The extraordinary bouts of rain to fall upon California has led to an extraordinary bounty of weeds forcing themselves about the plants in my yard. Today, in a respite between showers, I was freeing a decorative plant from the infestation of some noxious greenery. And as one does, I thought of how the weed worked like cancer, sucking up the nutrients and water meant for the plant I desired.
This led me to consider the deep ecological thinking that humanity is like a weed or cancer upon the earth. Thus, humanity needs to be culled – or perhaps even abrogated for the good earth.
From that I thought: What is the harm which comes to the earth if human beings are well but some other life on earth is not? Whatever answer I come to is the answer of a human being. If l land some pagan ecology and think that “life” itself is what matters, and human beings are merely the froth of this wave, it is still a human being who has this thought. No grass or caterpillar or goose is worried about this metaphysical existential problem.
The meaning exists in the human mind.
This leads to an interesting quandary for those make humanity the culprit, the cancer upon the globe.
Let us assume an utterly materialistic understanding of nature, by this I mean whatever forces there may be within the universe, the universe is the boundary of reality. There are molecules in motion.
In such a universe, meaning a useful fiction of the human mind; but “meaning” has no existence independent of the human mind. We cannot go exploring through the universe and find meaning somewhere. Meaning has no existence beyond a human being thinking, “This has meaning.”
If this so, destroying human beings would destroy the tenuous meaning which could exist. It would also “mean” that the world was meaningless. There is no moral difference between gushing mercury into an oyster bed and tending to a rose or rescuing a baby from a fire. Some person may make some sort of judgment about one thing or the other, but the moral value would extend no further than the judgment. Meaning is a function of human intelligence.
Right or wrong would simply be a majority opinion.
And if human beings were all gone, the world would be meaningless. Racoons hunting crayfish might still happen, but it would have no moral value: that moral value could only come from human beings.
The thought that well, life will go and perhaps better without us, is merely a thought of a human being. But the value of “life” and “better” and whatnot do not exist. That is a nonsense statement neither true nor false. It is a vapor which would disappear without a human being to think it.
The other possibility is that there is some meaning independent of the human mind. For such an abstraction to be exist, it would necessarily exist in another mind. Meaning is a kind of way an intelligence thinks about an event. For meaning to something other than an incident abstraction of human beings, but to a fact; meaning must be grounded in something other than human beings thinking of it.
What sort of mind would suffice to ground meaning as an objective fact?