Are we more humane, less cruel, than our ancestors?

 
unsmoked
 
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07 November 2016 09:29
 

Are we more humane, less cruel, than our ancestors?  In his book, ‘SAPIENS - A Brief History of Humankind’, Y. N. Harari provides a photo of a confined calf and writes a caption:

“A modern calf in an industrial meat farm.  Immediately after birth the calf is separated from its mother and locked inside a tiny cage not much bigger than the calf’s own body.  There the calf spends its entire life - about four months on average.  It never leaves its cage, nor is it allowed to play with other calves or even walk - all so that its muscles will not grow strong.  Soft muscles mean a soft and juicy steak.  The first time the calf has a chance to walk, stretch its muscles and touch other calves is on its way to the slaughterhouse.  In evolutionary terms, cattle represent one of the most successful animal species ever to exist.  At the same time, they are some of the most miserable animals on the planet.”

https://www.amazon.com/Sapiens-Humankind-Yuval-Noah-Harari/dp/0062316095  (scroll down to read reviews)

 
 
Dennis Campbell
 
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Dennis Campbell
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07 November 2016 12:48
 
unsmoked - 07 November 2016 09:29 AM

Are we more humane, less cruel, than our ancestors?  In his book, ‘SAPIENS - A Brief History of Humankind’, Y. N. Harari provides a photo of a confined calf and writes a caption:

“A modern calf in an industrial meat farm.  Immediately after birth the calf is separated from its mother and locked inside a tiny cage not much bigger than the calf’s own body.  There the calf spends its entire life - about four months on average.  It never leaves its cage, nor is it allowed to play with other calves or even walk - all so that its muscles will not grow strong.  Soft muscles mean a soft and juicy steak.  The first time the calf has a chance to walk, stretch its muscles and touch other calves is on its way to the slaughterhouse.  In evolutionary terms, cattle represent one of the most successful animal species ever to exist.  At the same time, they are some of the most miserable animals on the planet.”

https://www.amazon.com/Sapiens-Humankind-Yuval-Noah-Harari/dp/0062316095  (scroll down to read reviews)

But that steak is sooo good!

 
 
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07 November 2016 13:08
 

Our ancestors clubbed, speared, shot with arrows, set pit traps lined with sharpened wooden spikes, dropped stones upon – and no doubt used a whole host of other things that I can’t think of at the moment – to kill animals and feed themselves.

None of these methods sound like a peaceful and painless ways for an animal to die.

Killing other beings is the price we pay for being alive; not just we humans, but all life, except for plants.

As philosopher Alan Watts once said: “We belong to a mutual eating society.”

 
 
Dennis Campbell
 
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07 November 2016 13:50
 
Sarcastic Fringehead - 07 November 2016 01:08 PM

Our ancestors clubbed, speared, shot with arrows, set pit traps lined with sharpened wooden spikes, dropped stones upon – and no doubt used a whole host of other things that I can’t think of at the moment – to kill animals and feed themselves.

None of these methods sound like a peaceful and painless ways for an animal to die.

Killing other beings is the price we pay for being alive; not just we humans, but all life, except for plants.

As philosopher Alan Watts once said: “We belong to a mutual eating society.”

Beats a mutually starving society.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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07 November 2016 15:08
 
unsmoked - 07 November 2016 09:29 AM

Are we more humane, less cruel, than our ancestors?  In his book, ‘SAPIENS - A Brief History of Humankind’, Y. N. Harari provides a photo of a confined calf and writes a caption:

“A modern calf in an industrial meat farm.  Immediately after birth the calf is separated from its mother and locked inside a tiny cage not much bigger than the calf’s own body.  There the calf spends its entire life - about four months on average.  It never leaves its cage, nor is it allowed to play with other calves or even walk - all so that its muscles will not grow strong.  Soft muscles mean a soft and juicy steak.  The first time the calf has a chance to walk, stretch its muscles and touch other calves is on its way to the slaughterhouse.  In evolutionary terms, cattle represent one of the most successful animal species ever to exist.  At the same time, they are some of the most miserable animals on the planet.”

I think the fact that we ask these kinds of questions means something.  I don’t think our ancient ancestors would have thought much about cruelty in regards to hunting.

Much cruelty is done by turning a ‘blind eye’ to what happens in the meat industry (as in the above example).  However, many non-vegetarians (myself included) would like to see the meat industry strictly regulated against such practices, and are willing to pay the extra cost for that steak.

In regards to cruelty in general, modern humans cause suffering to our own kind on a scale our ancestors could not have imagined.

 

[ Edited: 07 November 2016 16:18 by Jan_CAN]
 
 
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08 November 2016 08:52
 
Jan_CAN - 07 November 2016 03:08 PM
unsmoked - 07 November 2016 09:29 AM

Are we more humane, less cruel, than our ancestors?  In his book, ‘SAPIENS - A Brief History of Humankind’, Y. N. Harari provides a photo of a confined calf and writes a caption:

“A modern calf in an industrial meat farm.  Immediately after birth the calf is separated from its mother and locked inside a tiny cage not much bigger than the calf’s own body.  There the calf spends its entire life - about four months on average.  It never leaves its cage, nor is it allowed to play with other calves or even walk - all so that its muscles will not grow strong.  Soft muscles mean a soft and juicy steak.  The first time the calf has a chance to walk, stretch its muscles and touch other calves is on its way to the slaughterhouse.  In evolutionary terms, cattle represent one of the most successful animal species ever to exist.  At the same time, they are some of the most miserable animals on the planet.”

I think the fact that we ask these kinds of questions means something.  I don’t think our ancient ancestors would have thought much about cruelty in regards to hunting.

Much cruelty is done by turning a ‘blind eye’ to what happens in the meat industry (as in the above example).  However, many non-vegetarians (myself included) would like to see the meat industry strictly regulated against such practices, and are willing to pay the extra cost for that steak.

In regards to cruelty in general, modern humans cause suffering to our own kind on a scale our ancestors could not have imagined.

I put one of your sentences in bold.  That helps us to continue exploring the Moral Landscape of Homo sapiens . . . otherwise, why even talk about morality when so much of our behavior toward each other and toward other animals is so monstrous?

Item:  Technology gives us the means to do ever more monstrous things, and so we do ever more monstrous things with no end in site.  Consider the slaughter of the U.S. Civil War, and imagine what it would have been like if fought in this manner - http://vault.sierraclub.org/sierra/201101/laos.aspx 

“During the Vietnam War, the United States flew 580,000 bombing runs over Laos—an average of one every eight minutes for nine years. Today, Laotians live and die among 80 million unexploded munitions, some of them valuable as scrap metal or turned into flower boxes, many of them as dangerous as the day they dropped from the sky.”

http://americanempireproject.com/kill-anything-that-moves/  -  “A My Lai a month”.

“Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by just a few “bad apples.” But as award-winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of official orders to “kill anything that moves.”

“Drawing on more than a decade of research into secret Pentagon archives and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals for the first time the workings of a military machine that resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded-what one soldier called “a My Lai a month.” Devastating and definitive, Kill Anything That Moves finally brings us face-to-face with the truth of a war that haunts America to this day.”

[ Edited: 08 November 2016 09:05 by unsmoked]
 
 
Dennis Campbell
 
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08 November 2016 09:34
 

I put one of your sentences in bold.  That helps us to continue exploring the Moral Landscape of Homo sapiens . . . otherwise, why even talk about morality when so much of our behavior toward each other and toward other animals is so monstrous?

As judged by what standard?  We kill animals to eat them and/or wear their skins; animals kill each other as well.  We sometimes kill each other, and have our entire history.  What is your point here?

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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08 November 2016 09:40
 
unsmoked - 08 November 2016 08:52 AM
Jan_CAN - 07 November 2016 03:08 PM
unsmoked - 07 November 2016 09:29 AM

Are we more humane, less cruel, than our ancestors?  In his book, ‘SAPIENS - A Brief History of Humankind’, Y. N. Harari provides a photo of a confined calf and writes a caption:

“A modern calf in an industrial meat farm.  Immediately after birth the calf is separated from its mother and locked inside a tiny cage not much bigger than the calf’s own body.  There the calf spends its entire life - about four months on average.  It never leaves its cage, nor is it allowed to play with other calves or even walk - all so that its muscles will not grow strong.  Soft muscles mean a soft and juicy steak.  The first time the calf has a chance to walk, stretch its muscles and touch other calves is on its way to the slaughterhouse.  In evolutionary terms, cattle represent one of the most successful animal species ever to exist.  At the same time, they are some of the most miserable animals on the planet.”

I think the fact that we ask these kinds of questions means something.  I don’t think our ancient ancestors would have thought much about cruelty in regards to hunting.

Much cruelty is done by turning a ‘blind eye’ to what happens in the meat industry (as in the above example).  However, many non-vegetarians (myself included) would like to see the meat industry strictly regulated against such practices, and are willing to pay the extra cost for that steak.

In regards to cruelty in general, modern humans cause suffering to our own kind on a scale our ancestors could not have imagined.

I put one of your sentences in bold.  That helps us to continue exploring the Moral Landscape of Homo sapiens . . . otherwise, why even talk about morality when so much of our behavior toward each other and toward other animals is so monstrous?

Item:  Technology gives us the means to do ever more monstrous things, and so we do ever more monstrous things with no end in site.  Consider the slaughter of the U.S. Civil War, and imagine what it would have been like if fought in this manner - http://vault.sierraclub.org/sierra/201101/laos.aspx 

“During the Vietnam War, the United States flew 580,000 bombing runs over Laos—an average of one every eight minutes for nine years. Today, Laotians live and die among 80 million unexploded munitions, some of them valuable as scrap metal or turned into flower boxes, many of them as dangerous as the day they dropped from the sky.”

http://americanempireproject.com/kill-anything-that-moves/  -  “A My Lai a month”.

“Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by just a few “bad apples.” But as award-winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of official orders to “kill anything that moves.”

“Drawing on more than a decade of research into secret Pentagon archives and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals for the first time the workings of a military machine that resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded-what one soldier called “a My Lai a month.” Devastating and definitive, Kill Anything That Moves finally brings us face-to-face with the truth of a war that haunts America to this day.”

I agree that much of our behaviour toward each other (and other animals) is monstrous, which is indicated in the last sentence (now bolded) in my previous post.  Our history has so many examples it wouldn’t even be possible to list them all.  All anyone has to do is watch the news to see that this has not changed.

On the other hand, many of us are deeply troubled by this immorality and would not intentionally do harm to another living creature.  Humans have a great capacity for altruism, but also of cruelty.  Why is this so?  Will it ever change?  I’ve thought about this a lot, but I have no answers.  But I want to have hope it will change someday.

 

 
 
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08 November 2016 10:50
 
Dennis Campbell - 08 November 2016 09:34 AM

I put one of your sentences in bold.  That helps us to continue exploring the Moral Landscape of Homo sapiens . . . otherwise, why even talk about morality when so much of our behavior toward each other and toward other animals is so monstrous?

As judged by what standard?  We kill animals to eat them and/or wear their skins; animals kill each other as well.  We sometimes kill each other, and have our entire history.  What is your point here?

I don’t have a single point.  The topic is a question.  Australia and the U.S. have some things in common, yet notice the difference in the prevalence of vegetarianism -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetarianism_by_country

Some troops come home from combat, maybe even having participated in war crimes, and live healthy, happy lives - wife and kids and the whole 9 yards.  Others come home suffering from PTSD to the point of committing suicide. 

Some big game hunters kill endangered tigers and put the heads on their living-room walls to show off to their friends; while a member of the Audubon Society shoots a feral cat with a .22 and has nightmares for years.

 

 
 
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08 November 2016 20:52
 
unsmoked - 07 November 2016 09:29 AM

Are we more humane, less cruel, than our ancestors?  In his book, ‘SAPIENS - A Brief History of Humankind’, Y. N. Harari provides a photo of a confined calf and writes a caption:

“A modern calf in an industrial meat farm.  Immediately after birth the calf is separated from its mother and locked inside a tiny cage not much bigger than the calf’s own body.  There the calf spends its entire life - about four months on average.  It never leaves its cage, nor is it allowed to play with other calves or even walk - all so that its muscles will not grow strong.  Soft muscles mean a soft and juicy steak.  The first time the calf has a chance to walk, stretch its muscles and touch other calves is on its way to the slaughterhouse.  In evolutionary terms, cattle represent one of the most successful animal species ever to exist.  At the same time, they are some of the most miserable animals on the planet.”

https://www.amazon.com/Sapiens-Humankind-Yuval-Noah-Harari/dp/0062316095  (scroll down to read reviews)

It’s now a few minutes before 9pm PT on election night - it looks inevitable that trump will win.

When I first saw this OP I thought “no brainer”, of course we’re more humane. But upon reflection, I’m thinking it’s a damn good question…

despair…

 
 
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09 November 2016 01:26
 

Who are “we”? What about vegetarians and vegans?