Sep 182012

This article from Alone is extremely good. I’d recommend reading the whole thing, but in summary it states that people expect a higher power (god, government, society, dad, etc) to provide an environment where the most terrible things are not allowed, and this allows us to accept less responsibility for ourselves. It is a reminder that the world is beyond the reach of god. It is a continuation of the idea of Heroic Responsibility.

He points out that humans create institutions to make their environment safer, and then offload their own responsibilities onto these institutions. He accuses us all of shirking our Heroic Responsibility. I’m not sure this is fair. An individual human can only do so much. I’ve avoided vulnerability to a somewhat silly degree in the past (avoiding caring for others or owning much more than I can carry at a dead run… caring for too much makes you vulnerable). Turns out too much independence can be far more harmful than not enough, because individual humans are weak and small, and we can do things of Power only by combining our efforts. To do something noteworthy, we much focus on our specialty and trust others to do focus on theirs. To create a strong meta-individual, we cannot all be completely responsible for everything – we need some specialists in responsibility as well. Not every cell in the human body can fight off hostile invaders, most of them have other vital tasks.

On the other hand, cells are cheap. They are destroyed and discarded and replaced constantly. A single person/cell can’t expect their survival to be prioritized over the meta-being (or even over that of the comfort of a large number of other persons/cells, hence Torture vs Dust Specks). We are powerful in groups, but what is the point of that power if we trade away our existence to achieve it? It is, perhaps, important that we are working and trusting others sufficiently like ourselves, lest we find ourselves re-purposed for the interests of hostile beings.

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