• Wayfarer
    13.6k
    I get by.
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    The problem I see with that is that the sole criteria for success in evolutionary theory is just to survive and to procreate. That's why 'evolutionary ethics' can only ever amount to either utilitarianism or pragmatism, there is no sense of being an over-arching purpose or aim.Wayfarer
    The Enformationism worldview does not claim to "know" what the "over-arching" purpose of this experiment in evolution might be. Barring a direct revelation from the Programmer, all we can say is that our world seems to be progressing toward some future state that is more complex and integrated than our current situation.

    That positive progressive outlook doesn't necessarily give us reason to hope-for-heaven, or to expect an idyllic harp-strumming afterlife. But it does give us a reason to be mildly optimistic about the ups & downs of a less-than-perfect reality. It also allows us to create our own personal goals beyond mere clinging to life, and making recreation of procreation. Although we are not (yet) in full control of the cosmos, human culture is motivated by imagining a near-future Utopia, to aim for in our personal and political aspirations.

    Of course, a solid grounding in Pragmatism will make our Romantic imagination more likely to succeed. That's why most human societies have produced idealistic religious systems, in addition to pragmatic political organizations. to encourage us to keep-on-keeping-on, despite the daily setbacks and disappointments. The human ability to imagine a more perfect world gives us an advantage over the "lower" animals, who can only deal with Reality in a Pragmatic survival-of-the-fittest mode.

    I can't say for sure that our world was designed with mankind in mind. But a historical perspective shows that the rate of change (both positive and negative) has accelerated since the advent of Homo Sapiens. That progression is most obvious in the form of technology, which gives us control over Nature far beyond the innate tools of animals. But, we can also see some degree of moral & ethical progress, as described by Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature. Therefore, if we look at the world from a higher & broader vantage, we can find more philosophical criteria for success, than just our biological animal nature. :smile:
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    ↪apokrisis
    ↪Gnomon
    :cry:
    180 Proof
    I'm glad to see that you enjoyed the addition of a little optimism and positivism, not to say Pollyannaism, in your bleak Realistic life. Apparently, you were so overwhelmed with emotion, that it brought tears to your eyes. :joke:
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    It’s fine to have your own private metaphysics I guess. But I did think you were aiming to go beyond this kind of simplistic understanding of “information”.apokrisis
    I'm afraid a "simplistic" understanding is the best I can do, since I am not trained in more complicated interpretations, and technical jargon (" ontic structural realism"). So, I try to describe my "private metaphysics" in language that a layman can understand. So no, I was not aiming to produce an abstruse academic paper for a few philosophical pundits. :cool:
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    this whole 'information craze' starts with Norbert Weiner's Cybernetics, where he says 'information is information, not matter or energy.'Wayfarer
    Yes, the 20th century "information craze" has earned the label of "The Information Age". But, as you noted, most of the attention has been directed toward the empty vessels that computers encode with mathematical values, that are neither matter nor energy, but abstract ratios & relationships.

    However, my interest is primarily in the meaningful aspects of Information, which was the original referent of the term : the contents of Minds, not Brains; Intelligence, not Data. Unfortunately, since many of the posters on this forum are materialists -- with philosophical physics envy -- I am forced to deal more with the tangible forms of Information. But that's OK. The ubiquity of Information (the matter-energy-information equivalence) is a part of its intrigue for me.

    So, for me, the 21st century Information explosion is going beyond the mere enthusiasm over pragmatic malleable data, and has crept into every corner of the human experience. Information is not just a practical tool, it's the essence of everything. :smile:
  • Gnomon
    1.6k

    It's your move. :wink:
  • boagie
    54

    That was the tree that fell in the forest, with no ear to hear it---lol!! No ear, no big bang!!! The great expansion. Did they ever decide whether it was an oscillating universe?
  • Zugzwang
    131


    OK, I'll move. Your relentless optimism reminds me of a program, featured perhaps in a scene cut from The Matrix. Don't get me wrong. You add value. Another vegetable in the soup.
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    OK, I'll move. Your relentless optimism reminds me of a program, featured perhaps in a scene cut from The Matrix. Don't get me wrong. You add value. Another vegetable in the soup.Zugzwang
    Thanks. It's hard to find reasons for optimism on a relentlessly hyper-critical forum. I do find that having philosophical and scientific reasons for (moderated) optimism is far preferable to the grim (we're all in this alone) Existentialism of Materialism.

    I gave up my blind faith in religious salvation long ago. And it's hard to find reasons for optimism on a forum full of hyper-critical cynicism. But the knowledge that our world is not merely an astronomical accident -- randomly going nowhere -- does provide some incentive for global optimism -- realizing that the world is not just going to hell in a handbasket, but actually progressing toward some higher state.

    Realistically though, my optimism is moderated by the less-than-perfect current state of affairs. But knowing that the future can be better than the past is enough incentive for positivity to avoid sinking into existentialist despair. So, I'm just following the advice of Sartre : to accept the personal responsibility for giving my life meaning and value, by constructing an idiosyncratic positive worldview from the latest available evidence, instead of taking some ancient Utopian myth on faith.
    Signed, Just Another Veggie in the Stone Soup :cool:

    Existential despair', a painful sense that no human activity of any kind could ever be of any worth. 'Life is nothing until it is lived. It is we who give it meaning, and value is nothing more than the meaning we give it.' - Jean Paul Sartre.
    https://www.icaad.com/blog/existential-despair

    An idiosyncratic person is someone who does things in his own way

    Reply to Wayfarer :
    "That positive progressive outlook doesn't necessarily give us reason to hope-for-heaven, or to expect an idyllic harp-strumming afterlife. But it does give us a reason to be mildly optimistic about the ups & downs of a less-than-perfect reality. It also allows us to create our own personal goals beyond mere clinging to life, and making recreation of procreation. Although we are not (yet) in full control of the cosmos, human culture is motivated by imagining a near-future Utopia, to aim for in our personal and political aspirations."
  • Inplainsight
    20
    I gave up my blind faith in religious salvation long ago. And it's hard to find reasons for optimism on a forum full of hyper-critical cynicismGnomon

    Cheer up buddy! Salvation will show itself in the moments before total doom. The Earth will prevail and all life will live again as is meant to be: in paradise. Apparently there has to be done wrong on scary scales before we all can rejoyce in the wonders of creation again and all species and sorts can wander freely and fearlessly again on this beautifull Earth. Better times not visible yet but surely to come. The natural and the love-lovers, including those longing for small quarels and struggles, are to come and to stay. Untill the end of the Sun!
  • Wayfarer
    13.6k
    Reply to Wayfarer :Gnomon

    Thanks for that. Overall I like your style and I value your contributions. And your blog is very well done.

    But I’d beware of dismissing ‘religious salvation’ in such casual terms ('harp-strumming afterlife'). It's like saying, science be damned because of eugenics, or something. Of course the cultural forms of religion have become moribund over the centuries and often deteriorated to caricature, but ‘there would be no fool’s gold if there were no gold’.

    Earlier in this thread Apokrisis linked to a great paper (in my opinion anyway). It's discussing the convergences between Peirce's semiotic metaphysics and Advaita Vedanta, among many other things.

    This snippet stood out for me:

    The view of Cosmogony and evolution of living systems that we are beginning to approach here is neither a Neo-Darwinian ‘blind watchmaker’ materialism nor a theistic creationist view. If these two cosmogonies are seen as Hegelian thesis and antithesis, the non-dual evolutionary ontology may be called an aufhebung to a new level of synthesis.

    The reason that rings true for me is that I’ve always detested the ‘blind watchmaker’ schtick of Dawkins et al but I also have no time for theistic creationism. There’s something else bubbling up through the floorboards and squeezing in through the blinds that is nothing like either of these.
  • SoftEdgedWonder
    42
    The human ability to imagine a more perfect world gives us an advantage over the "lower" animals, who can only deal with Reality in a Pragmatic survival-of-the-fittest mode.Gnomon

    A more perfect world: look where this ability to imagine a more perfect world brought the world: to an increasingly barren and aridly acid world on which a major part of the once flourishing "lower" creatures have no place anymore these days. A huge part of the biodiversity has simply been destroyed in modern man's attempt (and it are mostly men) to recreate the world.
  • 180 Proof
    5.6k
    Actually, what brought on :cry: was my :rofl: at your :monkey: response to . It wasn't "pollyanny" but funny-bone hilarity only a spent philosophical discussion could hit. :nerd:

    It's hard to find reasons for optimism on a relentlessly hyper-critical forum.Gnomon
    Well, in perhaps only this regard, I'm optimistic about intelligence, but very much less so 'intelligent life'. I hope we're at least smart enough as a species to engineer a fully functioning synthetic metacognitive agent before we top ourselves off and join the fossil record of this boiling, toxic, mudball. :victory: :smile:
  • SoftEdgedWonder
    42
    The reason that rings true for me is that I’ve always detested the ‘blind watchmaker’ schtick of Dawkins et al but I also have no time for theistic creationismWayfarer

    I fully detest along. Dawkins et al. His "The Selfish Gene" (of which his watchmaker book is a copy in a different guise) shows an attitude that betrays his incompetence of finding new memes (to speak in his own poor idiom or jargon). So he objectifies us, animals, genes and memes. According to the knowledgeable pro(contra) fessor we are just vessels created by the selfish genes to ensure their passing on. Memes are involved in people. We are puppets on the strings of memes and genes...What a vision... I pity this man.
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    But I’d beware of dismissing ‘religious salvation’ in such casual terms ('harp-strumming afterlife'). It's like saying, science be damned because of eugenics, or something.Wayfarer
    I apologize, if that comment sounded dismissive or damning. But it was just intended to convey that my personal worldview does not envision any kind of "salvation". Instead, I assume that the evolution of the world, including all of the pain & suffering, is working-out just as intended. By that I mean, the Hegelian dialectic is inherent in the program of Evolution.

    Even in my native Christianity, the notion of salvation seems to imply, either that God created a world where evil is allowed free expression, or that God is not omnipotent enough to counter the evil acts of Satan. So, even as a Christian, I concluded that Evil (pain & suffering) must be a part of God's plan, from the beginning, and Satan (the accuser, adversary, prosecutor) was just an agent for testing Faith, as indicated in the book of Job.

    The reference to "a harp-strumming afterlife" was also an expression of my rejection of almost all life-after-life doctrines. The afterlife views of pre-Judaism Hebrews was similar to that of the Egyptians, in that a heavenly hereafter was reserved for those who where already gods in human form (Pharaoh), who was just going home, after a brief sojourn on Earth. The average Hebrew or Egyptian had no reason to expect anything after death but eternal darkness in the grave (Sheol). Again, today, those who hope to go to heaven, or a higher dimension, or Nirvana, seem to assume that God (or Fate) made a mistake in assigning them to endure the sufferings of an imperfect world. By contrast, I assume that this imperfect world was intended to evolve toward a more perfect state. It's an experiment, not in blind faith, but in freewill under less than optimal conditions.

    Admittedly though, that feeble alternative to Fatalism, is no consolation for those of us currently living in this uncertain world of ups and downs. That's why I find Existentialism to be a pragmatic solution -- to make the best of a bad situation, by adapting your attitude to reality, rather than expecting reality to change to suit your preferences. So, my personal moderated Optimism is not based on hope for Salvation. Of course, it also means that, if I wake-up after death with wings & harps, I will be pleasantly surprised. :smile:
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    ↪Gnomon
    Actually, what brought on :cry: was my :rofl: at your :monkey: response to ↪apokrisis
    . It wasn't "pollyanny" but funny-bone hilarity only a spent philosophical discussion could hit. :nerd:
    180 Proof
    I assumed as much. The reply was intended to be Ironic. You have made your dismal view of Reality, "boiling, toxic, mudball", clear from the beginning. Ironically, my moderated optimism allows me to take your derogation in stride, and even to find it somewhat amusing, as a sign of the depths that "a spent philosophical discussion could hit". :grin: :joke: :cool:

    Dismal : depressing; dreary.
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    A more perfect world: look where this ability to imagine a more perfect world brought the world: to an increasingly barren and aridly acid world on which a major part of the once flourishing "lower" creatures have no place anymore these days. A huge part of the biodiversity has simply been destroyed in modern man's attempt (and it are mostly men) to recreate the world.SoftEdgedWonder
    Does that dismal view of the current state of the world, mean that you'd prefer to go back to the totally natural -- no synthetic furs -- Caveman times, where biodiversity meant that your only problem was to avoid getting snapped-up by a T-rex, or stepped-on by a Woolly Mammoth, and watch-out for talking snakes? That must have been a perfect Garden of Eden.

    Unfortunately, as the Bible says, that Idyllic child-like existence was destroyed by the human arrogance to rely on Human Reason, instead of divine Revelation, to learn how to create a Cultural Utopia. Is your solution to this "increasingly barren and aridly acid world" to turn back to God's Providence? It was Reasoning that got us into this mess. But some of us still arrogantly rely on that imperfect talent for imagining something better than what-is : what could be. Perhaps a race of robots *, sans ego, will do a better job of creating a perfect world, as in The Matrix. :joke:

    I'm kidding, of course. I know where you're coming from. But I prefer Optimism to Fatalism, as an onward & upward, rather than backward, worldview. :smile:

    * synthetic metacognitive agent : as envisioned by
  • Wayfarer
    13.6k
    Again, today, those who hope to go to heaven, or a higher dimension, or Nirvana, seem to assume that God (or Fate) made a mistake in assigning them to endure the sufferings of an imperfect world. By contrast, I assume that this imperfect world was intended to evolve toward a more perfect state. It's an experiment, not in blind faith, but in freewill under less than optimal conditions.Gnomon

    No apologies required. But I think there's a point that is being missed here, albeit a difficult one to state. But let's say deliverance, liberation, mokṣa is an unsurpassable state of being, the 'more perfect state' that life is developing towards. Nothing to do with 'wings' or 'harps', which are of course iconic cultural depictions of dimly-remembered intuitions.
  • Wayfarer
    13.6k
    Unfortunately, as the Bible says, that Idyllic child-like existence was destroyed by the human arrogance to rely on Human Reason, instead of divine Revelation, to learn how to create a Cultural UtopiaGnomon

    Reading ‘the myth of the fall’ symbolically - what it symbolises is the beginning of self-consciousness, the emergence of the sense of ownership, of the awareness of loss, of self-aware being. That is why the tree from which the apple was taken is the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. Animals have no such knowledge - they simply dwell in the present, eating and being eaten, fleeing from terror and seeking sustenance. The predicament of self-awareness has not yet befallen them. So in literal terms, what is described in the myth of the fall as happening in a single moment, probably occupied hundreds of thousands of years of evolutionary development. But that doesn’t make it less meaningful, and the loss of that myth leaves modern culture impoverished in a crucial way - foremost, the puzzling ubiquity of the sense of loss, lack, grief and guilt, which despite our marvellous technology still seems to haunt us. (Great essay on this from a few years ago, The Strange Persistence of Guilt, I don’t know if it’s paywalled but it’s well worth the read.)
  • Zugzwang
    131
    But knowing that the future can be better than the past is enough incentive for positivity to avoid sinking into existentialist despair. So, I'm just following the advice of Sartre : to accept the personal responsibility for giving my life meaning and value, by constructing an idiosyncratic positive worldview from the latest available evidence, instead of taking some ancient Utopian myth on faith.
    Signed, Just Another Veggie in the Stone Soup :cool:
    Gnomon

    Now you add another layer as you present your optimism as a choice. Sartre's a dark philosopher, after all, speaking of human being as an impossible quest to become god (something like that, he's not easy to parse).

    But the knowledge that our world is not merely an astronomical accident -- randomly going nowhere -- does provide some incentive for global optimism -- realizing that the world is not just going to hell in a handbasket, but actually progressing toward some higher state.Gnomon

    I don't share that sense of cosmic progress, though I am aware and appreciative of technological progress. If we don't destroy ourselves, return to the dark age, or something like that....maybe we'll create a brave new world. Perhaps we'll neo-humans who live on water, minerals, a few plants, and sunlight. We could be at a sort of beginning, no matter how late it seems. Or perhaps the trans-humanist will take over in 3024 and create a vampiric apex predator. Or perhaps a big rock will smash up our unloved lifeboat in all this void.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    Animals have no such knowledge - they simply dwell in the present, eating and being eaten, fleeing from terror and seeking sustenance. The predicament of self-awareness has not yet befallen them.Wayfarer

    Small point, but do you not think certain non-human animals are complex enough to have crises of conscience? I doubt that they know they are mortal, but I image they suffer ambivalence, envy, guilt, grief.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    That's why I find Existentialism to be a pragmatic solution -- to make the best of a bad situation, by adapting your attitude to reality, rather than expecting reality to change to suit your preferences.Gnomon

    Let's throw in working to improve that reality while simultaneously adapting one's attitude and I'm with you. Also include an escape clause: some situations are so dire that a self-induced painless exit is reasonable.
  • Wayfarer
    13.6k
    Small point, but do you not think certain non-human animals are complex enough to have crises of conscience?Zugzwang

    Elephants are said to be among the higher mammals that recognise the death of their kind. And there was this story - about two herds of wild elephants that trouped to the home of Lawrence Anthony, a wildlife protector, within a day or two of his death in March 2012. Nobody can explain if they somehow knew of his demise, but it did seem a bit spooky.

    But as a general rule, I think h. Sapiens is unique in this regard, partially, or even mainly, because of language and the ability to tell stories. We evolved into ‘meaning-seeking beings’. Watched an interesting mini-documentary last night on the Lascaux caves - the anthropologist was explaining that the animals represent seasons, the movements of the herds, and the dots represent stars and seasons, with one group of dots representing the Pleiades constellation which appears in the Northern spring, signifying a new year. I presume (I don’t know if he mentioned) that these paintings would have been overseen by the shamans as part of their powers of predicting when the herds will arrive and the plants will bear fruit.

    A lot of that kind of sense of relatedness to nature is obviously what is dissolved in the acid of global modern capitalism, which is accompanied by the back-story that really life evolved by chance, that humans are a kind of fluke, that the Universe is just the play of dumb matter. I think it’s falling out of favour although it still holds sway amongst the secular intelligentsia and those who hold the levers of the Western military-industrial complex.
  • Gobuddygo
    28
    We evolved into ‘meaning-seeking beings’.Wayfarer

    That's because, contray to animals, we are born naked. We are born without tools to operate in the world. Our brain is not a tool. It gives us ideas to grasp and operate by using hands, feet, back, eyes, ears, etc. We can interact with fellow people by talking, singing, art, listening, understanding, exchanging scientific ideas and math. We can experience love, as do animals. Love means inclusion, love is against isolation. Animals don't need language. They are transfixed. No need for apperception, at least, not in the measure we need it. Parrots can talk. The can perfectly copy sounds. These sounds lack a fertile base though, from which new sounds can spring up and evolve.
  • Outlander
    1.3k
    The little bang needed something to aspire toward.

    What? Makes as much sense as any other coherent answer here.
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    Reading ‘the myth of the fall’ symbolically - what it symbolises is the beginning of self-consciousness, the emergence of the sense of ownership, of the awareness of loss, of self-aware being. That is why the tree from which the apple was taken is the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. Animals have no such knowledge - they simply dwell in the present, eating and being eaten, fleeing from terror and seeking sustenance.Wayfarer
    Yes. The key insight of :The Fall" myth is that humans are both blessed and cursed by their "knowledge of good & evil". Which makes us moral agents, who are forced to make hard choices, but without the omniscience to know the consequences of those choices. Some Misanthropes on this forum seem to be willing to trade places with the "lower" animals, who are merely faced with choices of Life or Death, instead of Good or Evil. Human self-consciousness includes awareness of our Existential plight. Yet, most animals seem to be unbothered by questions about Life's Meaning, or the inevitability of Life's End. That human tendency to philosophical ennui, may be why Feynman advised his fellow physicists to "shut-up [about metaphysical questions] and calculate". :cool:
  • Pristina
    13
    Yet, most animals seem to be unbothered by questions about Life's Meaning, or the inevitability of Life's End. TGnomon

    They don't have to bother. They just live.
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    Now you add another layer as you present your optimism as a choice. Sartre's a dark philosopher, after all, speaking of human being as an impossible quest to become god (something like that, he's not easy to parse).Zugzwang
    What other choice do we have, besides depression and suicide, when faced with our lack of omniscience or omnipotence? As a Christian, I used to think of Existentialism, and its Existential Despair, as a "dark" and Pessimistic attitude. But now, as a post-Christian, I view the choice to take responsibility for our own choices, as a Pragmatic attitude. Even though we may not have a heavenly father to look-out for us, homo sapiens still have the innate qualities required of Moral Agents : self-awareness, etc. :smile:

    I don't share that sense of cosmic progress,Zugzwang
    The natural progression of this exploding cosmos is not evident, unless we include the gradually-evolving cultural progress of the human element. FWIW, the links below provide some of the evidence that allows me to have "a more optimistic outlook". :grin:

    Cosmic Progression :
    Unexpectedly, organic Life appeared in the middle of the "life span" of the Cosmos, . . .
    http://bothandblog3.enformationism.info/page28.html

    Moral Progress :
    Steven Pinker, probably motivated in part by this pessimistic trend in academic & religious circles, has contributed a plethora of reasonable & plausible evidence for a more optimistic outlook.
    http://www.bothandblog.enformationism.info/page71.html
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