Xunzi:  So you agree with me that human nature is naturally warped. But you think our moral sense is part of that warpedness!? I’d say that our failure to follow our moral sense is our warpedness. Isn’t or moral sense what sets us apart from the beasts?

Scott:  It is—in part. But I’d say our greatest warpedness is our self-awareness.

Xunzi:  Zhuang! Look what you’ve created! Here’s a man who thinks the essence of what it is to be human—to be a self!—is to be warped!

Zhuangzi:  Yes! I have had some success with Scott—at least in the theoretical realm. But how could you disagree that the source of all our problems is that we are self-aware beings? We are a complete anomaly in the world. Only we find life problematical. Only we struggle with good and evil. Only we fear death. Only we hunger for a truth and meaning that we cannot find. Only we speak of life as a “veil of tears”. Only we suffer the compounded suffering of suffering our suffering. Only we kill and inflict pain for pleasure. Only we have the power to destroy or own necessary environmental context. Warped indeed!

Scott:  But warped doesn’t mean evil. It’s simply the way things have evolved. If we affirm Nature, we are obliged to affirm everything it has wrought, including warpedness. If we affirm life, we must also affirm death. If we affirm health then we must also affirm disease.

Zz:  But affirming doesn’t mean acquiescence. Life wants to live, so we work to stay alive. Life wants to enjoy itself, so we work to realize the greatest enjoyment. The self wants to self-flourish, so we work toward its flourishing.

Xunzi:  But by your reasoning, if Nature has created just one thing warped, then Nature is itself warped.

Zz:  To the human mind Nature is warped. Absent that mind, and Nature is no such thing.

Scott:  To the human mind it is a Great Mess. It might have started with a Bang. It’s wall-to-wall Chaos. Ever-expanding—dissipating. Stars collide with stars. Galaxies collide with galaxies. Worlds are born and die. Our world will die. Before humanity was the age of dinosaurs—all gone. But before they were, they naturally evolved to greater size, bigger teeth, claws and horns with which to rip the flesh from one another. What a mess! How are humans any different? We evolved a self-conscious mind so now we can build bigger and better devices with which to destroy each other. What a mess!

Xunzi:  And they call me a pessimist!

Zz:  If you affirm the lot there’s no pessimism in it. Pessimism arises only when we pit our pitiful moral addiction against reality.

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