The Light Elves and the Valar are an evil, immoral bunch who never helped others when they saw them suffering. They abandoned Men for the first several millenia of their existence to Melkor (and later Sauron), and then blamed Men for "falling".

Dude, they created the whole of the Sun for Men's benefit. That's a big thing, the whole of the Sun.

As for the first fall of Men, Tolkien leaves it deliberately vague, so we can't know how much they were to blame.

And after Melkor was defeated, they raised Numenor out of the oceans, and increased the lifespan of Numenoreans to like three times the normal amount, also ensuring that there would be fair weather, their ships would never sink, etc, etc.

Both the expulsion of the Noldor, the fall of the Numenoreans, and I can assume the first fall of Men as well, all those times where the Valar seem to abandon people to their fates, it seems to be when these people deliberately rebel against the Valar's authority - and so in a sense force them to NOT help. The Valar seem to be only able to help people when people acknowledge them as authorities.

I think Tolkien is actually pretty sympathetic to those people that desire immortality (as long as they DO NOT go about killing other people to ensure it)

Where do you see even a hint of this?

Check out the theological discussion between Finrod and the human woman Andreth in the History of Middle Earth volume "Morgoth's Ring". Andreth argues that Men aren't supposed to die, that it's a great darkness ahead of them that they correctly despise and recoil from. Finrod, though disagreeing, is sympathetic throughout -- and I can't imagine that the author disagrees with his attitude in this.

The Nine Kings of Men who were given rings by Sauron became immortal - and became Ringwraiths. It's implied pretty clearly, in Bilbo's descriptions of the One Ring (he felt "spread out like butter over too much bread", i.e. had lived too long), that this is partly due to becoming immortal in itself, and not just due to being dominated by Sauron's will.

Yes -- in Tolkien's world the human spirit is designed to leave the world, so immortality within the world is like trapping it in too constrained a jail.

Dude, they created the whole of the Sun for Men's benefit. That's a big thing, the whole of the Sun.

Huh? You're saying the Elves and Valar themselves didn't benefit from the existence of the Sun? It was an altruistic action? I don't buy that. The Sun was even instrumental in fighting against Melkor - without it, he would have been able to destroy the Moon.

Not to mention that they would never have done it if Melkor hadn't killed the Two Trees. They would have been happy to sit in their closed garden forever and let the world rot.

As for the first fall o

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Many of us *are* hit with a baseball once a month.

by Alexandros 1 min read22nd Dec 201031 comments


Watching the video of Eliezer's Singularity Summit 2010 talk, I thought once more about the 'baseball' argument. Here's a text version from How to Seem (and Be) Deep:

[...] given human nature, if people got hit on the head by a baseball bat every week, pretty soon they would invent reasons why getting hit on the head with a baseball bat was a good thing.

And then it dawned on me. Roughly half of human kind, women, are inflicted with a painful experience about once a month for a large period of their lives.

So, if the hypothesis was correct, we would expect to have deep-sounding memes about why this was a good thing floating around. Not one to disappoint, the internet has indeed produced at least two such lists, linked here for your reading pleasure. However, neither of these lists claim that the benefits outweigh the costs, nor do they make any deep-sounding arguments about why this is in fact a good thing overall. Whether or not they are supported by the evidence, the benefits mentioned are relatively practical. What's more, you don't hear these going around a lot (as far as I know, which, admittedly, is not very far). 

So why aren't these memes philosophised about? Perhaps the ick factor? Maybe the fact that having the other half of the population going around and having perfectly normal lives without any obvious drawbacks acts as a sanity test? 

In any case, since this is a counter-argument that may eventually get raised, and since I didn't want to suppress it in favour of a soldier fighting on our side, I thought I'd type this up and feed it to the LessWrong hivemind for better or worse.