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elfkin477
05-14-2001, 07:43 PM
Please put in order, from most to least tragic the following things, and offer an explaination for the order you chose. Assume the death is sudden and accidental in all cases:

*parents lose their baby in the ninth month of the mother's pregnancy (due to an umbical cord accident)
*parents lose their week old baby
*parents lose two year old child
*parents lose their six year old child
*parents lose their twelve year old child
*parents lose their seventeen year old child
*parents lose their adult child who is also a parent of a small child

Could you do it? Why or why not? If all deaths have the same weight of tragedy, why do we preceive some deaths as being more tragic than others- for example if a child dies in a bus accident people treat it as more of a tragedy than had in been an adult in the same situation?

ITR champion
05-14-2001, 11:17 PM
It's the media that chooses to focus on stories where children are harmed above all else. I guess it leads to better ratings. I personally don't understand how you can define a particular scale of tragedy. Does listing one event as more tragic than another mean that one life is worth more than another?

05-15-2001, 01:18 AM
Originally posted by elfkin477
Please put in order, from most to least tragic the following things, and offer an explaination for the order you chose. Assume the death is sudden and accidental in all cases:

*parents lose their baby in the ninth month of the mother's pregnancy (due to an umbical cord accident)
*parents lose their week old baby
*parents lose two year old child
*parents lose their six year old child
*parents lose their twelve year old child
*parents lose their seventeen year old child
*parents lose their adult child who is also a parent of a small child

Could you do it? Why or why not? If all deaths have the same weight of tragedy, why do we preceive some deaths as being more tragic than others- for example if a child dies in a bus accident people treat it as more of a tragedy than had in been an adult in the same situation?

I would rank them in the exact opposite of the way you listed them. I think of a person as the sum of their experiences. All other things being equal, the older a person is the more valuable they are in my opinion. The 'all other things being equal' is important, though. I would give a mean and stupid 50 year old less value than an intelligent and kind 12 year old. If someone is responsible for other lives, that gives them more value as well. If the loss of one person would hurt others more than another, I give them more value as well - i.e. if I had to choose between allowing a 10 year old child with a family that loves them losing their life and an otherwise identical 10 year old child who lives in an orphanage with nobody who particularly cares for them, I would choose the latter.

Mekhazzio
05-15-2001, 01:48 AM
A death of one person is a tragedy? In the Shakespearian sense, perhaps, but when I think of a tragedy, I think of far-ranging broad-scale events: war, plague, Union Carbide, a Republican President, etc...

kabbes
05-15-2001, 05:20 AM
I think of a person as the sum of their experiences. All other things being equal, the older a person is the more valuable they are in my opinionBy your reasoning Badtz, one of the biggest tragedies of all is the scores of octogenarians dying each day.

But somehow I just can't see it that way.

I think that you need to slightly rethink your statement.

pan

05-15-2001, 05:36 AM
Well, if someone WANTS to die or accepts that they have to die, it's not as big of a tragedy when they do. But I think when an octogenarian who doesn't want to die, who wants more out of life and has a lifetime of experience dies, it's a bigger tragedy than some young person dies.

kabbes
05-15-2001, 05:48 AM
Ya think? I can't really say that I find the idea of an octogenarian dying more of a tragedy than a (oh, say a) 35 year old. For some reason my gut feeling is the exact reverse.

Probably (and this would be an adaptation to your theory) it's due to finding the biggest tragedy is the loss of the one with the most to lose.

We all die in the end anyway, so I guess that if I hear that 83 y.o. Ethel has died, I feel that it was probably her time. If the bus hadn't have got her, the cancer probably would have in a couple of years anyway. Hmm that sounds harsher than I mean it to: a loss certainly, I'm trying to say, but not such an all-encompassing one.

However if 35 y.o. Alice dies I can't help but think of all of the life that she has missed out on. Now that really seems tragic.

And then when we get down to the youngest ages I start to agree with your assessment: a horrible, horrible thing and yet the loss of experiences isn't at the same level as the loss of an adult or teenager.

I hate talking about this, since the very willingness to think about ranking tragedy seems callous in itself. It's all horrible. But there's my theory for you.

pan

05-15-2001, 05:59 AM
I see it as measuring the loss - an 80 year old person has 80 years worth of experiences. They have first-hand memories of the 1920s, which are FAR rarer than memories of the 70s or 60s, and will be gone forever. They are like an old, long book full of rare knowledge. A young person is like a short recent book, with most of it's content duplicated in millions of other books.

Amedeus
05-15-2001, 06:20 AM
I thought a tragedy was when a person is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow as a consequence of a tragic flaw, a moral weakness, or an inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances.

Yet people seem to equate this with only death.

What about the alocoholic who cannot stop drinking because his wife died ten years ago, and he is so lonely and depressed. He has tried to quit before but due to a weakness he cannot bring himself to it.

Or how about the Misanthrope whom hates the world because he cannot figure out how to cope with a social setting, and he pushes away every attempt to help him.

How about the Pot-head that cannot keep a job because of his "habit". He is thrown out of apartment after apartment, living with roaches and slowly but surely gets into a rut of work a job, quit, buy smokes, smoke and food. Run up bills, run from collectors.

All of these situations can be changed. Yet through a flaw or moral weakness they do not. They may realize their predicament, and suffer more because of that knowledge.

Babies dying, people starving.. these are situations they cannot help, situations where they are helpless to do anything about it. Calling it a Tragedy is, IMHO, the exact same thing as saying Homosexuality is a choice. These babies cannot change their fate. They must rely on others..Hence no tragedy

gigi
05-15-2001, 07:55 AM
Originally posted by Amedeus
I thought a tragedy was when a person is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow as a consequence of a tragic flaw, a moral weakness, or an inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances.

I agree completely, and I would say this is more than a nitpick. None of the descriptions in the OP is a tragedy, unless the person died while trying to save someone, etc., meaning they were doing their best and were defeated anyway. Natural disasters are not a tragedy either. The word tragedy is used to describe anything sad and that's incorrect.

To rank how sad these occurrences are, I would take into account the impact on those affected, not just the person dying. Parents who are awaiting the birth of a child and all the possibilities for his/her life would be devastated by a stillbirth. Sometimes the possibility is more sad that the actual: "they'll never get to..." But it's always the impact on the people left behind that matters, and I'm not sure it's possible to rank the "value" of human beings.