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  1. - Top - End - #181
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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Eye View Post
    It's a fact that everyone is going to die one day, whya re people so afraid of it?

    it's like being afraid that the sky is blue, it just is, there is nothing you can do about it.

    I really don't get what the fuss is all about.
    I think a large part of the fear that most of humans evince is the possibility that there could be a divine being; a God; that we could be judged for the wrong we've done and found wanting, and guilty of deserving punishment eternally. Not speaking about any particular religion or it's beliefs here, just throwing out ideas.

    And your example is just a teeny bit logically fallacious; fear isn't the want to change something because you fear it (at least not by definition)... it is, put extremely literally, the fear of it.
    Last edited by CircleOfTheRock; 2018-03-07 at 05:32 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kane0 View Post
    "In the Eyes of the Great Beyond, you are constrained to each other's embrace until the day you perish"
    "Hey, that sounded more like a curse than a wedding" Your mortal customs are foreign to me. Is there a difference?
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    If I ever tried to cast animate dead or conjure animals at my table, my DM would reveal an AK47 and kill everyone in the room and then himself.

  2. - Top - End - #182
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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    *Yawn*

    (In case someone else forgot what is being referred to.)
    I will side with the Buddha any day :)

    P. S. I didn't know this webcomic, thanks!!
    Last edited by Spanish_Paladin; 2018-03-07 at 07:23 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #183

    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    And? So? Why does this threaten you so much?
    Because it's a rank fallacy that threatens the morale and the morality of the human race.

  4. - Top - End - #184
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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    Because it's a rank fallacy that threatens the morale and the morality of the human race.
    You clearly have a different definition of “fallacy” and “morality” than I do, because those two words don’t apply at all.

    As for morale... it doesn’t threaten my morale, and it doesn’t seem to dampen the morale of other people posting on this thread. It doesn’t bother or upset me at all.

    I want to feel needed and relevant in my work, family, and social life. But I don’t care that I am utterly trivial and not even vaguely needed or relevant in the big picture.

  5. - Top - End - #185
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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    You clearly have a different definition of “fallacy” and “morality” than I do, because those two words don’t apply at all.

    As for morale... it doesn’t threaten my morale, and it doesn’t seem to dampen the morale of other people posting on this thread. It doesn’t bother or upset me at all.

    I want to feel needed and relevant in my work, family, and social life. But I don’t care that I am utterly trivial and not even vaguely needed or relevant in the big picture.
    Well, in the oriental traditions they say that everything is important in the big picture, from a quark to a supermassive black hole. Because we are all it. I like that vision (at least in that non-dual concept) and perhaps it can reconcile your apparent antagonistic points of view.

  6. - Top - End - #186
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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    To what end? What can a beast's understanding of personal death, as you propose, do that mere fear of predation or other injury not do?
    In social animals, it helps the group prepare for the death of any one individual. As an individual, it helps cement a fear of the lethal, in order to avoid situations that may get you killed. It may also be a mere consequence of how the mind is wired, as everything in the head is extremely interconnected, and attempting to draw a neat little check in a box will instead do something more akin to spraying half the area with a multi-coloured spray can. The mind is made from compromises and lucky side effects, not everything in there actually serves a purpose in and on itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    A mind that could fathom personal death is a mind that could fathom sex as a powerful force in the given animal's life
    Oh, that I'm certain they fathom, what with all the elaborate rituals formed around mating. That said, I get you have a more complicated view of the conception of new life than just two half-cells fusing together, but even if animals are spiritual or religious, there's no reason they necessarily would feel the need to start practicing abstinence; after all it's not very conductive to the survival of the flock/species. It's not in human society either, but making sure that any one person only forms a strong intimate bond with one other person does help avoid a lot of drama in closely knit groups (and a lot of animals form strong pairs during the mating season or for life too).

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    No. I'm saying that humans, by virtue of the kind of mind capable of understanding personal death, are capable of (though not always willing to) transcend their ordinary perceptual consciousness, into the higher levels of “looking down” on themselves as to make a scientific or kindred discovery.
    I'm absolutely certain that the main driving force behind scientific discovery hasn't been the scientists looking at themselves in third person. Nor fearing death, for that matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    That's a very interesting exposition and I appreciate it, but it's not what I'm talking about. I'm asking about the spirit world. Does any beast conceptalise a spirit world qua spirit world, which it will attempt to contact, summon from, or otherwise manipulate, typically in the form of a body of shared knowledge or pseudoknowledge regarding same? A dog growling at its own tail doesn't count.
    I don't know, but I'm not ruling it out per definition. We're still learning new things about what animals are communicating between one another.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    How could you be awthey don't are of your own mortality but not grasp that there are others who mean you harm, and not consider the possibility of talking to them? Again, you're reaching to a conclusion that isn't warranted; there is nothing knowledge of personal death can do for a beast that mere fear of injury could not.
    Because talking to them is likely to get you killed before you manage to pierce the language barrier? Why don't sheep farmers go out in the forest to form a treaty with the wolves. Why do we back away from a mother bear; surely we could just communicate that we're merely passing through and don't mean her cubs any harm? We have, even within our species, developed quite elaborate schemes just to ensure the safety of our diplomats in peace negotiations...

    Also, I'm not the one reaching unwarranted conclusions, I'm explicitly trying to avoid reaching unwarranted conclusions (a fear of death necessarily implying human-identical cognitive capacity) by trying to show that we don't know enough to draw them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    Our intentions or behaviour is irrelevant. If ants had knowledge of personal death they would not act as they do, they would have a plethora of other behaviours including {RULES}.
    The second sentence excluding the last two words is probably true, as knowledge of your own mortality most likely requires a lot more capacity to reason and predict than what the ant mind is capable of. The last two words are an assumption which may be true or not. However, you should stop insisting on using these extreme examples, as it isn't conductive to the discussion and only reflects poorly on you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    What is it with gaming sites and suicidal misanthropic nihilism? Renounce your anti-humanism and we'll talk.
    I find it fascinating that you consider embracing our insignificance "suicidal", and it does tempt me to dive into some pseudo-psychological analysis. Now, in the ever-expanding cosmic soup of universes falling out of the big bang, there's no human achievement possible which is big enough that there won't be a scope so big that it won't just be insignificant, but also absolutely indistinguishable from the cosmic background noise. Despite saying this, I'm one of the least suicidal and most curious people around, and not depending on our significance to provide meaning to my life does benefit me in that I can make my own meaning instead, whether that is perfecting gaming strategies, organising elaborate parties, arguing online or designing the perfect tools for developing cutting edge military technology.
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  7. - Top - End - #187
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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Since Donnadogsoth keeps making obtuse remarks about ants, let's talk about ants:

    Ants build.
    Ants war.
    Ants practice agriculture.
    Ants change entire ecosystems by their presence and landshape engineering.
    Largest ant colonies measure thousands of kilometers in square area, being larger than some human cities - in fact, larger than some human countries.
    Ants, both in number of individuals and biomass, outnumber humans.

    Does this prove ants fear death? Not at all. But if you presume they don't fear death, then none of the above things can be attributed to fear of death either.

    There is also a rather more tidbit I know, about ants: their eggs are a good source of protein. Unfortunately, the eggs are quite deep in the nest.

    So how to get at the eggs with minimum hassle:

    1) Spread a sheet under the sun.
    2) Roll up the corners so there's shade at the edges
    3) Knock the top off of an ant hill.
    4) Plunge your hands deep into the hill, grab as much matter you can, and throw it on the sheet.
    5) wait for the living ants to grab the eggs and take them into the shade at the edges of the sheet.
    6) eat the eggs.

    I underlined the part that's of interest to this discussion. Ants act to protect their offspring; on some level, they know the eggs will dehydrate under the Sun, and hence take their eggs into the shade. Does this prove ants fear death? Haha, no. But it does show that even animals as distant from humans as ants, act towards preservation of their species. If ants did fear death, we would be forced to conclude that their fear is just the conscious mind reflecting on a far simpler biological impulse. And this has an implication for humans as well: our fear of death may be by-product of our conscious mind, but it's not the reason why we act to avert death. On the contrary, we were acting to avert death long before we had conscious minds, and this instinctive aversion is what was turned to fear when reflected upon and generalized by a conscious mind.
    "It's the fate of all things under the sky,
    to grow old and wither and die."

  8. - Top - End - #188
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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    Since Donnadogsoth keeps making obtuse remarks about ants, let's talk about ants:
    I might take this a step further and really challenge people's preconceptions about intelligence etc.

    Plants

    There are plants that can talk to each other
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    plants on one side of a field being attacked by aphids, will warn plants on the other side of the field. The warned plants will start proactively producing anti-aphid chemicals. It has been shown that this communication goes through a "mycorrhizal network" in the dirt (plants separated with a barrier in the dirt didn't get the message)


    There are plants that can solve mazes like a lab rat

    There are plants that learn
    Spoiler
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    scientists took a plant that was sensitive to touch (the leaves fold up protectively when touched). They dropped the plant 6" and it freaked out and folded up all its leaves. Then the scientists did that over and over until after about 5 times the plant realized there was no risk, and stopped folding up. Even months later it remembered that being dropped 6" isn't a big deal


    There are plants that can recognize and help family
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    They will grow their leaves away from family to make sure it gets light, and will grow over other plants to cover them with shade


    There are plants that can count
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    The Venus’ flytrap counts the number of times prey comes in contact with its sensory hairs to determine the size of the insect, when to shut its leaves to trap the creature, and even how much digestive juice to produce for its meal
    Last edited by Aliquid; 2018-03-08 at 10:49 AM.

  9. - Top - End - #189

    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    In social animals, it helps the group prepare for the death of any one individual. As an individual, it helps cement a fear of the lethal, in order to avoid situations that may get you killed. It may also be a mere consequence of how the mind is wired, as everything in the head is extremely interconnected, and attempting to draw a neat little check in a box will instead do something more akin to spraying half the area with a multi-coloured spray can. The mind is made from compromises and lucky side effects, not everything in there actually serves a purpose in and on itself.
    This alludes to the sort of spillover effects I have insisted upon. Such understanding would have more consequences than just increasing fear.

    Oh, that I'm certain they fathom, what with all the elaborate rituals formed around mating. That said, I get you have a more complicated view of the conception of new life than just two half-cells fusing together, but even if animals are spiritual or religious, there's no reason they necessarily would feel the need to start practicing abstinence; after all it's not very conductive to the survival of the flock/species. It's not in human society either, but making sure that any one person only forms a strong intimate bond with one other person does help avoid a lot of drama in closely knit groups (and a lot of animals form strong pairs during the mating season or for life too).
    If animals were self-aware of their sexuality, they would develop cultural forms around it, which you suggested. But, why wouldn't such a self-aware culture change just as human culture and sexual mores change?

    I'm absolutely certain that the main driving force behind scientific discovery hasn't been the scientists looking at themselves in third person. Nor fearing death, for that matter.
    In order to discover a new principle of nature, a scientist is not merely mixing random chemicals together, he or she is considering the current set of known principles and asking what is missing in it, what paradox can be found in the current, putatively complete description of reality. It's the anomalies that are scientifically interesting, not merely the pieces of evidence that confirm prior discoveries, crossing the t's and dotting the i's. In order to get to that point of locating a new hypothesis, which will lead to a proof-of-principle experiment, a scientist has to consider how he is thinking ordinarily, in order to “back up” and think differently at a “higher level”. That is, a scientist has to "see" the absurdity, or potential absurdity, in how he was previously thinking. (Whether scientists also at an even higher level “see” themselves doing this "seeing" or not doesn't matter as such, this is what they're doing and may be calling it "scientific intuition".)

    I don't know, but I'm not ruling it out per definition. We're still learning new things about what animals are communicating between one another.
    I do not rule out the possibility of animals sensing the spirit world, if there is such a thing, but think that they do not know what it means. They can't form any kind of coherent theory about it.

    Because talking to them is likely to get you killed before you manage to pierce the language barrier? Why don't sheep farmers go out in the forest to form a treaty with the wolves. Why do we back away from a mother bear; surely we could just communicate that we're merely passing through and don't mean her cubs any harm? We have, even within our species, developed quite elaborate schemes just to ensure the safety of our diplomats in peace negotiations...
    We don't negotiate with wolves and bears because they're dumb animals, that's why. If animals were so witting, they would wage war on us, not just cower. Do we think that if the entire natural world attacked us we would stand a chance?.

    The second sentence excluding the last two words is probably true, as knowledge of your own mortality most likely requires a lot more capacity to reason and predict than what the ant mind is capable of. The last two words are an assumption which may be true or not. However, you should stop insisting on using these extreme examples, as it isn't conductive to the discussion and only reflects poorly on you.
    {RULES} sums up my argument.

    I find it fascinating that you consider embracing our insignificance "suicidal", and it does tempt me to dive into some pseudo-psychological analysis. Now, in the ever-expanding cosmic soup of universes falling out of the big bang, there's no human achievement possible which is big enough that there won't be a scope so big that it won't just be insignificant, but also absolutely indistinguishable from the cosmic background noise. Despite saying this, I'm one of the least suicidal and most curious people around, and not depending on our significance to provide meaning to my life does benefit me in that I can make my own meaning instead, whether that is perfecting gaming strategies, organising elaborate parties, arguing online or designing the perfect tools for developing cutting edge military technology.
    Your ability to zestify your life is not what I'm arguing against. Your use of the yardstick “big” as in “physically big” to measure human significance, is. Instead of a map of the Universe showing physical extension, look at a map of the Universe showing cognitive power and agape as the basis for human power projection. There you will see, to the best of our knowledge, a blazing star located on Sol 3, not the biggest possible such star, but still massive compared to the dim and vague mumblings in the rest of the cosmos. It is this, our ability to wilfully survive, that is the highest basis for meaning, and, indeed, corresponds to {RULES}. Denying that is indeed suicidal in a species-wide sense, and psychologically suicidal to one's apprehension of this higher meaning.

  10. - Top - End - #190
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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    If we accept presentism, and reject both the many-worlds hypothesis and eternal return, death makes it questionable whether one can be meaningfully said to exist at all, for one's own purposes at any rate.

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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth
    We don't negotiate with wolves and bears because they're dumb animals, that's why. If animals were so witting, they would wage war on us, not just cower. Do we think that if the entire natural world attacked us we would stand a chance?.
    You keep making this kind of spectacularly wrong argument. It is irrelevant, but let me point out what's wrong with it anyway:

    1) humans themselves do not have some species-level truce with other humans, we do not act coherently as a species-level unit, so expecting that from other species is dumb.
    2) humans don't even demonstrate universal ability to understand or negotiate with themselves, and historically have been happy to consider other humans as "dumb animals".
    3) once you abandon the ridiculous expectation of species-wide co-operation and look at the question on the level of individuals, you will in fact find examples of animals communicating with and forming lasting relationships with humans. Wolves, especially, were fairly good at this, that is why the mutualism between dogs and humans exist at all. Ditto for mutualism between humans and cats, humans and horses etc. Even wild animals have done this at times, including, yes, wolves (see: Romeo the Wolf) and bears, and dolphins and even crocodiles. (See: Pocho the Crocodile)
    4) once again, communication is a two-way street. Humans who do not live in close proximity with animals, suck at comprehending those animals just as bad as those animals suck at comprehending humans. Expecting a bear in the wild to learn to communicate with humans is as realistic as expecting a Finnish child to spontaneously learn Japanese.
    5) once you grok the above point and actually look at humans who make a life mission of the study and understanding of some other species, you'll find some who have formed bonds with wild animals, even large and carnivorous ones.
    6) You will also find examples of non-tamed, non-domesticated animals living peacefully alongside humans, starting with examples no less common and no less fantastic than seagulls and pigeons. Unsurprisingly, animals don't cower from humans if their experience is that we don't immediately try to kill them. Those animals which do cower from humans have intergenerational experience of humans preying on them - we humans send a very clear message that we don't want to negotiate.
    7) treating the whole "natural world" as "the Enemy" is nothing more than a poetic expression, it has next to nill to do with empirical reality. Your idea that animals would immediately wage war upon humans if they had sapience, is simply another anthropocentric false expectation. We know other species which war, namely, ants, and they do not war with us because we are not their relevant enemy, because we do not compete for the same resources. Other ants and thermites are, because they do. Humans, by contrast, have proven highly usefull to many species of ants. Ants, hence, do not have a motive to war against humans. You can do the same calculus for each species. If you do, you'll find the life of many animals do not revolve around humans, nor are humans so universally antagonistic as to warrant an universally hostile response.
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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    This alludes to the sort of spillover effects I have insisted upon. Such understanding would have more consequences than just increasing fear.
    Yes, but you insist on some very specific spillover effects, whereas I insist that we don't know nearly enough about the brain to know what spillover effects come from what and what can evolve independently.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    If animals were self-aware of their sexuality, they would develop cultural forms around it, which you suggested. But, why wouldn't such a self-aware culture change just as human culture and sexual mores change?
    Human culture change seems to be pretty closely tied to new inventions and mass communication. In groups where everyone knows everyone and life doesn't change very much, culture seems to evolve much more slowly as well (compare pre-industrial Europe, where fashion changes could take centuries). Since pretty much all animals live lives which don't change very much from generation to generation and seldom get to meet any kin from a wildly different environment than they themselves know, expecting cultural changes visible to us common people over the course of a single human lifespan is a bit optimistic.

    You can, however, notice differences in groups which have stayed separate for very long. The bonobo and chimpanzee species are believed to have split from a common ancestor when the Congo river changed direction some 1.5-2 million years ago, cutting straight through the habitat of their common (and not very swimming proficient) ancestor. As far as I've understood, the southern habitat of the bonobo was quite bountiful, while resources in the northern habitat of the chimpanzee were scarce, and the difference couldn't be more striking. Where chimpanzees are extraordinarily violent compared to animals as a whole, bonobos are extraordinarily peaceful, extremely social and extremely sexual. 1.5 million years is not a fast cultural change, but it is a cultural change nevertheless (an one which has had time to cement in their DNA, so it probably happened much earlier than that).

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    In order to discover a new principle of nature, a scientist is not merely mixing random chemicals together, he or she is considering the current set of known principles and asking what is missing in it, what paradox can be found in the current, putatively complete description of reality. It's the anomalies that are scientifically interesting, not merely the pieces of evidence that confirm prior discoveries, crossing the t's and dotting the i's. In order to get to that point of locating a new hypothesis, which will lead to a proof-of-principle experiment, a scientist has to consider how he is thinking ordinarily, in order to “back up” and think differently at a “higher level”. That is, a scientist has to "see" the absurdity, or potential absurdity, in how he was previously thinking. (Whether scientists also at an even higher level “see” themselves doing this "seeing" or not doesn't matter as such, this is what they're doing and may be calling it "scientific intuition".)
    First of all, you know not all scientists are theoretical physicists, right? Most scientists work with already known questions, questions which most likely were recorded already at the formulation of the currently most complete theories.

    Second, what you're describing is a very flowery periphrase of "How can I think about this in some other way?". That's basic problem solving, animals can do that too. Science is just basic problem solving involving huge amounts of parameters.

    Third, you didn't meantion a fear of death even once in that paragraph.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    I do not rule out the possibility of animals sensing the spirit world, if there is such a thing, but think that they do not know what it means. They can't form any kind of coherent theory about it.
    A reasonable assumption, although I don't share your belief in it. However, what I don't consider a reasonable assumption is that knowledge of your own mortality means you must be able to form a coherent theory about any perceived spirit world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    We don't negotiate with wolves and bears because they're dumb animals, that's why. If animals were so witting, they would wage war on us, not just cower. Do we think that if the entire natural world attacked us we would stand a chance?.
    Frozen Feet wrote a very good response to this, and I'll just add that while we can make peace with them, it takes several years of time and a lot of resources invested into befriending them and gaining their trust. Now, why would we do that when just shooting the wolves does a just as good job at keeping your sheep safe, with the added benefit that you get some nice pelts out of it and don't have to run the risk of injury while the animals still consider you a threat?

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    Your ability to zestify your life is not what I'm arguing against. Your use of the yardstick “big” as in “physically big” to measure human significance, is. Instead of a map of the Universe showing physical extension, look at a map of the Universe showing cognitive power and agape as the basis for human power projection. There you will see, to the best of our knowledge, a blazing star located on Sol 3, not the biggest possible such star, but still massive compared to the dim and vague mumblings in the rest of the cosmos. It is this, our ability to wilfully survive, that is the highest basis for meaning, and, indeed, corresponds to {RULES}. Denying that is indeed suicidal in a species-wide sense, and psychologically suicidal to one's apprehension of this higher meaning.
    You can't just redefine common words and then call us suicidal misanthropic nihilists when what we say doesn't make any sense under your definition, an epithet which I might add makes absolutely no sense to us either, as you've redefined the meaning of "suicidal" and probably "misanthopic" and "nihilist" as well.
    Last edited by Teddy; 2018-03-08 at 06:57 PM.
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  13. - Top - End - #193
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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    1) humans themselves do not have some species-level truce with other humans, we do not act coherently as a species-level unit, so expecting that from other species is dumb.
    I'd take this a step further. We routinely do things that are outright harmful at the species-level to gain an advantage against other humans. This starts with resource usage patterns that look completely insane at the species-level, from tragedy of the commons situations like dramatic overfishing, to technological developments that are very much a threat to the species like nuclear weapons, and to any number of problems coming from unfettered overall growth that we know cause issues, but stick to because local economies are build to depend on perpetual exponential growth (several forms of resource depletion, global warming).

    Species level suicide has been thrown around a lot in this thread, and if there's anything that embodies it it's the tendency for humans acting for individual interests or those of localized groups to do things deleterious to the species as a whole.

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    Hilariously, if we want to look at what actual species-wide co-operation would look like, ants once more rise to the occasion.

    Specifically, invasive ants.

    In their original ecosystems, as notes before, ants war against ants. More specifically, they war against ants of similar size and ecological niche, even if they're of the same species.

    But how do ants distinquish between friend and foe? As fas as we know, pheromones based on familial ties. All ants in a colony are descendants of a single line of queens, and leave their relatives alone, while fighting the rest.

    But invasive ants seem to loose this instinct for some reason. They treat all ants of their own species as members of their own colony. It is this strange (for ants) behaviour which allows for national level colonies (human national level).

    Doubly hilariously, this also has implications for the argument about volume and signifigance. Ants as individuals are small and unimpressive and hence insignificant. Ants as a collective are massive force, changing whole ecosystems. Much the same can be said of humans. Individually, we aren't all that different from other animals, and when we lived in small groups, we did not have the impact we have and could not achieve the things we can now. It's only in great numbers that we became able of taking on the projects and achieving the feats that some hold as the essential divide between us and animals.

    So volume is, in fact, a factor of signfigance.
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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    I might take this a step further and really challenge people's preconceptions about intelligence etc.

    Plants

    There are plants that can talk to each other
    Spoiler
    Show
    plants on one side of a field being attacked by aphids, will warn plants on the other side of the field. The warned plants will start proactively producing anti-aphid chemicals. It has been shown that this communication goes through a "mycorrhizal network" in the dirt (plants separated with a barrier in the dirt didn't get the message)


    There are plants that can solve mazes like a lab rat

    There are plants that learn
    Spoiler
    Show
    scientists took a plant that was sensitive to touch (the leaves fold up protectively when touched). They dropped the plant 6" and it freaked out and folded up all its leaves. Then the scientists did that over and over until after about 5 times the plant realized there was no risk, and stopped folding up. Even months later it remembered that being dropped 6" isn't a big deal


    There are plants that can recognize and help family
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    They will grow their leaves away from family to make sure it gets light, and will grow over other plants to cover them with shade


    There are plants that can count
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    The Venus’ flytrap counts the number of times prey comes in contact with its sensory hairs to determine the size of the insect, when to shut its leaves to trap the creature, and even how much digestive juice to produce for its meal
    Chemical signaling following injury isn't intelligent communication, it's a rash.

    Furthermore were any of these studies by any chance done by either Terrence McKenna or Cleve Backster? Because McKenna's work on plants went way downhill after he decided he was going to smoke all of them and Backster not only was not a botanist by education but also harbored fundamental misunderstandings even of stuff he was educated in.

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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Chemical signaling following injury isn't intelligent communication, it's a rash.
    ... not even sure how to respond to a comment like that.

    Entity "A" sends a signal, entity "B" receives that signal and changes its behavior as a result of the content of the signal... that's communication at a basic level.

    Furthermore were any of these studies by any chance done by either Terrence McKenna or Cleve Backster? Because McKenna's work on plants went way downhill after he decided he was going to smoke all of them and Backster not only was not a botanist by education but also harbored fundamental misunderstandings even of stuff he was educated in.
    No, it wasn't by either of them.

    Also, the test was basic, easily reproduced, and peer reviewed. It has been done by multiple scientists in multiple Universities... so your Ad hominem attack isn't relevant at all.
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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    ... not even sure how to respond to a comment like that.
    Ok, I'll admit maybe that metaphor was a little inscrutable. I'm saying that functionally it's little different from a patch of skin becoming inflamed after some irritant affects some of the cells in the area. The cells send out chemical signals and the whole area becomes inflamed.

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    Bohandas, you are not entirely wrong. The joke here is that unconscious communication, such as chemical communication between cells, precedes and underlies conscious communication.

    So if (presumed) unconscious things such as plants prove capable of a behaviour, it puts into question how much of said behaviour can be attributed to conscious thought. It's similar to the point I made about ants: if we presume ants are unconscious, then war, construction, agriculture etc. can't be assumed to be products of consciousness, as ants are capable of such things.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    Bohandas, you are not entirely wrong. The joke here is that unconscious communication, such as chemical communication between cells, precedes and underlies conscious communication.

    So if (presumed) unconscious things such as plants prove capable of a behaviour, it puts into question how much of said behaviour can be attributed to conscious thought. It's similar to the point I made about ants: if we presume ants are unconscious, then war, construction, agriculture etc. can't be assumed to be products of consciousness, as ants are capable of such things.
    Words like "conscious" get bandied around a lot in these discussions, but how many of us could actually define "consciousness" in a form that would hold water for five minutes under scrutiny? I'm pretty sure I couldn't, for one.

    Which leads me to think that the distinction you're making between conscious and unconscious communication is, really, pretty arbitrary. An ant detects the presence of a certain pheromone, and it knows that there is food in this direction; how different is that from you or me seeing a sign that says "café"?

    Sure, our minds are a lot more complex than an ant's. But that's just a function of size. Is there really any qualitative difference there?
    "None of us likes to be hated, none of us likes to be shunned. A natural result of these conditions is, that we consciously or unconsciously pay more attention to tuning our opinions to our neighbor’s pitch and preserving his approval than we do to examining the opinions searchingly and seeing to it that they are right and sound." - Mark Twain

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    Consciousness is the process by which a creature becomes aware of itself and its actions. The difficulty is not in defining it, it's in explaining and demonstrating its exact mechanism.

    Ditto for difference between conscious and unconscious communication. The difference is clear in theory, demonstrating the difference is not. It's not an arbitrary distinction, but it might not be meaningfull in the ways we, or especially Donna, think it is. The jury is still out on, for example, if the conscious mind actually makes decisions, or if it just spins after-the-fact narratives to explain decisions made by unconscious processes.

    As for qualitative versus quantitative, I'm on the side of emergence based on quantitative differences. Pretty much all traits we've found in humans have been found in other animals, just not in the same quantity and same combination. There is no individual, essential part that makes us different from animals. All our pieces are factory standard. It is the precise combination, the sum total which is particular.
    "It's the fate of all things under the sky,
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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Because we are our only point of view for the whole universe.

    There is no functional difference between us dying, and the universe ending - our whole experience of it goes 'puff'


    Also, we're hardwired to try to survive, and smart enough to know it's ultimately futile - a paradox of the human condition that few can truly face.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    Consciousness is the process by which a creature becomes aware of itself and its actions.
    Meh. That just pushes the burden of definition onto "aware".

    I agree with you about emergence, but it seems to me that if the difference is only quantitative, we can't rule out the possibility that some smart animals - pigs, say - are every bit as aware as we are. The reason we don't observe it in domestic pigs is that they're seldom allowed to live long enough, and never get the opportunity to get together with other pigs and discuss their lot at any length.

    And again, if it's an "emergent" property, it may be that - not precisely what we call awareness, whatever that is, but other, analogous properties might belong to quite different organisms that we don't even recognise as intelligent. Fungi, for instance - amazing things, their clonal colonies can live for centuries and grow way larger than any other living thing - we really know very little about what determines or limits that growth.

    Or consider a forest. Just as neurons in our brains interact with one another in ways that form and strengthen connections between them, so too do the plants in a forest. They interact via water, wind, sunlight and insects and other wildlife. Those interactions are, of course, a hell of a lot slower than those between the neurons in our heads - but there could be a process going on there that's analogous to "thinking". I'm not sure how to frame that as a testable hypothesis, but by the same token, I'm not comfortable with dismissing it as impossible.

    Or the internet. Now there's something that can exchange information at comparable speeds to a brain, and in very much larger volumes. If it doesn't at least have the potential to become aware, I'd very much like to know why not. And if it does have that potential, then how would we know if it had happened?
    "None of us likes to be hated, none of us likes to be shunned. A natural result of these conditions is, that we consciously or unconsciously pay more attention to tuning our opinions to our neighbor’s pitch and preserving his approval than we do to examining the opinions searchingly and seeing to it that they are right and sound." - Mark Twain

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    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    ....Or the internet. Now there's something that can exchange information at comparable speeds to a brain, and in very much larger volumes. If it doesn't at least have the potential to become aware, I'd very much like to know why not. And if it does have that potential, then how would we know if it had happened?

    When a video of cat Jedi Gandalf battling cat Darth Hitler Sauron on the Death Star is spontaneously made, I believe that the internet has achieved sapience and consciousness.

    And it will be about damn time already!
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    @Veti: as I remarked earlier to Donnadogsoth, we already have tests meant for demonstrating consciousness, and through them, we already have reasons to think several kinds of animals are conscious. That is one of the prime reasons for me to criticize Donna. I don't wonder about the possibility of these things becauseI already know they are possible.

    For example, we already have lots of studies on cognition of pigs, a domestic pig is about as intelligent and as conscious as 3 to 4 year old human child.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    When a video of cat Jedi Gandalf battling cat Darth Hitler Sauron on the Death Star is spontaneously made, I believe that the internet has achieved sapience and consciousness.

    And it will be about damn time already!
    You think that the Internet would primarily be interested in gaining views on YouTube? It's not impossible, but I don't think we can assume it.

    Plenty of strange videos already get made. Many of them, by software that is specifically optimised to gain YouTube views. They can be made and posted without ever being viewed by a human. Does that meet your condition?
    "None of us likes to be hated, none of us likes to be shunned. A natural result of these conditions is, that we consciously or unconsciously pay more attention to tuning our opinions to our neighbor’s pitch and preserving his approval than we do to examining the opinions searchingly and seeing to it that they are right and sound." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Yes, but you insist on some*very specific*spillover effects, whereas I insist that we don't know nearly enough about the brain to know what spillover effects come from what and what can evolve independently.
    I'm painting the human mind as a, don't misconstrue this, a species-level higher than anything else, as a sphere is a species-level above a circle. It's not just a function of a chimpanzee brain with a few bells and whistles added on, it's its own thing, which includes sense of personal mortality, morality, and creativity, inextricably bound and interrelated.

    Human culture change seems to be pretty closely tied to new inventions and mass communication. In groups where everyone knows everyone and life doesn't change very much, culture seems to evolve much more slowly as well (compare pre-industrial Europe, where fashion changes could take centuries). Since pretty much all animals live lives which don't change very much from generation to generation and seldom get to meet any kin from a wildly different environment than they themselves know, expecting cultural changes visible to us common people over the course of a single human lifespan is a bit optimistic.

    You can, however, notice differences in groups which have stayed separate for very long. The bonobo and chimpanzee species are believed to have split from a common ancestor when the Congo river changed direction some 1.5-2 million years ago, cutting straight through the habitat of their common (and not very swimming proficient) ancestor. As far as I've understood, the southern habitat of the bonobo was quite bountiful, while resources in the northern habitat of the chimpanzee were scarce, and the difference couldn't be more striking. Where chimpanzees are extraordinarily violent compared to animals as a whole, bonobos are extraordinarily peaceful, extremely social and*extremely*sexual. 1.5 million years is not a fast cultural change, but it is a cultural change nevertheless (an one which has had time to cement in their DNA, so it probably happened much earlier than that).
    Sexually lucid creatures would be able to wilfully change their sexual mores and customs, not just wait 1.5 million years to do it!

    First of all, you know not all scientists are theoretical physicists, right? Most scientists work with already known questions, questions which most likely were recorded already at the formulation of the currently most complete theories.

    Second, what you're describing is a*very*flowery periphrase of "How can I think about this in some other way?". That's basic problem solving, animals can do that too. Science is just basic problem solving involving huge amounts of parameters.

    Third, you didn't meantion a fear of death even once in that paragraph.
    I'm describing what “How can I think about this in some other way?” means. It is relevant to death clearly in that any being that could so think, would also grasp its mortality, and vice versa.

    A reasonable assumption, although I don't share your belief in it. However, what I don't consider a reasonable assumption is that knowledge of your own mortality means you must be able to form a coherent theory about any perceived spirit world.
    Knowledge of mortality creates the potential to ask “Where are they now?” juxtaposed with “They are physically dead and therefore nowhere on the physical plane”. Not all such creatures will ask such questions, but they could, and they could understand the concepts involved.

    Frozen Feet wrote a very good response to this, and I'll just add that while we can make peace with them, it takes several years of time and a lot of resources invested into befriending them and gaining their trust. Now, why would we do that when just shooting the wolves does a just as good job at keeping your sheep safe, with the added benefit that you get some nice pelts out of it and don't have to run the risk of injury while the animals still consider you a threat?
    If wolves were not dumb animals they would be a lot more dangerous and we would have to treat them as hostile tribes of humans. If so and they were raiding our livestock yes war could still be an answer, but, the point is, so long as they are not like hostile tribes of humans, we see no need whatever to negotiate and instead just use force.

    You can't just redefine common words and then call us suicidal misanthropic nihilists when what we say doesn't make any sense under your definition, an epithet which I might add makes absolutely no sense to us either, as you've redefined the meaning of "suicidal" and probably "misanthopic" and "nihilist" as well.
    Anyone who doesn't promote the health of humanity is speciesly suicidal. Anyone who belittles humanity by calling it insignificant is misanthropic. And anyone who attacks these ideas is nihilistic. Granted individuals can love their own lives, and love their fellow humans, and have treasured beliefs, and that's nice, but that's not the scale I'm calling your attention to.

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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    Consciousness is the process by which a creature becomes aware of itself and its actions. The difficulty is not in defining it, it's in explaining and demonstrating its exact mechanism.

    Ditto for difference between conscious and unconscious communication. The difference is clear in theory, demonstrating the difference is not. It's not an arbitrary distinction, but it might not be meaningfull in the ways we, or especially Donna, think it is. The jury is still out on, for example, if the conscious mind actually makes decisions, or if it just spins after-the-fact narratives to explain decisions made by unconscious processes.

    As for qualitative versus quantitative, I'm on the side of emergence based on quantitative differences. Pretty much all traits we've found in humans have been found in other animals, just not in the same quantity and same combination. There is no individual, essential part that makes us different from animals. All our pieces are factory standard. It is the precise combination, the sum total which is particular.
    Name one nonhuman animal that can double a square.

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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    Name one nonhuman animal that can double a square.
    you keep throwing in these measures that are irrelevant. Who cares if an animal can double a square. How does that matter at all? How is math skills equal to consciousness?

    Animals can handle basic math. We can handle complex math. We can do the same thing as animals but we are way better at it.

    Just like animals can communicate at a basic level and we can communicate at a far more complex level.

    We aren’t doing anything unique or new. We are just really good at certain things.

    At the same time though, we suck at some other things that animals do well.

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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet
    You keep making this kind of spectacularly wrong argument. It is irrelevant, but let me point out what's wrong with it anyway:

    1) humans themselves do not have some species-level truce with other humans, we do not act coherently as a species-level unit, so expecting that from other species is dumb.
    2) humans don't even demonstrate universal ability to understand or negotiate with themselves, and historically have been happy to consider other humans as "dumb animals".
    3) once you abandon the ridiculous expectation of species-wide co-operation and look at the question on the level of individuals, you will in fact find examples of animals communicating with and forming lasting relationships with humans. Wolves, especially, were fairly good at this, that is why the mutualism between dogs and humans exist at all. Ditto for mutualism between humans and cats, humans and horses etc. Even wild animals have done this at times, including, yes, wolves (see: Romeo the Wolf) and bears, and dolphins and even*crocodiles.*(See: Pocho the Crocodile)
    4) once again, communication is a two-way street. Humans who do not live in close proximity with animals,*suck*at comprehending those animals just as bad as those animals suck at comprehending humans. Expecting a bear in the wild to learn to communicate with humans is as realistic as expecting a Finnish child to spontaneously learn Japanese.
    5) once you grok the above point and actually look at humans who make a life mission of the study and understanding of some other species, you'll find some who have formed bonds with wild animals, even large and carnivorous ones.*
    6) You will also find examples of non-tamed, non-domesticated animals living peacefully alongside humans, starting with examples no less common and no less fantastic than seagulls and pigeons. Unsurprisingly, animals don't cower from humans if their experience is that we don't immediately try to kill them. Those animals which*do*cower from humans have intergenerational experience of humans preying on them - we*humans*send a very clear message that*we*don't want to negotiate.
    7) treating the whole "natural world" as "the Enemy" is nothing more than a poetic expression, it has next to nill to do with empirical reality. Your idea that animals would immediately wage war upon humans if they had sapience, is simply another anthropocentric false expectation.*We know other species which war, namely, ants, and they do not war with us because we are not their relevant enemy, because we do not compete for the same resources. Other ants and thermites are, because they do. Humans, by contrast, have proven highly usefull to many species of ants. Ants, hence, do not have a motive to war against humans. You can do the same calculus for each species. If you do, you'll find the life of many animals do not revolve around humans, nor are humans so universally antagonistic as to warrant an universally hostile response.
    Such animals lack the creativity needed to wage self-perfecting war, the creativity that would accompany self-consciousness and morality and {RULES}. Ants and chimps are not perfecting their tactics wilfully, they're creatures of instinct and the wars they wage now are the wars they waged a million years ago. But, if an animal were aware of its own mortality, and so creative and moral, at least theoretically (cultural retardation aside), they should have, by now, recognised humanity as the deadly ecocidal cancer its detractors love to say it is. They would, being able to consider the welfare of their species and other species, to use a very overused term, “evolve” and attack us, perhaps a la Harry Harrison's Deathworld.

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    Default Re: Why are people afraid of death?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    you keep throwing in these measures that are irrelevant. Who cares if an animal can double a square. How does that matter at all? How is math skills equal to consciousness?

    Animals can handle basic math. We can handle complex math. We can do the same thing as animals but we are way better at it.

    Just like animals can communicate at a basic level and we can communicate at a far more complex level.

    We aren’t doing anything unique or new. We are just really good at certain things.

    At the same time though, we suck at some other things that animals do well.
    You can't lead an animal through a Platonic dialogue. Creativity is beyond them. After a million years a chimpanzee tribe might figure out ant fishing, but that's as far as it goes. It's like a horse scratching its belly with a stick. Humans are on Luna, by comparison. This isn't just "more complex" this is a species-level difference. Doubling the square is absolutely beyond the minds of animals, because it demands a Platonic creative jump, based on a hypothesis of how to achieve the needed change. This is absolutely not the hypothesis of a "what happens when I stick a stick down an anthill?" which is trial and error leading to a lucky prize. No amount of luck will double the square, only the firm conception of the nature of squareness. That hypothesis is the difference between man and beast, as absolute a difference as between a square and a cube. Denying this is denying Apollo.

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