While checking out the philosophy in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, I uncovered two philosophical questions that are brought up in the novel.
Is it alright to eat animals?
What is acceptable as entertainment?
We will look at Vegetarianism first:
Arthur, the main character in the novel, questions the ethics of animal eating when he is confronted by a cow!
He is an omnivore and he never before contemplated the case for vegetarianism.
We don’t usually think about our modes of behaviour, whether they are morally right or wrong.
Do we wear clothes that are made in a sweet shop in a third world country?
Is that wrong?
Well, eating meat is another behaviour that not many of us consider.
If we thought about the morality of our actions constantly we wouldn’t have time to enjoy our own lives!!!
Some people feel animals exist for eating, for human sustenance.
Vegetarians object to the slaughtering of animals for human consumption.
Some have a humorous outlook that killing an animal deprives it of its long term pleasant existence.
Do you know any animals that have long term plans or projects?
No. Well then, their deaths aren’t like human deaths, are they?
The vegetarians abhor the pain and suffering animals are put through before they end up on our plates.
Are animals devoid of mental life?
Of course, you say. Animals don’t think about death like we do.
But we know they do feel pain because most have a central nervous system.
What are your thoughts on vegetarianism?
Myself, I enjoy a juicy T-bone steak!
Now, lets turn to entertainment:
What is acceptable entertainment? No violence. Mild violence or extreme violence.
There are several passages of violent entertainment in the Galaxy of the Hitchhiker’s.
What is violent entertainment?
Tarantino movies? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?
This is fictional violence.
Violence is defined as the physical force that causes injury or damage to a person or property.
Is it acceptable to read or watch moderate to severe fictional violence as “Mere Entertainment”?
Let us now turn to the objections to violent entertainment.
The first objection is the idea of Character Corruption.
Does a diet of violent entertainment desensitise a person?
Does violent entertainment cause violent, aggressive behaviour?
The second objection is that real people suffer from violence, so then is enjoyment of violent entertainment decadent?
Does it contribute to moral and cultural decline?
The third objection is the “Viciousness Objection”.
If a person reads or watches about a vicious violent act, should this feel repugnant to the person or is it entertainment?
Why should the person who enjoys fictional violence be said to lack sensitivity or compassion?
Maybe such enjoyment requires the person to suspend his compassionate attitudes.
Or does one’s enjoyment of fictional violence make one desensitised to actual violence?
That would mean that it would corrupt the person.
There is another objection and it is called the “Cognitive Failure Objection.
This entails a moral failing, a failure to realise the nature of violence, for example, that violence hurts and causes damage.
The last point to make is the violence in comedy.
Remember the old cartoons? They used slapstick violence, poking each other in the eye, or hitting someone over the head with a frying. pan–this trivialised violence.
The Three Stooges
Laurel and Hardy
The Marx Brothers
This is slapstick comedy violence at its best!
Let me know your thoughts.