Profesor de Inglés, fascinado con los idiomas, especialmente inglés y castellano. Cualquier cosa que me interese, voy a poner acá, en inglés o castellano.
Procreation is not our raison d’etre. That humans have procreated since the dawn of humanity is not indicative of why we are here: it is simply an observation of what has happened. We are not obliged to play an active role in the process; there is no active participation at all in fact. This was the mistake that the social Darwinists made, believing that we should accelerate evolution in the right direction using eugenics and other sinister techniques: it is a mistake that can cause us to believe that we should consciously strive to pass on our genes. This is patently not the case. We have no need to concern ourselves with such things. We are innately endowed with certain drives that mean we have an instinctive tendency to seek a partner and reproduce with them. That is sufficient. We of course also have the capacity to self-reflect and this means that we can ignore these drives; we also have other, conflicting, drives: culture being one of them. A bigger proof of the fallacy that we should strive to procreate is the existence of homosexuality. Such people obviously aren’t here to procreate. This is perhaps why homosexuals have been persecuted so much over the centuries. But if we discard the idea that we are here to procreate, as I believe we should, we should also discard the idea that homosexuals are an aberration of nature and therefore worthy of our oppression.
Never let us forget our insignificance. Let not our conscious awareness cause us to believe that we have any kind of duty to reproduce, or even that we have any merit to exist. Do you think your deciding not to have children is going to make the slightest dent in the side of humans’ continued existence? Instead, we ought to let the vast and complex ecosystem of the world work by itself. If the innumerable factors that contribute to an individual case of human reproduction align themselves, a being will be born, and this is a marvel. But let’s be clear: the commonly stated acknowledgement of our beating all the odds to exist is also a fallacy. Here’s a quotation from a website after a simple Google search for ‘odds of human life’:
‘So what’s the probability of your existing? It’s the probability of 2 million people getting together – about the population of San Diego – each to play a game of dice with trillion-sided dice. They each roll the dice, and they all come up the exact same number – say, 550,343,279,001’.
This sounds incredible, there’s no doubt about it. However, let’s look a little closer. Let’s use the analogy of a lottery ticket. If you bought a lottery ticket and the numbers came up, granted, it would be something of note. However, we are not talking about this set of circumstances. Nobody was riding on your coming into existence: you were a simple inevitability: perhaps not you specifically, but somebody had to be the culmination of all those complex factors and it was you. If it hadn’t been, it would have been someone else. Somebody has to win the lottery. One of the numbers from all those possible combinations has to come up. It only becomes amazing when you try to guess that combination beforehand and you succeed. Nobody has predicted your existence, so why is it so amazing? If I did a lottery draw but nobody had bought a ticket, we wouldn’t be amazed by the result. Nobody would say ‘Wow, that’s incredible. It could have been any combination of numbers but it turned out to be 20, 38, 40, 1, 7, 17’. Similarly, I am unconvinced by the idea that I am a miracle just because I happened to be born instead of all the other possibilities that there were.
This, I believe, is the mistake that some atheists still make, despite having made the quite sensible leap from God to godlessness. Science, paradoxically, has at once decentred humans from our once universal pedestal and given us an arrogance towards our achievements that has made us feel that we are special in some way.
The bottom line, which we must never forget, is that we are nothing. All human endeavour, while remarkable to us for the time we remain on the planet, on a cosmological level is transient debris. This needn’t be depressing; it is simply a fact.
I was devastatingly outsmarted by one of my students at the beginning of the week. I discovered that, as well as the English cognate alfabeto, Spanish also has abecedario to refer to its writing system. This seemed to me, although admittedly a rather hasty judgement, ridiculously simplistic. ‘Abecedario!’ I scoffed to my top set IGCSE group. ‘That’s like when you’re in primary school and you learn your “ABC.”’ It was quickly pointed out by one particular smartarse in the class that, of course, the alternative, supposedly superior word, alfabeto, comes from the initial letters of the Greek alphabet. I abruptly came down from my high horse, cursorily acknowledged that he was too smart for me and moved on swiftly.
To be honest, I did not mind being outsmarted. It almost felt good. I think it’s good to have yourself brought down a peg or two once in a while. Your students need to know that you’re fallible.
I had honestly never even thought about alphabet and its etymology, despite its being so obvious once pointed out. I find that there are many phrases and words that I take for granted, never having analysed them, when suddenly a new significance will emerge and it will be as a revelation.
This naturally started to happen much more once I started to learn Spanish. Just the other day it happened with immediate. Of course it most commonly means right now; without delay, but its true etymology is more without an intermediary agent, i.e. with no middle man. I nearly cried out when that realisation occured to me.