Life can be wonderful
as well as terrible;
It depends on whether you’re imprisoned in a glass tunnel
or you’re out of the tunnel,
in the open air, freely exploring opportunities life presents to no end.
Derek Antony Parfit FBA, was born on11 December 1942.
He was a British philosopher who specialised in personal identity, rationality, and ethics.
11 Derek Parfit quotes:
- We ought not to do to our future selves what it would be wrong to do to other people.
2. My life seemed like a glass tunnel, through which I was moving faster every year, and at the end of which there was darkness. When I changed my view, the walls of my glass tunnel disappeared. I now live in the open air.
3. Life can be wonderful as well as terrible, and we shall increasingly have the power to make life good. Since human history may be only just beginning, we can expect that future humans, or supra-humans, may achieve some great goods that we cannot now even imagine. In Nietzsche’s words, there has never been such a new dawn and clear horizon, and such an open sea.
4. What now matters most is how we respond to various risks to the survival of humanity. We are creating some of these risks, and discovering how we could respond to these and other risks. If we reduce these risks, and humanity survives the next few centuries, our descendants or successors could end these risks by spreading through this galaxy.
5. What now matters most is that we avoid ending human history. If there are no rational beings elsewhere, it may depend on us and our successors whether it will all be worth it, because the existence of the Universe will have been on the whole good.
6.What am I more than elaborate sentience?
7. I believe that most of us have false beliefs about our own nature, and our identity over time, and that, when we see the truth, we ought to change some of our beliefs about what we have reason to do.
8. If there were no such normative truths, nothing would matter, and we would have no reasons to try to decide how to live. Such decisions would be arbitrary. We would not be the animals that can understand and respond to reasons. In a world without reasons, we would act only on our instincts and desires, living as other animals live. The Universe would not contain rational beings.
9. This part of Kant’s view is, I believe, a profound truth. We can be morally responsible in several other ways, or senses, but no one could ever be responsible, I believe, in any way that could make them deserve to suffer. Nor, I believe, does anyone deserve to be less happy.
10. Until this century, most of mankind lived in small communities. What each did could affect only a few others. But conditions have now changed. Each of us can now, in countless ways, affect countless other people. We can have real though small effects on thousands or millions of people. When these effects are widely dispersed, they may be either trivial, or imperceptible. It now makes a great difference whether we continue to believe that we cannot have greatly harmed or benefited others unless there are people with obvious grounds for resentment or gratitude.
11. When I believed that my existence was such a further fact, I seemed imprisoned in myself. My life seemed like a glass tunnel, through which I was moving faster every year, and at the end of which there was darkness. When I changed my view, the walls of my glass tunnel disappeared. I now live in the open air. There is still a difference between my life and the lives of other people. But the difference is less. Other people are closer. I am less concerned about the rest of my own life, and more concerned about the lives of others