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The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

Last updated Jun 22, 2021 Edit Source

Source: The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula Le Guin

There is no happiness without suffering. The story presents a classic utilitarian problem: is it morally justifiable to inflict suffering on one person in the service of others’ happiness (and a potential utopia)?

Thinking about it in terms of technology as a multiplicative tool. Is it then morally just to develop technology to benefit others knowing that it will exacerbate the suffering of marginalized groups?

Follow up: is there any way we can use tech as a running shoe instead of a crutch?

Did the agricultural revolution make us generally less happy? “We didn’t domesticate wheat, we domesticated ourselves”

# What does it mean to walk away from Omelas?

Joining the counterculture rather than feeding into the status quo: From Counterculture to Cyberculture. Rejecting the capitalist society and ‘returning to the land’

Immersion in the virtual worlds rather than reality?

# Quotes

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting.”

Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child’s abominable misery.

“To exchange all the goodness and grace of every life in Omelas for that single, small improvement: to throw away the happiness of thousands for the chance of the happiness of one: that would be to let guilt within the walls indeed.”