Do Humans Really Think They Are All That Is Truly Important?

Let’s first separate that question from the different question of whether we think it good or bad. Thinking that one’s own life is the most important thing in the world has strong evolutionary arguments on its side. One of the most obvious defining characteristics of life forms is this trait, or, in a few cases, ranking offspring as the most important thing. To dispute the judgment of evolution seems a bit presumptuous. So I’d rather not.
But whether we do or not seems a bit different, for we can answer that without passing any kind of judgment on its rightness or wrongness.
I am surprised by how often people dispute the claim that we think people are the only thing of real importance. Surprised by both the number of disputers and the vociferousness with which it is disputed. Perhaps we are really debating what is meant by “real.”
If one asked whether we would save the dog or the baby, even if we knew the dog but not the baby, would there be as much dispute? I doubt it.
To me, these seem equivalent questions.
Is my way of ranking so far from the norm? I stand by my valuation in any case. I think we think humans are more important than everything else.
But is that the same as saying we think humans are the only things that are important?  I think it is.
Perhaps the reason I think it is might be more obvious if we asked variants of the first question. Would we be willing to see mankind eliminated if Elephants had to go if we didn’t. What if it were polar bears? Or cockroaches?
Oh, you say, just because we’d let a few of those things go in our stead, that doesn’t mean that we think we are all that  is important.
Doesn’t it?
What if we could save humanity by going into space using only replicators and other technology from a Startrek future?  I think that would actually be impossible, but I also think there would be little controversy in doing so. I think we would happily let every other living life form on Earth perish, if that were the only way to save ourselves.
Why? Because we think we are the only thing that is really important. That’s what I think.

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2 Responses to Do Humans Really Think They Are All That Is Truly Important?

  1. Hank Raymond says:

    Save the unknown baby or my pet dog if I could only save one??? Hmmm…. I never thought about that before. One can think of several different scenarios where you might have to make that decision. Would some of those scenarios make you guilty of murder in the eyes of the law if you chose the dog? Hmmm…

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