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1 or a million?

Toad

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Is the life of one great person more important than thel ives of millions?

Are the lives of people like Albert Einstein, Theodore Roosevelt, or Michael Jacksons worth more than millions of others? Maybe even billions?

These are the kind of "great persons" that move society and cultures and accelerate them forward. If they die (like MJ), is it right for us to make a big deal about it? Sure, some of these "great persons" might not have touched or effected you in any way. But they have nonetheless effected millions of other peoples lives.

My opinion is that if someone worked hard enough, was born talented, and shared their talent with the world in a positive way then they are better then the rest of us.

I got this idea from playing Civ IV
 

Razare

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I got this idea from playing Civ IV
Played a bit too much perhaps? LoL...

As I see it everyone is connected. Our consciousnesses are different, but the underlying materials all derive from the same beginning. Our energies and souls are linked across the expanse of time.

I may not be a great person, but if I have children, one of the descendants down the line could be the savior of Earth. Every great person sprung forth from parents; they're just a natural result of society. I think better has more to do with how you exist and live your life, than what you accomplish and how much fame you receive.

To put it differently, you could take 100 individuals and put them on an island with no contact whatsoever. Someone in the bunch would become "great", when they'd just be an average-joe here with the rest of humanity. Environment and destiny determine 90% of greatness, that other 10% is just the person's personality naturally doing what it does.
 

RubberDucky451

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I think we all have a purpose, maybe it's discovering new planets. Or maybe it's making fuel for the rocket that discovers that planet. The smarter and more determined tend to stay on the top.
 

Toad

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Yes, but do they deserve more praise then?
 

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Well, the guy or gal who invented the nylon parachute deserves higher praise than someone coming up with a concrete parachute. I'm not sure if the 1 is more important than the million though. 1 doesn't do you any good when you need cannon fodder for instance.
 

Toad

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Yes, but IB. But in that instance, the great general leading the cannon fodders would never be put at risk. His life is more important the the lives of thousands that are going to die under his leadership.
 

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His life is worth more than any 1 of the millions of cannon fodder people (cfp) perhaps but not more than the whole mil. Then he'd be charging alone, which would take great courage or great stupidity....or both. <-----read that on a Magic card!
 

Toad

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So you don't look up to anyone, chris?
 

walfin

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Short answer: no, they're not "worth" more.

These people were just lucky. Lucky to be born smart. Lucky to have the ability to work hard.

That said from a utilitarian perspective it might make sense to protect them more.
 
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Is the life of one great person more important than thel ives of millions?

Are the lives of people like Albert Einstein, Theodore Roosevelt, or Michael Jacksons worth more than millions of others? Maybe even billions?

These are the kind of "great persons" that move society and cultures and accelerate them forward. If they die (like MJ), is it right for us to make a big deal about it? Sure, some of these "great persons" might not have touched or effected you in any way. But they have nonetheless effected millions of other peoples lives.

My opinion is that if someone worked hard enough, was born talented, and shared their talent with the world in a positive way then they are better then the rest of us.

I got this idea from playing Civ IV
Let me say this first: I don't know, but I very much doubt so.

It's difficult to exact a quantitative answer from the scenario. There would be too many variables to consider, ergo, it is quite impossible for me to approach this from a scientific point of view. And I dislike making judgements based on subjective opinions. Period.

I do not disagree, however, that the life of one amazing person who has brought a lot of changes to the world is worth more than someone else who hasn't- simply by the fact that meritocratically speaking, it's a matter of who has vs who hasn't. The value of a life (well, on Earth anyway) increases significantly by the amount of people who hold said person in regard or who... love said person.

However to compare the worthiness of one person vs a million... I would be hesitant to make a judgement like that because I lack the knowledge to make a balanced view.

Why can't you ask a simpler question like, is sacrificing the life of one person a better choice than sacrificing ten :(
 
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Short answer: no, they're not "worth" more.

These people were just lucky. Lucky to be born smart. Lucky to have the ability to work hard.

That said from a utilitarian perspective it might make sense to protect them more.
Not with Ghandi nor Mother Teresa.

They chose. The rest watched. They didn't have anything that they were born that was imbalanced (at least not on the surface), but why were they able to make big changes?

I believe anyone and everyone can excel in their own right, using their own given abilities. It's only a matter of how much they want to and how far they are willing to go to achieve that dream.
 

walfin

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Not with Ghandi nor Mother Teresa.

They chose. The rest watched. They didn't have anything that they were born that was imbalanced (at least not on the surface), but why were they able to make big changes?

I believe anyone and everyone can excel in their own right, using their own given abilities. It's only a matter of how much they want to and how far they are willing to go to achieve that dream.
Well, they were lucky to have the ability to choose to do what they did. :p

Not everyone could do that.

I will also put it to you that being willing to go great distances to achieve a dream is an ability.
 

Claverhouse

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Is the life of one great person more important than thel ives of millions?
Sometimes... Usually not.


Are the lives of people like Albert Einstein, Theodore Roosevelt, or Michael Jacksons worth more than millions of others? Maybe even billions?
No.

In fact these three could have died much sooner for all I care.


When I first saw the headline blazoned: 'Creepy Half-Black Entertainer Dies', I was convinced poor old Obama had been struck down by lunatic assassins.

Then I realised a lot less fuss would be being made.


Claverhouse :phear:
 

Felan

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The pinstripe down a pair of pants might be more prominent to the eye, but pluck even a few of the less prominent threads out and a pair of pants can quickly unravel. To me the worth of those few individuals exists only because of the teeming masses.
 

Reverse Transcriptase

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I read somewhere about an analysis of 'great thinkers', who revolutionized some kind of field during their time (anywhere from art to chemistry). Then the author looked at the population size of the nation/culture they were from. There was a pretty strong trend of having more people in one's nation makes it more likely to get a great thinker.

So.... the one comes from the million?
 

Fedayeen

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It is a total waste to focus on someone after they are dead.
 

Sugarpop

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Is the life of one great person more important than thel ives of millions?

Are the lives of people like Albert Einstein, Theodore Roosevelt, or Michael Jacksons worth more than millions of others? Maybe even billions?

These are the kind of "great persons" that move society and cultures and accelerate them forward. If they die (like MJ), is it right for us to make a big deal about it? Sure, some of these "great persons" might not have touched or effected you in any way. But they have nonetheless effected millions of other peoples lives.

My opinion is that if someone worked hard enough, was born talented, and shared their talent with the world in a positive way then they are better then the rest of us.

I got this idea from playing Civ IV
There are several problems with your post:

First of all, what is greatness?

Is greatness always obvious?

What's so good about greatness? As long as there is time, we won't know the full consequences of any event. The Theory of Relativity could still be our doom, and the holocaust could prevent it. (hypothetically speaking)

What does Michael Jackson have in common with Albert E.???
 

Toad

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Great people: People who have attributed or had a hand in driving/changing human history to a great extent in a positive or negative way.
 

Sugarpop

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Great people: People who have attributed or had a hand in driving/changing human history to a great extent in a positive or negative way.
How would you know? When asked about the importance and consequences of the French Revolution, a historian of our time once said 'it's too early to say'. Since all things are fundamentally connected and ever-changing, one can't fully understand the importance of anything in history.

How is a 'great person' doing something incredibly bad 'worth' a million of the rest of us?
 

Toad

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I consider Adolf Hitler a bad great person. Why? Even though he killed and tortured millions, created one of the great wars, and was probably insane, he changed the course of human history. Yes it was bad, but didn't humanity learn from his mistakes? Aren't the countries of the world more unified now? He created an important step in humanity's evolution. We are better people because of him.

Great people further humanity's progress. Great people push the thinking of humans. They make us better. If we never had great people, I believe we would still be hunting animals with barbaric tools and living in nomadic tribes.

It seems that your argument is that we can not know if a person is great or not because we don't know how his actions effect humanity in the long run. I say, whether his actions effect humanity in a good or bad way does not matter. His actions did effect humanity and that makes him a great person.

Ordinary people do effect humanity of course, but only to a very very small degree. Great people effect millions of minds and change the course of history (good or bad).
 

Tyria

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There are quite amazing people here on Earth. But I would hate to have to say that any of the mentioned people are somehow worth more than others. If I had to choose between having any of those million people or one of those amazing people to have over for dinner, I would probably choose the amazing person.

But you know, who's to say that one of those people among that million won't turn out to be amazing as well?
 

Sugarpop

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I consider Adolf Hitler a bad great person. Why? Even though he killed and tortured millions, created one of the great wars, and was probably insane, he changed the course of human history. Yes it was bad, but didn't humanity learn from his mistakes? Aren't the countries of the world more unified now? He created an important step in humanity's evolution. We are better people because of him.

Great people further humanity's progress. Without these great people humanity would not leap forward and we would all still be cavemen. Living just to survive.
My point is, concisely, that everything and everyone changes the course of history, although not always in an obvious way. Are you ignoring it on purpose, or am I just wrong? ;)

All this stuff about learning from mistakes and being better people and unified countries sounds very unfamiliar to me. In fact it seems plain wrong. Have you seen the news latley? How do you know it wouldn't have been better on a grand scale if there was never a WW2?
 

Toad

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I'm sorry I just can't agree that everyone changes the course of history. There are people in human history who have contributed nothing to society. If they were to have never existed, very little will have changed.

I don't know if it would be better or not if there was never a WWII. But that is beside my point. My point is that there was a WWII. WWII changed the world and how people think. Adolf Hitler was the great person that created that war, changing the course of human history as we know it.

I think you understand what I am saying, but you refuse to acknowledge the fact that there is no such thing as good and evil. Greatness is greatness. My definition of a great person is one who possess qualities that are able to sway human opinions, ideas, and emotions.

All this stuff about learning from mistakes and being better people and unified countries sounds very unfamiliar to me. In fact it seems plain wrong.
How can that sound unfamiliar to you? Where are you from? I was taught many many times in school that people who forget history are doomed to repeat it. We have learned so much from WWII. Yes, it was a horrible event in human history, but I truly believe that it was necesssary. It taught us that no nation is completely independent from the world. That we are all, to a certain degree, responsible for each other.
 

Vrecknidj

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There are single moms who work two jobs, go to school, and manage to keep their kids off drugs and out of gangs. Some of these people get no recognition and no praise, some of them end up dying lonely. Nevertheless, some of them are also among the greatest human beings who ever lived. (Depending, of course, upon your definition of greatness.)

This is one reason why I disagree with using the word "great" to describe people who have a substantial impact on the course of history. I think the English language suffers here from a dearth of words.

Would Beethoven have been a better man if he'd been a potato farmer? Probably not. Would the world have been a better place without any number of the tyrants or mass murderers masked as government leaders? Probably.

It's hard to say, at the end of an analysis, what constitutes praiseworthiness (or blameworthiness). In some cases, having a substantial impact on a vast number might count. In other cases, perhaps not.

Someone probably decided to put "Repeat" at the end of the instructions on a shampoo bottle. Has that person had a wide-ranging impact on human lives? From a certain point of view, yes. Is that praiseworthy? Probably not.

In general, I think that worshipping humans is a bad idea. Measuring one another's greatness is something we've been obsessed with since at least Homer, though, so I don't see us stopping the behavior anytime soon.

Dave
 

Sugarpop

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I'm sorry I just can't agree that everyone changes the course of history. There are people in human history who have contributed nothing to society. If they were to have never existed, very little will have changed.
We are all part of an infinitely complex system that we can't possibly begin to understand or predict. This is my main objection against the OP.

There are single moms who work two jobs, go to school, and manage to keep their kids off drugs and out of gangs. Some of these people get no recognition and no praise, some of them end up dying lonely. Nevertheless, some of them are also among the greatest human beings who ever lived. (Depending, of course, upon your definition of greatness.)

This is one reason why I disagree with using the word "great" to describe people who have a substantial impact on the course of history. I think the English language suffers here from a dearth of words.
I agree with Vreck, though I would also add a hypothetical example where someone keeps kids off drugs, thereby saving them from OD'ing so they can get into music and out-fame the Beatles.

I think you understand what I am saying, but you refuse to acknowledge the fact that there is no such thing as good and evil. Greatness is greatness. My definition of a great person is one who possess qualities that are able to sway human opinions, ideas, and emotions.
Where does my argument rely on good and evil? The way I see it, your idea of 'worth' is commiting the very same fallacy. You see the dramatic and conspicuous events as something that is somehow 'worth' more than unremarkable events and, unless I misunderstand, you believe that a few select individuals hold most of the responsibility for bringing them about. You also imply that change is necessarily 'good', which leads me to assume that you also believe mankind is progressing towards a future that is 'better' than the present. Why?

If you by 'great' mean 'charismatic, noticeable and popular,' I might understand where you're going, but I do not support the idea that they are more 'worthy' just because they are easier to notice and changing things so everyone can see. The point I'm trying to get through with is that you can never know what causes dramatic change or whether it is driving mankind towards a 'good' or 'bad' future.

Stalin's mother indirectly caused everything he did, and she, as well as any circumstances or people that brought him about, dramatically changed history. It was hardly obvious at the time. You can in fact trace Stalin back centuries if you'd like, and you would find that small people and small events changed history. Everything and everyone is influencing the outcome, but not always to the sound of a fanfare.

How can that sound unfamiliar to you? Where are you from? I was taught many many times in school that people who forget history are doomed to repeat it. We have learned so much from WWII. Yes, it was a horrible event in human history, but I truly believe that it was necesssary. It taught us that no nation is completely independent from the world. That we are all, to a certain degree, responsible for each other.
A powerful lesson could be taken from WW2, but can you prove that we have?

True enough, the UN, the EU and the NATO have brought nations closer to each other, but only some nations in the case of the EU and NATO, and with an incredibly unfair bias towards the top-five weapons manufacturers of the world in the case of the UN. WW2 might've kept Europe mostly quiet since, but what about all the rest?

It could be that we're moving to a brighter future, but what do we have to thank for it anyway?
 
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it all boils down to right place, right time....its all relative, like who can do something not many else can in a way that gets recognized as talent....I know I sure as hell don't have the shallow capacity to be another tool in the media........blind idolatry
 

preilemus

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when playing chess, do you value both a pawn and a queen the same? no? why not? because one is more useful than the other. i think the same principal applies to real life. sentencing a million pawns to death for the survival of a queen is acceptable in my opinion. but of course, just because you're not a queen doesnt mean you are a pawn.

in my opinion, everyone has something to offer, but those who can offer more should be placed in higher esteem
 

Toad

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Good analogy Glovey boy!

Well sugar, I guess we cannot come to an agreement here...lol. I suspect it is because we disagree on the notion of 'good' and 'bad' outcomes. I believe all outcomes are neutral and that it is the process through which humans are evolving. It may also be that I am standing too far back to see the details that you refer to.

You also imply that change is necessarily 'good', which leads me to assume that you also believe mankind is progressing towards a future that is 'better' than the present. Why?
Oh, yes sugar, I do believe that mankind is progressing towards a better future. Why do I believe this? Because if we aren't and this is the best society is ever going to get, we should all kill ourselves right now. We should end this cycle of hatred and suffering right now. But it's not a cycle to me. I believe we are moving in a straight line, towards a better more promising future. You see sugar, I have a dream...that one day, humans will learn enough from our mistakes. That we will be able to change. That we will learn! Learn to understand each other. Learn to appreciate one another. Learn...to love...I see a world where the majority of humans are not depressed. I see emotionally healthy human beings working together for the common good. I guess I am just too ideological...but I believe humans will one day create a utopia.

Good debate Sugey...good debate. *Shakes hand with Sugey*

:evil:
 

Felan

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The loss of even a great person is inconsequential to the species as a whole.

The loss of a million is substantial.

The approach I take to thinking of it is boiling water. Steam is a tiny fraction of the water in a pot of boiling water, but you can take away much of the steam and not really notice much difference. Taking away a spoonful of the water can have a far more dramatic impact on the steam. It is by virtue of the teaming mass of water (people) that steam (great people) exist.
 

Sugarpop

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Good analogy Glovey boy!

Well sugar, I guess we cannot come to an agreement here...lol. I suspect it is because we disagree on the notion of 'good' and 'bad' outcomes. I believe all outcomes are neutral and that it is the process through which humans are evolving. It may also be that I am standing too far back to see the details that you refer to.
It's funny that you should mention evolution. A million tends to become ancestors to a larger fraction of the species than one person. As with the example about Stalin, the milion might not appear anything special as individuals, but every one of them is a part of the evolutionary chain, humanity itself in other words.

How do you define outcome? You go on to define evolution as good per se. Evolution is development, which means that any outcome that leads to some kind of change must be considered good. You believe that all outcomes are good. :D

How do you know which piece is the queen anyway?



Oh, yes sugar, I do believe that mankind is progressing towards a better future. Why do I believe this? Because if we aren't and this is the best society is ever going to get, we should all kill ourselves right now. We should end this cycle of hatred and suffering right now. But it's not a cycle to me. I believe we are moving in a straight line, towards a better more promising future. You see sugar, I have a dream...that one day, humans will learn enough from our mistakes. That we will be able to change. That we will learn! Learn to understand each other. Learn to appreciate one another. Learn...to love...I see a world where the majority of humans are not depressed. I see emotionally healthy human beings working together for the common good. I guess I am just too ideological...but I believe humans will one day create a utopia.

Good debate Sugey...good debate. *Shakes hand with Sugey*

:evil:
I can't argue about your feelings, however cute they may be. :D

History isn't a straight line though. Think about the incredible difference between rates of change the last 200 years.
 

Zero

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Ironically it was the fact that they "touched" millions of lives that made them special.

When you think about, two of the people you mentioned enabled the creation and use of the deadliest weapons known to mankind. Not only that, but they played a part in the usage of these weapons on civilians.

Then there's the doctor who delivers how many hundreds of babies in a year? Do you know the name of the doctor who helped deliver you into the world. Is that anything to be grateful about...
 

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Toad, I am just curious: let's say that for some reason a "great" person is going to die... but s/he can be saved by thousand other people sacrificing their lives. It is a voluntary choice. Would you sign up for it?
 

Toad

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Of course not. Who would volunteer to die? Unless they were suicidal.

I understand what you are coming at though. However, if I were sacrificed with others for the sake of that great person I would be honored to serve humanity as a pawn in that capacity.

But no, I wouldnt volunteer.
 

anemian

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There is no such thing as a person no matter how great that won't have their skill set replaced with someone else in the next 10 years if they were to "disappear".

However that said there are some things don't scale due to circumstance and limit. IE one president, who is a person in the "flavorful" party, and in the right spot light.
 

Zero

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Some people would die for their idols. It's a rather subjective thing. Those people who get caught up with an idol... I don't know how to explain them. They seem to lack the ability to develop on their own.
 
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