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Eternal Philosophical Questions

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  • Eternal Philosophical Questions

    WARNING: this crap get deep!

    Why is there something rather than nothing?
    The universe arose spontaneously, through self-organizing evolution, based on the self-evident principles of variation and natural selection . Any possible variation (for example a "quantum fluctuation of the vacum") would be sufficient to set the self-organizing process in motion, thus generating a complex universe with its diverse components and structures.

    Why is the world the way it is?
    The specific state of the universe or the world in which we live is partially a historical accident, since evolution is an indeterministic process, partially the result of a lawful process of self-organization, which leads predictably to higher levels of organization through the mechanism of metasystem transition.

    Where does it all come from?
    We can reconstruct in some detail the subsequent stages in the evolution of the universe, leading from the Big Bang, elementary particles, atoms and molecules to living cells, multicellular organisms, animals, people and society. Thus the history of evolution , conceived as a sequence of metasystem transitions, tells us how and in which order all the different types of phenomena we see around us have arisen.

    Where do we come from?
    Humans evolved out of animals that had the capacity to learn associations from the environment, by additionally acquiring the capacity to think, that is, autonomously control these associations. Human thought is rooted in the emergence of symbolic language.

    Who are we?
    As far as we know, humans occupy the provisionally most advanced level in the hierarchy of metasystems. Our capacity for thought distinguishes us from the animals by giving us uniquely human characteristics, such as self-consciousness, tool making, imagination, planning, play, sense of humor and esthetic feelings.

    Where are we going to?
    The theory of metasystem transitions helps us to extrapolate present, on-going progress into the future . Recent developments point to a new metasystem transition which will bring us to a yet higher level of complexity or consciousness, transcending individual thought. This emergent level is perhaps best described by the metaphor of the social superorganism and its global brain.

    What is the purpose of it all?
    Evolution does not have a purpose, in the sense of a fixed goal to which it is advancing. However, although evolution is largely unpredictable, it is not random either. Selection can be seen as having the implicit goal of maximizing survivability or fitness. This implies a preferred direction of evolution, which is in practice characterized by increasing complexity, adaptivity and intelligence.

    Is there a God?
    Since the mechanisms of self-organizing evolution satisfactorily explain the origin and development of the universe, and our place in it, there is no need to postulate a personal God, in the sense of a conscious entity outside of the universe which created that universe. But since in our ontology every action is assigned to, or labelled by, an agent, it is possible to define God as the agent of the Big Bang. Similarly, it is possible to consider the universe as a whole, or the process of evolution itself, as God-like, in the spirit of pantheism.

    What is good and what is evil?
    The evolutionary mechanism of natural selection makes an implicit distinction between "good" or "fit " situations (those which survive in the long term), and "bad" or "unfit" ones (those which are eliminated sooner or later). Therefore, we might equate good or higher values with anything that contributes to survival and the continuation of the process of evolution, and evil with anything that destroys, kills or thwarts the development of fit systems.

    What is knowledge?
    This question defines the domain of epistemology. Knowledge is the existence in a cybernetic system of a model, which allows that system to make predictions, that is, to anticipate processes in its environment. Thus, the system gets control over its environment. Such a model is a personal construction, not an objective reflection of outside reality.

    What is truth?
    There are no absolute truths. The truth of a theory is merely its power to produce predictions that are confirmed by observations. However, different theories can produce similar predictions without one of them being right and the other wrong. "True" knowledge is the one that best survives the natural selection for predictive power.

    What is consciousness?
    Even the most primitive cybernetic agent must be able to sense its environment in order to reach its goals. More complex agents can integrate different sensations into a global awareness of their situation, and use subsequent experiences to learn and improve their mental functioning. Only people are moreover conscious of their own experiences, and thus able to control them. Such consciousness is an eminently subjective relation between the agent and the relevant internal and external aspects of its situation. It is not some mysterious kind of substance or fluid, and there is no intrinsically "hard" problem of consciousness.

    Do we have a "free will"?
    The unpredictability implied by quantum mechanics has done away with the Newtonian world view, in which all future events are predetermined. In our evolutionary worldview, there always is a choice: a variety of possibilities, some of which are retained by selection. The defining characteristic of a cybernetic agent is some degree of control over that selection. Because of their capacity for thought, people, moreover, are not only free to choose between given possibilities, but able to conceive novel possibilities and explore their consequences.

    How should we act?
    Effective action is based on a clear sense of goals or values, and a good model of the environment in which you try to reach these goals. By applying problem-solving methods, you can explore the possible situations in your model to find the most efficient path from your present situation to your goal. You can then try out this action plan in practice, taking into account the feedback you get in order to correct your course.

    How can we be happy?
    People are happy when they are "in control ", that is, feel competent to satisfy their needs and reach their goals. Happiness is most common in societies which provide sufficient wealth, health care, education, personal freedom and equality. Happy people tend to be self-confident, open to experience and have good personal relations. Promoting these social and personal values should increase our overall quality of life.

    Why cannot we live forever?
    Evolution has predisposed us to age and die because fitness is achieved more easily by fast reproduction than by long life. Aging is the result of a variety of deterioration processes. Therefore, it is unlikely that we will achieve biological immortality in the near future, in spite of a constantly increasing life span. However, we can still aim for cybernetic immortality: survival of our mental organization, rather than our material body.

    What is the meaning of life?
    This question in a sense summarizes all previous questions. It is usually understood as: "What are the highest values , the Supreme Goals which I should try to achieve?". We stress that every human being must freely set those goals for himself or herself. The supreme goal which we choose derives logically from our cybernetic world view: to make a constructive contribution to the evolution of humanity, in order to maximize our long-term chances of survival (immortality). In essence, the meaning of life is to increase evolutionary fitness
    (pronounced: Swet-Mow-Sheen)

    That which we manifest lies before us.

  • #2
    The flaw to me in evolutionary thinking is this. There is no envioronmental setting we have seen where a situation goes from random to ordered. Not with out outside influence. To the contrary over time everything seems to get more random. If this is true now how is it eons ago our planetery soup became ordered-Without outside influence.

    Log Book PIMP! It ain't a crime if it likes it!


    • #3
      the more random condition you have the greater possibility for evolution, Look at New Zealand, Madagascar, and Australia, they were all separated from Pangea, isolated if you will, for multitudes of genitic choices. They have the most unusual creatures on earth, many un"evolved for millions of years.
      (pronounced: Swet-Mow-Sheen)

      That which we manifest lies before us.