Re: Why has man been described as the scum of the universe?

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Re: Why has man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#1  Postby Fairwinds » September 24th, 2017, 10:58 am

Blaine Pascal is quoted as saying " what a chimera then is man. What a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, repository of truth, sewer of uncertainty and error, the glory and the scum of the earth. "

This strong statement sums it all up for me, particularly the indictment at the end, and the evidence is all around. Will it ever change?
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Re: Why has man been described as the scum of the universe?



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Re: Why man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#2  Postby Greta » September 24th, 2017, 6:21 pm

The writer appears to be disappointed that humanity, the first species to achieve this kind of abstract intelligence, failed to learn its lessons quickly enough.

I don't judge. In evolutionary time scales we are fledglings, and there was no precedent to draw upon. Do some research on the torture methods of indigeneous and ancient peoples, or the behaviour of the Egyptian Pharaohs. It might not seem like it, but we've come a long way.
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Re: Why man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#3  Postby Spectrum » September 24th, 2017, 9:57 pm

The difference between humans and other animals are self-conscious and higher power of rationality. It is these two mental faculties that enable self-conscious-humans in the present state to reflect they are they are scum of the universe. Non-human animals do not have such thinking and reflection at all when they bring all sorts of destruction [diseases, killing and eating humans, plague, etc.] to humans.

While humans are evolving with self-consciousness to be aware of their own evilness, humans are also evolving with an continuous improving moral faculty. [note mirror neurons, etc.] As humans evolve towards the future, the average moral quotient will increase slowly. What is critical is for humanity to find ways and methods to expedite the moral quotient of the average person and thus the collective.

So, yes, based on pass trend, changes and improvements for the better will happen.
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Re: Why man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#4  Postby LuckyR » September 25th, 2017, 1:38 am

Fairwinds wrote:Blaine Pascal is quoted as saying " what a chimera then is man. What a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, repository of truth, sewer of uncertainty and error, the glory and the scum of the earth. "

This strong statement sums it all up for me, particularly the indictment at the end, and the evidence is all around. Will it ever change?


Actually we're the scum of the earth, not the universe. Sounds kind of harsh until you realize we're also the glory of the earth, so it kind of averages out.
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Re: Why man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#5  Postby Fairwinds » September 25th, 2017, 2:00 am

There were a couple of 'typos' in my original question and answer. The Gent who made the intriguing statement was Blaise Pascal, French catholic child genius, according to his biography. The final line should read universe and not Earth.

Personally, I see a lot of substance in his statement. Yes, mankind has improved or advanced in the reduction of crude violence around the world, but this fact is due to the spread of education, information and advances in living standards leading in turn to a desire to protect property, life, and life style. What interests me, and what is so depressing, is the shallow veneer of civilisation, which is easily scratched. Witness the rapid decline to savage behaviour when an emergency arises, a simple example being the aggression shown in a petrol queue when a shortage arises. There are countless examples of man's greed and disregard for fellow man or more importantly, his surroundings. Pascal recognised the upside and paid tribute in his statement, but the final indictment of ' scum of the Universe' seems well deserved and accurate.
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Re: Why man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#6  Postby Spectrum » September 25th, 2017, 9:58 pm

Fairwinds wrote:What interests me, and what is so depressing, is the shallow veneer of civilisation, which is easily scratched. Witness the rapid decline to savage behaviour when an emergency arises, a simple example being the aggression shown in a petrol queue when a shortage arises. There are countless examples of man's greed and disregard for fellow man or more importantly, his surroundings. Pascal recognised the upside and paid tribute in his statement, but the final indictment of ' scum of the Universe' seems well deserved and accurate.

I have repeated this hypothesis many times ; i.e.

    1. DNA wise ALL humans has the potential to be evil [as defined].

    2. A percentile [say conservatively 20% = 1.4 billion :shock: ] are born with quite active tendency to commit evil.

So it is naturally humans [not all] will get aggressive and violent easily when they perceived any threat [physically or mentally].
What is most pathetic is where religious believers [300 million] get aggressive when inspired by doctrines from a supposedly illusory God. Note people are killed merely from drawing of cartoons and seemingly petty issues.
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Re: Why man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#7  Postby Fairwinds » September 26th, 2017, 2:42 am

There is the aggression, but there is also the selfishness, greed, and stupidity. This exists alongside brilliance and stunning creativity. The inexorable move towards polluting the whole planet seems unstoppable, despite the so called cleverness of mankind. The evidence grows stronger with time that man is indeed, " the scum of the Universe".
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Re: Why man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#8  Postby LuckyR » September 26th, 2017, 3:27 am

Fairwinds wrote:There were a couple of 'typos' in my original question and answer. The Gent who made the intriguing statement was Blaise Pascal, French catholic child genius, according to his biography. The final line should read universe and not Earth.

Personally, I see a lot of substance in his statement. Yes, mankind has improved or advanced in the reduction of crude violence around the world, but this fact is due to the spread of education, information and advances in living standards leading in turn to a desire to protect property, life, and life style. What interests me, and what is so depressing, is the shallow veneer of civilisation, which is easily scratched. Witness the rapid decline to savage behaviour when an emergency arises, a simple example being the aggression shown in a petrol queue when a shortage arises. There are countless examples of man's greed and disregard for fellow man or more importantly, his surroundings. Pascal recognised the upside and paid tribute in his statement, but the final indictment of ' scum of the Universe' seems well deserved and accurate.


It always makes me chuckle when a member of a group (humans in this case) pontificate that the group is this or that negative thing, and don't acknowledge that they themselves should fall under the same description, as if they were magically exempt.
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Re: Why man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#9  Postby Fairwinds » September 26th, 2017, 4:43 am

If that was meant for my post, it is inaccurate! I should have made it clear that we are all in this together, naturally it must include the writer. (Aliens excluded!). Was hoping that some counter arguments would be posted showing how mankind cannot be regarded as ' the scum of the universe' it is a desperate plea to be proved wrong. Is the evidence against US too overwhelming?
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Re: Why man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#10  Postby Greta » September 26th, 2017, 6:22 am

You lot are hard markers. What do you expect?

Try Googling for ancient torture methods and marvel at how far we humans have come since then!

If all that makes you think even less of humans, then watch more nature documentaries or read up about how other species live their lives. Consider insects; almost every predator eats its insect victim alive.

Life simply is intrinsically incredibly brutal. This is why some people become antinatalists, believing thatthe suffering of life is such that it would be more merciful if the rocks never came alive. More positively, that humans have managed to partly gentrify and reduce life's torments for so many is a remarkable achievement, perhaps unprecedented in nature.

I do not know a single person who would want to be reincarnated. Why not? The horrid prospect of going through the trials and fears of childhood and/or the teens all over again. Basically life sucks at first but, without undue mishaps, it tends to settle down and improve. I think this is also the case on a macro scale - that humanity itself is young and immature, with the very worst of times behind us and the very best of times ahead ( without undue mishaps).
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Re: Why man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#11  Postby Fairwinds » September 26th, 2017, 7:10 am

Great post, with plenty of interesting thoughts. Thank you. I find it a great mental challenge to imagine the - ' very best of times ahead. '. No doubt there will be huge and astonishing advances in technology benefitting mankind. The key is the reference to " undue mishaps". These might take many forms, some completely out of the control of mere humans. However, the cleverness of us humans might well not extend to safeguarding future generations on the planet. No need to make a list here - the current issue raised by David Attenborough about the disaster of plastic ingestion by birds is a taster. I feel worse is to come, and cannot understand why us ' brilliant' humans cannot regulate and control our own actions?

The nub of my belief in humans being the ' scum of the Universe' is consistent with the knowledge that even should a pristine planet be handed over to ongoing generations by some miracle or superhuman effort, greed and selfishness would likely still kick in to the detriment of all.
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Re: Why man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#12  Postby Burning ghost » September 26th, 2017, 11:56 am

"the glory and the scum"

Yep. We ain't paragons but sure ain't wretched either. The miracle of humanity and civilized society is that it exists at all. I am not inclined to cry and wail about how awful we all are. Far from it, I think we're pretty damn fantastic (albeit naïve and prone to making mistakes.)

The most deprived depths dwelling within us all give us the strength to transcend them. Wired to be overly optimistic what else can we do but try and be better than we are?
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Re: Why man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#13  Postby Fairwinds » September 26th, 2017, 1:19 pm

This is the dilemma. If by a huge effort, or by organisation, a group or individual succeed in living to long term goals based on continuity, it could be worthless. Any amount of rational enlightenment aimed at preserving the planet for future generations is likely to fail miserably given the inherent nature of the human animal. Maybe, some cosmic event will eventually make all discussion irrelevant.
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Re: Why man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#14  Postby Greta » September 26th, 2017, 6:35 pm

Fairwinds wrote:I find it a great mental challenge to imagine the - ' very best of times ahead. '.

The key is to ask whose descendants are going to enjoy the best of times and whose will fall away.

As you know, the sixth great extinction (biosphere restructure) is under way. When the future is discussed in this context, humanity is often referred to by the word "we", as though humanity has a shared fate. Look at the rising inequality and the rapid slowing of the "trickle down".

Fairwinds wrote:However, the cleverness of us humans might well not extend to safeguarding future generations on the planet.

I doubt it will be needed. In one billion years the Sun will have heated enough to boil off the oceans. Presumably the Earth's surface would have been sterilised long before that, given that a mere 10C increase would be catastrophic. Even without humans, the biosphere is nearing the end of its life. About four billion years old with less than a quarter of its life left. The biosphere is entering its dotage.

With human rapidly burning fossil fuels, warming is happening earlier than it otherwise had done. However, it's clear that the biological phase of Earth is coming to its end. If humans can get their act together then at least the biosphere can move into a "reproductive phase" before it dies, with space bound AI probes containing Earth material being sent out to seed other worlds.

Without humans, life would simply be extinguished and start again. If AI probes seed other worlds then the evolution would be greatly accelerated, being built upon complex modern DNA so, in a sense, the story that began about four billion years ago can continue rather than start over from scratch.
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Re: Why man been described as the scum of the universe?

Post Number:#15  Postby Fairwinds » September 27th, 2017, 2:46 am

Love this prognosis which I find very credible. It raises a few questions in my mind, one of which is " will mankind trash the earth and its atmosphere long before any biological phase ends? It looks very likely at the present. Or can mankind agree to cooperate suffuciently to reign in all the exuberant excesses that are eradicating species and polluting everything? If Blaise Pascal is right ( and who knows) ' the scum of the Universe' will destroy our pleasant land and present day lives, long before the inevitable transformation through million and billions of years.
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