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Does mental wellness count in human health and well-being?

Yes, of course, and one should seek to resolve mental problems through counseling or medication. Trouble is that if one has a mental problem to such a degree that not much can be done about it, and one cannot be restored to good mental health, then one is in a bind as to what to do about it. The standard would be rationality and adherence to the facts of reality rationally.

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" The proper standard of making any type of modifications to the human body are human health and well-being...I think the line has to be drawn at modifying the human body to make it no longer human."

How you define well-being? Does it mean only a proper function of the body or ability to achieve happiness as well? What if a metaphysically given and properly functioning body becomes an obstacle to the man's effort to achieve happiness? ( and this a main reason why people do plastic surgery). And where you draw the line? Why the split gene therapy to correct genetic defects is justified, but the same technique when it's used to increase the human abilities in order to achieve his goals is not? Man's body is also part of the nature-why to modify it would be a metaphysical assault-whatever it means? Why "getting a set of gills is making you no longer human"-only because man doesn't possess them at birth? And if using this set will make man's existence under water much easier and safer than SCUBA equipment, wouldn't it be immoral to advise against it? I think that concept of metaphysical assault is poorly defined. It simply designates the modification of nature. Everything which man does with nature, including his own body, could be called a metaphysical assault. As long as these modifications serve the purpose of man well-being and happiness , they are moral.

Edited by Leonid

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Yes, of course, and one should seek to resolve mental problems through counseling or medication. Trouble is that if one has a mental problem to such a degree that not much can be done about it, and one cannot be restored to good mental health, then one is in a bind as to what to do about it. The standard would be rationality and adherence to the facts of reality rationally.

And what if the course to mental health is a sex change operation?

I have a good friend who was born male but could not be happy in themselves after YEARS of therapy until they went through the extremely painful and difficult series of procedures to convert her body into what her mind told her she was - a woman. What would you say to my friend? That the therapists conclusions were wrong? That her new found joy is a lie?

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The proper standard of making any type of modifications to the human body are human health and well-being, which I have stated, which means that Crow is full of it to suggest that I would have said anything whatsoever against his heart transplant. For the most part, any medical procedure to correct for a bodily malfunction would be proper and moral -- like correcting a cleft pallet, or separating Siamese Twins, or limb transplants, or in the future, gene splicing to correct for genetic defects. Even getting bionic implants, like artificial ears or eyes, would be moral, since deafness or blindness is not according to proper standards of human health and functionality. However, I think the line has to be drawn at modifying the human body to make it no longer human. [...]

What again is the nature of man? What again is it to be human?

There is absolutely no philosophical difference between the wings we use to fly being attached with a skin graft versus a seat belt. None.

Someday, you understand, we will no longer require computer monitors as we can pipe the signals directly to our optical nerves. That will be an amazing revolution in computers--and it will be perfectly moral and proper...

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I don't know what I would say to a person who decided to go through a sex change after knowing him / her for years and being good friends. I would certainly want them to be happy, and I would be greatly saddened that therapy or medication could not help them resolve their sexuality. But, as I've said elsewhere, not sure in this thread, I think when it comes to those kinds of issues, modern psychology is in a very primitive state and may not be helpful to the degree it could be if it where to become a real science. I've dealt with some of them personally, when needed, and I think psychotherapy can be beneficial even if it just means talking about a problem and getting it off your chest. Burdening it onto your friends is not a good way to do it, since they can't do much about it anyhow, and friendships should be based on values and not disvalues. I do know that I wouldn't want to sleep with a male to female person, and if they didn't tell me about it beforehand, I would think that they greatly lied to me.

Regarding modifications to the human body, I've already stated the general principle of human health and well-being. Getting a set of gills versus operating a machine underwater, I think, would be changing the nature of man and it shouldn't be done. Getting implants to correct for malfunctions -- like pace-makers, stints, auditory and visual implants, and even a microchip in the brain to help control its regular function -- would be great. I don't know about an implant that would give one internal access to the internet. I think that would be messing with the wet-ware too much. Or at least personally, I'd rather be able to walk away from it, or turn off the TV, or get away from the radio. Besides, I wouldn't want to give anyone the ability to hack into my brain! But, then again, I don't even own an internet phone, since I feel no need to be connected to the internet 24/7.

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[...] But, then again, I don't even own an internet phone, since I feel no need to be connected to the internet 24/7.

Stop. Hold that thought. Explore it. Think about your thought process there.

Instead of top-down rationalism you're doing proper bottoms-up cognition and coming up with the ambiguity that is necessary when you don't have enough information. This is a good thing. Celebrate it. It's what it is to be human. It's part of our nature--to not know every imaginable thing at any given moment. To not be Aquinas's Angel. To not feel required to have an opinion on everything no matter how little you know about a particular subject.

Water Helen! Water!

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Burdening it onto your friends is not a good way to do it

Hmm. You seem to be making a leap of assumption here.

Regarding modifications to the human body, I've already stated the general principle of human health and well-being. Getting a set of gills versus operating a machine underwater, I think, would be changing the nature of man and it shouldn't be done.

What is the nature of man? Are you asserting that Man is defined not by his mind, but by his body?

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What is the nature of man? Are you asserting that Man is defined not by his mind, but by his body?

Man is an integrated living being of mind and body.We are not a mind in a body, with the body being the environment of the mind; and we are not a body devoid of awareness of reality and incapable of thinking things through. You are what you are when you look into a mirror -- that entity that you observe is what you are. Neither the mind nor the body takes precedent when it comes to considering man. However, the mind is not a given the way the body is. Your body will grow to physical maturity all by itself (provided you eat well) without the need for intellectual guidance; but the mind is under your direct control as to how it functions and what you will consider and what you will learn and integrate (barring some sort of neuro-chemical malfunction). It is philosophically improper and a big mistake to think of the mind as needing the body as a support system; that one is a mind and that so long as the mind has some sort of support system, then one is human -- i.e. a brain in a vat may be possible some day, but such a brain in a vat with a support system to keep it alive would not be a human. Similarly, getting the body modified to fit an environment (gills or wings or eight arms) makes one no longer human, because qua human, man does not have those physical attributes.

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Man is an integrated living being of mind and body.We are not a mind in a body, with the body being the environment of the mind; and we are not a body devoid of awareness of reality and incapable of thinking things through. You are what you are when you look into a mirror -- that entity that you observe is what you are. Neither the mind nor the body takes precedent when it comes to considering man. However, the mind is not a given the way the body is. Your body will grow to physical maturity all by itself (provided you eat well) without the need for intellectual guidance; but the mind is under your direct control as to how it functions and what you will consider and what you will learn and integrate (barring some sort of neuro-chemical malfunction). It is philosophically improper and a big mistake to think of the mind as needing the body as a support system; that one is a mind and that so long as the mind has some sort of support system, then one is human -- i.e. a brain in a vat may be possible some day, but such a brain in a vat with a support system to keep it alive would not be a human. Similarly, getting the body modified to fit an environment (gills or wings or eight arms) makes one no longer human, because qua human, man does not have those physical attributes.

I feel a little strange in asking this, but if getting gills or wings or eight arms (or, presumably, a "cybernetic" body -- the accumulation of items like an artificial heart or prosthetic limbs being steps down that path) makes us less human, no longer human, because "qua human, man does not have those physical attributes," then what is the specific advantage for an individual organism to "remain fully human"?

Why should I prefer to remain human in the sense you've staked out for it, rather than become "other than human" and lead a better life ("better" here in the sense of enjoying the comparative advantage of gills or wings or eight arms or that-which-has-inspired-me to make these changes in the first place)?

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In Objectivism everything which promotes life is good, that is-moral. Bearing this in mind, any modification of human body which could serve such a purpose is moral. This has nothing to do with mind-body dichotomy and ability to extract oxygen from the water as well as from the air doesn't make one non- human but more able human. If the change of physical appearance makes one non-human, there is always a possibility of genetic modification in such a way which wouldn't change the man's physique. So if man appears physically as any other human, but able to breath water, lift 400 kg, run a mile in 30 second and calculate faster than computer, would you call such a man non-human?

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Man is an integrated living being of mind and body.We are not a mind in a body, with the body being the environment of the mind; and we are not a body devoid of awareness of reality and incapable of thinking things through. You are what you are when you look into a mirror -- that entity that you observe is what you are. Neither the mind nor the body takes precedent when it comes to considering man. However, the mind is not a given the way the body is. Your body will grow to physical maturity all by itself (provided you eat well) without the need for intellectual guidance; but the mind is under your direct control as to how it functions and what you will consider and what you will learn and integrate (barring some sort of neuro-chemical malfunction). It is philosophically improper and a big mistake to think of the mind as needing the body as a support system; that one is a mind and that so long as the mind has some sort of support system, then one is human -- i.e. a brain in a vat may be possible some day, but such a brain in a vat with a support system to keep it alive would not be a human. Similarly, getting the body modified to fit an environment (gills or wings or eight arms) makes one no longer human, because qua human, man does not have those physical attributes.

Refresh my memory here - how was it that Rand defined Humanity Qua Humanity?

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Man is an integrated living being of mind and body.We are not a mind in a body, with the body being the environment of the mind; and we are not a body devoid of awareness of reality and incapable of thinking things through. You are what you are when you look into a mirror -- that entity that you observe is what you are. Neither the mind nor the body takes precedent when it comes to considering man. However, the mind is not a given the way the body is. Your body will grow to physical maturity all by itself (provided you eat well) without the need for intellectual guidance; but the mind is under your direct control as to how it functions and what you will consider and what you will learn and integrate (barring some sort of neuro-chemical malfunction). It is philosophically improper and a big mistake to think of the mind as needing the body as a support system; that one is a mind and that so long as the mind has some sort of support system, then one is human -- i.e. a brain in a vat may be possible some day, but such a brain in a vat with a support system to keep it alive would not be a human. Similarly, getting the body modified to fit an environment (gills or wings or eight arms) makes one no longer human, because qua human, man does not have those physical attributes.

Well anyhow, this is all just wrong. Please re-read ITOE Chapter 5. Thanks.

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I do think I need to make a point of clarification: The distinctive attribute of man is his reasoning mind -- his ability, via volition, to consider the facts in a logical manner. However, this does not imply that man is not his body. That, in Objectivism, a man is everything that he is -- all the way down to one's toenails on one's little pinky toes. To be man is to be all of that, it's all inclusive. There is no mind / body dichotomy in Objectivism. No consideration that man is his consciousness devoid of the means of awareness (his sensory apparati) and that so long as the mind can survive (somehow) without these means of awareness and some sort of support system, then he meets the definitional identification of being human and is therefore human. This is placing epistemology above metaphysics, and is philosophically improper. It's known as rationalism, and is rejected by Objectivism.

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As to the question raised about what is the advantage of being fully human in the physical sense (not having gills and eight arms), take a look around you and see what man can accomplish with what he has and being what he is metaphysically. You are communicating with someone very far away from you using a keyboard designed for man's hands and can seek out anything on the internet. I don't see where not having gills or eight arms is any sort of disadvantage.

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I don't see where not having gills or eight arms is any sort of disadvantage.

That's the point, is it not? Even if having eight arms and gills made you something besides homo sapiens, you'd still have your rational faculty, in addition to some physical traits that may leave you off better than before.

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I do think I need to make a point of clarification: The distinctive attribute of man is his reasoning mind -- his ability, via volition, to consider the facts in a logical manner. However, this does not imply that man is not his body. That, in Objectivism, a man is everything that he is -- all the way down to one's toenails on one's little pinky toes.

This is all true. A man is not his reasoning mind alone, but also -- as you say -- his toenails, and his hair, and so on. But it doesn't follow that, therefore, to trim one's toenails or hair is to make one "less of a man." Even should a man shave himself completely bald and never grow hair again, he would still be as fully human as ever.

And I wonder: if a man got gills surgically implanted, wouldn't he still be "everything that he is" as a man -- all the way down to his gills?

As to the question raised about what is the advantage of being fully human in the physical sense (not having gills and eight arms), take a look around you and see what man can accomplish with what he has and being what he is metaphysically.

No one is doubting man's incredible capabilities. In fact, being able to give a man gills (should that ever be deemed desirable in a given context) is an example of man's incredible capability, of "what man can accomplish with what he has and being what he is metaphysically"! :)

I don't see where not having gills or eight arms is any sort of disadvantage.

In my particular context in life? Neither can I. But (and maybe partly accounting to my interest in speculative fiction) I *can* imagine some context or other where not having those things might be a disadvantage. (Gills may be easier than eight arms. ;) ) Suppose that we started to colonize the ocean, and that certain aspects of daily travel involved moving through water (or perhaps gills would be an important safety fail safe for such colonists, in case of disaster)? Or imagine professional scuba divers, who sometimes run into problems with running out of oxygen, or malfunctions in their equipment, or etc. I can well imagine that such a person might want a permanent, personal solution with less overall risk (if, indeed, these gills would be "permanent," though perhaps the level of technology involved with providing the gills in the first place suggests otherwise).

In any case, you don't really have to "see where not having gills or eight arms is any sort of disadvantage." Nobody is asking you to. Where it *isn't* a disadvantage, I'd guess that most people wouldn't seek it out in the first place -- and no one here (I presume) is arguing for sacrifice. But you might give consideration to not issuing a blanket dismissal of seeking out gills or eight arms if a person determined that to have them would be an advantage, depending on the context of his particular, individual life.

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Naturalistic-absolutism? Biological-determinism? Body worship?

Dunno.

Trying to assess Thomas' argument, that's all...

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The variety of the man's body is great. People come in different sizes, colors and with different abilities. Some men are born with 6 fingers, without arms and even with a tail. Does it make them non-humans? There is no rigid body standard. Artificially modified body may looks strange in the beginning. But so were initially black people for the whites who also refused to recognize them as humans-for example Australian aborigines were hunted as animals.

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I think the rational principle involved here is the "Principle of the Beard." Dr. Peikoff explains that in some cases, there is not definite cut-off point for considering something to be this versus that. For example, a man is capable of growing a beard. But a beard is more than just a few hairs growing on the face, and there is no definite numerical identification that he must have a thousand hairs growing on his face for it to be said that he definitely has a beard. By observation, one can tell if a man has a beard or not, but pin-pointing exactly when it is a beard and not just hairs growing on his face is not something that can be pre-determined.

Likewise, past a certain point of no longer having the physical attributes of a human, one is no longer human. However, I don't think one can pin-point that in a pre-determined manner -- i.e. if he is born with only one arm, he is still human, everything else being equal. Maybe even if he is born with no arms and no legs, though that is pushing the threshold. At some point, it has to be decided if he is a man or something else. And it becomes a borderline issue.

Similarly, if a man were to get gills, maybe some would say he is still human. However, getting gills by itself would be insufficient for doing deep water work. Man's body is not designed to live in the pressures of the deep. With gills, he could go diving in the local lake, but not deeper. So, more than gills would have to be done. Would one have to get rid of his lungs and have some sort of air processing bladder? Would he have to have the cells of his body modified so that the pressures would not kill him? and what about trying to use hands and feet underwater? There is a reason fish don't have those, and that is because they are extremely inefficient under water (ever tried to walk in the pool?). Also, it tends to be extremely cold under the ocean, so man would have to have his warm-bloodedness adapted to that. So, if man is going to be adapted for environments other than the normal one of one atmospheric pressure on land at certain temperatures, it would have to be very radical. And I would say that even getting gills would require changing the lungs, and would be crossing over into non-human.

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I think the rational principle involved here is the "Principle of the Beard." Dr. Peikoff explains that in some cases, there is not definite cut-off point for considering something to be this versus that. For example, a man is capable of growing a beard. But a beard is more than just a few hairs growing on the face, and there is no definite numerical identification that he must have a thousand hairs growing on his face for it to be said that he definitely has a beard. By observation, one can tell if a man has a beard or not, but pin-pointing exactly when it is a beard and not just hairs growing on his face is not something that can be pre-determined.

Likewise, past a certain point of no longer having the physical attributes of a human, one is no longer human. However, I don't think one can pin-point that in a pre-determined manner -- i.e. if he is born with only one arm, he is still human, everything else being equal. Maybe even if he is born with no arms and no legs, though that is pushing the threshold. At some point, it has to be decided if he is a man or something else. And it becomes a borderline issue.

Similarly, if a man were to get gills, maybe some would say he is still human. However, getting gills by itself would be insufficient for doing deep water work. Man's body is not designed to live in the pressures of the deep. With gills, he could go diving in the local lake, but not deeper. So, more than gills would have to be done. Would one have to get rid of his lungs and have some sort of air processing bladder? Would he have to have the cells of his body modified so that the pressures would not kill him? and what about trying to use hands and feet underwater? There is a reason fish don't have those, and that is because they are extremely inefficient under water (ever tried to walk in the pool?). Also, it tends to be extremely cold under the ocean, so man would have to have his warm-bloodedness adapted to that. So, if man is going to be adapted for environments other than the normal one of one atmospheric pressure on land at certain temperatures, it would have to be very radical. And I would say that even getting gills would require changing the lungs, and would be crossing over into non-human.

I don't think you're necessarily wrong about any of this. (Well... I think a human born with no arms and legs is still very much a human, but that's probably tangential.)

But the question is: is the "humanity" of which you speak -- meaning primarily the shape and function of one's body -- something that a man must preserve? For what purpose? Is it immoral to "cross over into non-human" if, by doing that, a person gave himself a chance at a better (i.e. longer, more fulfilling, more pleasure-filled, happier) life?

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I think the rational principle involved here is the "Principle of the Beard." Dr. Peikoff explains that in some cases, there is not definite cut-off point for considering something to be this versus that. For example, a man is capable of growing a beard. But a beard is more than just a few hairs growing on the face, and there is no definite numerical identification that he must have a thousand hairs growing on his face for it to be said that he definitely has a beard. By observation, one can tell if a man has a beard or not, but pin-pointing exactly when it is a beard and not just hairs growing on his face is not something that can be pre-determined.

Likewise, past a certain point of no longer having the physical attributes of a human, one is no longer human. However, I don't think one can pin-point that in a pre-determined manner -- i.e. if he is born with only one arm, he is still human, everything else being equal. Maybe even if he is born with no arms and no legs, though that is pushing the threshold. At some point, it has to be decided if he is a man or something else. And it becomes a borderline issue.

Similarly, if a man were to get gills, maybe some would say he is still human. However, getting gills by itself would be insufficient for doing deep water work. Man's body is not designed to live in the pressures of the deep. With gills, he could go diving in the local lake, but not deeper. So, more than gills would have to be done. Would one have to get rid of his lungs and have some sort of air processing bladder? Would he have to have the cells of his body modified so that the pressures would not kill him? and what about trying to use hands and feet underwater? There is a reason fish don't have those, and that is because they are extremely inefficient under water (ever tried to walk in the pool?). Also, it tends to be extremely cold under the ocean, so man would have to have his warm-bloodedness adapted to that. So, if man is going to be adapted for environments other than the normal one of one atmospheric pressure on land at certain temperatures, it would have to be very radical. And I would say that even getting gills would require changing the lungs, and would be crossing over into non-human.

The pressure kills exactly because we cannot equalize it under water while breathing air. Lungs modified in such a way that they can extract oxygen from the water will eliminate this problem-and lungs can do it even without any modification, provided that pressure is big enough.

http://www.crabbsac.org.uk/articles/A001.htm

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This Canadian beauty was born as a man and still possesses XY set of chromosomes. However i doubt that anybody can claim that she represents a metaphysical assault.

Jenna+Talackova+2.jpg

Edited by Leonid

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I do think I need to make a point of clarification: The distinctive attribute of man is his reasoning mind -- his ability, via volition, to consider the facts in a logical manner. However, this does not imply that man is not his body. That, in Objectivism, a man is everything that he is -- all the way down to one's toenails on one's little pinky toes. To be man is to be all of that, it's all inclusive. There is no mind / body dichotomy in Objectivism...

This is exactly why I do think it is wrong to claim a sex change operation (at least without getting all the facts) is immoral. There is proof that a person can be born with a gender dichotomy from mind to body. In that case it would me moral (all things considered) to make the mind-body relationship one again. While the mind and body are one it can also be said that the body is the environment that supports the mind, so it is proper for the environment to adjust to the mind versus the mind be told it will need to adjust. I’m not talking about a subjective take on forcing the body to cater to whims, but an honest assessment that something is broken and needs to be fixed. The reverse is to take the intrinsic approach and ask the man’s tool for living to just suppress itself is asking for self-alienation and a crippled self-esteem. The end result would be a crippled mind unable to deal with reality and a gross violation of moral principles.

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