• Gnomon
    1.6k
    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.Zugzwang
    I agree, that some oppressed people in the world, have compelling reasons to consider suicide as "an escape clause". Yet, ironically, most of those suffering souls do not make that drastic choice. So there seems to be an innate "will to live" despite all incentives to give-up. That perseverance in the face of despair, may be one source of dogged optimism. But my positive outlook is more of an intellectually-developed philosophical worldview, as summarized in the BothAnd Principle.. :smile:

    The BothAnd Principle :
    . . . .The Enformationism worldview entails the principles of Complementarity, Reciprocity & Holism, which are necessary to offset the negative effects of Fragmentation, Isolation & Reductionism. Analysis into parts is necessary for knowledge of the mechanics of the world, but synthesis of those parts into a whole system is required for the wisdom to integrate the self into the larger system. In a philosophical sense, all opposites in this world (e.g. space/time, good/evil) are ultimately reconciled in Enfernity (eternity & infinity). . . .
    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page10.html
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    Yet, most animals seem to be unbothered by questions about Life's Meaning, or the inevitability of Life's End. T — Gnomon
    They don't have to bother. They just live.
    Pristina
    Yes. But humans do "have to bother". It's in our nature to compare what-is with what-could-be. And to strive to better a bad situation. Would you change places with a blithe Panda bear, contentedly chewing on bamboo, unbothered by the immanent extinction of its species? :cool:


    playful-happy-panda-china-260nw-1390386575.jpg
  • Zugzwang
    131
    What other choice do we have, besides depression and suicide, when faced with our lack of omniscience or omnipotence?Gnomon

    Gallows humor. Was Sartre a bit of a Jerry Seinfeld? Is there fun to be had in the darkness? The entertainment industry suggests that we love to watch an apocalypse unfold.

    We can also speculate about a relationship between surfaces and depths. It may be that the darkness thinkers are more amused than most on some fundamental level, and this makes them able to play with ideas that others find sacred: like endless moral progress, some sort of Reason for or in it all. On the other hand, perhaps some surface optimists (not saying you) insist too much. The larger issue is how to take philosophers. Are they joking, bluffing, lying to us, lying to themselves, somehow telling the complete truth to everyone involved?

    As far as Pinker goes, I haven't looked closely, but I have a general idea. And many things are good today in a way that they haven't been before. I don't curse the way things are. I just think the future is hard to predict, and that the house of cards, imperfect as it already is, could be blown over. AFAIK, there's nothing stopping an asteroid from wiping us out. How do believers in a cosmic logic, with humans at the center of it, deal with this possibly? Square it with the Thesis?
  • DanLager
    25
    by the immanent extinction of its species?Gnomon

    And why is this beautiful animal on the brink of extinction? Like many other species? Why has 10% of all biodiversity disappeared in 100 years?
  • Wayfarer
    13.6k
    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".Gnomon

    Totally on your page there (although I think it was David Mermin who coined that phrase.)

    I think nowadays ‘nature’ has become a stand-in for ‘the unconditioned’ in traditional philosophy. It’s the unpolluted, the pristine, the sacred ancestors - the nearest secular culture can come to ‘the sacred’. But that looses sight of the fact that in traditional cultures, although nature was esteemed, she was not idolized.
  • Wayfarer
    13.6k
    How do believers in a cosmic logic, with humans at the center of it, deal with this possibly? Square it with the Thesis?Zugzwang

    There’s been predictions of Armageddon, ‘the end of the world’, in Christianity since it started. How they deal with it is to say that the Faithful will at that point all go to Heaven, where they will all live forever. (although I also have to say the possibility of actual Armageddon has seemed chillingly real ever since Hiroshima.)

    I’m not aware of similar movements in Eastern cultures, which tend to have a more cyclical view. Buddha predicted that after some time - might have been as little as 500 years - his teaching would die out, but the Buddhist tradition also teaches that in due course another Buddha will re-appear. In Mahāyāna Buddhism, there are references to the many ‘life-bearing orbs’ throughout the Cosmos, where periodically Buddhas will appear and teach. I recall reading once a translation from a Tantric text, where the Buddha ‘recalls’ Manjusri from another world to help teach on this one.

    In any case, the background to Indian cosmology generally is conceived in terms of cycles of creation and destruction that occupy many billions of years. Even though it’s plainly a mythological construction, in terms of the time-scales involved, it is quite realistic (subject of a half-hour special by Carl Sagan many years ago.)
  • DanLager
    25
    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.Gnomon

    Sounds as if you speak from a tower of saddened ivory. What's wrong with viewing the mind as settled in the brain? The brain is made from matter. The point is though that even particle physicists don't know what the Nature of matter is. I don't consider the brain as part of me. It merely helps me to live. For someone looking at me my brain is matter. For me it shows me ideas, gives me (the body) feelings and thoughts and dreams and fantasies or even gods (though I care more about their magical creation). Matter is only matter for hard materialistic physicists. To me, matter has content too. A content that sparks or lightens up the brain in me. And the physical world outside of me.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    .
    Would you change places with a blithe Panda bear, contentedly chewing on bamboo, unbothered by the immanent extinction of its species?Gnomon

    Many, in times of crisis, might. I wouldn't, but then things are going OK for me, for now.


    I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd,
    I stand and look at them long and long.

    They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
    They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
    They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
    Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
    Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
    Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
    — Whitman
  • Zugzwang
    131
    I think nowadays ‘nature’ has become a stand-in for ‘the unconditioned’ in traditional philosophy. It’s the unpolluted, the pristine, the sacred ancestors - the nearest secular culture can come to ‘the sacred’. But that looses sight of the fact that in traditional cultures, although nature was esteemed, she was not idolized.Wayfarer

    For some perhaps. But 'shut up and calculate' might instead be interpreted in terms of worldly power and the species becoming more godlike. From this POV, it's the species that's (self-)idolized. Nature must only be obeyed as much as is necessary for its domination.
  • DanLager
    25
    There’s been predictions of Armageddon, ‘the end of the world’, in Christianity since it started. How they deal with it is to say that the Faithful will at that point all go to Heaven, where they will all live forever. (although I also have to say the possibility of actual Armageddon has seemed chillingly real ever since Hiroshima.)Wayfarer

    Armageddon will arrive 100%. Will it not be by human action (the chances it does appear by human action are in the present state of our planet fairly big though) than it is because the Sun will turn into a red giant. All life in the cosmos will one day stop to exist. Only to reappear after a new big bang behind us. Not to be confused with heaven though you can think of it like heaven.
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    Gallows humor.Zugzwang
    I just heard a bit of "gallows humor" in YouTube's The Expanse. Miller, the battle-scarred detective on space station Eros, was surrounded by men with guns. So the situation was not looking good for his survival. When encouraged by his partner to hang-in there, he quipped "optimism is for *ssholes and earthers ". Not exactly a Seinfeld quote, who when asked "what's your script about?", replied "nothing". Nevertheless, the dour detective persevered, and lived to quip another hopeless day. :joke:

    AFAIK, there's nothing stopping an asteroid from wiping us out. How do believers in a cosmic logic, with humans at the center of it, deal with this possibly? Square it with the Thesis?Zugzwang
    I don't personally know many "believers in cosmic logic", but I'm currently reading the book by Astronomer Physicist John D. Barrow, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. He's no Pollyanna, but he looks on the bright side of the cosmic coin. He lists several cosmologists, since the 18th century, who "believed in an evolving, melioristic universe". The book's Introduction, by famous physicist John Archibald Wheeler, makes an assertion that "squares" with my thesis : "our own time has made enormous headway in sniffing out the sophisticated relations between entropy, information, randomness, and computability". [my emphasis]

    Wheeler also says, "The philosopher of old was right! Meaning is important, is even central. It is not only that man is adapted to the universe. The universe is adapted to man. . . . That is the central point of the anthropic principle". Based on his positive assessment of the "Cosmic Logic", he postulated the concept of a Participatory Universe, in which humans are not helpless victims of fickle Fate, but collectively affect the course of evolution via feedback from its participants. So, you can, like those serious physicists, choose to interpret the evidence in a positive light, or negative. Of all the products of Evolution, only humans have any semblance of FreeWill, of Free Choice, to emphasize the positive, or the negative aspects of Reality. :nerd:


    Meliorism :
    1. The belief that the human condition can be improved through concerted effort.
    2. The belief that there is an inherent tendency toward progress or improvement in the human condition.


    The Participatory Universe :
    Wheeler's hunch is that the universe is built like an enormous feedback loop, a loop in which we contribute to the ongoing creation of not just the present and the future but the past as well.
    http://www.spacemachine.net/views/2014/11/participatory-universe
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    Sounds as if you speak from a tower of saddened ivory. What's wrong with viewing the mind as settled in the brain? The brain is made from matter.DanLager
    My tower of mental facts, not material ivory, is built upon the foundation of ubiquitous Information. So, it's true that the Mind is a product of a material Brain. But that Brain consists of immaterial Information. Are you aware of the Matter-Energy-Information Equivalence Principle? Matter is indeed physical, but Energy is only a mental inference from the effects of Causation on Matter. And Information is the Aristotelian "Substance" of both. Hence, the Brain is made from intangible Information. :nerd:

    Information :
    * Claude Shannon quantified Information not as useful ideas, but as a mathematical ratio between meaningful order (1) and meaningless disorder (0); between knowledge (1) and ignorance (0). So, that meaningful mind-stuff exists in the limbo-land of statistics, producing effects on reality while having no sensory physical properties. We know it exists ideally, only by detecting its effects in the real world.
    * For humans, Information has the semantic quality of aboutness , that we interpret as meaning. In computer science though, Information is treated as meaningless, which makes its mathematical value more certain. It becomes meaningful only when a sentient Self interprets it as such.
    * When spelled with an “I”, Information is a noun, referring to data & things. When spelled with an “E”, Enformation is a verb, referring to energy and processes.

    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page11.html
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    but then things are going OK for me, for now.Zugzwang
    So, why worry about the infinite array of possible futures, what could be, when what is "now" is at least OK. Worrying does not not change the future. Only actions, both positive & negative, can change what-might-be into what-is. Don't worry, be happy. :grin:

    Stoicism : an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge; the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.

    worrying%20does%20not%20take%20away%20todays'%20troubles_med.jpg
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    People who don't believe in God or any higher power like to say that the Big Bang was the start of the universe and everything. Well even if that is the case, that still leaves the question of why there was a Big Bang in the first place.HardWorker
    This formerly Hot thread seems to have cooled-off. And the topical question, which implies a rational (intentional?) First Cause, seems to have elicited one succinct cynical answer : "there is no why" (i.e. no reason), and a variety of philosophical curiosity postulations : "the reason-for-being for whom?". The succinct answer is plausible, only if nothing existed prior to the Big Bang, hence no reason-for-being, apart from Serendipity. But even atheist scientists are aware of the poverty of the "no why" retort. Which is why so many irrational or unintentional Causes, or just-so Prior Conditions, have been proposed by those who seek only data, not reasons : Quantum Fluctuation, Many Worlds, Multiverse, Hyper-Inflation, etc. So, we are faced with A> the simple Brute Fact of the world's Self-Existence, or B> the rational inference of a specific Cause to explain the observed universal Effect.

    Alternative "A" implies the eternal existence of an evolving (but cyclic) material universe, while "B" assumes a non-cyclic world, with a specific point of beginning. Which implies the eternal or timeless existence of a creative agency of some kind. However, both "explanations" are speculative, not observed facts. Yet, the existence of Reasoning ability (homo sapiens ; observers) in the Effect, implies the potential for Reasoning in the Cause. So, to ask about a "Reason for Being" is a legitimate philosophical question, even though it's not a question subject to an empirical answer. Therefore, those who ask such questions are motivated, not by Pragmatic concerns, but by philosophical curiosity. Presumably, animals (and cynics) don't feel the need to know such hypothetical (impractical) information. But recorded history shows that "why" questions are innate to the human condition. Only the incurious, or fatalistic, are afraid to ask the Big Why questions. :cool:


    Serendipity : the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way..

    Cynical : bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic.
  • Thunderballs
    204
    If the universe is eternal there is no cause needed. The existence an Sich can only be explained by a god(s).
  • ilya
    1
    People who replace god with the big bang havent thought about it enough.
    The "why" question always leads to infinite regress.
    If I would be a believer in god that actually inquires into his beliefs, I would say that god is the infinite limit of that infinite regress of questions.

    There is no ultimate answer to the question "what caused the universe to be created" because to every answer that we come up with, we will be able to ask "and what caused that?". What we can do however, is define a limit that is beyond questions and language, the limit of that sequence of infinite regress questions, and call that limit "God". (What I did is just named something as "God". I havent attached any attributes to it like all powerful or all knowing)

    To folks that studied math in depth to some extent, infinity is defined such as for every number M that we choose, infinity will be bigger than M. Relating it to our topic, infinity, or "God", could be defined as an answer to every question that follows the question "what caused the universe to exist". For every question "what caused X" in the infinite regress, we can say God caused it, but we can't ask "what caused God", because we define God as the limit of this sequence of questions, which is not a cause in and of itself, like infinity is not a number.

    All of the above doesn't prove that there is some entity that created the universe. All it does is challenge the definition of "God" and the atheists that claim "god doesn't exist". All they do is assume a certain definition of god and try to disprove it with silly attempts. What if what religions truly originally meant by the word "God" is something totally different than what mainstream culture (and religion) thinks?
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