For part one, click here.
Okay so, while I’m up anyway waiting for a couple of classmate’s to send me their sections of a collaborative essay due tomorrow (don’t hold it against them, I only did my section of it tonight anyway, and it’s the end of the semester, people. really. don’t judge.), I’m going to go ahead (wow I’m having trouble typing tonight. it’s okay, in a few days I’ll be able to sleep a full 8 hours most nights again) and give you the first part of the essay I promised you all a few weeks ago. I actually changed the original springboard discussion piece for it since I decided I didn’t to tie in more of it later throughout the essay, and it just didn’t work without doing that, so I kinda revamped the entire thing from semi-scratch in one night for the final draft. If there are faux paus (is that the right way to spell that?), I apologize, but I hope it is intellectually enjoyable nonetheless and I sincerely hope that it is beneficial in some way to your faith and your defense of it. We should know why we believe what we believe (1 Peter 3:15). And of course, as always, questions/comments/suggestions/feedback of any kind/shares are always welcomed.
Human Worth in a Postmodern World:
Does Life Matter and Why?
Predating the proposal of the theory of evolution and continuing to this present day, the value of human life has been called into question. While practices such as eugenics and the slave trade call for a hierarchy of value based on extrinsic properties, social reform has been a contender for the concept of intrinsic value for just as long. Controversies have arisen over a myriad of social and political issues, including but certainly not limited to total warfare, euthanasia, civil rights, abortion, the death penalty, slavery, human trafficking, and working conditions. Since the 1950s, Postmodernism, as a school of thought, has taken hold of the social values in Western culture. It is no surprise that in a pluralistic society such as America, the existence of objective knowledge has been called into question. This skepticism, however, has produced an even more dynamic debate. Stated thus: Does human life contain a universal and objective intrinsic value? If so, then the aforementioned societal concerns may be reasonably evaluated and resolved. If not, and all value is subjective, then there remains no validity in even examining them as issues and the concepts of “evil” and “wrong” become moot.
Before evaluating the main question, it is important that the need for intrinsic value is first established. Quoting Paul Taylor, Monroe Beardsley states that “‘a world where all values were extrinsic’ is not logically impossible nor even unimaginable” (12). In this world, actions would be allotted value by the value of the results they produced. However, the results may only be considered valuable if the objects that the results affected are of value. These objects, or at least the object receiving the ultimate and final result of any particular action, must possess an intrinsic value, otherwise the extrinsic value becomes worthless. Now that this principle has been established, the search for the existence of intrinsic value may begin.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson 1). These words, penned by an 18th century American citizen, have been the measuring rod of democracy for over 200 years. In 1946, American author John Hersey wrote Hiroshima, a work that once again awakened the moral conscience of the public to the idea of a universal intrinsic value in human life. People who once believed their wartime enemy to be deserving of death now found sympathy for the survivors of that attack. This is only one example of the ongoing debate over intrinsic value of human life. Does it exist, to whom does it belong, and whence does it come? In agreement with Thomas Jefferson, the conclusion of my studies is that human life cannot logically be viewed as having an objective intrinsic value outside of a teleological perspective. This essay will not establish the existence or lack thereof of such a value, but will simply provide the lens through which, if the reader chooses to believe in it, it may be seen.
[This is the introduction as a teaser. Tune in tomorrow (tomorrow has two r’s and one o, not the other way around. wake up, self!) for the next installment. I will try very hard to do a section of it each day until it’s completed here so as to maintain cohesiveness, but I may well be starting a new job Saturday, so I make no promises. 🙂 God bless you all and enjoy your weekend!)
P.S. If you saw how many red lines underscored my words on the WordPress spellcheck tonight, you would probably wonder how I am even in college. It’s almost summer….It’s almost summer….It’s almost summer………