Comment: William Quincy Saer

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William Quincy Saer

WQS makes the following assertions/observations below upon which I would like to comment:

1. Ultimately, every individual dies.

That seems reasonable to me, or at least reasonably likely.

2. An individual cannot live forever.

OK. That seems to follow.

3. Only the group can do that.

That is, he is saying that only "the group" can live forever. And he goes on to elaborate that he really means DNA can live forever.

Is that right? Forever? Really? Forever. How do you know?

I don't believe it. Even naturalistically, the most likely scenario is that the sun will eventually get hot enough to cook all the DNA, and then that's it. It won't go on forever.

Another question: Does DNA really live? Answer: No.

My conclusions: There is a natural limit to the applicability of this discussion which falls short of "forever." It is perhaps limited by a finite time span of some length. Yes, individuals die, and groups (like the human species) may exist a bit longer, but neither are forever. So, any argument based on the denial of self-ownership in favor of some kind of group ownership because the individual does not live forever is a pretty weak argument (because the group does not live forever either).

Now, it might be argued that actually individuals live forever (in some other sense than as vessels of DNA). But we can't verify it easily or convince one another on such a point, so it seems we are forced to set that aside too.

On to WQS's next point:

4. You do not own yourself.

I guess that is sort of the question here, but it's nice that the assertion is stated up front. It remains to see to whom or what WQS does think ownership belongs.

5. You didn't create yourself.

That's true enough. Having set aside time of existence as a criterion, it is interesting that WQS would bring up a right of ownership by creation. I would assume that were the notion of God to be justified, then this would settle the question for WQS.

I note, on the other hand, that creation does not always imply ownership. I have expressed many ideas on this very forum over the years. Some of them *were* even my own ideas. I might have been said to have created them. But I do not own them. What is ownership? Now there's an interesting question. In any case, I don't think creation implies ownership, at least in all instances.

6. How can you claim to own something you didn't create?

A question. I think WQS means that as a rhetorical question, as if the answer is obvious.

I don't think it is. There are lots of things I claim to own which I didn't create. Back to ownership briefly: Kenneth Royce declares that it should be our objective to own nothing but only control as much as we can. Interestingly, this is the position of the top rulers on this planet---mostly bankers. Why own when you can control?

Exactly. And that is why I disagree. I don't care to control too much, but I do want to own some things. For me, ownership is connected with responsibility. A little story:

The Iroquois, when they were to make a major decision, considered the effect of that decision on 7 generations. If something was determined to be of temporary apparent benefit but could create harm for anyone in the succeeding 7 generations, then that thing was to be rejected.

Did the future generations own their ancestors? Did the Iroquois own their descendants because they were trying to make responsible decisions with them in mind? I would lean toward the latter.

I could agree that our ancestors exercised ownership of us at certain times. Parents exercise a kind of ownership of children at times. These are all temporary kinds of ownership connected strongly with responsibility. They all are relenquished (at least) in death. Dead people don't own things.

7. DNA owns you.

Groups cannot make a decision. Only individuals can. A group does not have a mind. DNA can't make a decision. So I don't beleive in corporate personhood. I don't believe in corporate ownership. A group can't make a claim. Only an individual can own something, because only an individual can be responsibly connected to it. And I certainly don't believe that DNA can own something.

DNA does not have a mind. DNA cannot be responsible. DNA cannot own.

I think we should all want to own something. We have a right and a responsibility to own some land in particular and preserve and enhance its fertility. This is one of the few things where I think we need "balance." In a society (and I agree with the point that individuals must live in some kind of society) we should seek to own (and be responsible for) some things, but not everything---not even as much as possible.

8. WE OWN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

The question is: Do you want a society built on the foundation of slavery? Because that's what we've got. And it seems to me that nonsensical assertions about dead people and groups and non-living, non-thinking genetic material owning individuals which results in the embrace of the ludicrous idea that individuals can turn evil actions into good ones by performing silly rituals (i.e., government) is a poor direction to take.

9. I'll listen and see whether I learn something.

Have you been listening William Quincy Saer?