What is godness?

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.

What is godness?

Post Number:#1  Postby Count Lucanor » October 28th, 2017, 12:53 pm

What are the attributes that define godness? What counts as divine nature?

This is not about whether a god or group of gods exist in reality or not, but about what would meet the criteria of a god, theoretically or practically. Let's say you get to know the descriptions of an entity like Hercules, and you find the criteria which will identify this being as not a god, but a hero (son of a mortal and a god). This seems to work well for Greek mythology, but is there any universal concept of godness?
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Re: What is godness?

Post Number:#2  Postby Spectrum » October 28th, 2017, 10:07 pm

My thesis is, the idea of 'godness' arose from a desperate psychological existential dilemma and its impulses.

The idea of 'godness' emerged out of reason, yes, reason but it is primal pure reason [nb: Kant's Critique of Pure Reason].

Throughout the history of mankind, this idea of godness has evolved initially from empirical related natural things, to an anthropomorphic being, and ultimately to a non-empirical ontological God [a Being than which no greater can be thought of -St Anselm].

The common theme of all gods is they are always more powerful [in various degrees] than human beings in some defined sense, thus is able to serve the believer in some psychological perspective. This culminated to an ontological God, i.e. a Being than which no greater [of whatever] can be thought of.
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Re: What is godness?

Post Number:#3  Postby Count Lucanor » October 29th, 2017, 12:49 am

Spectrum wrote:My thesis is, the idea of 'godness' arose from a desperate psychological existential dilemma and its impulses.

The idea of 'godness' emerged out of reason, yes, reason but it is primal pure reason [nb: Kant's Critique of Pure Reason].

Probably what emerged first was the dualist conception of nature, so that behind every being or phenomenon there was a force, a driving spirit. That was perhaps the initial projection of man's self awareness onto the world that surrounded him: for animists, everything observed was the action of conscious agents (trees, animals, rivers, rocks, etc.). As societies reached higher levels of development, this projection might have become more elaborated and integrated to their ideological apparatuses, being more useful for political control: the domain of the spiritual becomes a fully separated world to which only a few chosen ones have access. That is when the notion of spiritual rulers began taking form and eventually became the gods of polytheistic cultures.
Spectrum wrote:Throughout the history of mankind, this idea of godness has evolved initially from empirical related natural things, to an anthropomorphic being, and ultimately to a non-empirical ontological God [a Being than which no greater can be thought of -St Anselm].
The common theme of all gods is they are always more powerful [in various degrees] than human beings in some defined sense, thus is able to serve the believer in some psychological perspective. This culminated to an ontological God, i.e. a Being than which no greater [of whatever] can be thought of.


In general, yes, although I would like to raise some doubts on any theoretical scheme that takes this notion of one supreme being as a culmination, because in practice, religions have evolved incorporating these ideas, but they have turned out to be more diverse and syncretic than what is officially acknowledged by their faithful. Monotheism indeed appears to be the ruling religious ideology in the world these days, most likely because of the influence of what is called "Western society", but there are many religions still around which do not adhere to these conceptions, and among monotheists themselves there's a lot of variety. Not only Islam, Judaism and Christianity diverge, but they are subdivided in many different cults with different doctrines, including different conceptions of their deities. When you think of all the divine entities recognized by Catholics, for example, and even how they conceive their relation with clerical hierarchy and the rest of devotees, you are dealing with a conception of divinity which is hard to reconcile with those of other Christian congregations.

That's why it would be interesting to define what is "godness" all about. For example, is it an angel a kind of lesser god? Would it count as a god under the criteria of a polytheist religion?
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Re: What is godness?

Post Number:#4  Postby Burning ghost » October 29th, 2017, 2:49 am

Simply put, the concept of "god" (at least for me) exists when I am at a point of flourishing and somewhat unstable. It is the place between where anything and everything can grow, and where everything can wither and die.

We all gravitate toward it in some way and some are better at staying closer to it than others.

In this sense I think it is reasonably clear that the structure of monotheism is based on this. It is a conceptual point where potential peaks. Kind of ironical that the very idea of "structuring" something around something that is half opposed to structure was attempted. In this sense I have started to view polytheism as being more manageable and easier to understand for the average day-to-day folk of the world. Especially manageable as these polytheistic views can not be taken on into some kind of totalitarianism ("absolutism"), and remain merely a fragment of the greater hierarchy of human life. Monotheism in this sense is much more likely to fall into ideologies and closed-mindedness because the "god" is unanswerable and unquestionable. In the polytheistic structure the "gods" (as concepts are seen as concepts rather than just representations of some imagined being) and they are answerable to each other and to mankind.

So, simply put, the definition of "divinity" for me is simply the exposure of potential. The 'good' or the 'evil' that comes about because of this another thing entirely. The popular ying-yang concept pretty much embodies this as well as anything else. The point of potential lies neither soley in chaos nor in order. It lies right on the demarcation of the two and that is why it is so powerful.
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Re: What is godness?

Post Number:#5  Postby Dark Matter » October 29th, 2017, 2:53 pm

"Only do we know God truly when we believe Him to be above everything that it is possible for man to think about Him."

This makes the OP meaningless.
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Re: What is godness?

Post Number:#6  Postby Count Lucanor » October 29th, 2017, 4:52 pm

Burning ghost wrote:Simply put, the concept of "god" (at least for me) exists when I am at a point of flourishing and somewhat unstable. It is the place between where anything and everything can grow, and where everything can wither and die.

We all gravitate toward it in some way and some are better at staying closer to it than others.

...It is a conceptual point where potential peaks.

...So, simply put, the definition of "divinity" for me is simply the exposure of potential. The 'good' or the 'evil' that comes about because of this another thing entirely. The popular ying-yang concept pretty much embodies this as well as anything else. The point of potential lies neither soley in chaos nor in order. It lies right on the demarcation of the two and that is why it is so powerful.


If I understood well, for you godness entails an unstable potential condition of flourishing. Since everything can be something that it is not, everything participates of this divine condition and there's no singular entity that appropriates for itself this condition.

Burning ghost wrote:In this sense I think it is reasonably clear that the structure of monotheism is based on this.

I don't see how, with the criteria you exposed above. According to your criteria, all singular gods of monotheism or polytheism could not be appropriately called "gods", but something else, given that under these conceptions some entities monopolize the divine properties and exclude everyone else. Actually, if we follow your view, any form of theism would not point at godness.

Burning ghost wrote:Kind of ironical that the very idea of "structuring" something around something that is half opposed to structure was attempted. In this sense I have started to view polytheism as being more manageable and easier to understand for the average day-to-day folk of the world. Especially manageable as these polytheistic views can not be taken on into some kind of totalitarianism ("absolutism"), and remain merely a fragment of the greater hierarchy of human life. Monotheism in this sense is much more likely to fall into ideologies and closed-mindedness because the "god" is unanswerable and unquestionable. In the polytheistic structure the "gods" (as concepts are seen as concepts rather than just representations of some imagined being) and they are answerable to each other and to mankind.

As we can see, you're acknowledging that monotheism and polytheism have some conceptions of godness, but your definition of godness exclude them. That leaves us with just one possibility: that theirs is a misconception of godness. To fulfill the purpose of this forum, the question would be: why yours and not theirs?
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Re: What is godness?

Post Number:#7  Postby Spectrum » October 29th, 2017, 9:19 pm

Count Lucanor wrote:In general, yes, although I would like to raise some doubts on any theoretical scheme that takes this notion of one supreme being as a culmination, because in practice, religions have evolved incorporating these ideas, but they have turned out to be more diverse and syncretic than what is officially acknowledged by their faithful.

Monotheism indeed appears to be the ruling religious ideology in the world these days, most likely because of the influence of what is called "Western society", but there are many religions still around which do not adhere to these conceptions, and among monotheists themselves there's a lot of variety.

Not only Islam, Judaism and Christianity diverge, but they are subdivided in many different cults with different doctrines, including different conceptions of their deities. When you think of all the divine entities recognized by Catholics, for example, and even how they conceive their relation with clerical hierarchy and the rest of devotees, you are dealing with a conception of divinity which is hard to reconcile with those of other Christian congregations.

That's why it would be interesting to define what is "godness" all about. For example, is it an angel a kind of lesser god? Would it count as a god under the criteria of a polytheist religion?

This is a question of 'Substance' and 'Forms,' one essence and many forms.

If we look at the substance of 'Nutrition' to ensure survive. There is one essential drive of 'Nutrition' to ensure survival, but there are many ways humans go about to fulfill their hunger drive with different types of foods, way of producing food, preparing and consumption of food. These different forms are subsets of the one and only drive for nutrition.

It is the same for the sex drive which essence is merely to ensure reproduction of the next generation and thus the preservation of the species. However there are many forms of sexual activities that will lead it to reproduction.

It is the same with 'godness'.
Godness is one substantial element that serves a critical existential need to mitigate an existential crisis.
There are many forms of 'godness' [gods, deities, religions, sects, etc.] but the progressing independent power of humans will lead it to reduce the forms culminating in the idea of an absolute Ontological God, i.e. a Supreme Perfect Being.
With such a Supreme Perfect Being as the anchor, believers [not all] will continue to generate a variety of its forms due to its inherent diversity.

While at present the majority of theists are cling to a monotheist God with many forms [e.g. vedanta-Hinduism, Christianity] some believers [using more reasoning powers] are pushing the boundaries to a more pure exclusive monotheistic God, e.g. Allah-Islam, deism, pantheism, panentheism, and the likes.

However the true essence and motivator of 'godness' is driven and compelled [subliminally] by a very desperate existential psychology inherently within the human psyche.
Whatever issues related to 'godness' especially its related very terrible evil and violence [by SOME believers] can be resolved on the level of reason using non-theistic solutions such psychology or neuro-psychology for higher efficiency [e.g. as in Buddhism].
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Re: What is godness?

Post Number:#8  Postby Georgeanna » October 29th, 2017, 9:33 pm

When I look at the word 'godness', I think 'goodness' or why not 'goddessness'?
In this way, I can imagine it being some kind of pinnacle of perfection.

' A godness on a mountain top
Was burning like a silver flame
The summit of beauty and love,
And Venus was her name'

- Venus, by the Shocking Blue
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Re: What is godness?

Post Number:#9  Postby Count Lucanor » October 29th, 2017, 11:32 pm

Spectrum wrote:This is a question of 'Substance' and 'Forms,' one essence and many forms.

If we look at the substance of 'Nutrition' to ensure survive. There is one essential drive of 'Nutrition' to ensure survival, but there are many ways humans go about to fulfill their hunger drive with different types of foods, way of producing food, preparing and consumption of food. These different forms are subsets of the one and only drive for nutrition.

It is the same for the sex drive which essence is merely to ensure reproduction of the next generation and thus the preservation of the species. However there are many forms of sexual activities that will lead it to reproduction.

I think you're equating function and purpose with essence. If the essence of a clock is to give time, will it stop being a clock when it stops working? If sexual practices are going on after the age of fertility, did it stop being sex? If one eats from gluttony or pure gastronomical pleasure, did it stop being nutrition? If I put plastic rice in my stomach, will that still be a form of nutrition? Essence is just the necessary property, set of properties or relations that make a thing be what it is.
Spectrum wrote:It is the same with 'godness'.
Godness is one substantial element that serves a critical existential need to mitigate an existential crisis.

Same as above: whatever it was the function or purpose that the concepts of gods had served (and we might think that they have served many functions and purposes), this doesn't seem to be the essence of godness. Provisionally, I would expect the essential attributes of godness to be something like:
    *Conscious agency and free will
    *Having faculties that surpass those of any natural being.
    *Exercising governance, control, over the events of nature and human affairs.
    *Not being bound to a physical body.
Spectrum wrote:There are many forms of 'godness' [gods, deities, religions, sects, etc.] but the progressing independent power of humans will lead it to reduce the forms culminating in the idea of an absolute Ontological God, i.e. a Supreme Perfect Being.
With such a Supreme Perfect Being as the anchor, believers [not all] will continue to generate a variety of its forms due to its inherent diversity.

I'm very skeptical about that. I once thought, along with one thinker from the Enlightenment, that as major religions fell in crisis due to the advances of science, humanity would evolve into a generic deism. Your call for an absolute perfect being may be symptomatic of that, but I think that would be a theoretical perspective that does not fit the current state of affairs. It looks more like religion will diversify even more and will be nurtured by something else than pure philosophical speculation or formal theology, getting closer to what it used to be, which I see as a symptom of social and cultural decadence. There is people actually fighting for imposing a caliphate.

-- Updated October 29th, 2017, 11:44 pm to add the following --

Georgeanna wrote:When I look at the word 'godness', I think 'goodness' or why not 'goddessness'?
In this way, I can imagine it being some kind of pinnacle of perfection.

' A godness on a mountain top
Was burning like a silver flame
The summit of beauty and love,
And Venus was her name'

- Venus, by the Shocking Blue

That image of perfection, however, seems to be of recent date. Most of the gods of Greek, Roman and Christian mythology, as powerful as they might be portrayed, do not appear to be exempt of flaws. They make mistakes, change their minds, express hate, do evil, etc., as they are projections of real humans by real humans.
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Re: What is godness?

Post Number:#10  Postby Spectrum » October 30th, 2017, 12:26 am

Count Lucanor wrote:
Spectrum wrote:This is a question of 'Substance' and 'Forms,' one essence and many forms.

If we look at the substance of 'Nutrition' to ensure survive. There is one essential drive of 'Nutrition' to ensure survival, but there are many ways humans go about to fulfill their hunger drive with different types of foods, way of producing food, preparing and consumption of food. These different forms are subsets of the one and only drive for nutrition.

It is the same for the sex drive which essence is merely to ensure reproduction of the next generation and thus the preservation of the species. However there are many forms of sexual activities that will lead it to reproduction.

I think you're equating function and purpose with essence. If the essence of a clock is to give time, will it stop being a clock when it stops working? If sexual practices are going on after the age of fertility, did it stop being sex? If one eats from gluttony or pure gastronomical pleasure, did it stop being nutrition? If I put plastic rice in my stomach, will that still be a form of nutrition? Essence is just the necessary property, set of properties or relations that make a thing be what it is.

    Essence = the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, that determines its character.

As with the above definition, 'essence' can be applicable to physical quality or mental qualities [function and purpose] of human beings.
The essence of a clock is to give time, but physically and operation wise, it can be represented by various forms. If it stopped working, it is still a physical clock in essence as originally intended.

If sex acts are committed after one's reproductive age, it is still essentially 'sex' as driven by the original chemicals and neural mechanism but a different form of sex.


Spectrum wrote:It is the same with 'godness'.
Godness is one substantial element that serves a critical existential need to mitigate an existential crisis.

Same as above: whatever it was the function or purpose that the concepts of gods had served (and we might think that they have served many functions and purposes), this doesn't seem to be the essence of godness. Provisionally, I would expect the essential attributes of godness to be something like:
    *Conscious agency and free will
    *Having faculties that surpass those of any natural being.
    *Exercising governance, control, over the events of nature and human affairs.
    *Not being bound to a physical body.

In this case I am referring to the essence of God in terms of human psychological process in correlation with godness and not the description of God itself. After all in reality, God as I had argued elsewhere is an impossibility. What is more possible is thus the human psychology associated with an illusory God. Thus it would be more effective to discuss 'godness' in term of the essence of its psychological underpinnings.

As for the illusory God, I would state the ultimate essence of such a God is the ontological God, i.e. an absolute perfect God.
The definition and essence of an ontological God is "a Being than which no greater can be conceived".
Now whatever attributes [agency, freewill, power, control, etc.] you assign for a God, that assigned attribute will be 'which no greater (positively) can be conceived." Once this 'essence' as ontological is establish, the principle applies and there is no need to describe all the details which can be endless.

Spectrum wrote:There are many forms of 'godness' [gods, deities, religions, sects, etc.] but the progressing independent power of humans will lead it to reduce the forms culminating in the idea of an absolute Ontological God, i.e. a Supreme Perfect Being.
With such a Supreme Perfect Being as the anchor, believers [not all] will continue to generate a variety of its forms due to its inherent diversity.

I'm very skeptical about that. I once thought, along with one thinker from the Enlightenment, that as major religions fell in crisis due to the advances of science, humanity would evolve into a generic deism. Your call for an absolute perfect being may be symptomatic of that, but I think that would be a theoretical perspective that does not fit the current state of affairs. It looks more like religion will diversify even more and will be nurtured by something else than pure philosophical speculation or formal theology, getting closer to what it used to be, which I see as a symptom of social and cultural decadence. There is people actually fighting for imposing a caliphate.

Note the fact is the existing theistic ideology of the majority has 'evolved' to that of monotheism and ultimately it has to be an ontological God [when deliberated seriously] whilst many may practice its various forms.

The imposition of a caliphate which is seemingly deviant in form is leveraged upon an ontological monotheistic God, i.e. Allah. If we read the Quran seriously, Allah is an absolute perfect being, than which no greater god can be conceived of. The Quran literally commanded no greater god can be conceived by Muslims.
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Re: What is godness?

Post Number:#11  Postby Dark Matter » October 30th, 2017, 12:43 am

It's just hilarious watching atheists discuss what constitutes "godness?" :lol:
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Re: What is godness?

Post Number:#12  Postby Burning ghost » October 30th, 2017, 2:05 am

Count -

To fulfill the purpose of this forum, the question would be: why yours and not theirs?


Because mine is as monotheistic as theirs in all but name. It is a question of individuation in light of polytheism (or simply plurality.) So I would say mine and theirs are the points of movement toward the underlying concept.

Polytheism and monotheism only differ in dogmatism. Pretty much all polytheistic structures (I know of) have hierarchy, but lack omnipotence. What appears to have happened is in some cultures political use of these ideas have been used to form a singular concept, a divorce from opposition in favour of a monopole. Polytheism frames human beings in a multitude, which although harder to encapsulate under one schemata at least bares more resemblance to human life than some omnipotent all powerful, all pervading being (which is likely the extension of egotism into religiosity.)

The religious members of any tradition that are at the heart of their understanding completely view other traditions as expressions of the same thing. Even here we see the polytheistic understanding shine through the façade of monotheism. It is more a cultural habit and understanding. What is perhaps of further interest is the connection and relationship with scientific tradition and the idea of the individual (note: I'll dig out quote from B.Russell later.)

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Hedonist I gather?
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Re: What is godness?

Post Number:#13  Postby Georgeanna » October 30th, 2017, 3:55 am

It would seem that I am in agreement with Spectrum.

Your illusory 'Godness' as opposed to small 'godness' seems to be about a Perfect Supernatural Immortal Immaterial Controlling, etc. etc. Non-Human Being or Doer.

Perhaps a human perception of a Pinnacle of Perfection.
Perfection here meaning: 'freedom from fault, flawless' or 'an example of supreme excellence'.
However, the essence of 'godness', complete with human frailties, can still have a quality of perfection.
This time meaning: ' the act or process of perfecting'. ( definitions from Merriam Webster)

So, I can still view 'godness' as goodness, in terms of an aim to lead a better life. A human quality or virtue which includes flaws. Some hold up a God as their Ideal, others not so much.
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Re: What is godness?

Post Number:#14  Postby Count Lucanor » October 30th, 2017, 3:00 pm

Spectrum wrote:Essence = the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, that determines its character.

As with the above definition, 'essence' can be applicable to physical quality or mental qualities [function and purpose] of human beings.

I'm glad we can agree on what essence means, but note that the examples you gave placed the essence on the external causes of said things. Thus, these would be extrinsec properties, not intrinsic ones.

Spectrum wrote:In this case I am referring to the essence of God in terms of human psychological process in correlation with godness and not the description of God itself. After all in reality, God as I had argued elsewhere is an impossibility. What is more possible is thus the human psychology associated with an illusory God. Thus it would be more effective to discuss 'godness' in term of the essence of its psychological underpinnings.

As I said in the OP, it really doesn't matter whether godness is purely theoretical or a tangible reality. However, if you refer to the psychological process in correlation with godness, you are referring to something else different than the concept of godness itself. It does require that you deal with the description of godness to determine what is essential in it and what is not.
Spectrum wrote:As for the illusory God, I would state the ultimate essence of such a God is the ontological God, i.e. an absolute perfect God.
The definition and essence of an ontological God is "a Being than which no greater can be conceived".
Now whatever attributes [agency, freewill, power, control, etc.] you assign for a God, that assigned attribute will be 'which no greater (positively) can be conceived." Once this 'essence' as ontological is establish, the principle applies and there is no need to describe all the details which can be endless.

That would be a definition with essential attributes. It is also a definition that excludes most of the known gods imagined by humanity. It's not only the god you will not find in the myths of ancient civilizations, but neither in all of monotheistic traditions (although it could be disputed that the Islamic god is more universal). At this point it would be appropriate to introduce the distinction between what ARE the essential atrrubutes of godness, so that this definition encompasses all or most descriptions of divine entities found in culture, and what MUST BE the essential properties of divinity, in which case your concept will apply.
Spectrum wrote:Note the fact is the existing theistic ideology of the majority has 'evolved' to that of monotheism and ultimately it has to be an ontological God [when deliberated seriously] whilst many may practice its various forms.

That expression: "has to be", takes us to the distinction I described before. As a desired stated of the concept, it cannot express a fact, what actually is conceived by many. I see as a fact that a very tiny minority conforms to this type of monotheism, but the rest see their gods as fatherly figures or kings, with whom they talk to or have some sort of personal relationship, which is not compatible with the absolute god you describe.
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Re: What is godness?

Post Number:#15  Postby Burning ghost » October 30th, 2017, 8:28 pm

From History of Western Philosophy, part 1. From the Renaissance to Hume, Chapter 1 General Characteristics (p. 492-3) :

The authority of science , which is recognized by most philosophers of the modern epoch, is a very different thing from the authority of the Church, since it is intellectual, not governmental ...

...

So far, I have been speaking of theoretical science, which is an attempt to understand the world. Practical science, which is an attempt to change the world, has been important from the first, and continually increased in importance, until it has almost ousted theoretical science from men's thoughts ...

...

Emancipation from the authority of the Church led to the growth of individualism even to the point of anarchy.


Russell goes on to describe extreme subjectivism as a "form of madness" as much as extreme objectivism. It is this parallel I was referring to in what I have found myself. This also bleeds into politics and game theory, meaning there is a drive toward homeostasis. Liberalism and conservativism complement each other, just freedom does, freedom only understand the rule of certain laws, otherwise there is pure anarchy and no authority given objective value. Funnily enough out of anarchy authority, of some sort, will always rise.

We could also compare science and religion in terms of monotheism and polytheism. Science appears to be completely different, yet if you take a closer look perhaps you'd being willing to look at the authority of science being the methodology. As long as it works it will not be adjusted and resist adjustment. Also, in science we live in a polytheistic sense with numerous fields of investigation. The chemist will obviously see chemistry as most important, the physicist will say physics and the archeologist will see archeology as the most important of all the attributes of science. Within a polytheistic view people are more open to other positions and understand how they complement their own.

The "godness" is the factor about which they all gravitate. The authoritarian attitude is that which believes its method is the one true method, the only way to reach and understand "godness".

If you wish to follow spectrum on his views then you'd have to accept that humans need a lot more than simply food, heat, and water. Some things are essential to humans that may not appear so obvious. Humans need physical contact with other beings and they need to play, just as much as they need food and water.
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