comment by denisbider ·
2010-02-11T21:11:51.077Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
But the definition of "humanity" isn't even coherent, and is actually incompatible with shades of gray that actually exist.
Until these fundamentals are thought out, there can be lots of hot air, but progress toward a goal cannot be made, as long as the goal is incoherent.
It seems to me that the type of humanism you're talking about is based on an assumption that "other people are like me, and should therefore be just as valuable to me as I am".
But other people, especially of different cultures and genetic heritage, have strikingly different values, strikingly different perceptions, different capacities to think, understand and create.
The differences are such that drawing the compassion line at the borders of the human race makes about as much sense as at any other arbitrary point in the biological spectrum.
I believe that, to be consistent in valuing empathy as a goal on its own, you have to have empathy with everything. I find that a laudable position. But the sad fact is, most of us here aren't vegan, nor do even want to be. (I would be if most people were.)
People are selfish, and do not have empathy for everything. In fact, most people pretend to have empathy for the world as a whole, whereas in fact they only have empathy for the closest people around them, and perhaps not even them, when push comes to shove.
All that having been said, and the world being as selfish as it is, when you say that you're a humanist, that you want to better the lot of other people, and that you contribute 50% of your income to charity (just as an example), you are basically saying that you're a sucker, and that your empathic circuits are so out of control that you let other people exploit you.
Given that we are the way we are, I think a much more reasonable goal is to foster a world that shares our values, not to foster the existence of the arbitrary people who don't share our values, but exist today.