• Benj96
    1.5k
    What is your explanation for existence? Why it occurred, what purpose or meaning it may or may not have? What are your ethical, epistemological or personal views related to existence?

    How long have you had these beliefs/understandings, are they subject to reform, change, or have they been relatively static and unchallenged for quite a time?
  • Bret Bernhoft
    138
    My beliefs are always subject to reform and change. I'm addicted with finding out how I'm "wrong", so I may improve.

    As to my understanding as to why we exist, it is that the Will to build and/or grow is stronger than the Will to destroy. And that this Will to exist materializes as and from consciousness. According to this thinking, it seems logical that Earth is a Garden Planet, not a Prison Planet. We, as semi-self-conscious Beings, have a precious gift herein.
  • Benj96
    1.5k
    My beliefs are always subject to reform and change. I'm addicted with finding out how I'm "wrong", so I may improve.Bret Bernhoft

    Same. Thats a good attitude to have. Having said that, being too influenced by others opinions may render one chasing their tail. Sometimes you gotta stick to your guns. Knowing when (for me at least) is the greatest difficulty.

    the Will to build and/or grow is stronger than the Will to destroy.Bret Bernhoft

    Ah yes, the force of the continuity of life, to oppose chaos and disorder and persist as a stable, self controlled existant. I agree that "life" and the subsequent consciousness that airs es from it has a certain stubborn insistence of being unperturbed by its ever changing external environment. It prefers to adapt than die off into the abyss of non-living.

    To convert this to some sort of philosophical rather than biological premise, what do you think such a will implies for conscious agents in a dead/inanimate world?
  • Bret Bernhoft
    138
    To convert this to some sort of philosophical rather than biological premise, what do you think such a will implies for conscious agents in a dead/inanimate world?Benj96

    That's a fascinating question. It might either imply that our dreams/illusions are exceptionally potent (and therefore perceived as powerful) to us. Or, that Animism is the correct answer as to "why" and "how", and "who" for that matter.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    There is no criterion for existence and that's that!
  • Benj96
    1.5k
    can you elaborate? Surely the processes that give rise to existence are the criteria for existence no?
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k


    Show me your criterion for existence.

    The common people's criterion is basically a more elaborate version of seeing is believing, but visual hallucinations defeat that criterion.
  • Benj96
    1.5k


    My criterion for existence is potential, probability and change (potential energy).

    If the sole criterion for "potential" is to manifest all possible states the first two probabilities is a 50/50 chance of non existence and existence.

    If non existence is elected first (no time, no space or matter) , it is completed, tried and tested, after that because of the need for potential to encomoass change, the only remaining probability to manifest is "existence" .

    Existence offers more probabilities than non-existence, and non existence has already been completed, therefore, all further probabilities are thus existent ones.

    Existence starts as a singular probability and further one's are manifested through it.
  • Christoffer
    1.4k
    What is your explanation for existence? Why it occurred, what purpose or meaning it may or may not have? What are your ethical, epistemological or personal views related to existence?

    How long have you had these beliefs/understandings, are they subject to reform, change, or have they been relatively static and unchallenged for quite a time?
    Benj96

    Explanation of what? How we came to be? How consciousness came to be?

    How the universe came to be is still unknown, my latest thoughts revolve around a field of energy that is infinite and where infinite possibilities exist, therefor the possibility of bubbles in this field will happen and because of it energy slows down and solidifies into matter, which is then the foundation of the universe. These are purely speculations based on my current understanding of physics and quantum physics and how probability works.

    That life exists is a matter of probable chance. In chemistry there are a wild number of reactions that substances have with each other and in the right circumstance such interactions form a complex foundation of reactions that adapt to new situations, leading way to organic material that starts to interact with each other. This can lead to optimization and bias of these organic particles which informs them to act in certain ways, like if a substance is hard to dilute, it struggles to be diluted, the same as organic material start to struggle to not be pulled apart. Over the course of enough time, such complex chemical systems can evolve to larger scale and enough self-programming bias makes the material promote itself to not be "diluted". It then starts to actively work against non-existence/death and form bonds and larger structures like cells in order to optimize existence. Over enough time, cells are biased to work together and larger complex structures form out of cells. This then leads to the progression of life as we know in evolution and the systems of evolution mimics the same patterns in chemistry but on a more complex scale and as a system.

    There's no meaning to this, it just is. But it is still a thing of beauty that such a thing can happen.

    My ethical views are somewhat fluid between many different philosophies, but I gravitate towards epistemic responsibility and the need for scientific methods of gathering information/data before making complex moral choices based on a foundation of intuition that a person can only have if they've had a life filled with balanced moral dilemmas and are able to distance their most extreme emotions from a situation they need to evaluate morally. As obvious, I think most moral philosophies lack the complexity needed for an objective moral system and that such a complex system might be too complex to be practical. So I'm working on my own ethical concepts based on the best parts of other ideas.

    That is more generally my moral ideas, so not directly connected to existence, but I obviously don't look at existence as some magical or religious thing and I think doing so is self-delusion in order to cope with reality rather than actually facing reality as it is.

    I guess this isn't exactly how you want me to define these things, but ask away if you want me to rephrase.
  • Vera Mont
    836
    What is your explanation for existence? Why it occurred, what purpose or meaning it may or may not have?Benj96

    I have no explanation for how and why, and I was not convinced by any of the explanations I have so far heard and read. Until I come across one that I do find convincing, I'll mark it as "unknown". This gives me no sleepless nights.
    As for purpose and meaning, I think they exist in the mind of the beholder. I'm content to put those questions on the shelf, too, as unanswerable; and the probable answer is "none".

    What are your ethical, epistemological or personal views related to existence?Benj96
    I think as long as we're here, we ought to minimize pain and maximize well-being for ourselves and the other organisms with which we interact. And clean up after ourselves: take nothing but memories; leave nothing but memories.
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    What is your explanation for existence? Why it occurred, what purpose or meaning it may or may not have?Benj96

    Don't have one. I think ascribing purpose or meaning, reflects the general human propensity for sense making rather than whatever 'truth' might be. These questions are not useful to me personally, although I am aware of various theories/postulations. Not being an expert in any relevant academic field, my views, along those of most people, are inconsequential.

    What are your ethical, epistemological or personal views related to existence?Benj96

    I am not partial to systems or theories. I prefer to do things. Theory and talk are cheap. Generally I hold that suffering is bad and often we can take practical action to prevent suffering (poverty, persecution, illness). Just about every problem on earth seems to be one of resource allocation.

    I've held views similar to this, with various refinements, for most of my life. I review them fairly often.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k


    Nec caput nec pedes mon ami. Are you by any chance a modal realist? You seem to not distinguish potential existence from actual existence.
  • javi2541997
    2.7k
    The only explanation of my existence is death. Our lives are ephemeral, and we try to avoid the perpetual thought of death approach doing different activities. I don't want to sound critical with death, I even want a limited life. That's the cause and explanation of my existence: The fact that I will die one day. While I am touring this path of existence, I want to make the less pain possible and I realised that the only way to do so is thanks to loneliness. This is the main reason why I don't want to get married or have kids. I don't deserve it and my time either.

    What are your ethical, epistemological or personal views related to existence?Benj96

    We live in an age in which there is no heroic death.
    - Mishima.
  • Wayfarer
    16.7k
    What is your explanation for existence?Benj96

    My involvement with philosophy was originally motivated by the belief in, and search for, the enlightenment I was certain was real. As a youth, these ideas were circulating, as I grew up in the 1960's and found a sense of identity through popular music, The Beatles in particular, and later through the counter-cultural movements that grew out of all of that. Part of that was a consequence of early experiences with hallucinogens, also very much part of the culture of the time, but I also had a couple of naturally occuring epiphanies.

    The principle realisation was very hard to express in words, and probably looses meaning when I attempt it - but it was about the eternal nature of the subject, the I (while standing in a park one twilight.) This was that the I, as the subject of experience (not as the individual person or self) was somehow fundamental or foundational to existence - that wherever anything is, I am. Some years later, I found similar ideas in the teachings of Ramana Maharishi. He often referred to the verse from Exodus, 'I am that I am', as the point of convergence between the Bible and his teaching. I also had an intuitive sense of a forgotten truth, something I had known an unthinkably long time ago, that was the most important thing to understand, and which I had forgotten, but which was tantalisingly close. (Later I began to wonder if this was related to the Platonic 'anamnesis'.) Both those experiences were fleeting but vivid.

    I went to University later than most and basically followed a curriculum that I thought might address these issues - philosophy, comparative religion, psychology and history, with comparative religion being the most useful and relevant to my questions.

    So, after that preamble, I still believe that there is enlightenment, even though there's a lot of nonsense written about it. It has given rise in me to an orientation towards philosophical idealism, which I regard as the mainstream of philosophy proper, today's scientism and physicalism being parasitic upon it. The key understanding that has come out of this is that human existence is not something accidental, the product of a biochemical fluke, but is intrinsic to the Cosmos. Of course, we have to accomodate the discoveries that science has made since the 17th Century which are genuinely novel in the history of mankind. But that doesn't mean simply relegating the whole of previous culture to the archives, they have to be re-intepreted - that is the meaning of philosophical hermenuetic. And there's a lot of activity in this space. I was one of the first overseas registrants to the first Science and Nonduality Conference held in San Rafael in 2009, there are plenty of people working on these ideas (some bogus and some 100% for real.) The principle challenge is that we're not 'going interstellar', we are inextricably terrestrial and we have to learn to live on and maintain Spaceship Earth if we are to survive (which we will.) We have to find or retrieve or develop a wisdom tradition of our own, which aspires to enlightenment, mokṣa, liberation as its highest goal, rather than endless consumption, entertainment and becoming.

    That's about it.
  • Janus
    13.2k
    What is your explanation for existence? Why it occurred, what purpose or meaning it may or may not have? What are your ethical, epistemological or personal views related to existence?

    How long have you had these beliefs/understandings, are they subject to reform, change, or have they been relatively static and unchallenged for quite a time?
    Benj96

    I think all explanations, while some are obviously better than others in various ways and for various reasons, are under-determined and inadequate to the reality.

    I don't think the idea of a purpose over and above the real is determinable or even coherent. Sure we can imagine stuff and that can be creative and fun, and even inspiring, but ultimately groundless.

    My ethical view is that morality is a sense to be cultivated just as the aesthetic sense is, and that the principle moral values are pretty much universal. The epistemological and the ontological cannot be separated, even though they can be conceptually distinguished, because in practice our ideas of what is are dependent upon and limited by how we are able to collectively represent the world. Our thinking is ineliminably dualistic, while reality itself is not, so any idea we have of reality is inevitably going to be something of a distortion and a misleading influence.

    I'd say something like this has always been my view since I began to think about such things, and I would say it is a settled view. Well, actually it is more a rejection of all views than it is in itself a positive view. You might say it is an apophatic "view" which is really no view at all.

    So, all that said, I am not saying that, among the suite of possible human dualistic understandings of the world, that some may not be better, more workable, more beneficial, than others, but I am not a fan of correctness as an absolute, because any idea of correctness is completely context dependent and makes sense only in terms of the groundless assumptions it grows out of and depends on.
  • Vera Mont
    836
    Part of that was a consequence of early experiences with hallucinogens, also very much part of the culture of the time, but I also had a couple of naturally occuring epiphanies.Wayfarer

    That was eerily familiar! I had a flashback to one summer night circa 1967, in the bed of a pickup truck, looking up - which was also out and down - into the void and it looked back, just like the crazy man said. And realizing that that was all right. There is no need for meaning or purpose or significance. Life is sufficient.
  • Wayfarer
    16.7k
    Hey, it was The Sixties. :party: Hard to explain to the youngsters, nowadays.
  • Vera Mont
    836
    Hard to explain to the youngsters, nowadays.Wayfarer

    Let 'em dream! It wasn't all wine, protest and roses.
  • Janus
    13.2k
    Life is sufficient.Vera Mont

    Life is sufficient...when you are actually alive...
  • punos
    321
    What is your explanation for existence?Benj96

    It is my current position that the nature of nothingness (the kind of nothingness that actually "exists", and not just our arbitrary concepts of it) is probabilistic, and that logic and number (geometry) is fundamental to the nothingness that should of and still exists below the quantum foam.

    I can imagine existing in time without space, but i can't imagine existing in space without time. The reason anything exists at all is because nothingness is logically improbable within a long enough time. Time is the most fundamental "thing" possible, and without it nothing would ever happen, and since something did happen (Anthropic Principle) we can know that time has always existed. If time is what allows for change then if time were to ever stop then it would never be able to start again, since the possibility of change lives and dies with time itself. Time is the first dimension and space emerges out of time as multiple spacial dimensions.

    Of course it's more complicated than this, but that is the gist of my ontology, and yes of course it can change if i find something that makes more sense to me.
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    I think as long as we're here, we ought to minimize pain and maximize well-being for ourselves and the other organisms with which we interact. And clean up after ourselves: take nothing but memories; leave nothing but memories.Vera Mont
    :fire:

    What is your explanation for existence?Benj96
    "Existence" is fundamentally contingent: there cannot be anything external to existence that stops existence from coming-to-be, continuing-to-be or ceasing-to-be.

    Why it occurred, what purpose or meaning it may or may not have?
    The only answer to this "why" that does not beg the question is that there is not any answer. I think this is why 'there cannot be an ultimate why'.

    What are your ethical, epistemological or personal views related to existence?
    Usually, more than anything, I am an ethical naturalist (re: aretaic-negative consequentialism), scientific naturalist (re: model-dependent realism) and absurdist bluesman (i.e. creating (ephemeral) forms from formlessness).

    How long have you had these beliefs/understandings, are they subject to reform, change, or have they been relatively static and unchallenged for quite a time?
    My "understandings" began as very confused and unclear intuitions and I have strived to critically revise and refine my ideas (& conceptual vocabulary) through study, discussion, argument and lived experience over the last four decades. I believe I'm still learning and growing, though sometimes I do worry that my positions are hardening from confirmation bias and/or age-related stubborness.
  • Vera Mont
    836
    Life is sufficient...when you are actually alive...Janus

    And when you're not, you don't care either way. Unless you go to hell, of course, but fortunately, I don't believe in hell. Sadly, I don't believe in heaven, either.
  • Janus
    13.2k
    LOL, sorry I was using 'alive' in a figurative sense.

    I agree with you about heaven and hell, though.
  • Gnomon
    2.8k
    There is no criterion for existence and that's that!Agent Smith
    Is your existence the result of a long chain of random accidents, or specified by Darwinian Natural Selection? Does evolutionary selection operate without specific criteria? If so, how do mutating genes know how to maintain a consistent lineage of inheritance over eons of time? Just asking. :joke:

    Evolutionary Selection Criteria :
    In order for natural selection to operate on a trait, the trait must possess heritable variation and must confer an advantage in the competition for resources. If one of these requirements does not occur, then the trait does not experience natural selection.
    https://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange1/current/lectures/selection/selection.html
    Note -- Who decided on those critical standards for evolutionary survival? Happenstance?
  • Paine
    1.1k

    I am not able to pull together a report to something able to answer the question of 'being qua being.' Looking at various ways of talking about it are interesting. But pursuing some of those while losing interest in others does not seem to me like choosing a favorite.

    The act of selection is one of the elements under review.

    So I tread water in what I think is the Socratic fashion; There is some arrangement that is the source of what is experienced: I am ill-equipped to say what that might be.
  • Janus
    13.2k
    There is some arrangement that is the source of what is experienced: I am ill-equipped to say what that might bePaine

    We mostly do imagine there is, must be, "some arrangement" as "source", but are these ideas even coherent outside the context of human thought and understanding?
  • Paine
    1.1k

    It is presumptuous to assert that the ideas are coherent outside of the context of human thought and experience. On the other hand, it is also presumptuous to claim that such a domain of experience is a process that is going on in a fashion self-sufficient enough to have no relationship to this "arrangement."
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    It is presumptuous to assert that the ideas are coherent outside of the context of human thought and experience.Paine
    :up:
  • Janus
    13.2k
    It is also presumptuous to assert that the ideas of self-sufficiency and other- dependence are coherent outside the context of human thought and understanding.

    So, where does that leave us?
  • Manuel
    3.1k


    Existence is just a fact of life - reasons why don't apply, in terms of looking for a justification for it. According to the evidence we have - which is quite different from the optimal evidence there may be, for creatures with a higher cognitive faculty than us - we are here because the laws or habits of the universe so happened to combine in a way that we arose.

    Ethics I know not, these are so little understood, which shouldn't be surprising given that we are likely the only animals to have such a thing - there may be hints that other higher mammals have the barest of glimpses of such a phenomena. I think that it is in our best interest to take ethics seriously, given that existence is so rare in the universe - maybe unique. So we should treasure what we have, each other, and the humanist legacy.

    I am liable to change some of my views, according to new evidence. In terms of epistemic-metaphysics, that's much more difficult and would need a very strong argument from dissuading me that rationalistic idealism - a la Descartes, Cudworth and Chomsky - is false. It could happen, but as of today, I think it's unlikely.

    You didn't ask in your post the title of your OP. In which case, I currently think Raymond Tallis view is correct: I'm an ontological agnostic. I do not know what kind of things exist or do not exist in the world, absent the sciences, which say little on this topic. An ontology based on physics leaves an awful lot out.
  • Paine
    1.1k

    You translated my phrasing into other words with your question. I will think about the best way to answer.
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