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“The Music of Humanity”

music of humanity

Better late than never, I came across this from Wesley Smith writing at NRO that noted a reader’s wonderful and very apt metaphor. Wesley has of course frequently clashed with and contested bioethicist Peter Singer’s way of thinking about human dignity.

Singer “admit[s] he wouldn’t raise a child with Down [syndrome], and justif[ies] the killing of the developmentally and cognitively disabled because, in his view, their lower mental capacities renders them of less moral worth than pigs.”

Wesley cites a poignant response from a reader:

I have a daughter with Down’s syndrome. Two other families in my neighborhood do, too.

Just as there are people who lack the capacity to appreciate any music (Milton Friedman, for instance, was one of them), there are people with the far more serious lack of capacity to appreciate the worth of other human beings.

The music of humanity that most of us hear is just noise to them. So it is with Singer…

Yes, and this may clarify attitudes that underlie a range of views touching on human dignity and human exceptionalism.

I am, for example, agnostic on the question of what role human activity plays in climate change. It seems undeniable, though, that many people with a pronounced tone deafness to the “music of humanity” have eagerly leapt on the issue as an occasion to punish people for reproducing and thriving. The idea of a well-populated planet fills them with loathing because when they think of human beings they hear only noise, not music.

So too with those who are all to eager to end a human life, whether of the young or the old, thereby extinguishing another source of unwanted noise.

This may, too, go some way to explaining varying attitudes about evolution. Clearly, some Darwinists seize on their theory as a way to rub our faces in what we share with animals, while dismissing what makes us unique. They hear only the noise, not the music.

Image: “Young Woman Playing a Violin,” Detroit Institute of Arts, by Orazio Gentileschi via Wikicommons.