Coffeehouse Philosopher #26

Fujioka blue butterfly.

Fujioka blue butterfly

Flaws and Beauty

 Some of us fret and worry if whether everything is “right” or “as it should be” especially as this relates to ourselves (“why am I this way or that way when our vision of ‘ideal’ is different”). The argument can be made that the current physical state of humanity is the result of nothing more than chance mutations some of which happened to be coveted by nature long ago. These past mutations which made it far into the future were not right or wrong. They simply happened to work for a particular set of circumstances in a particular environment. We cherish a particular set of traits today but the mutations which caused their emergence were not correct or incorrect, they just were. A different set of circumstances in a different environment would provoke a different path of evolution and maybe a different opinion of what is beautiful.

What if we had evolved in an environment which happened to include a giant bird of prey which only selected as a food source, humans with the physical features we consider today to be the most aesthetically pleasing? It is likely that today we would have a different opinion of what is beautiful. As another example let us assume that humans only evolved living on the sides of a steep mountain with a nomadic way of life and only traveled in one direction around the mountain. If this were the case, the “ideal” might be to have one leg shorter than the other and at a particular ratio to the other.

So one can see from this that what is favorable is also flexible. The same process of random changes which caused what we consider to be beauty today also caused the things we consider to be defects. My nearsightedness or myopia, for example is usually considered a defect. Yet, I can think up a theoretical environment where it would be an advantage. When I remove my glasses and bring some specimen to within inches of my eyes I can see detail which others cannot. A world close-in where we had to differentiate between edible or poisonous plants based upon minute visual cues and no reason to look far would favor the nearsighted.

My myopia is neither right or wrong, it just is. Energy and time fretting over it is time and energy that could be used more beneficially. This is the thought process I used to navigate through the maze of this one tiny corner of the human experience. It has helped me and maybe it will benefit others as well.

Your comments will be much appreciated.

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