Thursday, May 15, 2014

Are We All Created Equal... And What Does That Even Mean?

I wrote down a rant this afternoon and thought I'd post it (with a few minor alterations to make it more polite):

I doubt whether the question “Are we equal?” has any meaning. If the question means are people equal in the same way that two and two is equal to four, the answer is an obvious “No”. Every person is unique and anyone who denies this self-evident fact is delusional. So what does it mean? Are some people “better” than others? Again, one person will be stronger, smarter etc. than another person. People can become smarter, stronger etc. with practice and through will power, but genetics definitely play a role in determining the development of certain characteristics. Nature, nurture, and choice all play a role in our identity. I assume that by one person being better than another, we’re talking about the sum total of attributes. Many will say that one person is good at A while another person is good at B, therefore they’re both equal. I still don’t think this is true. Is A of equal importance than B? What’s to say A is better than B? And we’re not only comparing two qualities, but the sum total of a person’s attributes. Anyone who thinks they can successfully quantify the level of each of a person’s attributes is fooling themselves. It’s hardly an exact science and I see no way to successfully do it. Also, judging a person is folly, because we can’t see what is going on inside their heads or the raw psychological or emotional raw material they are working with. If the question of equality has any meaning, I very much doubt it’s a question we can answer. Don’t get me wrong, I am very much a believer in equal treatment under law for every individual, sex, race etc., but I also don’t believe that the idea that “All men are created equal” is any more than a legal fiction, an idea created by man. If you tell me that we can’t judge, generalize, or successfully determine whether one person is “better” (whatever that means) than another person I am with you, but if you tell me that everyone is exactly the same as everyone else, I cannot agree.

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