The change in the feeling with which the Lowlanders regarded the highland scenery was closely connected with a change not less remarkable in the feeling with which they regarded the Highland race. It is not strange that the Wild Scotch, as they were sometimes called, should, in the seventeenth century, have been considered by the Saxons as mere savages. But it is surely strange that, considered as savages, they should not have been objects of interest and curiosity. The English were then abundantly inquisitive about the manners of rude nations separated from our island by great continents and oceans. Numerous books were printed describing the laws, the superstitions, the cabins, the repasts, the dresses, the marriages, the funerals of Laplanders and Hottentots, Mohawks and Malays. The plays and poems of that age are full of allusions to the usages of the black men of Africa and of the red men of America. The only barbarian about whom there was no wish to have any information was the Highlander.
Thomas Babington Macaulay
History of England
I think this indicates that the average Englishman understands that he will feel less hatred toward barbarians he understands, and therefore avoids understanding them as a survival instinct. It is also a commonplace observation that groundpounding grunts aren’t much use in a war if they don’t hate and fear their enemies as subhuman monsters. The idea of doing unspeakable, indiscriminate violence on other conscious beings seems unthinkable to most humans. This excludes various pathologies that can’t conceive of other people (or even animals) as animate beings, despite the anti-entropic improbability of their ordered movements. Observing such erratic puppets, one wonders whether the string broke, or the puppeteer’s mind.
Imagine watching a ballet dancer or a gymnast perform and afterward saying “Such movements may most easily be explained by chance gusts of wind, which I take to be the most likely cause, and the end of her life would therefore be no more significant than a wave crashing on the beach.” Rather, I think the animating spirit that gives us life must be so obvious that people have to work very hard to ignore its existence. Tangentially, I wonder what’s the overhead cost on this. Could a neurologist looking at an agnostic’s electroencephalograph press Ctl-Alt-Del and watch ratio.exe eating up 40% of the RAM?
John C. Wright says philosophers draw a dividing line between plants and animals, where plants follow the laws of nature and animals follow both the laws of nature and an animating force. But isn’t entropy a stronger law than gravity? Why do plants and waterfalls get a pass on the animating force when the universe clearly testifies that, by all probability, this planet should be nothing but dust and ice?
Or as Tex put it more concisely, who built the moon?