The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Who owns you? Seriously.

Who owns me? More to the point: Who owns you?

In order to make this discussion meaningful, I suggest we use a common definition for the word "own."
Definition of Own a) to have or hold as property (possess)  b) to have power or mastery over (wanted to own his own life)

Synonyms: command, enjoy, hold, have, possess, retain

In common law and in statute law, ownership confers responsibility and accountability upon the owner of property regarding harm done others by the property.

The possible answers to "Who owns me?" are:
1. I own me. I am responsible for the choices I make, and I should be held accountable when I cause harm to others.

2. Someone else or some group owns me. They are responsible for making the best choices for me, and may be held accountable for my actions.

3. No one owns me. No one is responsible for making decisions for me, not even I. No one can be held accountable.

4. God owns me. Everything I do is God's will, which absolves me from responsibility.

Now that I've written this, I am going to put up a poll so Foruminants can vote on their favorite answer to "Who owns me?"

If anyone thinks I've stacked the deck so that it will knock down the straw man, then I'm open to a fairer way to ask the questions.


Bill F. said...

There are of course more answers than the four you suggest, Bob. And your question lacks context. If you're talking about civil rights, I believe the correct answer is that the individual belongs to its parents until emancipated.

I think in South Dakota a person may self- emancipate at age 16 but am not sure. It is automatic I believe at age 18 for some purposes and for others at age 21.

The State maintains a lifelong "interest" in us all insofar as protection of our human and civil rights are concerned. So it's not really a simple question even in the context of the law.

From a physical, philosophical and biological context it gets even trickier given that we are more "meat waves of potential" than we are quantifiable objects.

An analog might be ripples in a pond. One can own the water and the hole it's in, but who owns the ripples?

Who owns the quarks and gluons that make up the atoms coursing through you? Who owns the air you breath, without which there is no you?

It's a puxzzlement.

So much so that I'm at a loss to answer your question with conviction, but I'm leaning toward the "nobody" answer.

Bob Newland said...

That well could be an appropriate answer in your case.

D.E. Bishop said...

I voted that I own me and am responsible. But, I have questions:

Does that mean that I am responsible for the circumstances I find myself in, whether of my own making or others?

Are my choices also forgivable?

Where is the line drawn between my choices and forces outside myself and outside my control?

Bob Newland said...

D.E., I'd like to see your answers to your own questions. That's more or less what I was trying to elicit with the topic itself.

The whole topic is not really existential in nature. The justice system punishes people en masse for actions I think are not worthy of punishment. That is a hard and inhumanly cruel fact.

Bill Fleming said...

Yes, the topic is decidedly neither existential nor phenomenological nor even empirical.

It is ideological.

And for that reason I marked the answer that says "I own myself and accept responsibility for myself and my actions" fully recognizing that doesn't really mean anything other than perhaps to make Bob happy and supported in his position.

I expect he'll give us all hell for it at some later date. That's his usual pattern. Kind of like with Zen Masters. There's never really a right answer, just an impossible to answer question that demonstrates how much we don't really know anything, so we should just keep paying meticulous attention while try to relax at the same time.

I've kind of decided I pretty much suck at doing that, but only as a result of decades of diligent practice. ;^)

Bob Newland said...

Ideological? Me?