Announcement: Your votes are in! The January 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt.

How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Discuss morality and ethics in this message board.
Featured Article: Philosophical Analysis of Abortion, The Right to Life, and Murder
User avatar
Thrylix
Posts: 24
Joined: January 11th, 2014, 2:42 am

How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by Thrylix » December 4th, 2018, 10:44 am

This thread is inspired by an old thread I made about whether or not it is wrong to step on bugs, but with a different subject. There is an episode of the Twilight Zone called the Little People where a couple astronauts get stranded on a distant planet and while repairing their ship, they stumble upon a who are sophisticated enough to build houses, boats, trucks, cities, and appear in all aspects to be identical to the humans in every way except their size.
Image

You can probably guess what happens next from the image. An alien version of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. One of the astronauts decides he's going to be their God and begins to dominate the little people through fear and cruelty, based on no godly qualities except the advantage of having evolved to be massively bigger than them. It was a cool episode.

Anyway, what's interesting and possibly shocking to some, is I don't think I'd act very differently from that guy in his circumstance. If I somehow came across a planet of tiny little aliens that were the size of ants to me, I don' think I'd have much of a problem with crushing a few of their towns, provided that that no one (or at least no one who mattered) would find out or try to punish me for it. I'd actually think it's hard to blame a guy like me for taking advantage of the size difference. I would love the chance to be revered as a god, even if I'd very much be an old testament god. The only difference would be that instead of meeting out discipline with lightning, I'd do it with my feet. If they needed me to press a giant sneaker-shaped footprint in the middle of their capital to remind them to worship me, then that's fine. Actually, I'd probably do that anyway.

Here is where you may disagree, but to me it seems like nature taking its course and I don't think I can fault some giant alien who came to Earth doing this either. In the immediate moment he's planting a huge foot down on NYC, I'd probably think the alien was a giant jerk, but looking at the big picture, I know I'd be too insignificant to this being to even get his attention, much less communicate in any meaningful way. And does Godzilla care about the humans he steps on? Besides, I already step on bugs all the time, often purposely.

In spite of what I'd do in the above situation, I wouldn't consider myself to be evil, immoral, or unethical. Rather, I'm generally considered to be an all-around great guy by friends and coworkers. I help people all the time for nothing in return, have donated to charities, given people rides, and I even volunteer as an EMT when I can. I run competitively, coach track for no pay. I've never been arrested, vandalized property, or wanted to hurt anyone.

What do you think of the behavior I described? How would you behave when in a situation where you gain absolute power over others? Would you be kind or cruel? Or would you walk away from the situation? Try to stay respectful of one another!

User avatar
TryingMyBest
Posts: 23
Joined: November 29th, 2018, 4:34 pm

Re: How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by TryingMyBest » December 4th, 2018, 5:11 pm

Given absolute power over an alien civilization, I would play the Philosopher King Game with them. I would address the entire civilization and create rules by vocal decree with the only condition for myself being the following: that whatever I propose must be just as true for each as it is for all. If one individual senses "false" to a decree, then my reign as philosopher king ends, and I let someone else (one of the aliens) try.
I would set decrees by being univocal (speaking in a way that is true for the group/civilization as a whole) and equivocal (speaking in a way that is true for each separate individual.) (Italics/underlines are the decrees.)
For my first law please act out/think the following:No thanks, I will think for myself. The aliens would search high and low to find someone who refused to think/act the decree. The alien public and news networks would seek to find one individual who has opposed my decree. They will realize that whether they chose to ignore it, follow it, trust it, or do the opposites; it was still true. My reign would continue...
I know that you are right. Again the public scattered about but could find no one to credibly disagree. Every time someone would claim to disagree they would admit to being wrong for doing so.
I am one voice of the many. The public realized that "many" could cells of society like individuals...
To be right is one's right. To be real is one's right. To be honest is one's right. To be good is one's right. To be individual is one's right. (At the amazement and joy of a self-reflecting alien society; no one could provide any sensibility that could disagree with the now - Law of Rights! The alien public was in awe of their sensational realization of rights. Increasingly aliens were starting to identify the philosopher king's voice with their own customs and beliefs.
One is one. Reality reflects reality.
What is true is true and cannot be false. What is false is false and cannot be true.
Deceit is a lie.
I, you, and everyone now knows that deceit is a lie. In this moment, no one is deceived and the will is free.
Negation is a loss from reality.
A true thing is something real. A false thing is nothing at all.
After each decree study groups at Alien University get together to examine its validity... there is a great exploration into the sciences, arts, philosophy, linguistics, as they search for error but cannot find one and continue learning as they try to disprove them.
Whatever comes next is about to be realized.
...
Once one of the little aliens finds fault in one of my arguments, I make him/her/it philosophy king until someone finds fault and then the next one steps up, and so on.
I will have created a self-sustaining truth valuing free, open, honest, loving society that is hopefully self-sustaining...
I think I should say something about how I like art and statues lol, it's just kind of tricky to keep it equivocal and univocal.

What do you think, way more fun than bullying and murdering them, right?

User avatar
Thrylix
Posts: 24
Joined: January 11th, 2014, 2:42 am

Re: How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by Thrylix » December 4th, 2018, 6:32 pm

Interesting reply; thanks. I agree on some areas. I'd definitely issue tons of decrees. However, one dissent to a decree and you'd decline to be the philosopher king? No rebuttal? You'd make a tiny alien rule their whole civilization based on nothing but the fact they found a fault in your rule? There's benevolent, and then there's letting yourself get kicked in the ass.

As to your last question; no. If I were being totally honest, bullying an entire race of of people no bigger than ants is way more fun than letting them rule themselves. Not a popular answer, but honest. :D

User avatar
UniversalAlien
Posts: 1131
Joined: March 20th, 2012, 9:37 pm
Contact:

Re: How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by UniversalAlien » December 7th, 2018, 8:30 pm

How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

You, "HUMAN', have the nerve, the audacity to ask such a question?

You, whose species has engaged in many thousands of years of self destruction - You want to ask an alien
race about your right to claim superiority?

Alien races, advanced races, species that don''t think yours is worth the ants you step on - These species
will not communicate with yours - They would sooner communicate with the ants you step on.

You, Human, have no right to even ask this question.

Again Human we will ask you - Take us to your leader - No leader? Can't unify your species?

Then in this huge universe of intelligences you can't even imagine, let alone understand
- You are inconsequential - Not even close to being a type I Civilization.

Still not too late to wake up Human - Think about it.

- UniversalAlien

User avatar
h_k_s
Posts: 107
Joined: November 25th, 2018, 12:09 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Aristotle
Location: Rocky Mountains

Re: How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by h_k_s » December 7th, 2018, 9:40 pm

Thrylix wrote:
December 4th, 2018, 10:44 am
This thread is inspired by an old thread I made about whether or not it is wrong to step on bugs, but with a different subject. There is an episode of the Twilight Zone called the Little People where a couple astronauts get stranded on a distant planet and while repairing their ship, they stumble upon a who are sophisticated enough to build houses, boats, trucks, cities, and appear in all aspects to be identical to the humans in every way except their size.
Image

You can probably guess what happens next from the image. An alien version of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. One of the astronauts decides he's going to be their God and begins to dominate the little people through fear and cruelty, based on no godly qualities except the advantage of having evolved to be massively bigger than them. It was a cool episode.

Anyway, what's interesting and possibly shocking to some, is I don't think I'd act very differently from that guy in his circumstance. If I somehow came across a planet of tiny little aliens that were the size of ants to me, I don' think I'd have much of a problem with crushing a few of their towns, provided that that no one (or at least no one who mattered) would find out or try to punish me for it. I'd actually think it's hard to blame a guy like me for taking advantage of the size difference. I would love the chance to be revered as a god, even if I'd very much be an old testament god. The only difference would be that instead of meeting out discipline with lightning, I'd do it with my feet. If they needed me to press a giant sneaker-shaped footprint in the middle of their capital to remind them to worship me, then that's fine. Actually, I'd probably do that anyway.

Here is where you may disagree, but to me it seems like nature taking its course and I don't think I can fault some giant alien who came to Earth doing this either. In the immediate moment he's planting a huge foot down on NYC, I'd probably think the alien was a giant jerk, but looking at the big picture, I know I'd be too insignificant to this being to even get his attention, much less communicate in any meaningful way. And does Godzilla care about the humans he steps on? Besides, I already step on bugs all the time, often purposely.

In spite of what I'd do in the above situation, I wouldn't consider myself to be evil, immoral, or unethical. Rather, I'm generally considered to be an all-around great guy by friends and coworkers. I help people all the time for nothing in return, have donated to charities, given people rides, and I even volunteer as an EMT when I can. I run competitively, coach track for no pay. I've never been arrested, vandalized property, or wanted to hurt anyone.

What do you think of the behavior I described? How would you behave when in a situation where you gain absolute power over others? Would you be kind or cruel? Or would you walk away from the situation? Try to stay respectful of one another!
I remember that Twilight Zone episode and I really liked it.

As I recall, the American astronaut discovered the little people who were the size of fleas.

But at the end of the episode another pair of giants even bigger than him landed there and that resulted in a paradox.

The point is that there is always someone bigger and stronger and more powerful than the next person.

I liked your other thread about bugs too. I try not to hurt bugs. The exception is mosquitoes. I hate mosquitoes and they kill more humans than does any other animal.

User avatar
h_k_s
Posts: 107
Joined: November 25th, 2018, 12:09 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Aristotle
Location: Rocky Mountains

Re: How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by h_k_s » December 7th, 2018, 9:41 pm

As for me -- Heaven does not want me and Hell is afraid I will take over.

User avatar
Thrylix
Posts: 24
Joined: January 11th, 2014, 2:42 am

Re: How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by Thrylix » December 7th, 2018, 10:42 pm

UniversalAlien wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 8:30 pm
How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

You, "HUMAN', have the nerve, the audacity to ask such a question?

You, whose species has engaged in many thousands of years of self destruction - You want to ask an alien
race about your right to claim superiority?

Alien races, advanced races, species that don''t think yours is worth the ants you step on - These species
will not communicate with yours - They would sooner communicate with the ants you step on.

You, Human, have no right to even ask this question.

Again Human we will ask you - Take us to your leader - No leader? Can't unify your species?

Then in this huge universe of intelligences you can't even imagine, let alone understand
- You are inconsequential - Not even close to being a type I Civilization.

Still not too late to wake up Human - Think about it.

- UniversalAlien

Honestly I am not sure what to make of your post. If I am right you are roleplaying a sophisticated alien species that is responding to me as a simplistic and underevolved human. If so, that is cool. But your argument is not effective, as I am I am a humanist. What you think are weak points are what I think make us god-like. Being power-hungry and hubristic has helped humanity.

In that point, I think our under evolved, dark tendencies and animalistic instincts help us move forward. We humans are animals with dark tendencies. We (or at least most of us guys who are normal) love power. Otherwise we would have never invented the idea of a god. Our civilized society is a thin veneer over these instincts, in my humble (or hubristic) opinion.

Many like yourselves are embarrassed by your humanity. But the fact is, underneath our thin veneer of society we still retain those natural qualities. We will always make rude noises and have rude odors, or at least us men do. That's why many guys like myself proudly fart in front of others. I am a competitive runner too, so my feet pretty much always stink. And the more they stink the more manly I feel. :D

So keep on stating that I, human, have no right to ask the question. You aren't any different though, deny it as you might.

User avatar
h_k_s
Posts: 107
Joined: November 25th, 2018, 12:09 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Aristotle
Location: Rocky Mountains

Re: How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by h_k_s » December 7th, 2018, 10:47 pm

Thrylix wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 10:42 pm
UniversalAlien wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 8:30 pm
How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

You, "HUMAN', have the nerve, the audacity to ask such a question?

You, whose species has engaged in many thousands of years of self destruction - You want to ask an alien
race about your right to claim superiority?

Alien races, advanced races, species that don''t think yours is worth the ants you step on - These species
will not communicate with yours - They would sooner communicate with the ants you step on.

You, Human, have no right to even ask this question.

Again Human we will ask you - Take us to your leader - No leader? Can't unify your species?

Then in this huge universe of intelligences you can't even imagine, let alone understand
- You are inconsequential - Not even close to being a type I Civilization.

Still not too late to wake up Human - Think about it.

- UniversalAlien

Honestly I am not sure what to make of your post. If I am right you are roleplaying a sophisticated alien species that is responding to me as a simplistic and underevolved human. If so, that is cool. But your argument is not effective, as I am I am a humanist. What you think are weak points are what I think make us god-like. Being power-hungry and hubristic has helped humanity.

In that point, I think our under evolved, dark tendencies and animalistic instincts help us move forward. We humans are animals with dark tendencies. We (or at least most of us guys who are normal) love power. Otherwise we would have never invented the idea of a god. Our civilized society is a thin veneer over these instincts, in my humble (or hubristic) opinion.

Many like yourselves are embarrassed by your humanity. But the fact is, underneath our thin veneer of society we still retain those natural qualities. We will always make rude noises and have rude odors, or at least us men do. That's why many guys like myself proudly fart in front of others. I am a competitive runner too, so my feet pretty much always stink. And the more they stink the more manly I feel. :D

So keep on stating that I, human, have no right to ask the question. You aren't any different though, deny it as you might.
As Brad Pitt said in the movie Troy, the Gods envy us -- they envy us because we are mortal.

User avatar
h_k_s
Posts: 107
Joined: November 25th, 2018, 12:09 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Aristotle
Location: Rocky Mountains

Re: How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by h_k_s » December 7th, 2018, 10:48 pm

I liked the bugs thread more.

User avatar
Thrylix
Posts: 24
Joined: January 11th, 2014, 2:42 am

Re: How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by Thrylix » December 7th, 2018, 11:18 pm

h_k_s wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 10:48 pm
I liked the bugs thread more.
I liked rhat thread too and we had good dialogue. But the thread was years old. Also some people got miffed from it. :P

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 7430
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by Greta » December 8th, 2018, 1:55 am

This morning on the dog walk I notice a hole in the ground attended to by sugar ants. They looked as though they were taking bits of rubble from the edge of the dirt pile and taking it back in, one grain at a time. I thought I'd give them a hand and used a stick to push some grains in there. I ended up collapsing the side of the hole.

That reminded me of a Futurama episode where the robot is ejected into space and small communities of beings grow on it over time and believe that Bender (the robot) is their god. Yet every time Bender tries to help he finds he's so big and clumsy that all he manages is to cause disasters for them. The moral of the story at the end is that a god needs to operate with a light touch (like a pickpocket) so that no one is sure whether anything is done at all.

So I would probably leave them to it with an open door policy.

User avatar
Burning ghost
Posts: 2863
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by Burning ghost » December 8th, 2018, 3:28 am

The scientific part of me would be inclined to observe the different cultural rules and see which played out best. The more moralistic part of me would treat it something like a sandbox computer game where I could see exactly how advanced I could make this civilization - some scattered experiments to see what positive affect I could have. Over all I’d be inclined to take some from box A and some from box B in order to “progress” the civilization by remaining mostly as a fascinated observer who, beign human, would from time to time unwillingly step in against my better judgementto either make things “better” or simply to measure what effect I could have with minimal applied force.

I do think we’ve all had an experience similar to this playing games? I do prefer to simply play out the game without any real intent to “win” yet enjoy to progress things and see how events develop without meddling after the initial set up.
AKA badgerjelly

User avatar
UniversalAlien
Posts: 1131
Joined: March 20th, 2012, 9:37 pm
Contact:

Re: How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by UniversalAlien » December 8th, 2018, 7:06 am

Burning ghost wrote:
December 8th, 2018, 3:28 am
The scientific part of me would be inclined to observe the different cultural rules and see which played out best. The more moralistic part of me would treat it something like a sandbox computer game where I could see exactly how advanced I could make this civilization.............
What you would do, what Greta, the OP or anyone else on this forum - Any so called civilized Human might do,
is almost irrelevant.
The Powers that be {PTB}, the military beast, and corporate hierarchy that rule our excuse for a civilization, would be is
to seize complete control if possible, exploit and enslave the alien species and use and abuse them for whatever goal
the PTB considers important at the time.

The OP asked a very important question - Let's not tun it into a fairytale - It is not.

My initial response from a 'hypothetical alien species' that is aware of the history of, the barbarism of, and lack
of unity of, the species called Man, would if possible be to avoid contact - And if that is not possible might attack first
before allowing Humans to corrupt its civilization, which might be thousands of years ahead of Mans.

The fact that many UFO sightings, including those tracked on radar, appear to be intelligently controlled, and that
many credible people have reported sightings of, and abductions by alien species, who do not seem particularly
friendly, should come as no surprise.

If aliens now or in the past {Ancient Aliens} have been interacting with Man, the almost religious belief that they
are somehow benefiting, or trying to benefit Man, may be no more than a fairytale.

Exceptions such as religious leaders such as Jesus of Nazareth, who bears an otherworldly, almost alien
mythology 'might' exist - But you remember what happened to him, do you not?

If you were a sophisticated, highly advanced and civilized alien from elsewhere - Would you really want to risk
Humans playing with your children? - And please don't forget the American Indians who often befriended the
colonists who first stepped onto 'the New World'!

Man can not erase, and has yet to rectify his sordid history. - We are not yet even a 'Type 1 Civilization'.

- UniversalAlien

User avatar
LuckyR
Moderator
Posts: 3133
Joined: January 18th, 2015, 1:16 am

Re: How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by LuckyR » December 9th, 2018, 3:01 am

I'm still stuck on trying to figure out the personality type that seeks to be worshipped like a god by a bunch of ants (essentially).
"As usual... it depends."

User avatar
Xocoyotzin
New Trial Member
Posts: 1
Joined: December 9th, 2018, 1:45 am

Re: How would you act if given absolute power over an alien civilization?

Post by Xocoyotzin » December 9th, 2018, 3:25 am

At first, I'd probably be terrified as a result of having my worldview shattered. I've gotten used to having certain preconceptions about life as it pertains to me and my sphere of influence. After discovering something like this, predictability goes out the window. How many more of these people are there? Have they been observing me? Having never encountered another species with comparable intelligence, I wouldn't have much of a framework for determining their motives or how they react to things on the fly. I'd probably entertain stories of fairies and things like that, possibly (in my head) linking them to other phenomena that they may have nothing to do with. They might be tiny but they still have thousands (or more) minds working in concert while I only have one. I don't go around swatting wasp nests just because wasps are small, and I think that such a civilization could be potentially more dangerous.

However, I may also be too curious to not observe them from a safe distance, provided that I could devise a means of remaining undiscovered. I wouldn't want the responsibility of being seen as a god and of having to keep up a facade of infallibility when me and any individual of their race are probably functional equivalents (I just happen to be really big). Being worshiped is dangerous because there's a high standard that you have to fulfill. If they did worship me, that would probably be the first sign to gtfo because I can't see that situation progressing in any positive way. Either somehow the worship continues indefinitely and I'm pressured to keep up the lie, or they realize they don't have to worship me and turn on me out of anger. Even attempting to communicate to them that I'm just like them might be dangerous because admitting that kind of vulnerability to them could carry consequences.

Best case scenario they're levelheaded and scientific (exactly the sorts of people who would not automatically assume that a really really big person is necessarily a god and surrender control of their civilization to it) and we could communicate out mutual fascination at each other's existences on equal footing, but even then their population can be expected to have far more variance in behavior than mine, because I am only one variable and they're however many, so some of them are bound to have aggressive ideas that their leaders or whoever I interface with may not agree with.

It's way too unpredictable to warrant serious engagement, I think, and I don't think that roleplaying as a god would be all the fulfilling when I personally already know it isn't true at all, and when I also know that I wouldn't appreciate another being doing the same to me if the roles were reversed. But a lot of what I would do would be based on my initial observations.

Post Reply