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The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

@neauoire I think you might be right about the moral of that story, but if you are I insist it was mis-written. The necessity of the suffering of the child was part of the worldbuilding premise! If you stipulate a premise that the audience are supposed to reject, you've failed as a storyteller!

@faun wait wait wait, that quote is from the story itself!

@neauoire Sure. I'm imagining that the fact it was in there says something supportive of your position (which was "you should walk away from omelas", right?) about what the story's intention was, but I don't remember its context.

@faun @neauoire The story centers about a premise worthy of rejection. You might find a similarly sophisticated response whensoever you point out the banal, evil suffering necessitated by civilization at large...

@faun @neauoire maybe off topic, but I recently thought of that in relation with industrial meat. Suffering justified by happiness of others

@electret @neauoire This fails a bit when you think about how (at least, most) meat doesn't taste that good and how many perfectly delicious non-meat foods there are.

And also how animal suffering isn't strictly necessary for the production of meat.

@faun @neauoire indeed, meat is not required for good food. But I know a lot of people that believe meat to be a mandatory part of diet, that not eating meat would get them sick or weak. Killing an animal before their own time is suffering, I believe.

@electret You consider death by bullet to be suffering? And you consider death by age to be less so?

Perhaps you're reaching for the notion of consent; The animal would, if it were uplifted to understand anything, prefer to be left to die of old age, even if that would cause it more pain.

There is a hot view down of this line of thinking: There would be no greater violation of consent, for most organisms (short of execution) than castration, yet castration of beloved pets is customary.

@faun I think you're correct on the mixing up of suffering, consent and violence. Complex ethical topics and discussing them will move us further from the short story that prompted this :)

Death for meat production might not be suffering, but it is violence. Which one is preferable is difficult to answer. I would like to say suffering is better, because that would condemn killing for meat. But I am sure that would back me in a corner for other situations.

@faun @neauoire The context is setting the scene as a fable; it's there arguing against a reader's imagined resistance to the notion of a perfect world. The surface of Omelas is indeed perfect and its inhabitants do not have angst caused by this perfection. They are happy.

@faun @neauoire
Le Guin preferred the term "psychomyth" to fable in describing this. Its "storyness" form is an intrinsic part of it. So I would say this sets aside concerns about worldbuilding that a conventional fantasy story might face.
That contradiction you point out, if there is indeed a contradiction which I'm not sure I accept, is an essential part of the story and where it draws its lasting power from.

@priryo @neauoire I'm worried that the powerful contradiction you're describing could also be described as a "scissor statement", a piece of writing optimised not to give clarity, not to liberate us from tension or paradox and enable action, but to generate noisy disagreements that it may propagate through.

Aggregate utilitarians need not suffer such things =<

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Merveilles

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