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Jeremy Bentham's philosophical theory of utilitarianism presented a unique metaphysic that may apply to some ways of practical though. The theory itself is an ethical guideline used to help present cases of morality. The theory, developed in the 19th century supposes that right action corresponds with the result that produces the most good. When an action has accomplished such a transition is said to have some sort of utility and therefore useful in its applications.
To me, the theory is too dogmatic, confusing and does not address ethics in a very frank and honest way. To understand this theory and to see how it applies in a personal manner requires an investigation into some of the key terms of the theory to explore their meanings and see how they contribute to the general argument.
One issue I have with this theory is its avoidance of quality in respect to quantity. Bentham claimed that bigger is always better. By equivocating all goodness and all badness, something in the theory disappears as a if a mental shortcut is being applied. Goodness cannot, and will not ever be objectified in a discussion about art and philosophy, so it appears that Bentham's ideas fall short of any real meaning.
Utilitarian thought assumes that the collective masses are real. They are not. The collective is an idea with no real material manifestation. The theory cannot distinguish what is good and bad as death for one person is tragic, for another it may be a blessing. The theory assumes that there are collective feelings that can be measured and attempts to put these farfetched ideas into good use are simple and commensurable.
Society is a human invention to help one another use cooperation to its fullest extent. The ideas of society were implemented to improve the quality of life, or so it may seem.. This is an illusion at its best. The argument is based upon this idea that society and the collective are more important than the individual. The minimization of the individual in this philosophy makes it very useful to those with a collective slant to their politics. This elitist philosophy is unbalanced and does not resonate with what I feel or have experienced.
Society is incapable of possessing a technology for judging utility making the theory impractical and insidious in some ways. Due to the fact that the individual has its own personalized and unique interpretation of conscious experience, there can never be one absolute and correct choice. In other words, those who claim to have the ability to measure such a rubric have conflated their own personal opinion with law and moral justice. Opinions are not law and cannot serve as a useful basis of a practical philosophy that seeks to enlighten instead of darken as Bentham's backwards positions seem to present.
The philosophy of utilitarianism ultimately represents a socialist or communist point-of-view. In this mind frame, the individual is marginalized and becomes a side issue to the collective good. Instead of viewing individuals as nothing more than cogs in the wheel, utilitarianism does not present a very appealing model of metaphysics for the masses as no one, at heart, wants their own wishes and desires, stepped on by a faceless bureaucracy determining what is best or worst for everyone.
Hardin (1968) article is a depressing and misguided writing that promotes a dreary and uninspired lifestyle full of despair and envy . Hardin presented many concepts in his writing but some stand out as remarkable in comparison to others. The purpose of this answer is to explain two of these concepts and how they are at odds with my own interpretation of existence and life.
The pride with which the author writes with in describing his contempt for success is rather shocking. By suggesting that a population problem exists and has no technical solution is very dangerous and quite scary. The author makes a rather insidious leap of faith when he suggested that overpopulation is evil and dangerous and there may be some on this earth less deserving to live than others. Such rhetoric are words of tyrants and bloodthirsty hegemony. My love for life and all that it has to offer makes me reject this premise and provides an opportunity for learning.
Common sense would suggest that the world is not overpopulated. Anyone willing to go out and experience the world would most likely agree with this notion. Driving around the United States of America reveals that most of the land is uninhabited. The author clearly shows his ignorance of the world, and demonstrates that he has not spent much time outside the confines of his office by alluding to the fact that there is not enough room for everyone. A cursory examination into science demonstrates that most of the universe is composed of dark, incomprehensible matter and that most of the land of planet earth has never been physically surveyed by man. Our ignorance of the world is mind boggling.
While having the luxury of more recent scientific data discredits this author's premises on this Malthusian demonstration, it does not excuse this author's blatant alignment with collectivist ideas and the elimination of personal and individual freedom.
The idea of an optimum population size of the world is quite laughable and shows a strong disdain for the truth. Freedom is not a tragedy for me while it may be for this author. Common people are truly ignorant in many ways, but we all are in our own special way. Hardin's blatant classism suggests that he himself is truly scared of freedom and cannot live with the chaos, surprise or mystery. As a result this eugenics-based piece somehow demonstrates the relegation of the ignorant to their proper place.
Hardin's fear of freedom and individuality could not be better expressed when he wrote " the most important aspect of necessity that we must now recognize, is the necessity of abandoning the commons in breeding. The only way we can preserve and nurture other and more precious freedoms is by relinquishing the freedom to breed, and that very soon." The selfishness displayed by this comment is quite remarkable and is reminiscent of cowardice.
All philosophy is loaded with logical fallacies and, when found, all we are left with is the character of the writing. There are too many of these fallacies within this essay to name, but the character of this writing is self evident: poor, unmanaged people do not deserve to live. I prefer my philosophy, which must be remembered to be nothing but an art, as pro-life and celebratory of the human condition, instead of demeaning and restrictive like Hardin's cold and contrived example.
Reading behind the lines of Hardin's work it is clear that the tragedy that he is discussing is a projection of his own inability to rationalize his own freedom and individuality. There appears to be a tragedy of the scholar. A thick coat of fear emanates from this article as despicable allusions are made that are the stuff of genocide and burnt offerings of the highest magnitude.
One example of this fear becomes explicit as Hardin pleads with his audience to identify that breeding is bad and only managed sexual contact is good. To Hardin, it seems that the common people, whoever that may be, as it is never fully defined in this writing, is an enemy force that must be kept away from sacred knowledge and secrets that only those with certain credentials are allowed to review.
Hardin also ignores the indescribable and undeniable source of energy that the human mind body and soul can produce. Since his entire argument is premised on the idea that energy and human population rates must stay symmetrical in order for progress to occur, this is an important weakness in his argument. In my application of mathematics, it appears that more people equal more energy, not the other way around.
Hardin's article is valuable and causes a sense of wonder and inspires thinking. By suggesting that he is aware of some optimum maximum population also suggests that he knows better than anybody what's best for the world. It is obscene to me to think of a bushman in Zaire, or a Mongolian teacher dictating how and in what matter I should breed. Hardin holds no such reservation in proclaiming what is best for those he has little knowledge about such as a bushman in Zaire or his Mongolian counterpart.
Since indeed philosophy is nothing but an artistic expression, it saddens me that such a depressing and misleading article attracts so much attention. This piece of art is lame at best and does nothing really but reiterate the tired and error-filled notions of Thomas Malthus a few generations earlier. This re-run of an elitist philosophy inspires in the reader a sense of helpless fear and gives no solution. Staid and predictable, the problems of the entitled are blamed on the faceless masses, who have no real…[continue]
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