Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Heroes die

  1. Jun 4, 2003 #1
    i wonder...
    what is the significance of a hero? in evolutionary thinking the mindset that would create a hero would be a defect that would elliminate itself. or is there something more? is there truly a lasting change that one can leave besides their contribution to the gene pool, or is it all superficial and temporary?
    your opinions, please...
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 4, 2003 #2
    Just a brief hypothetical...

    Thirteen soldiers get killed because the pilot bends down to scratch his left foot and crashes the helicopter. None of them make it to the brothel they had set out to visit.

    They are all proclaimed "heroes"

    But are they really?
  4. Jun 4, 2003 #3
    Re: Just a brief hypothetical...

    hmmm... i'd say not, seeing as how they did nothing heroic, but what about this old scenerio:

    a grenade lands in a trench and will surely destroy everyone, BUT! in an act of heroism one soldier jumpes on top of the grenade, saving the others, but dooming himself. is this a hero?
  5. Jun 5, 2003 #4
    Re: Re: Just a brief hypothetical...

    I think it not unlikely that their intended place of visit would be downplayed, while “they died defending freedom” is played up, and the politician pronounces them all to be heroes.
    I would say that if the man knew nobody was watching him and that he would never be given any credit for his act, that yes, this man would be a true hero…
  6. Jun 5, 2003 #5
    First off, we are social creatures who organize heirarchally for the most part. Second, we are animals that grow from totally dependent upon our parents to independent adulthood where, if the species is to perpetuate, we must taken on the burden of raising our own children. Heros, Gods, etc. are parental figures that fit the morality of a given society.

    Among fundamentalist Muslims, for example, suicide boomers are heros while among their victims they are considered vile, depraved, or misguided at the very least. As Noam Chompsky pointed out, the difference between a hero and a traitor is who wins the war. This principle can be expanded to include all the people a given society considers winners as opposed to loosers. In other words, a hero ain't nothin' but a samwich.
  7. Jun 5, 2003 #6
    Re: Re: heroes die...

    My take on what makes a hero has a lot to do with whether or not there is actually such a thing as Evil. I've been trying to start a thread about Evil, and I hope to get some feedback, because there are many conflicting opinions. You see, it is commonly held that an act is "evil" (or "wrong") if it causes another to come to harm. However, if a "hero" causes another to come to harm, in order to save another, they are still not considered "wrong" or "evil".

    Conclusion: "Hero" is as relative as "evil". However, if a definite standard for what is "evil" can be established, then a definite standard for "heroes" can be as well.
  8. Jun 5, 2003 #7


    User Avatar

    Cue FZ+'s ultimate definition and model of heroism:

    "Someone who has significance outside of their life, and represents a virtue to be aspired to."

    Hence, the hero isn't a genetic defect at all. It is a natural consequence of a society that has shared values and a need to put real faces to abstract ideas.
  9. Jun 5, 2003 #8
    Re: Re: Re: Just a brief hypothetical...

    and i would agree that this is a good example of heroism solely becuase he knew he would die anyway.
  10. Jun 5, 2003 #9

    i completly understand your agruement and in a way agree but i wonder how superficial this personification of 'abstract ideas' is. is the fact that he/she made a change on society instead of a more permanant and unquestionable change, like that that is contributed through reproduction a more important change? and if it's not (in the long run) then wouldn't the mutation be considered a flaw and be deleted.
    or- am i completly wrong in my thinking that the production of a 'hero gene' (that might bring on a mindset to do a heroic act) is a evolutionary change? maybe it is an enviormental stress that provides this affect.
    (but i don't think i'm wrong in this line of thinking becuase isn't it the enviornmental stresses that activate a scenerio in which certain mutations are more noticable or in other words worth more?) i'll give an example of my thinking here (even though i'm getting a little off topic)= a virus may make many mutations in it's history of existance but it is only when we create a vaccine that some random mutations appear more noticable, such as a a mutation that provides a way to evade that vaccine that may or may not have occured without the presence of the vaccine.) (do you follow me?)
  11. Jun 5, 2003 #10


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Re: Re: Just a brief hypothetical...

    Do you really think he stops to wonder if people are watching? Its an impulse action. And besides, I don't think it matters if they know others are watching. It would take a sick/suicidal person to do something heroic simply because others are watching.

    The last two medals of honor were given to the two snipers who volunteered to defend a crashed helicopter in Mogidishu. If you saw Black Hawk Down, those were the two guys who the general asked if they knew what they were volunteering for before they went in. I'm pretty sure both of them died. Did they do it because they knew others were watching? I don't think so.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2003
  12. Jun 5, 2003 #11
    A selfless act that benifits many and harms none could be considered heroic. Especially if it advances brotherhood among men(my opinion). It took alot of brave men to get us where we are today. Were it not for their foolishness(a joke) Then maybe I couldn't eat microwavable pizza whilst watching T.V via satelite cable.
  13. Jun 6, 2003 #12
    I like BH's idea of a hero and add one thing. A hero is someone that does acts for others in a selfless way in which they do not even know within themselves the sacrafice they are making because it has become their nature.

    Elcleasiasties says all is vanity, is it? Has anyone entered this circle of thought and fallen to the bottom of it's depths.

    There is a prize on the other side, but you cannot know that you collect it. It is a bazooka bubble gum wrapper.
  14. Jun 6, 2003 #13


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Greetings !

    In the modern "western" world a hero is a person
    who gives his own life or puts him/herself in life
    threatening or material danger in an attempt to save
    or benefit other people's lives. Evil people
    are considered to be the ones who try to inflict
    damage upon the lives or property of regular people.
    If the damage inflicted upon evil people by heroes
    is relativly reasonable compared to the damage the
    evil people tried to inflict and if the hero has
    attempted to do the least required damage to the
    evil person to stop him then everything's O.K. .:smile:

    Another image of heroes in western society is that
    of successful - rich and influential people who've
    managed to gain their money and influence by themselves.

    In "eastern" societies a hero is a person who devotes
    his life to co-existence witht the world and the seeking
    of enlightment.

    In Cristianity a hero - saint is a person who devoted
    his life to helping others in non-violent ways, that
    is - without harming other people's lives or property
    in the proccess.

    In the modern Muslim societies the hero for the
    majority is a person who gave his life or property
    to harm the infidels. The type of infindels is ussualy
    unimportant since mostly all infidels are considered
    to be enemies of Islam by the majority in today's
    Muslim societies.

    In Jewdaism a hero is a person who devoted his life to
    the study of the Tora and the other ancient writings
    and who is thus most fluent and knowledgable in them.

    Another image of heroes that some people (aspecialy
    on PF, I hope) accept is that of great scientists,
    engeneers, inventors and highly proffesional
    people in general.

    Live long and prosper.
  15. Jun 6, 2003 #14
    The word 'hero' is bandied about way too much. People tend to repaint victims as heroes, The people at the WTC on 9-11 weren't heroes, they were victims. The cops and firemen were...but they are heroes so often that we hardly notice.
  16. Jun 6, 2003 #15


    User Avatar

    Close here. What I mean is that heroes aren't born. They are made. Partially by us and our need to find models - for each hero, there is often another irrational coward or villian who is frozen by irrationality at one moment, but we ignore them and impose the way we feel onto these people. The firefighters on 9/11 did not set out to be heroes. To them they were just doing another job. Most probably didn't think the towers were going to collapse, or that they were in immediate danger - I didn't. But the people wanted heroes, and they fitted the ideal that they desired.

    Partially by the system of society itself. It is very helpful (evolutionarily speaking) for a society to have a shared code of values. Like freedom, love, honour, justice, determination etc. It unifies society, encourages us to group together. Whenever you have such values, and the emotive sense of admiration for other heroes, you would always have people that take it to the limits. So, in a heartless way, heros and martyrs are unfortunate side effects of these useful social mechanisms.
  17. Jun 6, 2003 #16
    How many of these 'heroes' would have went into the tower if they knew ahead of time that the towers would collapse? If they knew of the risk would they rush in anyway?? I mean to alot of these ppl being a firefighter or policeman is just a 'job'.

    Also I don't think that a person that gets paid to save lives or knows that he will win noteriety when saving lives is really a hero. There is some type of reward for him - fame or fortune.
  18. Jun 6, 2003 #17
    Those guys do it weekly...and they have known many fellows who have dies with NO acclaim. Yet, they do it anyway.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Heroes die
  1. Heroes (Replies: 8)

  2. Heroes (Replies: 5)

  3. Heroes of Newerth (Replies: 3)

  4. Unsung heroes (Replies: 5)

  5. Your heroes? (Replies: 11)