Assuming no metaphysical reality, and everything is just spacetime and matter, where do the moral concerns regarding suffering and pain come from?

I have met enough people who do not care about anyone or anything but themselves— in fact, it appears their minds cannot conceive of the notion— that I assure you not everybody spends time thinking about teleology or metaphysics.

Well, my cats care about my well being as they don’t have the dexterity to hold the scoop that pours their food or pulls the tab that opens their wet food and they know if they make me somewhat happy they get to keep their home so they have a self-interest in my well being to a point ,

One thing they could care less about is me getting mad about expelled hairballs on the rug when they’re 2 steps from the tiled kitchen…

Why do you think this give it some importance? Does the pain of Julius Caesar as he was stabbed to death have more importance than the pain of a forgotten thrall beaten to death by a Norseman because one specific event is still remembered and another isn’t?

In rejecting your basic premises I also reject this. Listen do DEATH as quoted by @Qadgop_the_Mercotan, he knows what’s up.

Oh, believe me. I am quite aware of that already, from both personal and professional experience. I’ve dealt with enough psychopaths, sociopaths and serial killers firsthand. Not to mention the narcissists and other various personality disordered folks. And even the Lost Souls and other bereft, forlorn traumatized individuals are generally too awash in their own pain to reflect much.

My post was not aimed at them. But any may partake of it who will.

In truth, it was meant to point out that per DEATH, despite absence of particles of justice and mercy in this universe, it’s still necessary to believe in such to be human.

I quote that bit of Pratchett a lot. It’s important.

But I’ll go a bit further, and say that justice, mercy, and duty do indeed exist in the universe. They exist because we (and in varying fashions other creatures) believe in them. Enough belief can bring some types of things into existence.

(On a less uplifting plane: it’s belief and only belief that causes monetary systems to exist, for instance. Or national borders.)

For the record, I consider both Caesar’s and the thrall’s pain as “forgotten”. There is no current conscious entity that went through the subjective experience that Caesar or the thrall went through.

We may read about Caesar, but we did not experience what he experienced. We can read about what it is to have a terrible toothache but that’s different than actually experiencing one.

If someone is stabbed in the stomach and survives, then for as long as they live, they remember the experience, they re-imagine it, it haunts their dreams, has panic attacks, etc. When they die, as long as we believe consciousness ceases when we die, there will be no one who actually remembers the subjective experience, re-imagines it, haunts their dreams, has panic attacks, etc

Therefore bigotry, hatred, chauvinism, and the pleasure of inflicting pain also exist in the universe because we believe in them.

You cannot cherrypick the universe or humanity to make metaphysical points. It’s been calculated that with every breath we take we breath in molecules of air that Caesar breathed. Molecules endure. Human metaphysics does not. 99% of all your thoughts, beliefs, words, and actions are already forgotten by you yourself. So are 99% of all humanity’s collective thoughts, beliefs, words, and actions. They are not even dust.

I am not a nihilist. The world humanity has made around me is vast and astounding and all-encompassing. Every second of my life has been like a drop of water in that ocean, affecting my every action every moment. I became aware of it when I was born and will lose that awareness when I die.

The universe, however, is not aware of me. Stop the preening and posturing.

Of course it makes sense to feel sad. Ultimately you’re not feeling sad for any specific individual who was harmed, you don’t know any of the individuals. The fact that the harmed individuals are dead doesn’t change anything.

You’re sad because of man’s inhumanity to man. The horrible things people did to other people. That is still a thing that happened, which you learned about, and which has affected you.

Does it make sense to be sad about a horrible massacre from pre-history that no conscious being in the entire universe is aware of? No. Does it make sense to feel sad after your archeological dig finds the mass grave from the massacre? Yes, because it has now reached out from the past to affect you, and that is real.


Wasn’t trying to.

Didn’t say that it is.

I was offering a contrary position. Please don’t confuse it for a personal attack.

I’m not really seeing how your post represents a contrary position, so much as an orthogonal one. Seems like someone could fully agree with both posts without any inherent contradiction.

I never met a physics I didn’t like.

How do you feel about physicks? I can prescribe a very effective one . . .

Ah, so your ‘“eternal” being’ (why the scare quotes specifically around ‘eternal’?) is having everyone’s experiences? To me that makes no sense unless the being is simultaneously being everyone and even that makes no sense. To have my experiences you have to actually be me, if you add also being Helmut Kohl the experience changes, let alone adding everyone!

What if enjoying that ice cream somehow led to him chatting up a young lady who he then marries. It would matter quite a bit to their children, and their children’s children, etc.
Small things can have big consequences. If you invent a time machine, and want to create a paradox, you don’t have to kill your grandfather. Just figure out when your father was conceived and knock on the door at an inopportune moment.

Even if there is an afterlife, it might not matter. Would be a hell of an afterlife (pun intended) if we remembered all our hurts.We can’t remember all our pains and pleasures even while alive, why think we would afterwards?

Your second paragraph doesn’t follow from your first. If pain doesn’t mean anything because at some point it is over and forgotten, you could just as easily say anything about love, happiness, murder, life, family, or anything at all.

I love Pratchett but I have to disagree with that quote. Sure you’ll never find an atom of justice or a molecule of mercy, but you’ll never find an atom of cat or tree or blue giant star either. Those things exist, so why not justice and mercy? The universe is indeed composed, at its most fundamental level, of atoms and fields. But those things can organize into many complex patterns that could not be predicted from the particles themselves. Among those things are animals, which include social animals, which include humans. Social animals evolve traits that encourage group cohesion, and humans, with their complex brains, evolved the most complex traits of all. Mercy and justice are based on human thought and emotion, which are electro-chemical reactions and are as real as anything else in the universe. Reductionism has its purpose, but shouldn’t force us to deny things that evidently exist.

Do do realize that in that quote, DEATH (and PTerry) support the concepts of justice and mercy, etc? DEATH concludes being able to believe the “big lies” is crucial for being human. And HE regards being human as a positive thing. He cares.

That… wasn’t my point. My point was that Justice and mercy aren’t lies which we must believe in. They are real things. Physically real.

Your definition of “physically real” doesn’t seem very useful. Your write that justice and mercy aren’t something we must believe in, but what are beliefs other than “electro-chemical reactions”? Yes, “justice” and “mercy” are “real” in that sense. So is “injustice” and “cruelty”. The lie to believe in, with the electro-chemical reactions in your brain is that there is some universal standard making the first two good and the last two bad, when at the level of atoms, electrons and electro-chemical reactions they are equivalent.