08 October 2015

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Self destruction in (by) Human Beings

Dear friends,

The topic we voted for the meeting this Sunday: "Self destruction in
Human Beings" but I made a mistake and quoted some people the following
topic: "Self destruction by Human Beings". Apologies.

In the meantime I have written a few ideas on the topic least of which
rationalise the discrepancy between the two topics.

I inadvertently told some people that the title for this Sunday's topic
was "Self destruction by Human Beings" instead of the voted topic, "Self
destruction in Human Beings". Indeed the difference is that the "by"
implies actions and volition whilst "in" implies a character trait. But,
of course, unless a trait manifests into action or observable behaviour
we cannot say much about that trait.

A further clarification is necessary for this topic. In biology there is
the concept of "autolysis" the self destruction of cells. Within the
scope of human being "self destructions" is very often used to refer to
self harm or self-inflicted harm or self abuse. The topic was voted in
the context of people being able to destroy themselves for example in
the context of war or provocation of climate change.

In the biological context we accept that autolysis is part of a natural
system and in the context of self harm, we are no doubt distressed at
this behaviour but very few would venture and ascribe any moral
condemnation to this person. Not so, however, for wars, climate change
and maybe oppressive business or economic practices.

It is true that with self harm we can attribute some mental imbalance in
the person which will explain the causal connection of the self harm.
But what is the causal chain between a group of human beings causing
great harm to others. Do we forward attribute the propensity of some
individuals to cause self harm onto a group of people that cause harm to
others: in this case this would be species self harm?

But human harm to other human beings, species self harm, can be
explained by the idea of the survival instinct. In this context survival
is more the ability to acquire resources rather than a scenario of a
boxing fight.

By virtue that a small group of people can cause harm to others suggests
that these people have a stronghold on others; they have some sort of
power grip that the unfortunate victims cannot retaliate. The win-win
game strategy makes sense when all parties are equal both before and
after the conclusion of the game. However, when one party has
practically absolute dominance over another party, both during the power
game and beyond, then the win-win strategy makes no sense. Why should
someone give up a sure winner? The zero sum game is a very powerful
strategy for a powerful dominate player.

No doubt, those who do engage in wars or climate change or oppressive
business practices must believe that they are on the winning side of a
zero sum game. Maybe even believe that nothing can touch their power.
The challenge must surely be how to turn a zero sum game to a win-win
strategy. No doubt this change would benefit the losers of the zero sum
game than anyone else. This idea is not new for example see the
following book: Reframing the problem of climate change: from zero sum
game to win–win solutions; edited by Carlo CJaeger et al. (2012 - paid
for review article link:

Unfortunately, the review article is a bit too expensive for me to buy,
but the reviewer of the book, Udo E. Simonis, does quote the authors of
the book who believe that the zero sum game does involve winners and
losers. Whilst this is the traditional interpretation of the zero sum
game, when two players are out for each other but only one of them can
have all, I have argued one can win all by virtue of close to having
absolute power over the other player.

The two important factors in my argument are 1) both players are in a
game and 2) one player has enough power to always win the other player.
And although one party has absolute power they are not omnipotent enough
to avoid the game. They are powerful enough to always win, but not
enough to avoid the game. "Always", I would add, as long as all the
underlying necessary and sufficient conditions remain equal.

No doubt, there must be a biological/natural propensity factor for human
beings to want to kill or injure each other; this must be an innate
character of the species. But again this is not exclusive to human
beings. Think of the mating habits of scorpions for goodness sake. Maybe
we are the only species that can recognise our self destruction skills
as being immoral and irrational.

There is also another important difference between animals and
ourselves; animals are just nasty to each other but we, however, are
nasty to each other, we know being nasty is not nice, yet still keep on
being nasty ad infinitum. Although game theory can explain why we're
nasty, game theory cannot explain why we go the extra mile at being nasty.

Take care


tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Self destruction in
(by) Human Beings

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