Re: In the begining

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From: Stephen D. Williams (
Date: Mon May 14 2001 - 12:06:00 PDT

Tom wrote:
> On Mon, 14 May 2001, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
> --]tissue. The simplistic 'potential' argument has been used to argue
> --]against birth control because of the life potential of sperm. This is
> --]rediculous and hopelessly shallow.
> --]
> OK, now that I have knee jerked your knee jerk......

That's ok, I'm TIRED today. You can tell because I let myself get
sucked into this deadend discussion.

My comments are only knee-jerk in that I formed them long ago and didn't
just reason them from first principles. I have no original thoughts in
this area; I am simply stating my preference for various opposing

> Is not the potential for something of value?

Depends. If I interpret that as 'the potential for life' relative to
our current subject, I would say the actual instantaneous value varies
both with time, maturity, and overall situation. There are paradoxes
with even talking about valuing a human life and an incredibly
distasteful slippery slope that noone wants to travel, however the issue
can be examined at the limits: a 95 year old man with cancer and
advanced dementia cannot be compared to any 5 year old. There is an
obvious difference in (remaining) potential. Someone with a sucking
chest wound will not compare well with someone with a punctured femoral
artery (which is deadly but easy to fix) in a triage situation.
Decisions in this vein are made every day. An embryo/zygote doesn't
compare well with a fully conscious, independantly viable human whether
it is a sibling or mother.
> Before you knee jerk it, THINK ABOUT IT. This is not an attack of your
> sacred cows or your tshirt ideologies.

I am.

> IS the potential of a forrest something to fight for. What about salmon
> runs so that the spawing of future generations of indigenous fish can
> contiue to flourish? What about the HEadStart program for pre K kids?
> What about Folic Acid pill? What about the time apent on a protocal so
> that it is robust enough to live in the wilds of the practial world? What
> about donating to a NPR station? Venture Cap?

Go to a VC and tell him you have the potential to make billions of
dollars if you just had the capital and a good idea...

(Potential-cost/effort) * probability = value, relative to other
competing P * P's.

Only when there is an abundance of cost/effort does the potential matter
by itself.

This subject is too complicated to rationalize, either way, in a short
message. Punt.

> As I stated before there is a interconnectedness of all things to all
> things. The weight of interlinkages (ie the ways they are important to
> each other) depends on many many things. The pathways of action and
> valuation impact on the potential of not only the noes in questions but
> many many nodes.
> We are not just am, we are was and will be.

Of course. Standard truism.

> Heres a nice simple question for your nice simple self... Define , in your
> own words (you still remeber how?) conscieouness.

I already pointed out that 'we' can't define consciousness yet. My
working model is that it implies a continuum of rational experiences,
decisionmaking, and, at higher levels, self-awareness. Insects are not
conscious. Monkeys and dolphins are conscious. Smart dogs may just
barely be conscious.


Stephen D. Williams
43392 Wayside Cir,Ashburn,VA 20147-4622 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 

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