis for our differences of behavior from all other life forms. Unconditional Altruism, which requires empathy, is the starting ground for an organism to shift its attention outside of itself. This is known as abstract thought, the hallmark of the human mind.

So going back to god being a verb, unconditional altruism is such an alien behavior that it becomes supernatural because it seems to originate from an intent outside of an evolutionary driven structure.

Thus, god acts as the unquestionably strange behavior of unconditional love and compassion also known as unconditional altruism.

So all in all, the part of ourselves which is divine is our ability to practice unconditional love and compassion.


I just want make clear that I am not part of any religious group. I state this because I really think evolution cannot account for all the expressions of life, and that the act of unconditional altruism (outside of group or family) has to be of a supernatural origin.

Even if one takes altruism and other facets of culture to be a by-product of an evolutionary trait to plan for the future, you have to ask: Why did humans inherit a trait which such a large by-product that is not present anywhere else in nature.

God (unconditional altruism) is what makes us unique. Share and spread that action (spread and do gods work).

Or if one wants to stay with pure evolution as a means to explain purpose of behavior, then be ready to live in a world were selfish and egotistical behavior are justified.

Even if unconditional altruism doesn't exists because all actions benefit the self in some way, one really needs to ponder how did such an idea come about? This is my point, the IDEA/Action of unconditional altruism is so alien, it must come from something that is not preoccupied with survival.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Learning to Swim

They say to learn to swim.
Who threw us into the water in the first place.
I want to be on land where I can stand.
Not in the water where I can drown.
Many say we were always in the water.
But if that is our nature, why do we choke so easily?
A question to whom no one ponders.
I wonder why fishes can handle it.
While I see so many people drown.
Wasted life on swimming
No room to appreciate this sea.
I know it holds dark mysteries.
The union I share with the water
Feels divorced from my soul
Yet why did I come from it.
Am I an unwanted creation of this vast abyss?
Should I just breath deep
And hope to awake on my feet?

Or shall I stay suspect to this game
Just to feel as if I’m isolated
Always told not to bother to ponder
If there is no room to question
Then there is no room to understand
What it really means to stay afloat

The Evolution of Education and Intelligence

It’s a shame to see such wise people, who know so much, about so little. (PhDs)
Before there were mechanical computers, the term was applied to people. Yes, some people were referred to as computers. These were the men and women who wrote the algorithms and long numerical tables before digital computers did all that. So, we can draw a link from these old school people computers and our specialists of today. The latter are so intelligent, yet their range of it is limited. This farsightedness is partially to blame for our ever increasing destructive ecological impact on the earth. For example, when an economist is told to decide how to decrease a companies costs, his choice, whatever it may be, only sees as far as the repercussions in fiat currency. To conceive other view points is out of the question (“I’m not a ecologist/biologist.”) He is blocked from the bigger picture.
The idea could be for multiple specialists to work together on a problem. But individual limited range is still an issue. In nature, a specialists species is less likely to survive then a generalists one. The same is true on our level. A group of generalists, who all can multilateral think, can accomplish more then a group of single track minded specialists.
Many argue that it is impossible for one to know such a broad range of topics. And maybe that is true if we say it is deep as well as broad. What specialists know now is narrow deep knowledge. A generalists would know broad shallow knowledge. But one many ask: how could shallow knowledge be good knowledge? At the least its deep and narrow which means we get a good understanding/grip of it. Yea that is true, deep means good understanding. But just like the computers replaced people with deep mathematical skill and knowledge, computers again will attain this deep knowledge of everything we can record. Freeing us from the daunting task of memorizing deep knowledge, and giving us the power to apply it quicker and progress faster.
It’s a false to think that many children have low potential for learning. Their minds are sponges that just need to absorb. Our problem is that we have been teaching from an inherited outdated system. We need to revolutionize our school system and model it according to the knowledge we gather on how the brain works. This along with the increasing capacity of computer to store information, humans could have not only broad knowledge, but ever increasing depth as well. Our culture is dumb down, we ignore old wisdom and glamorize youth with its naïve stupid arrogance.

Who am I?

A name, interests, occupation, place of residence. Sounds like that answer is best suited for someone who wants to bill another.
On one level you are a body. But its important to mention that you, through the cell cycle, develop a new body every few years. So what was you as a body ten years ago, is now gone.
The presence you feel inside of you, which perceives and acts. The so called, little person in the head. If this is your answer, its is wrong because there is a fallacy. The little man has the problem of infinite regress. Asking who is in the little man’s head, forever. It leads us nowhere.
What’s left for us to identify ourselves?
The individual cells in our body make up our “whole” structure.
These cells are themselves made up of individual parts.
Ultimately leading to dna and genes.
To proteins and amino acids.
To atoms.
To neutrons.
To quarks and so on… another infinite regress.
Another possible identity is our environment. This answer is favorable because it most describes our behavior and form. We are made to fit as organisms into our environment. The world nourishes us with food and air, things we just so happen to need. If we identify ourselves with the environment, and look at it as it were an extension of us, everyone would be “green”. not because of any fad or eco-guilt, but because it would be as natural as wiping their own ass.

Capitalism encourages over consumption.

A man gets home from a hard working day; he feels he deserves to have the luxuries which an eco-friendly supporter would frown upon.
The fact that this is a meritocracy servers the ideal that one is entitled to indulge. Thus, there is no desire to care for the environment.
Can social engineering, along with an economic system which considers nature, be the way to a society that is eco-sustainable.
New form of education which connects the student to the material on a personal and spiritual basis.
Here “spiritual” means the ability to identify ones self with more then the immediate body-mind.
The teacher must find ways to make the curriculum appealing, not in an entertainment way, but an astonishing way.
As for money, it is not needed anymore. Once we change our values as a society, where we see that all people have the right to life and the earth, where the goal is to give back and receive.
Without money, and a new set of values

The grasshopper and the ant.

Both live in the same area.
During the summer, the grasshopper relaxed and did not do much for winter.
On the other hand, the ant worked very hard everyday to prepare for winter.
Well most know that come winter, the ant survives while the grasshopper dies of cold and hunger.
So at first it may seem that the ant was the smarter of the two.
Yet there is another angle to view this proverb.
The ant is always work strained.
In the summer he is constantly working, while in the winter he is inside with all the saved up food, but nowhere to go.
He cracks his head out for another spring, not to enjoy it, but to go back to work for the winter.
Although, the grasshopper, dead, got to experience the best of what life has to offer, a lazy summer.
So who really got the best of the situation.
If you eat to live, it’s the ant.
If you live to eat, it’s the grasshopper.

Why are we all here? (The Human Paradox)

In contemplating the human paradox, I discovered my mythos.
What is the human paradox? It is the fact that the unique facet of human consciousness (self-reflection) both helps and holds back our development. For instance, our meta-awareness has allowed us to design technology. On the other hand, it also gives us a sense of detachment with reality, as if we don’t belong or are completely insignificant; this is why we act like a cancer upon the Earth.
So I started to ask myself, why would evolution lead to less then optimal outcome for our species? If we look at it from a functionalists point of view, why would natural selection hand down to us a trait which does more harm then good. If evolution is an unraveling system of ever greater perfection (through optimized survival), then why would it produce something which it is horrible at? I started to search for the answer in the way the mind works and stores information.
Every other life form on this planet, unlike us, is pretty good at understanding their place and roll in nature. So what do humans have on everyone else? The ability to not only acquire new non-survival information, but also transcribe and communicate that information with other humans using verbal and written language. This is the key to our existence as I see; the shared use of information unveils the purpose of human consciousness within the cosmos.
An old Zen proverb reads: “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there to hear it, will it still make a sound?” What I enjoy in this saying is how it illustrates the notion that in order for something to exist, it must be perceived; this encapsulates the implications gained from quantum mechanics. This is exactly where I feel human awareness fits into the bigger scheme of things. Our self-awareness allows us to not only perceive, but contemplate that an universe even exists as well. Animals however are not capable of knowing and holding in their minds that they exist in an universe; they lack the proper frontal lobes to contemplate such matters. All animals are basically mechanical entities.
The skill of holding abstract concepts, like that we live in an universe, is exclusive to humans. Take for example the mental state of fear, which is limited to only human consciousness. Fear is defined as anxiety or dread of something, which is represented in the mind. Animals can not hold a concept in their mind; they can only react to a stimulus, and once evaded, the threat leaves their “mind”. If say, I went to scare a cat, once it would run away from my known presence, the thought of me will not enter its head, only if I came back into her perceptual field would she feel any distress. We humans let our past negative experiences color our current mood. That is because we can hold the abstract representation of a hurtful notion, and animals can not.
As this proves, human consciousness is the only kind of known awareness that can essentially hold the universes existence. We are part of the universe that gets to know itself. The other day I was watching a video entitled Street Metaphysics. A young black man in Brooklyn was asking another man about his spiritual beliefs in the street. Toward the middle of the video, the man described his metaphysical system. He explained that human consciousness is the crystallization of cosmic intelligence. At that point it dawned on me. The reason for the human paradox!
Humans are the holders of knowledge for reality. Our clumsy awareness allows for the universe to exist, as we can contemplate it. If we take the tree in the proverb mentioned above as the universe, then we can place ourselves as the perceivers of that tree. Without us, the tree and its sound would cease to exist, as there is no one to realize it.
How does this lead me to my mythos? It affirms my decision to become an educator, either in school or as a therapist. Now I feel my purpose is to absorb and deliver knowledge to others, and hand it down to new generations. But this purpose is everyone else’s as well, for life is nothing but learning and teaching. Whether it be in school, sports, food, or art, human life is just one big exchange of knowledge from one to another.

The fragmented reality of Existence

What the hell is this shit?
This reality, who put it here?
I’m starting to feel my brain inside my head.
How can this hunk of meat be producing all this?
My existence… what a mystery!
I cant think of being normal ever again.
I mean why am I here?
Who decided for me to be born of my mother?
Where will I go when I die?
Who and what am I anyway?
Even if we are made from god,
Where did god come from?
What the hell is the purpose of this existence?
Its so fucking weird.
I wonder what would happen if more people realized this?
How terrifyingly astonishing their being-here is.
Now no amount of disregard can erase the indent of this understanding.
Our existence is weird, and we are lost it in.
Why do animals look as if they fit so well.
Why we, with all this technology, cant find any sort of balance with the Earth.
How do we govern ourselves better?
Shit I am going to die one day.
And how is to going to be?
I had a nitrous experience which left me troubled.
That gas disassociates the content of ones consciousness.
So I believe this would be the closest way to see death.
All that was left was a static awareness; unmovable.
I was bound, but had no body.
My vision was filled with grey static.
My thoughts where all fixated on how I ended up there.
I assumed I have died; bomb drop on my house.
I was stuck for what seemed an eternity.
After that, I wondered if death may have the same plot.
I have read mystic and religious text explaining the void or a no-self,
But is that it?
I wouldn’t like that forever.
Oh man, should I man up?
What fear takes root.
What the hell is this existence?
Why am I here and feeling fear.
Who am I?
Am I god?
Did I do all this to myself?
What if I am just a created dream?
Weaved by a skilled computer wiz.
Using his dream making machine.
Oh man and what if that guy is in another dream?
Crafted by another person.
This can go on forever.
What a mess we have gotten ourselves into.
Who are we really?
What is our deep-seated natural history and disposition?
What is the road toward this kind of understanding?
That would be mysticism!
Not a religion, but a systematic approach for interpreting experience.

Why is Religion Universal?

I believe that religion is universal because it is a facet of human consciousness. It is a product of the inquisitive human psyche, providing meaning* and value to otherwise irrelevant phenomenon. *(functional/practical and existential meaning)
In my opinion, the genesis of religion was at the point of awareness/introspection of mortality and the existential situation. As these apprehensions became problems to early homo sapiens, they started to develop theory of mind; in seeing their own finitude, they began to infer the temporal existence of others. This was not the case before, as their primary goals and values were centered on survival. After the point of death anxiety, survival became somewhat drawn back behind the new concern of reality and its purpose. Thus, belief systems were contrived to control the existential stress of human life.
The notion of death anxiety as the catalyst for the onset of unique human behaviors(that include not only religion, but also art, dance, symbolic representation, unconditional compassion, and music)is a holistic approach to the issue. The method presented by Wade(especially those of Pinker and Dawkins)is analytical and works from the presumption that religion is an insignificant coincidence, thus failing to address the topic properly; the modern residual components of religion are not good starting places for the question of origin. The focus should be on the catalyst which caused survival based organisms to reflect on their existential problems. In addition, it seems unlikely that the cause of death anxiety was of a biological nature, because the change took place over a period of less then a hundred thousand years, a very brief interval in biological time.

What is the Soul?

Age: 21
Sex: Male
Ethnicity:  Latino
Religious Affiliation: Spiritually Gnostic Atheist
Occupation: Student

What is the soul?
The soul is the feeling of being in the present moment. To clarify, it is the sensation of unity that can be expressed as the phrase, “I am”. Once again, it is the point of ones attention that hears, sees, tastes, thinks, feels, and smells. The soul can be thought of as the audience in the theater of conscious experience.

Does it survive death? And if so, what are the options for its final destination?
I do not believe that the soul(phenomenon of “I am-ness”)continues on after death. What continues to exist in my opinion is a pure awareness devoid of subject/object categorization.

How did you come to this conclusion?
I have come to this conclusion from researching similar topics in eastern and western spiritual esoteric traditions and philosophies, along with examining psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science.
What I have learned from past spiritual traditions is that the soul is malleable in occurrence; while science has taught me that there is no fixated point where it “all comes together”. Melding these two paradigms, I have concluded that the soul is something felt and could grow and be developed on, but it does not leave the body at death because it emanates from the mortal brain.

What is the Mind and it’s Relation to the Brain? Free Will vs. Free Choice

In my view, the mind and brain are two sides of the same coin. We can say that the brain is the objective side of experience, while the mind is the subjective qualia of phenomenon. Although most of the mind’s components can be reduced to brain activity, there is still one occurrence unaccounted for: the unitary sensation of being in the here and now, also known as “the Self”. No group of neurons are responsible for this feeling of unison. Thus, in that regard, the mind cannot be accounted for in its entirety by the actions of the brain. To illustrate, a class of psychotropic drugs named dissociatives (this includes substances like PCP, DXM, Ketamine, and Nitrous Oxide) block certain areas of the brain, producing states of depersonalization characterized by dissociation of the senses and thoughts. Therefore, the subject witnesses all of their psyche’s parts floating about individually, yet while retaining a sense of self to witness such events. So with the exception of the feeling of self (awareness of the centered present moment)the brain’s proceedings can account for the minds affairs.
In the case of free will, living in a casual universe should give us the answer explicitly. Yet it does not feel so, and that is because we mistake free will with free choice. Free will is when one can will to do something, free from any kind of restraint. In other words, free will is randomly willed choice. No such thing is possible in a casual brain; all of your choices are predetermined by your personality, and other external factors that you have no control over. Even if we take free will to be the vetoing power of the mind on behavior, the will to veto is still determined by temporal and exterior factors. Free choice on the other hand is when one can choose for themselves from a list of options. The implication should not be to lose our autonomy, for we still have it! We can still have freedom of choice, and be responsible for our actions on others. What should be gained from this fact is the understanding of the roots of behavior. People make decisions according to their current context and past conditioning, not by their unbiased free will.

What is Human Existence?

The aim of this paper is to define human existence as the capacity for the brain to generate self-reflective consciousness, along with the conditions of its beginnings and endings.
Before we can start to stipulate human existence, existence itself should be clarified. What is existence? As defined by Oxford dictionary: “the fact or state of living or having objective reality” This does not tell us much, as the definition relies heavily on the words objective and reality. Reality is defined by Oxford as: “the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them” This last definition brings us closer to a description of existence, yet it still relies heavily on the term exist. We can now start to see that existence has to do with the state of affairs in the world outside of conscious experience. We can call this arena, that is void of awareness, objective reality. But then that leads to the question: if objective reality is different from personal reality, then are there more then two levels of reality? This paper will demonstrate that there are various levels of reality, needed to describe human existence/reality.
The first two levels of existence are easily understood as objective and subjective. Lets take a closer look at objective reality through the ancient Asian proverb, “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around, does it still make a sound?” This line points out that if there is no one to sense reality, does it really happen? Common sense will tell us that the world exists (world as that arena void of awareness) unaffected by our perception. But what kind of shape or depth can this objective reality have if like Protagoras said, “Man is the measure of all things.” Can objective reality exist if no one is there to say it does? This question can inspire many pages of writing, but for our purpose, we will use the answer that the Quantum Field Theory has given, as this is most relevant for this paper’s aim. According to this theory (this is an oversimplification) when we penetrate elementary particles, their individuality starts to dissolve and what is left after a certain point of magnification, is more like an ocean of waves instead of particles. These waves are not any definite thing, but rather the potential to be something until an observer locks them into a exact position, as a particle. Thus we can define objective reality/existence as the resting potential for phenomenon and conscious experience.
Lets now move on to the subjective side of reality and its various levels. Unlike objective reality which has only one stage, subjective reality has many. The reason for this is that many different kinds of brains produce various kinds of subjective experiences. These various levels are: self-reflective consciousness, self-aware consciousness, and animal-instinctual consciousness. The last level can be further divided into subcategories, but for the purpose of this essay they will be joined into one group, as it will better serve the aim of this paper. The first plane of consciousness we will discuss is the animal-instinctual. This is the kind of awareness most animals, including the lower mammals, generate. It is characterized by its purely reflexive nature. These animals behave as mere sensory machines, and are not able to tell themselves apart from the environment. To illustrate how this category of consciousness differs from our own, we will look at a brain-sensory disorder called blindsight. This condition is very similar to blindness but it has a very peculiar difference. Although the patient cannot see, his eyes do work and his brain does revive images. Thus if one were to throw a ball near his face, his body will flinch, yet he will be unaware of why he did so. This is caused by brain damage to one of the two areas that are responsible for vision. The area affected is linked to our conscious vision(which is, in terms of evolution, a new adaptation) while the second area is inherited from our reptilian ancestors. Thus, the animal with this kind of sensory system does not have any conscious experience as their behavior is impulsive.
Moving on, the next level of subjective reality is self-aware consciousness. This type of awareness is almost the same as the former, but the animal now has the ability to tell itself apart from the environment. This is verified by painting a dot on the forehead of the creature, and then placing them in front of a mirror. If they touch the dot on their forehead, it confirms that they recognize the image in the mirror as themselves. This kind of awareness is generated by infants, chimpanzees, whales, dolphins, and elephants.
This leaves us with the kind of existence that is unique to humans, the self-reflective type of consciousness. What makes this level different from the self-aware state, is that now in addition from being able to tell itself apart from the environment, the subject can also reflect on the situation to the point of inquiring about, and eventually investigating it. This is what caused our species to go from adapting to manipulating their surroundings.
In regarding the beginning of human existence, we must first consider the developmental stages of the infant brain, specifically memory and language. The development of memory and language are important when discussing the beginning of human existence, because the capacity for self-reflective consciousness requires a consistent, linguistically-narrative memory. Memory has two major temporal distinctions: Preverbal and Verbal memory. The preverbal memory acts in much the same way as instinctual-reflexive memory might work for animals; that is, the memory is purely impulse, incapable of retrospective analysis. While verbal memory gives us the ability to infer and inquire phenomenon. The capacity for verbal memory grows slowly after about 20-24 weeks after birth, and matures at around 12-18 months. So if we agree that human existence carries this kind of consciousness, we can argue that its initial point is shortly before the maturation of verbal memory (shortly before because the mind at that stage is capable of basic-provisional verbal memory).
Concerning the conclusion of human existence, we can take the reverse of the idea stated above and determine the ending at the irreversible cessation of self-reflective consciousness. This notion is quite distinct from just the irreversible cessation of consciousness; in this case the subject has ceased to exist, although he or she may still be conscious. An example of this would be an individual who has undergone a lobotomy. Thus, we can see that what produces human existence is that specific self-reflective property of consciousness. If that aspect is permanently removed, the existence of the person has ceased.
When on the subject of the person, one must tell it part from the organism or body. If one agrees that brain loss, or higher order brain demise (neo-cortex) is death, then it can easily be concluded that the person (what gives the subject “life”) is not the same as the physical machinery of the carbon-based somatic structure. Therefore the same can be said about conception; that it is the beginning of the organism, not the person. And it is the person which makes the life in question valuable. Even if one comprehends the zygote, fetus, or infant to have the potential to be a person, that potential is not intrinsic; the value of potential (to be a person) lies within the caretakers and their rearing of the child. For it is that which produces the functional person, not the inherent nature of the infant.
One implication of this view of human existence is the issue of infanticide. On the surface, it seems that nothing justifies such a horrendous action. But if one would to look deeply into the matter, it becomes clear that what makes infanticide wrong is not the act itself, but the reason for it. For instance, if an infant was terminated because it had a disorder like anencephaly, it would not, in most cases, be called infanticide. Thus the motive behind infanticide is what creates its stigma, not the act in of itself. Knowing this, it can be concluded that the act of infanticide can be justified when the outcome benefit’s the local group or society as a whole. An example of this would be the abortion of an unwanted or seriously ill infant. The growing infant should not be forced to exist just because of its intrinsic value to live. If it grows up unwanted, the tension carried by the caretakers will seep into it’s upbringing. This will result in a lower self-esteem throughout their life and an overall less functional person. In addition, with the population of the earth growing exponentially, and resources diminishing, it does not seem too terrible to have one less life come into the world. In other words, the perceived problem of infanticide, as a result of agreeing that human existence begins with the capacity for self-reflective consciousness, is non-existent; that is because infanticide is not an issue of when we come into the world, but one of why would someone need to kill the infant in the first place; and that issue of why has no direct link to when we come into existence.

Drug Legalization

A controversial issue in which I hold a strong opinion is the legalization of illicit drugs. I believe they should be legal and regulated just like alcohol and tobacco. I came to this conclusion by observing the failure of the war on drugs. The continuing violence, crime, drug gangs, over crowded prisons, and substance use has led me to believe that legalization is the most effective tool in dealing with these problems by eliminating huge profits which generate from them. Drug addiction is not a criminal problem but a social one. Crime and violence are created through black markets because of the suppliers not being able to handle their problems in a court of law. Crime is also created by the high price of drugs, if they were legal, the price would drop dramatically therefore deceasing the need to steal. There are also many dangers in prescription medications taken as lifestyle drugs, yet those are presented to people as perfectly fine choices for their problems. Although drug use would increase in the short term if legalized, education on the real dangers and the proper ways of reducing these hazards will be available through the sanctioned scientific study of these compounds; thus causing the rate of abuse to go down, as well as the desire to use them. Anti-drug advocates need to understand that most of the appeal generated by drugs is because of their taboo image. In short, these illegal products are more dangerous illegal then legal, they are essentially valueless but our image of them would fool us into thinking they are something special. Crime is something one does to another, drug use is something one does to themselves; thus the drug war is not against crime, but personal liberty.
I personally feel that the drug war is a failure, but this does not mean drugs are benign. They are dangerous, but many things in life are dangerous which are completely legal and socially acceptable. For example, starting a business is very risky, so is gambling, skydiving, even falling in love. All these actions can cause disastrous outcomes, yet there are no laws banning them for their supposed consequences; so why should certain drugs be banned because of potential consequences. These laws reduce our autonomy by restricting our freedom to choose what we can do with ourselves. Drug use is natural and drug abuse is a health problem. There is a bar on every corner in some towns and alcohol is known to be a very dangerous drug, yet we accept this misfortune because it is ingrained in our culture. Does this mean we cannot accept other drugs because they don’t fit into our culture? This seems to be a very xenophobic declaration. The demand for these substances will not end. If I turn out to be wrong and this war does not halt, I would feel that the world would have to prepare for a war that will never cease to exist, as long as freedom remains a virtue.

Mental Time Travel

Our species is most likely the only one on the planet capable of mental time travel (MTT). We have an unique ability to project ourselves into situations that we have previously experienced, or scenarios that have never happened. This skill is generated by our recently developed neo-cortex. It has a huge adaptive advantage, allowing our species to conquer every corner of the globe like no other form of life thus far. This traveling self brought with it the possibility of questioning as one could reflect on the past or ponder the future and try to predict it through inquiry and testing. Our inquisitive nature stems from the capacity to see ourselves outside of the box of the immediate present. Instinct for the first time could be analyzed and modified, causing us to go from adapting to the environment to constructing it to adapt to us. This transition from our ecological niche as hunter-gatherers on the African savanna, to our now global domination of virtually all resources has given us much power. But it has also caused us to lose our connection to the rhythm of nature and feel divorced from our surroundings. Our ability to travel through time reveals our finiteness and vulnerability, leading to crippling anxiety.
Mental time travel is a paradoxical evolutionary trait because it poses a double edge sword to us. On the one hand we have this skill to help us take control of the world’s resources. But, on the other hand this awareness of personal mortality brought along with it a ton of emotional baggage, culminating in death denying cultural world views. What can be the advantage of not focusing on survival, in order to create metaphysical structures not related to nutrition or reproduction? It seems detrimental to have life forms aware of their own existential situation. Why would evolution favor groups creating these cultures, over ones that would not need them for survival? It seems that the group lacking the ability of mental time travel would invade and defeat the crowd of those who spent their time dealing with the abstract. MTT although promising at first, causes much more problems then answers. Why was it that only humans inherited this unique trait?

Science of Empathy

A controversial issue for which I have a strong opinion for is whether or not to redesign the American public school system by adding to the curriculum the subject of empathic growth for all grades K-12. This subject would focus on the development of study skills, tolerance/empathy, and emotional intelligence. My position on this matter would be in favor. This topic stirs controversy because it is challenging to the status quo, and for it’s push for psychology and the other social sciences to develop a science of empathy. I came to this opinion through listening to others speak about the issue, as well as my own dissatisfaction with the school system and the overtly egotistical character of our consumerist culture. Another contributing factor to my position, which is recent, comes from my observation of the persistence of religion, regardless of a secularized society. I pondered how could such a thing still exist. It does because religion provides roll models and ways of behaving that increase compassion; this is their hallmark: the cultivation of individuals which act with unconditional compassion toward all others, accepting them as they are. While many of the major religious institutions are known for their intolerance, comparative religious scholar Karen Armstrong has created a charter for compassion. The charter states that all religions have compassion at their core. Thus many of the negatives we see today from religion arise from individuals hijacking it for their own political or social agendas. My personal feelings on the issue run deep. I feel the solution to many of the worlds problems lies in how people see each other. This culture (what the media portrays) is filled with people out for themselves, with no regard for others that they feel are lesser then themselves, outside of weak sympathy which is not compassion. Science needs to quantify methods of increasing empathy, and formulate them into programs for students. If this approach was wrong, and empathy is not seen as a beneficial thing for everyone to develop, then I would hope for electrical technology to help people relate to each other more. However, I would not stop feeling that empathy is beneficial to society.

Eating Animals "Nicely"

The Benefits of Benign Carnivorism
The average citizen of a developed nation is not too aware of where their food comes from. They are far removed from the process which begins on the farm and ends on the market shelf. Groups such as PETA have made it their duty to expose certain stages of this process to the public for the sake of demonstrating the horrendous affect of mass production on the lives of animals. However, PETA’s solution to the problem of factory farms and the abuse of domesticated life forms is to ban all consumption of meat products. Although the treatment of animals in factory farms is unjustifiable, their solution is more damaging then beneficial. The aim of this paper will be to argue in favor of a system of benign carnivorism which regards ecology over traditional market economics and also explain how it is a much better solution then the outright ban of meat products.
Before we can discuss the benefits of benign carnivorism (or BC) a fundamental concern must be addressed. The purpose of this essay is to lay bare an ethical guideline for using meat products. Yet the question can be asked; what in the first place gives us the right to use meat? Prior to tackling this question, a step further should be taken to ask: what gives us the right to use anything? Not just meat products, but anything that infringes the potential future good of any life form. This would include activities like building on undeveloped land, pest control, and collecting natural resources. It would seem impractical to claim that humans are not allowed to use anything on the Earth because it may endanger the potential future good of a life form. Yet this is the basis for the argument against carnivorism.
Let us take a moment to understand why one would favor animal well being over plant, bacteria, or fungi wellbeing. The most explicit reason would be the similarity between us and animals, as opposed to us and other life forms. Although it seems we have nothing in common with plants, that does not mean we should disregard their interests. If one would want to affirm this reason, they would be forgetting that those who do not favor animal well being use this rationale as well. That is, people who don’t regard the welfare of animals do so because they do not see any similarities between themselves and other creatures. So the basis of similarity is not a good ground for an argument that favors animals life forms over all others.
A second reason one may support animal wellbeing over another life form is the subjective experience of pain or discomfort. It is widely believed that a brain is needed in order to feel pain. It may be true that to experience the kind of pain we endure (suffering) one would need a human brain. And it can also be said that all animals with brains feel some sort of subjective pain. But can it safely be said that a brain is needed to feel pain or discomfort? Jellyfish which lack a brain are capable of avoiding pain, which means they must feel some sort of hurt. If we take a look at some of the studies conducted in The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, we can start to better understand the possible interactions between ourselves and our distant cousins in the family of life. The book details empirical evidence on the rich inner lives of plants. For instance, many studies were done in which three plants, one control, and two experimental, were observed for growth patterns. One experimental group was repeatedly yelled at, while the other was talked kindly to; the control received no verbal stimulation. After a while, each plant grew differently. The control grew to average proportions, whereas the plant which received affectionate verbal stimulation grew larger then expected. Finally the plant which received negative verbal stimulation did not reach full development. This study concludes that the plants were receptive toward the feelings and actions of the individual researchers. It would seem that such a behavior or outcome would require a thinking brain, or some kind of mind to interpret such situations. But plants do not have brains, so we can start to see that in order to respond to discomfort or pain, which would seem the same as feeling pain, a brain is not required.
Continuing with the notion that brains are needed to feel pain or discomfort, one would need to consider how different brains produce different subjective experiences of pain or discomfort. Our brains are much different from most other brains, even the gap between us and our closest relative the chimpanzee is greater then the gap between chimps and apes; thus our brains are on a much different scale then all others. So when we experience pain, we have many more dimensions on which to perceive the pain then would a cow or chicken. One of the hallmarks of the human mind is to think abstractly, so one could say that suffering is pain in an abstracted form. Following this train a thought and applying to animals, their lack of a neo-cortex (which would allow one to think abstractly) would suggest they feel pain on a much different level then we do. Therefore there are levels of subjective pain and discomfort, from a bacteria avoiding danger to a human suffering over the death of a loved one. Who are we to discriminate between one kind of pain over another when the whole position of discrimination is what allows to say that animals have no rights in the first place because they are inherently different.
At this point we can understand in more detail the implications of the question: What gives us the right to use anything that endangers the potential future good of an organism? Clearly, one can cannot live in a vacuum, life involves “treading on others toes”. All organisms use life to their benefit. Creatures eat and absorb each other all the time. But the different between our egotistical use of resources and lets say a carnivore’s hunted meal is an a priori regard for ecology. To illustrate, after a lion has hunted a gazelle, it does not try to get another, while an over zealous sport hunter might kill a few deer in a day. What we have here is a natural balance of ecology taking place in the lions behavior, but not present in the sport hunter. Thus as reasonable and responsible beings, we need to figure out how to fit into to the “scheme of things” by developing practices which are sustainable ecologically.
A lot can be said about how to change our behavior as a society to better preserve the ecological balance, yet the focus here is on meat products. What is wrong with our meat industry today? Simply stated, we treat the industry like every other profit motivated business; and that is the problem. The commercialization of meat products are done in the same fashion as other profit-driven markets. The first step in creating a sustainable begin meat industry is to ignore traditional economic rule of supply always needing to meet demand. This rule is the source of all things erroneous with our meat products market.
The overcrowding, the abuse, the lack of sanitary spaces, the disease, all and more of these horrendous attributes of the modern day meat industry are created by the system of economics which regards profit over quality. Sustainable farming practices observe and maintain the natural state of the domesticated animal, yet this does not equal much profit. This means making sure the animal has a proper diet which reflects their natural one; to illustrate, cows naturally eat grass, their stomachs digest it well, yet today in factory farms they are fed corn which they cannot digest and causes intestine problems. Another example of a sustainable farming practice which is hindered by traditional economics is providing proper space for each animal such as free range grazing. The more one can produce, the more one can profit. This notion allows individuals to cram groups of livestock in to small place for monetary gain. As we can see without any doubt that many sustainable and humane farming practices are compromised by the conventional law of supply and demand. For a meat market that is sustainable and humane to operate under the kind of BC argued here, the demand must respect the supply. Thus, the supply of meat products will adhere to the rules of sustainable and humane farming practices; the demand will need to conform and understand that this market deals with living things and that it cannot be treated the same as any other commercial trade.
Moving on, there are three major oppositions to this system of BC: 1) The pleasure of eating meat does not validate the right to eat it. 2) The life of an animals outweighs the need to kill it. 3) It is wrong to use a domesticated animal for the benefit of people.
Regarding the first counter argument, if all animals which eat meat derive pleasure from it, then are we to stop them if we were able to replace their diets with a meat-free one. It would seem absurd to regulate the diets of animals, yet this is the principle of the counter argument. A mouse has the same right not be killed by a snake as does a cow in the same situation with a farmer. It is worthy to mention though that morality does not extend to animals as they are not agents capable of ethical thinking. Yet if one were to adopt this counter argument, it would become their moral duty to replace all carnivore diets with non-meat ones. Does not the hunted have a right not to be killed by the hunter? As one can see, this counter argument would suggest that animals in nature are behaving immoral; but the reasonable person would say that morality does not extend toward animals because they work within a system which is instinctual and ecologically self-maintaining (nature). However, why cannot humans find their sustainable place in this ecological system, just like the animals have; it is wrong to assume that we are somehow cut off from this ecosystem. Yet this counter argument assumes that we are different; and the basis that we are different from other creatures, as stated before, is the ground for animal cruelty.
The problem of the second opposing claim is that it does not observe the tacit agreement between domesticated animals and the farmer. Our shortsightedness will mislead us to thinking that such a practice is equal to slavery. But the modern person is mostly aware of the benefits gained by the farmer and not by the domesticated animal. Contrasting the fight for survival which wild animals face everyday with the relative ease and comfort of living on a traditional farm (which practices sustainable and humane farming) it is easy to see how the latter is not worse off then the former. Sure, in the wild an animal retains its autonomy, but it deals with the lack of security that a domesticated animal has plenty of; thus, the creature gives up its independence for the security of living on a farm. Surveying a conventional farm, it can be said that those animals live in much better conditions (because of the access to food, shelter, and safety) then many of the people in the world who live on less then a dollar a day. With that said, we can view farms which practice the principles of BC not as a slavery plantation, but as a place which reflects an agreement between humans and animals.
The final counter point to BC holds a considerable dilemma. To illustrate, if we are to affirm that one life using another for its own gain is wrong as in the case of domesticated animals, then the same can be said for a cheetah which hunts antelope. The predator is using the prey for its own good. Although the cheetah acts on instinct, this fact does not challenge the notion that all life absorbs life; so what makes some life ok to absorb and others not? If humans are to consume meat according to the rules of BC, keeping in step with the balance of ecology, what reason is there against eating meat? If the cheetah has the right to enjoy its meat meal, humans should as well. Even though we lack the cheetah’s instinct that makes certain it keeps the eco-balance, we should not let that stop us from finding our own meat producing eco-niche. Understanding the ecological restrictions of our meat consumption can help us enjoy this pleasure while at the same time keeping true to eco-sustainability and humane values.
So far we have discussed the design of BC along with some of the contrasting issues. Lets move on to imagine the ramifications of outlawing meat products.
If hypothetically all industries producing meat goods were outlawed, where would the domesticated animals go? Well if they cannot be held captive anymore, then they would be released into the wild. Yet would this really be the best thing for them? Domesticated animals, through the process of artificial selection, have evolved to require a human counterpart for their survival. If these animals were sent on their own, it would be impossible for them to ward off predators or find food easily. This is because the animals eco-niche has become human care. So it would be in their best interests to remain on the farm, yet was not this slavery? This brings us back to the tacit agreement mentioned before. In other words, outlawing meat will not be beneficial for the domesticated animals themselves as they would be forced to survive on their own, where previously everything was handed to them.
Another consequence of outlawing the meat market would be the excessive use of plants. The demand for non-meat food will skyrocket, causing farmers to grow more plants. This will result in more widespread use of monoculture farming techniques. The problem with that is it goes against the plants natural defense strategy of variation. This will cause the use of stronger and stronger pesticides and/or genetically modified seeds which have unknown affects on health. Be it as it may that this is the case now, but with the outlawing of meat the problem will only get worse. Thus banning meat products will increase the likelihood of plants becoming detrimental to our health.
Finally the greatest negative outcome of prohibiting the eating of meat will be the black market which would be spawned. Visualize for a second the underground farms and how much worse the conditions will be then the factory farms. Just because something is outlawed does not mean the demand for it stops, the drug trade is a prime example. If the principle which the law is upholding is humane, then how would it be humane to allow profit driven individuals to now control the lives of illegally domesticated animals. If there is a demand along with people who are willing to make a fast buck, then the supply will come regardless of any legislative action.
All things considered, the outcome of the meat industry switching from a profit based incentive to sustainable humane ecological one will be more practical then the outright ban of meat products. Although the price of meat will rise dramatically, the imitation meat trade will become ever more sophisticated; thus resulting in meat like products that virtually taste like the real thing. Even cutting edge science could develop ways of growing meat in the lab on a Petri dish for example. Technology is one of the greatest gifts to humanity, allowing us to transcend the problems we face. So with the aid of innovative tools we could all enjoy our meat and care for it too.


Human Evolution does not follow Blind Natural Selection

Human evolution was not due to natural selection because of the unusual selection pressure for larger cognitive abilities. Therefore, human symbolic communication and culture are not derived from the same evolutionary processes as natural selection like other life forms.
Some say: “birds have good eyes, gorillas have great strength, cheetahs have great agility, so humans have powerful minds to compete with all that.” if all these living creatures are playing the game of evolution against each other, then as of now the humans are cheating.
If we imagine the evolutionary processes as a game in which genes use host bodies in order to pass themselves along, which manifests as physical bodies surviving and producing offspring, then how come the human race seems to be winning at this game? A quick answer is: we have the brain to do so. However, why did humans develop the mind and no other species did? The mind seems to be the end-all to evolution by being the one trait to dominate all others. Human brain evolution was itself a peculiar event because of the abnormally high selection pressures for brain development, over other genes not related to brain growth. So the question should be asked: why did evolution produce a species so unique than all other life forms? And not only that but: why was this unique species the one to conquer all others? Our trait has so much power/potential that we may say, if evolution is a game, and the genes are its players, then our genes must be cheating.
If evolution for its whole existence has produced the same kind of organism, who’s first concern is itself and its progeny which includes their tribe, then why would such a paradoxical species such as us come about?
If we analogize evolutionary process as a machine which made squares, and it made a circle, then it would be reasonable to ask: has the processes in the machine changed? Or did another process which we are not aware of create this circle?
Yet this is not the case when it comes to the question, why would evolution produce a species as unique as ours? Answers to this use phrases like “what makes humans so special?” and “culture is a by-product of certain evolutionary significant traits”.
My hypothesis is that human development leading up to where we are now and ahead into the future is not the sole result of evolution (understood as a blind processes of genetic variation and natural selection). Evolution in my opinion cannot account for many of the different human characteristics we have. Neither do I think many of them are “by-products” of evolutionary traits gone awry. Simply put, evolution as a system of survival and reproducing cannot account for the rich complexities of the human mind. The human organism does not behave like any other. Although we can spot many similarities, the differences are to large to ignore, unless one uses cognitive dissonance to convince themselves otherwise.
Its my affirmation that the human race is more of a special and unique species then any other. This does not mean we are entitled to more or have a right to mistreat any life form. Our species is unlike any other in the known universe and we need to acknowledge that and begin to question and study it. We must cease believing that all parts of ourselves come from the blind evolutionary process.
“This paper is going to open up lots of discussion,” Lahn said. “We have to start thinking about how social structures and cultural behaviors in the lineage leading to humans differed from that in other lineages, and how such differences have powered human evolution in a unique manner. To me, that is the most exciting part of this paper.”
-Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 12/29/2004
The human race’s idiosyncrasies are to hard to ignore and pass off as mere coincidence.
We have to seriously ask ourselves why our species has adapted to the point of redefining the rules of natural selection and variation in order to serve our individual agendas.
The mind as an evolutionary game piece is much more then a common player, it is many times stronger and more capable, and all this power relies on information passed down by culture. Culture (unlike the so called primitive “culture” of orangutans which is basically inherited survival-oriented knowledge of their local forest) is a very peculiar facet of human life that which has no equal on this planet. All other life forms obey Darwinian laws of behavior (most of the time) while humans obey their own culture. Why would evolutionary processes produce such a thing out of no where for no reason. That is not like evolution, it has a simple objective of passing genes, however humans are idea driven animals. Why would evolution produce only one species to have an idea/value imposing mind. Why was hominid evolution extremely successful unlike any other? Yet only our sub-species out of the whole genus survived.
Maybe we should start to see culture as the gene pool of ideas. Culture is itself an evolving entity existing in the imagination, developing faster then the human body by passing knowledge (memes) not genes; humans wouldn’t make sense of anything without culture. We come to understand more and more about the cosmos
To say that all unique human attributes are simply by-products of a large mind does not deflate the importance of the question, why are humans the only species to develop a trait with such massive and explicit by-products? Richard Dawkins himself called the human condition the result of our mental trait acting as a double edge sword. Why couldn’t he talk of similar examples from other life forms? That would of without a doubt helped his argument. I believe he can not.
Below is a list of some exclusive human characteristics that classic survival-driven evolution should not favor:
Unconditional Altruism, Desire for Novel experiences(as it engagers the stability of the eco-niche), Difficult and painful childbirth, Voluntary Suicide, Extended Childhood(increased vulnerability), Culture as an Eco-Niche, Ascetic Appreciation(how does this benefit the somatic organism?), Artistic Expression, and Clothing.
What I would like to see is a revamping of evolutionary theory to acknowledge the human race’s distinctness from other animals while understanding that the processes which shape animals is dissimilar from that which shapes humans.
Although we have animalistic bodies, many parts of our mind are not akin to nature. So yes we are different from other life forms, yet this does not mean we are any better or entitled to more then other creatures.
By looking into the differences between humans and other life forms will be the only way to truly understand the intrinsic value of humanities place on earth, thus allowing for a proper democracy to flourish rather then a capitalistic “fight for survival”.

Below are some scientific articles supporting my hypothesis that many of our mental traits such as culture do not have their likely origins in regular evolution. Perhaps suggesting that human evolution works differently from other evolutionary lineages.
These article discusses some recent human evolutionary traits are not beneficial to our modern day selves.
-Obesity? Big Feet? Blame Darwin
-The Top Ten Daily Consequences of Having Evolved
This article shows how literacy worms its way into our brain, thus signifying the unnaturalness of symbolic communication.
-Literacy may have stolen brain power from other functions
These articles cover the unlikely survival chances of our species.
-Extinction Events That Almost Wiped Out Humans
-Humans were once an endangered species
Finally, this articles goes over the oldest human temple which predates cities and farming, thereby showing how significant religious/mystical/transcendental experience (not natural selection) was in creating the first permanent settlements.
-History in the Remaking

Individualism +Capitalism = extreme egoism

Maybe I should start in a traditional tone, followed by a screeching inhale for a gasp for air. Manifesting ideas underwater maybe tricky if one breaths on land. Yet ideas are held and contained underwater. It is only through that wet goopy lens people give value to it.
What a lofty mystery to be alive!
My mind ponders lately as usual. I cannot recall what I have been working on.
But the ISIS track is explaining to me that the present moment is THE moment to be in, so my thinking of the past of no importance now.
What did I come to write about? I really have no clue.
Individualism +Capitalism = extreme egoism
The concept of broad individualism came with the notion of democracy.
I have already explained how capitalism and democracy cant coincide very well.
The mood of a democracy coupled with the economic game of gaining capital which equals not only material wealth but self-esteem, creates a kind of self serving, fragmented, isolated figure who’s main end is his own gain. Although he might have a conception of what is right and wrong, his level of altruism is very low. Is this the kind of person we want our society to generate?
What we need is a capitalism that focuses more on education and less on weapons. Making poverty something impossible. Providing self esteem for their citizens that is not linked with consumption and money. Create a system where we absorb less and reuse more.

True democracy, True religion, True vocation.

The idea of a republic holds that certain people elect those who would govern them. The idea of a democracy is that each citizen directly involves themselves in their affairs of their community.
Most children are indoctrinated in to the idea that this nation is a democratic one. Yet as they get older and the information concerning our style of government becomes less sugar coated, the republic for which we stand becomes evident.
The idea behind a republic is that the public cannot choose what is good for them and they need other wiser people to make those decisions for the greater good.
This may have been true back when most were uneducated farmers with their immediate concern being the fate of their crops for the season. Sure they would of not been able to directly handle many of their governmental issues. But today your average person is more educated then most people where 50 years ago, although it may seem the contrary.
The disinterested attitude most people have concerning their political environment is not a result of their intrinsic nature. It is a consequence of their upbringing and the value system they have inherited.
Some argue that democracy would never work and never has because people will not be on top of their duty. So it is in their best interests (following that train of thought) that citizens could hire/elect someone who can take care of all that confusing work.
This idea of people not having the capacity to govern themselves violates the notion of liberty (one of the three notions this nation is based on) and confirms that the average individual is unable to know what is good for them. This is where education needs to come in and fix that inconvenience. Yet our educational system receives less attention then other departments like defense.
My idea is that a direct democracy can flourish if and only if the idea of a national government is greatly dismissed and the emphasis switches to local government where the citizens of that local area are completely involved.
Education helps raise the critical awareness which is the foundation for making good decisions. Sadly our educational system usually does not regard critical analysis until college.
Once the individual is properly educated and fully involved in their community, their sense of purpose and self-esteem becomes strengthened. This is where true religion comes in as the purpose and meaning of ones life (once provided form religion) is to care and maintain their local communities.
True vocation will manifest as action from the persons duty and commitment to their community. Specialized vocations will fade away leading to more generalized citizens armed with the information and technology necessary to solve virtually all problems.
These three principles of democracy, religion, and vocation are the psychological components which will make a resource based economy flourish.

War: What Is It Good For?

For most people, war is considered to be on the negative side of human behavior. Yet it can be argued that there have been more days of war then of peace throughout recorded history. For all of its destructive aspects, war influences a large part of our culture and cannot be marginalized as insignificant in the larger scope of events. However in today’s world of ever increasing globalization and the growing density of connections between people, can starting any kind of war still be necessary? Can there really be a sane reason to begin war? As William James once wrote, “If the soldier is to be good for anything as a solider, he must be exactly the opposite of a reasoning and thinking man.” The intention of this paper is to demonstrate that there is no justification to initiate war when nations are autonomous and sovereign entities.
To date, there are three major philosophical views on how to govern both the resort to just war (jus ad bellum) and the conduct of war (jus in bello). The first is called the Traditionalist theory, inherited from the past when war was seen as a proper means of foreign policy. It pays no regard to jus ad bellum, focusing only on jus in bello. It declares the moral equality of combatants allowing the unjust side permission to attack the just side and vice versa. The critic of this view, called the Revisionist theory, upholds that only the just side has the moral permissibility to attack, leaving the unjust side with no right to strike. The unjust side according to the Revisionists is always the aggressor; the only way to fight in a just war according to the theory is to be on the defensive side. So far the Revisionist theory seems to reflect on how most people feel about personal self-defense- this being that only when one’s life is threatened are they morally and legally permitted to attack that someone who is endangering them. Thus the Revisionist theory leaves no room for one to arbitrary start a war because of its strict jus ad bellum and jus in bello principles. In spite of that, the final theory of war does permit one kind of invasive attack. The attack and theory are referred to as Humanitarian Intervention. The rest of the paper will discuss and demonstrate how this is not a proper excuse to start wars when nations are self-governing units, which in turn defines what nations are- a piece of land under a single government/order.
On the surface it may seem that such a notion as humanitarian intervention (HI) is a virtuous cause worth implementing into the theory of just war. However, which kinds of cases call for HI? The general answer are cases of supreme humanitarian emergency. Some define this as threats to international peace and the exploitation of one group over another. Although this is similar to the Revisionist theory, the major difference is the addition of a third party. And this is the uniqueness of HI, it justifies third party intervention. At a glance, such a proposition evokes feelings of freedom, liberty, and the duty to spread it across the globe. Yet there is a undercurrent of uniformity which leads to questions like: what forms of governmental and political systems are deemed acceptable and how do we come to know? The problem here is if we have an international system of laws allowing HI, then a high world order is established which removes autonomy from nations by forcing them to adhere to it. Thus a uniform code of ethics, enforced by the threat of HI, removes the sovereignty of individual nations.
If nations agree to a standardized code of humanitarian conduct then what kind of independence do they posses at all? At first it might appear that enforcing such an order would not do much to affect how a nation deals with internal affairs. Nevertheless it does leave a heavy influence because when a nation is instructed in how to treat their citizens, they are also being told how to regulate their economic, political, social, and other systems; all of these spheres of interaction are major indicators of how a society functions. For instance, if a nation is told that they must provide their citizens with a specific amount of resources, that is directly manipulating their economic system; if a nation is told that their leaders must be democratically selected, their political system is immediately affected. So as one can see, the virtuous ideals upheld by HI do remove the self-authority of nations.
People in favor of HI affirm two vague methods of determining whether or not to use it. They are: Legitimacy and Proportionality. The former is based upon the illegitimacy threshold which is an arbitrary measurement of how legitimate, lawful, or rightful a nation appears to be. The issue here is what exactly constitutes lawful and unlawful action? For example, if a nation breaks out into civil war between rebels and the government, who is legitimate? Both sides may have their vices; the government may have been doing a horrible job providing resources, while the rebels may be favoring a non democratic form of government. Who should be helped here? As one can notice, the lines between what is legitimate and what is not are very fuzzy and do not lend themselves well to clear distinctions. Therefore how could one act on such indistinct foundations? Only a higher order which dissolves national sovereignty can set what kinds of groups are legitimate or not. The case of proportionality does not do a better job of offering clear ways to calculate when HI is necessary. Proportionality as a means to determine HI focuses on the impact and benefits of an intervention. It weighs the potential good of a situation with the potential bad it will produce. If the good out weighs the harm, then a green light is given for HI. The flaw in this method is the naïve belief that all the factors of harm and good can be known in their entirety beforehand. The indefinite factors will always deeply skew the initial estimate.
Another problem with HI is the factor of consent. Can the endangered population not want to be rescued? Although it may seem infeasible that one in danger would refuse help, in cases of war and money it can become a very real concern. For instance, the HI group might feel entitled to be reimbursed somehow by the rescued group. This may cause the victims themselves to decline help. Quoting Nico Krisch, “the history of humanitarian intervention is one of abuse” we can see why people can act jaded towards “helping” armies. Some argue that this is not a sufficient reason to discount HI because the people may be mistaken about the motives of a helping army. Nevertheless, the obligation created by this notion of HI can lead the polices to grow into world-wide system of ethics leading to international law and order.
If the goal of HI is to rid the world of humanitarian crises, then what is to stop the increasing list of reasons to use HI? The obligation to help increases as Jeff Mcman demonstrates, “the reasons that favor humanitarian intervention actually rise to the level of obligation far more often than we intuitively recognize” The concern can expand from helping groups from aggressors to making sure governments provide sufficient resources to their citizens. Thus because of the ever increasing sensitivity to our fellow humans because of the obligation fostered by HI, the reasons to engage in HI grow. Therefore the externalized higher order continues to expand leaving a shadow of conformity and authority over what once used to be autonomous nations, now reduced to some kind of provisional state.
Jeff Mcman mentions (2009) how HI should be carried out by a proxy group like the UN instead of any individual nation. The drawback here is how much authority does this group have over all nations? Are they self-governed, or do they work by democratic process, voted by all nations. If they are governed by all nations then the majority will always have direct control of the minority- a major cause of supreme humanitarian emergencies. If they are autonomous then the group will become a new world order/global police. As a result all nations will submit to a higher authority thereby losing their sovereignty.
Consequently, to enforce human rights is to call for a new world order higher then all nations. We need to accept the fact that imposing any ideal globally undermines the traditional understanding of a nation’s sovereignty. HI is not bad in-of-itself; yet in a world which values nations by their independence and self-sufficiency, HI does not appreciate these circumstances. For an order like HI to be obligatory, the world would have to change the essence of what is to be a nation and its relation to others countries.