Should we Survive?

As far as the species is concerned, it’s a personal problem.  The rest of the universe doesn’t care one way or the other.  There is no objective reason why we should survive.  Basically, it depends on our own whims, and there’s no reason to suggest that any one person’s whim should carry more weight than another’s. 

My own whim is in favor of survival.  I can give no objective reason for preferring it to the alternative.  However, the thought has occurred to me that we only exist in the first place because we have been good at surviving.  If I were to prefer not to survive, then, from a biological point of view I would be dysfunctional, and I find that thought distressing.  Subjective as it is, I can think of no more fundamental “good” than survival.  It may not be a good in itself, but, as a subjective good, it trumps all the rest.  After all, our very perception of good and evil, and the way in which we experience these categories, are themselves artifacts of evolution.  They exist for no other reason whatsoever than the role they have played in promoting our survival.  In that sense, then, all other goods and all other evils, fundamentally irrational emotional entities that they are, are ancillary to survival.  Survival, then, becomes the subjective “good of goods.”

Again, I am by no means claiming that survival is good in itself.  I am merely describing my own, personal emotional response to the circumstances I find myself in.  To put it in the broadest possible terms, I desire the survival of the life I carry, regardless of the manner in which it evolves in the future to accomplish that end.  It has been alive for billions of years.  In that sense, it is really who “I” am, as opposed to the consciousness writing these lines.  It would distress me to know that, after all those eons of survival, its fate was only to be extinguished in a universe that doesn’t care.

Author: Helian

I am Doug Drake, and I live in Maryland, not far from Washington, DC. I am a graduate of West Point, and I hold a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin. My blog reflects my enduring fascination with human nature and human morality.

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