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Raymond Blais

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Why are we not putting all of our efforts into discovering our universe and our place in it?

Most of us have what we need, so why are we so absorbed with things that lose value quickly and in our mortality which can best be understood with discoveries that have yet to be made.

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    Aug 7 2013: havent we already discovered a lot about the universe and our place in it over the last few hundred years.

    i suggest we can make apretty good go at understanding what we are, what drives us, and why. and whether there are better ways to live.

    evolution, biology and psychology provides a reasonable explanation for our greedy tendencies.

    we evolved in a competitive world. we are social animals with heirarchies. being resource rich makes us more attractive mates. etc. most of our evolutionary past we strggled to eat enough and not be eaten.

    that doesnt mean being greedy is the most satifying or beneficial way to live. we can use our intellect to figure out how to reduce suffering and improve the human condition.

    we should recognise our animal instincts and drivers, but not be slaves to them.

    i would add that the material universe and people in it are all we reasonably know to exist and it seems reasonable to focus on making a good life while we live.
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      Aug 7 2013: From what I have seen it is quit obvious that the more we learn the more we realize we don't know and with every discovery from the very small to the very large and distant the more I feel engaged and part of an adventure that is forever and has no end results. That stimulates me more than money, power or fame.
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        Aug 12 2013: i agree the more we learn the more complex the universeappears and there is a growing wave front of things we realise we dont know.

        but still we know so much more the 300 years ago.

        we know life evolved. that there are billions of galaxies, not just one. dna. vaccines. electronics, flight etc.

        the cup isfuller than before, bur bigger than we knew
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      Aug 8 2013: Re: "evolution, biology and psychology provides a reasonable explanation for our greedy tendencies. we evolved in a competitive world. we are social animals with heirarchies. being resource rich makes us more attractive mates. etc. most of our evolutionary past we strggled to eat enough and not be eaten."

      In other words, possession and control of resources (a.k.a. "greed") makes us more "fit for survival", more likely to pass on our genes and more likely to ensure survival of our descendants. OK. That's understandable. How does morality makes us more fit for survival? Isn't caring for sick and poor make society sicker and poorer? Why should we have mercy for evildoers and grace for the losers? How do evolution and psychology explain that?

      Intellect can make our lives better only if we know what "better life" means. And that knowledge does not seem to come from intellect or science, does it?
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        Aug 8 2013: Evolution does not work as fast as our intelligence would like it to. A just and humane society is not right around the corner but is closer than before. Just because life is a struggle should not stop us from searching for answers to everything and anything even when those answer just pose new questions.
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        Aug 10 2013: Hi I think we are some mix of instinct and reason. We have great intellect but also the instinctual drives.

        I agree we should try to promote reason.

        I suggest what a good life means is up to us to work out. Science helps us understand ourselves and the universe so it is perhaps part of the mix. Its also a mix of the mind- brain capabilities we have. We have the mental capability of empathy and we can think about what reduces suffering and improves the human condition.

        Its up to us work out what a good life is. I think we have a pretty good handle on it, but ois t is a challenge.
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          Aug 10 2013: Hi, Obey,

          You are very optimistic. I am fairly pessimistic about the ability of intellect to solve our problems. One may understand the problem, the source of it, but lack the will power to solve it. E.g. a smoker who has a lung cancer may not be able to quit the deadly habit despite the knowledge and understanding. Or, a person may have a great idea but lack the enthusiasm, energy, communication, and leadership skills to persuade and organize other people to realize it. On the other hand, a person who is "not the sharpest tool in the shed" may be very successful. The "Forrest Gump" movie is a great illustration.

          "Good life" is an elusive concept. What seems good at a first glance turns not so good when we try it. E.g. having plenty of food (like a free all-you-can-eat lunch buffet every day) may seem to be "good" (better than lacking food) but one can get very sick if he over-eats regularly. Children - another example. I'm still trying to figure out if they bring happiness or misery.

          At my age, I have a lot less confidence in my intellect than 30 years ago and I, for sure, do not "have a good handle" on what a good life is. I don't think, I have less intellect than 30 years ago, but I am not confident that it can bring me "good life".
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        Aug 13 2013: hi ag, i guess im optimistic that as a species we knowvenough to have a good go at developung a moral framework to reduce sufferingvand improvevthe human condition.

        im not so optimistic about our ability to agree on moral frameworks or implement improvementscwhen a lot of these issues are complex with pros and cons.

        i sometimes despair some still look to bronzec, iron age and medieval morailty emedded in scriptures not enlightment values etc, modern human rightsetc.
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          Aug 13 2013: I know, you are an atheist which means you are against faith and "beliefs without evidence". Yet, you believe that "as a species we know enough to have a good go at developing a moral framework to reduce suffering and improve the human condition." But that's a faith statement. There is no evidence for that. Moral frameworks don't seem to be developed based on knowledge. Besides, stealing and killing your competition could make good survival skills, from evolutionary standpoint. Intellect can successfully argue both ways. Some criminals are dumb, but some are very smart. Nerve gas and nuclear weapons have been created by very smart people. Intellect seems to have little to do with morality. Being smart is not enough to have good life or make other's life better.
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        Aug 13 2013: Good points ag.

        Actually I admit my position is an opinion, but I try base on evidence and reason.

        So I'm willing to update my view in the face of a compelling argument and evidence.

        Which is still quite different from a theist belief in divine command, especially where they assume their god is all knowing and all good. By definition then whatsoever their god concept is supposed to have done or said is good.

        Its not open to analysis or debate in the same way. God drowning the world was good. Heeternal suffering in hell is good. Kililling homosexuals is good. Regulated slavery is good.

        Whereas I have arguments to support my opinion that owning people is not reducing suffering. Killing homosexuals is not improving the human condition.

        Heck eating other animals is questionable from my perspective.

        I admit these views are not based on evidence as rigorous as scientific theories, but suggest it is better than assuming any particular religious dogma is flawless without examination.

        I would point out that while natural selection is competitive and a driving force shaping us I don't propose a dog eat dog society, because my assessment is there are better ways to reduce suffering.

        One of my tests is to put myself in the shoes of others to try and determine the impacts of positions. Wanton killing is not going to support a peaceful productive life in my opinion, based on reason, whereas when Yahweh performs or orders killing theists position is not based on reason, just divine command, and baseless faith.

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