The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant
The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant
  • Reporter Won John
  • 승인 2022.03.29 02:45
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Once upon a time, there lived a colossal dragon. It demanded that ten thousand humans be sacrificed to it every day, or it would decimate the population. The people resisted at first, trying every possible way to vanquish the beast, but its scales were too tough to penetrate its fiery breath too strong to endure. Hence, they resorted to pleasing the dragon, feeding as many humans as it desired. Over the eons, the dragon and its voracious demands became part of humanity. The king ordered the people to construct infrastructure to carry the people being shipped to the dragon’s lair. There were clerks to administer pensions to families of the lost ones, collectors to fetch the designated people, comforters who would help the people being carted towards certain death, and dragonologists that studied every aspect of the dragon.
Despite the circumstances, life went on and humanity made miraculous breakthroughs in technology. There were flying machines and vaccines, but the daily slaughter continued. However, a group of scientists discovered that a certain composite material could pierce through the dragon’s scales. They became ecstatic, theorizing that this material on a long-range projectile could potentially execute the dragon and liberate humanity from its shackles.
However, when the scientists pitched their idea to the king, he was doubtful of the idea, since he had been taught from a young age that the dragon was invincible. Also, there were more pressing matters such as the tiger attack that had killed a few hundred people, and he had already allocated most of the country’s budget to construct a second train track to the dragon. The scientists resorted to telling their story to the common people, that there was a chance to end this vicious cycle. There was much debate, but the people reached a consensus that the dragon must be eliminated. The king eventually accepted the project and started to construct a missile to kill the dragon. After 12 years of experimenting, construction, and testing, the missile was completed and launched towards the dragon. A large boom echoed across the horizon as the dragon fell to its demise, and humanity was freed at last.
This is a short summary of Nick Bostrom’s The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant, a short fairy-tale-esque story that showcases how deathism in modern society may have allowed people to come to peaceful ends but has held back humanity in the larger picture. Much of the debate over whether the dragon should be killed is isomorphic to many fatalist arguments that say death is inevitable or even necessary. For example, a character from the book says “The finitude of human life is a blessing for every individual, whether he knows it or not. Getting rid of the dragon, which might seem like such a convenient thing to do, would undermine our human dignity.” This is closely related to the saying of how death is what gives meaning and motivation to our lives.
I, personally, have always been irritated by such claims. We have never had the chance to live forever; who is to know what humanity could achieve without temporal bounds? Time to learn more, time to experience more, and time to love and cherish more. I believe what makes life meaningful is not that it must end, but that it exists. Death has been hard-wired into our thoughts and defeating it might seem impossible, but enough scientific research could open up a way. Humanity is too focused on damage control that it has neglected the reason such damage has always been with us. Perhaps it is our turn to rise from our rationalization of mortality and defeat our dragon.