• VoidDetector
    70
    Be it atheists or theists, many may feel human life may be purposeless or untenable; i.e. a never ending search or a "why" question that's perhaps not worth asking.

    I think there's a viable alternative to especially the "purposeless" based outlook, with the introduction of a recent concept called "teleonomy", which is an atheistic/scientific way to describe nature in purpose driven language. (In fact, as seen on Wikipedia/teleonomy, Richard Dawkins; recently introduced the treatments “archeo” and “neo” purpose. See his video/speech "the purpose of purpose".)

    Anyway, for example, using the laws of thermodynamics, we can try to objectively discover non-trivial goals that humans may undertake, as far as nature goes. (i.e. grand purposes for the human species, that reasonably transcend the desires of individual humans, while seeking to be objective, much like how Science tends to follow the evidence, aiming to describe what the cosmos actually is, rather than what people may want the cosmos to be.)
    • The video aims to explore in a fun way, objective scientific purpose wrt the human species:



    Sources?
    Note that you don't need to watch the video, you can alternatively see the following two hypotheses below, which details different grand purposes that the human species may undertake:


    KJcQf4n.png
    Why make this post?

    I once talked to a theist years ago, and the person mentioned they felt empty, and they even considered self-termination.

    The above is another reason why I'm making this post. As an atheist back then, (I am still an atheist today), I somewhat grappled with purposelessness, although I was shocked to find out that this affected theists as well, especially when they supposedly had a perfect purpose laid out before them; namely to worship some deity.

    Both theists and scientists seem to somewhat regard science as valuable; even if some theists disregard/deny many empirically observed scientific principles, they seem to not mind using many products of science, such as internet, and computers. This post is designed to appeal to scientific/objective descriptions of purpose, which may appeal to both theists and atheists.
    — BlueGreyBrain
  • Mentalusion
    93
    scientists need to stick to science and stop trying to think of themselves as philosophers. Usually, it seems to me, their grounds for doing so rest on an attempt to make self-referentially fallacious appeals to authority, where they try to get people to believe that because they are experts in one field (science), that entitles them to credibility in another (philosophy).

    More importantly, why would they want to venture outside of the empirical certainty of the scientific method to wallow aimlessly in the abstract quagmire of the philosophical? The fact any one of them would want to already raises questions about their motives and undermines their credibility regardless of their authoritative status.
  • Kippo
    83
    scientists need to stick to science and stop trying to think of themselves as philosophers.Mentalusion

    Thinking about the purpose of life does not require any philosophical training. Anybody can bring to bear their interests and enthusiasms on the topic. But there will never be a purpose to existence. There might be goals, however.
  • Mentalusion
    93


    True, I guess my point was just that to the extent they start asking questions about what the purpose or goals of life are, they have, to that extent, ceased to be scientists since the question is not capable of scientific resolution via testing of hypotheses in light of evidence. My intuition there is based on the fact that you would first have to agree on what the appropriate method for determining what the purpose and/or goals of life were. Since no one is committed to accepting scientific methodology as the right way to go about doing that, even if a scientist want to propose the scientific method as the way of doing that, their efforts to persuade or justify that use could not (non-circuitously) be based initially on scientific method. Therefore, to the extent they would need to hammer out methodological considerations independently of the scientific method before hand, they would not, to that very extent, be scientists - whatever you want to call them.
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    The notion that ‘the universe has no purpose or meaning’ is simply a consequence of reading philosophical conclusions into methodological axioms. For the purposes of natural science, such questions are put aside. But to then declare that science ‘shows’ or ‘proves’ that there is no purpose is one of the grand illusions of modernity, because it simply says no such thing.

    ‘Teleonomy’ was a word coined because it was impossible to deal with the purposive activities of even the most simple of organisms with reference to purposeful activity.

    As for the aim of transcending the merely subjective - that has always been a central aim of philosophy. Indeed science itself was born out of that spirit. Where it degenerated into anti-philosophy was in the decision to recognise only what could be validated by sense-data as real.
  • Kippo
    83

    Yes, one just needs to translate
    "Why the purpose of the human species is probably to create artificial general intelligence?"
    to
    "Why the goal of the human species could feasibly be to create artificial general intelligence."
  • Mentalusion
    93
    Yes, one just needs to translate "Why the purpose of the human species is probably to create artificial general intelligence?""Kippo

    yup, and of course, interpretation is not the exclusive prerogative of science.
  • TWI
    151
    In his book Conversations with God, Neale Donald Walsch believes the human race is evolving from five sensory to multi sensory beings which will open up bigger challenges. Exciting times ahead.
  • Terrapin Station
    6.8k
    scientists need to stick to science and stop trying to think of themselves as philosophersMentalusion

    Couldn't agree with that more.
  • VoidDetector
    70
    Yes, one just needs to translate
    "Why the purpose of the human species is probably to create artificial general intelligence?"
    to
    "Why the goal of the human species could feasibly be to create artificial general intelligence."
    Kippo

    You may not have known about teleonomy, but teleonomy, a scientific/atheistic concept, shows that religion does not have monopoly on purpose.

    True, I guess my point was just that to the extent they start asking questions about what the purpose or goals of life are, they have, to that extent, ceased to be scientists since the question is not capable of scientific resolution via testing of hypotheses in light of evidence. My intuition there is based on the fact that you would first have to agree on what the appropriate method for determining what the purpose and/or goals of life were. Since no one is committed to accepting scientific methodology as the right way to go about doing that, even if a scientist want to propose the scientific method as the way of doing that, their efforts to persuade or justify that use could not (non-circuitously) be based initially on scientific method. Therefore, to the extent they would need to hammer out methodological considerations independently of the scientific method before hand, they would not, to that very extent, be scientists - whatever you want to call them.Mentalusion

    They needn't cease to be Scientists, but instead do actual Science. Science allows us to quantify the functions of species, as I mention in following response. That process happens to be associated with a label, namely teleonomy.
  • VoidDetector
    70
    scientists need to stick to science and stop trying to think of themselves as philosophers. Usually, it seems to me, their grounds for doing so rest on an attempt to make self-referentially fallacious appeals to authority, where they try to get people to believe that because they are experts in one field (science), that entitles them to credibility in another (philosophy).

    More importantly, why would they want to venture outside of the empirical certainty of the scientific method to wallow aimlessly in the abstract quagmire of the philosophical? The fact any one of them would want to already raises questions about their motives and undermines their credibility regardless of their authoritative status.
    Mentalusion


    1. Oh, but Science can contact matters of "purpose". It seems you completely ignored the "teleonomy" label, and that's expected, since it's not a widely known concept. Teleonomy was introduced as a scientific concept, particularly to label processes in nature, in purpose driven language.

    2. Regardless of the "teleonomy" label, we can observe how an organism functions, and aim to predict the scope of future activities it may be involved in, given environmental pressures in nature. Teleonomy concerns describing the functions of things, in said manner; i.e. it concerns scientifically quantifiable features, as one would discover if one explores any one of the hypotheses presented in the OP.
  • Terrapin Station
    6.8k
    The functions of things are every single thing any individual does, though, every single way they do it.
  • VoidDetector
    70
    Thinking about the purpose of life does not require any philosophical training. Anybody can bring to bear their interests and enthusiasms on the topic. But there will never be a purpose to existence. There might be goals, however.Kippo

    The OP concerns an objective/scientific process. Remember, Science tends to not care about the feelings of individuals, i.e. Science tends to aim to reveal what the cosmos actually is, rather than what people want the cosmos to be.
  • VoidDetector
    70
    True, I guess my point was just that to the extent they start asking questions about what the purpose or goals of life are, they have, to that extent, ceased to be scientists since the question is not capable of scientific resolution via testing of hypotheses in light of evidence. My intuition there is based on the fact that you would first have to agree on what the appropriate method for determining what the purpose and/or goals of life were. Since no one is committed to accepting scientific methodology as the right way to go about doing that, even if a scientist want to propose the scientific method as the way of doing that, their efforts to persuade or justify that use could not (non-circuitously) be based initially on scientific method. Therefore, to the extent they would need to hammer out methodological considerations independently of the scientific method before hand, they would not, to that very extent, be scientists - whatever you want to call them.Mentalusion

    Teleonomy concerns Science. Why would Scientists need to "cease" to be Scientists, in order to apply Science?
  • VoidDetector
    70
    Yes, one just needs to translate
    "Why the purpose of the human species is probably to create artificial general intelligence?"
    to
    "Why the goal of the human species could feasibly be to create artificial general intelligence."
    Kippo

    Yes. Do you have a point above?
  • VoidDetector
    70
    The notion that ‘the universe has no purpose or meaning’ is simply a consequence of reading philosophical conclusions into methodological axioms. For the purposes of natural science, such questions are put aside. But to then declare that science ‘shows’ or ‘proves’ that there is no purpose is one of the grand illusions of modernity, because it simply says no such thing.

    ‘Teleonomy’ was a word coined because it was impossible to deal with the purposive activities of even the most simple of organisms with reference to purposeful activity.

    As for the aim of transcending the merely subjective - that has always been a central aim of philosophy. Indeed science itself was born out of that spirit. Where it degenerated into anti-philosophy was in the decision to recognise only what could be validated by sense-data as real
    Wayfarer

    Not only does it coin possessiveness, but this process concerns quite quantifiable scientific properties.
  • Mentalusion
    93


    The philosophy of science also concerns science, but it's not science. The sentence "this computer here" concerns this computer here, but it's not this computer here.
  • VoidDetector
    70
    The philosophy of science also concerns science, but it's not science. The sentence "this computer here" concerns this computer here, but it's not this computer here.Mentalusion

    You seem to be ignoring that teleonomy concerns quite quantifiable features, that can contribute to a framework for predictions, regarding species. Science concerns predictions.

    Crucially, Science can describe how species came to be (using evolutionary principle, entropy etc), and also where species perhaps seek to go (using again, evolutionary principle, entropy etc).
  • Kippo
    83

    I interpret "purpose" to mean an externally directed goal; whereas a "goal" per se is self driven.

    Thus God can give purpose (if you believe in her). But humankind can set its own goal.

    So I am saying I can go along with your notion of "purpose" if you really mean "goal". But not if you really mean "purpose", in the sense that I use those words.
  • VoidDetector
    70
    I interpret "purpose" to mean an externally directed goal; whereas a "goal" per se is self driven.

    Thus God can give purpose (if you believe in her). But humankind can set its own goal.

    So I am saying I can go along with your notion of "purpose" if you really mean "goal". But not if you really mean "purpose", in the sense that I use those words.
    Kippo

    The thing is, purpose is not solely within the realm of religion; religion does not have monopoly on purpose.

    In fact, the only valid types of purposes, are science/atheism related ones, namely concerning things such as teleonomy.

    It seems you didn't know of teleonomy before you entered this conversation, and so you're confusing the OP with the teleological argument, instead of responding to teleonomy which the OP actually concerns.

  • Kippo
    83


    I will accept that one could justify various purposes in terms of optimisation of some objective quantity. I might even concede there is only one candidate quantity. I can't say it excites me though.
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