Spoilers Does mortality give life meaning?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Picard' started by Felderburg, May 16, 2020.

  1. Makarov

    Makarov Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In a leaked early draft of the final episode Data asked Picard for a plate of General Tso's Chicken and decided to live. Narek is shown eating General Tso's Chicken in custody.

    The admonition revealed the true origin of General Tso's Chicken.
     
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  2. Felderburg

    Felderburg Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Regarding the first point, scarcity: someone posted a Generations clip, where Picard says: "[T]ime... reminds us to cherish every moment, because they'll never come again." Being immortal does NOT change the scarcity of events as they happen: events will "never come again" either way. You could live for 5 years or 5,000 years, you're only going to experience any particular moment once. I think the football and Christmas examples I brought up earlier really demonstrate this point. Those were events brought up as examples of how something being limited or scarce makes them precious... but they happen dozens or hundreds of times in a person's life. Does their repetitive nature make them less valuable? No, because every specific instance of an event is unique. They are scarce not because they are time-limited, but because Christmas 2020 happens only once... even if it was very similar to Christmas 2019, 2018, etc. In fact, being immortal might be even better for gaining items that are valuable due to their scarcity: the longer you live, the more unique (scarce) individual moments and memories you pick up.

    As for humanity defining itself by its current mortal limits... I'm not entirely sure that's useful. If I had asked the question "what would humans do if they could fly?", the equivalent response is: "well, we don't have wings, and we define ourselves by not having wings." It shuts down the argument. Perhaps if I phrase the question "Does mortality give life meaning" in another way; I think the question I've realized really gets at what I want to know is: "Would humans be able to find meaning in life if they were immortal?" I say the answer is yes. And to be sure, we are able to find meaning in life now, and yes, that meaning is hugely affected by our mortal nature... but it is not the mortal nature itself that causes meaning to be found.
     
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  3. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    Life has no meaning, it just is.
     
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  4. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commodore Commodore

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    Now I'm hungry for General Tso's chicken.
     
  5. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That's a fair point.
     
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  6. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Well, no, I think that principle applies to more than just selling something.

    Sure, but -- if suddenly your supply of General Tso's chicken is unlimited, would you still love it as much as you do now? Or would there come a time when having so much General Tso's chicken might mean that it starts to lose its pleasure to you? I know that I have to make a conscious choice not to over-eat some of my favorite foods sometimes, because after a while I get sick of them.

    Same thing with anything I like, really: If I don't impose some sort of scarcity on something I like that exists in a state of abundance, then I stop liking it as much. If I eat margherita pizza with pepperoni and basil every day, eventually I just get sick of it. If I watch the most moving exploration of pain and mortality I've ever seen in a film or motion picture every day, eventually I just become numb to it. If I take the same pleasure-inducing drug over and over again, eventually I build up a tolerance to it. If visit the same breath-taking vistas or buildings over and over again, eventually I cease to be impressed by them.

    It's like this quote from an episode of Doctor Who:

    AMY: Then why am I here?
    THE DOCTOR: Because! Because I can’t see it anymore.
    AMY: See what?
    THE DOCTOR: I’m 907. After a while you just can’t see it.
    AMY:See what?
    THE DOCTOR: Everything. I look at a star and it’s just a big ball of burning gas and I know how it began, I know how it ends, and I was probably there both times. Now after a while everything is just stuff. That’s the problem. You make all of space and time your backyard and what do you have? A backyard. But you! You can see it. And when you see it, I see it.


    Of course, arguably that's at least in part a function of how the human brain is wired! If we had the ability to re-wire the brain so that receiving the same stimulus over and over again doesn't lead to the loss of the pleasure response, then that principle might well cease to apply!

    Ultimately, I'm someone who tends to think that meaning is created by an act of human will, not that meaning is inherent to anything in particular. A ball is not a ball because it is a round thing that can bounce; a ball becomes a ball because a human being looks at it and imbues it with the purpose of delighting herself by bouncing it. But it does seem to be a very nearly universal human tendency that we imbue greater value into things that are scarcer than things whose supply is unlimited.

    But! It may also well be that that principle wouldn't apply to immortality -- if the immortal human is always able to find relationships that are special.
     
  7. JesterFace

    JesterFace Fleet Captain Commodore

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    Does mortality give life meaning?
    Might depend who you ask.
    Near 100 year old person might say yes.
    Mother who has lost a child during childbirth would probably say no.
     
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  8. Nightdiamond

    Nightdiamond Commodore Commodore

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    On the surface, it sounds very deep and insightful and advanced philosophy. But I have learned to sometimes take certain ideas from Trek, especially the TNG period, with a grain of salt. It has been known to take a basic, thoughtful concept and take it to an extreme.

    Some of these ideas are often stated as an absolute. It seems more like they're true to a certain number of degrees or context.

    You could also say "it is our illness that defines us", but that would be seen as too silly to believe.

    This reminds me of a few discussions about the Crystalline Entity. Mainly because Picard seemingly compares the colonists who were killed by it to the tons of cuttlefish that are devoured by the Sperm whale every day.

    It wasn't intentional, but by doing that he was almost implying that human life has the same level of meaning as cuttlefish. And that the Crystalline Entity had just as much a right to do what it did to humans as the Sperm Whale does.

    And that those lives weren't worth seeking revenge over, anymore than you would a cuttlefish. Picard isn't exactly saying that, but that exactly how most people would probably interpret it.

    The main issue was revenge but it could be argued that there was nothing wrong with Dr. Marr thinking that her son and other innocent human life was worth taking revenge over, in the name of justice or safety of other innocent life forms.

    It had the side effect of downgrading the meaning of life.

    Another one is, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few", by Spock himself. Sounds like an advanced and logical and altruistic concept. But in Insurrection, that ideology is completely rejected by Picard himself. It's totally reversed.
     
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  9. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

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    When was revenge ever considered a virtue in Star Trek?
     
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  10. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Worf, maybe? Kirk with the Klingon.
     
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  11. Nightdiamond

    Nightdiamond Commodore Commodore

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    I guess it never really supported it, but it seems like it took an extreme turn, from something like, 'obsession with revenge is unhealthy and dangerous', into seeing it the same way the Jedi do. Like the very concept of revenge is wrong, no matter what.


    Good example, because you can imagine what would have happen if Worf never took revenge on Duras for killing Kehleyr in cold blood.

    It's possible he would never have faced justice at all, due to some type diplomatic immunity or his political position. Plus Duras could have very well became the leader of the Klingon empire.

    So they would expect Worf to stand there and accept that not only will Duras never be punished for what he did to Kehleyr, but that he's the leader of the Klingons and got all the power he ever wanted.

    If he was given a speech about how revenge is wrong, there was no way someone like him would swallow it. In his view, avenging her death would be the only way to give meaning to her life, since, if no one did anything at all, she would have perished for nothing.
     
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  12. Makarov

    Makarov Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I really think TNG has a lot of layers and some of the viewpoints left a lot to chew on. Picard's stance on communicating with the Crystalline entity is a challenging one and is still why that episode is talked about today. We had so many different viewpoints going on there, the mom, Riker, Picard etc..

    Now compared to this show I dont think Seven's revenge is going to have the same impact. It really could have, if the episode focused on Seven vs Picard's stances on revenge and murder, but its played like a joke only purpose was to make Seven a bad ass.

    Now mortality and data's final scene in this show migh stand the test of time I think
     
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  13. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    If that was the effect then it failed for me, at least. It just undermined Seven's tragedy all the more.

    Yes, I realize it had the action/adventure styling. But, it was a hollow victory.
     
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  14. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    Ultimately, it doesn't matter...it's what Data decided gave his life meaning, at least it was better than living in a sort of 90% of life limbo he was in. Chabon suggested he was a shadow of his former self.

    RAMA

     
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  15. Serveaux

    Serveaux Boomer American Premium Member

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    Go die on that hill.
    The end of "individual" life is a facet of what life is. Subtract or ignore it and you're talking about something else altogether.
     
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  16. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    Obviously the definition will shift, this view is only the current paradigm, it will eventually have a lot more options.

    RAMA
     
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  17. Serveaux

    Serveaux Boomer American Premium Member

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    Go die on that hill.
    This is facile and superficial; it has the sole virtue of being an emotionally reassuring point of view.
     
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  18. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    It also has the virtue of being true.
     
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  19. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    In what way is it remotely true?
     
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  20. eschaton

    eschaton Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I believe the point he was making is eventually technology will advance to the point where individual death will not be a given, whether through curing biological aging, uploading, or some other means.
     
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