The Value of Life

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The authors suggest that we treat assistance differently from harm avoidance in part because help is often a limited resource. An older person has a more meaningful set of social relations—so his death would cause pain to a greater number of people—and more resources have been invested in his life. But Goodwin and Landy suggest that their work might inform health policy and medical decision-making by illuminating which factors are important to us. The QALY standard might not be the best measure of value when deciding how to allocate blood and organs or in formulating consumer or environmental safety regulations; age does not play a linear role in our moral calculations.

So back to the E.

Recommended Stories. Sign in. Get the best of The New Yorker in your in-box every day. If I had to set myself on fire to save her from something, I would do it with the utmost relief and gratitude. It's quite a thing, quite a privilege, to care about someone so much that the measure of worth of your own life is changed so much. Goodrich, Slaying Dragons. Even those rarer men who think beyond themselves at all have an eye, not for this universal life, but for fenced-off portions of it.

If one knows how to keep the exceptions principally in view, I mean the greatly gifted and pure of soul, takes their production for the goal of world-evolution and rejoices in the effects they in turn produce, one may believe in the value of life, because the one is overlooking all other men: thinking falsely, that is to say. And likewise if, though one does keep in view all mankind, one accords validity only to one species of drives, the less egoistical, and justifies them in face of all the others, then again one can hope for something of mankind as a whole and to this extent believe in the value of life: thus, in this case too, through falsity of thinking.

Whichever of these attitudes one adopts, however, one is by adopting in an exception among men. The great majority endure life without complaining overmuch; they believe in the value of existence, but they do so precisely because each of them exists for himself alone, refusing to step out of himself as those exceptions do: everything outside themselves they notice not at all or at most as a dim shadow.

Thus for the ordinary, everyday man the value of life rests solely on the fact that regards himself more highly than he does the world. The great lack of imagination from which he suffers means he is unable to feel his way into other beings and thus he participates as little as possible in their fortunes and sufferings.

Calculating the Value of a Life

He, on the other hand, who really could participate in them would have to despair of the value of life; if he succeeded in encompassing and feeling within himself the total consciousness of mankind he would collapse with a curse on existence - for mankind has as a whole no goal, and the individual man when he regards its total course cannot derive from it any support or comfort, but must be reduced to despair.

If in all he does he has before him the ultimate goallessness of man, his actions acquire in his own eyes the character of useless squandering. But to feel thus squandered, not merely as an individual fruits but as humanity as a whole, in the way we behold the individual fruits of nature squandered, is a feeling beyond all other feelings. Certainly only a poet: and poets always know how to console themselves. We live in a dream world that we create. It's my belief that success comes from passing just a little wisdom onto future generations. It doesn't have to be to your children, it can be via teaching, scout leadership or simply helping someone and having them one day decide to "pay it back" to help someone else.

In that sense, Matty's life is amazing. His message is still finding new hearts to open.


Surely that's better than someone with full facilities and a long lifespan who fails to pass on anything of benefit to the human race. Yikes, I hope this wasn't a close friend! Really an awful thing to say. I would have replied, "I'm more worried about you having kids. They might grow up to ask stupid questions". What bothers me most about this person, and the mindset they represent, is that there's a dangerous lack of empathy.

Instead of imagining that life can have value through many different paths A kids life would be miserable". What a lovely, uplifting post.

It's a shame some of the commenters had to show the paucity of their human spirit. Richly ironic that they do so on psychology today. Lynne, a lovely post indeed. I only hope Mattie's mom hasn't read the negative responses. But, you know Mattie didn't just magically become a transcendent spirit--his attitude was shaped by his surroundings since the moment of his arrival on this earth. One of the commenters that responded to this post has a genius for writing And 'though I realize that for some of us it frequently does seem that we do live on a hopeless hole of a planet I truly believe that the core of many depressive states and paucity of spirit can be based in the physical dysfunctionality of the body-- and I don't mean just the chemistry of the brain.

I also realize that very bad things happen in life Sometimes it is our biology that is 'sick'and its just not obvious So when they say we 'should' be O. There are very basic elements being missed.

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At any rate When those of us have our 'better' moments And when we're down My dad is an Aspie. I'm an Aspie. My 2 children are HFA and probably an Aspie, too. Additionally, my youngest son has Russell-Silver Syndrome, a rare form of dwarfism. I believe there's more to life than simply avoiding pain. Sometimes what appears to be a setback or a tragedy can actually lead to something wonderful.

We never really know. I have been told that I shouldn't have any more children since I have "bad genes". It made me angry at first, but now I just feel sorry for people who think like this.

They can't see what I see. Perhaps our attempts to avoid hardship and pain are actually hindering our own progress? Because they disagree with the OP?

Inspiration when you need it.

When did Elvis declare you the 'attitude monitor'? I happen to agree with the OP, and appreciate her posting very much. I'm not an Aspie, but I have had to deal with my own particular issues, which effed up my childhood not to mention all points past. Her posting helped me.

What's the Value of a Life?

That all being said, some folks who seem to think they just gotta tell folks in a passive-aggressive way what they should and shouldn't do should, perhaps, learn a new to me psychological term: musturbation. If you don't agree with someone, fine. If you want to argue it out, fine, but do it directly and not by a catty, offhanded comment that drips with smugness. The person you left that nugget for doesn't need your 'help'. That person is still above ground. That person also seems to get things done in a hands-on way, for people that really need it, and I don't think that they made any kneejerk value judgements on the recipients' attitudes beforehand.

I would mention that Jesus was pretty good at the hands on approach vs. Sorry for the threadjack, but the self-satisfied are a blight. Tend to your own knitting, and we'll tend to ours--by learning what we need to by those who are living the life instead of using their mouths as cloacae. For an autistic person, pain and pleasure can intertwine. Back Psychology Today.


What is the value of human life? – Human Coalition

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