Friday, April 25, 2008

Contemplation vs. Destruction

A preliminary word: for the most part, I am starting at the beginning of Dinosaur Comics, and working my way forward. The advantage to this is that most of them are so old that you have probably forgotten about them. The comic I'm writing about today? More than FIVE YEARS OLD! From time to time, though, I might "mix it it up," and comment on a comic that is only a few days old.


This comic seems to set up a dichotomy between living one's life to its full potential, and living a life of contemplation. The two things, in fact, go hand in hand: one's life can only reach its full potential by including some amount of contemplation and reflection.

More appropriately, Utahraptor's question is about whether T-Rex is better off contemplating than he is destroying. Under most ethical systems, the answer is, "Yes, you are better off contemplating than destroying." You can spell this out in any number of ways. Questions in ethics usually center around when it is okay to do something that seems to be bad. Usually, it has to be for a good cause, and the more immediate that cause, the better. Killing someone who is right in the middle of killing other people? Go for it. Killing thousands of people as part of your plan for a utopia? Not so much. An end does not justify its means; the means have to be able to justify themselves.

Now, if you ask someone like an egoist (think only about yourself) or an Objectivist (do what's in your self interest), they will tell you different. But nobody asks them much anyway, because they're usually assholes.

There is a third thing going on here: T-Rex is "living life to the max" by being more conscious of the experiences of his day, and consequently having a greater appreciation for them. The sentiment of this is understandable, but it takes far more concentration and brain power. It is said, though, that this is what Buddhist enlightenment is like, a constant experience of the now.

As to whether dinosaurs have souls... I'm not going there.

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