Re: Essence Vital (was)Ahumans

From: Dana Hedberg (
Date: Thu Jan 20 2000 - 10:45:59 MST

[Devil's Advocate Mode On]

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:

> > << > I think people will first have to abandon the concept
> > > of a soul before they're willing to view life as just
> > > a collection of molecules. >>
> Life _is_ "just a collection of molecules", in exactly the same
> way that the Mona Lisa is just some smudges of colored oil on a
> piece of cloth, or that the Declaration of Independence is just
> some squiggles of black liquid on pounded plant fibers. It is
> the _information_ about how those molecules are arranged that is
> unique and valuable; and it is that information that we wish to
> preserve, not the mere physical substrates.

"Unique and valuable" to whom? It could be argued that the arrangement of
those molecules that make up the Mona Lisa or the Declaration of Independence
is no more unique and valuable than the information content of a rock, or
more appropriately a person-made rock. It is your "interpretation" that
assigns value and the quality of uniqueness to the information contained in
those structures. Who's to say that my interpretation of the Mona Lisa as a
piece of junk (not my actual belief) is any "better" than yours?

> The only information value of a zygote is its genome. A human

I might be splitting hairs here, but I think that statement is far too bold.
There is plenty of "informational value" associated with the structures that
comprise the zygote outside of just its genome.

> being that was born and lived contains far more information: all
> of eir life experiences and ideas and successes and failures. A
> raw genome can't be anywhere near as valuable as that. Our
> intuition and legal system that sees zygote as something less
> than a full human being is a correct application of this fact.

So, where do you draw the line and for what application of the rules within a
system? Is the person that you were yesterday "less of a human being" than
you are today? Where do children fit along the continuum, not to mention
other species that are significantly related humans? What is the *objective*
criteria that can be used to lay down the threshhold line that says: On this
side you are not "human" and over on this side you are? I think this issue is
a lot more complicated than your summary posting would indicate. Hence the
controversy associated with abortion, animal rights, etc.


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