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The Tangled Web of Existence

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I read somewhere that blogs allow people to think aloud and to think loudly. Begin.

I am a philosopher, one studying math but only because there is no better tool, no better way to exercise the mind than to partake in mathematics. Of course there are many who would state that musing on philosophy is a waste of time. But truly, since on the most objective scale, nothing we do on this world has meaning [without us], has no impact on the rest of the universe that is not us (which is basically to say we have no impact whatsoever), and all that we do may as well not have been since we die and it as if we never were within decades, what I ask, is a waste of time? And for those few who are remembered what good does it do the dead to remember them? Perhaps in forward thought it is good to think that you will be remembered but again, what good is that to you dead? There is an answer to this and I will give it later, in another entry.

The point of philosophy is to ask why? And to try to answer this "why" as objectively as possible by using purely subjective analogies. This is the best that may be done. This is the human, the finite minded sentient condition. All other endeavors - even physics - they do not ask why. Physics says this is how it is but it does not tell why, is this predilection for ignoring why, going about as if it is not a question worthy of pursuit,is it some sort of defense mechanism for those who would rather not ponder the pointlessness of all they do? I would rebut the last with this that is the core of this series of essays: "To each his own". Such lines of thought may ultimately lead nowhere, but then what does? Leads somewhere, that is. Again, what is time not wasted? I will note though, I feel not but scorn for those who would feel superior to others because their job requires more "skill". Pfeh. If it is not evident, I have strong tendencies towards relativism but I am *not* a relativist.

(a) Why does the universe exist? More importantly without someone self aware to perceive it would the universe exist? I am not thinking about quantum mechanics because that one does say yes to my second question. No I mean, without someone self aware to perceive it would the universe exist? Of course you could say, yes, the universe does not need to be perceived to exist - stuff still goes on and has gone on without us. But then, the notion of existence is not possible without perception, it is an invention of the ability to consciously perceive. That we are here now is required for us to be able to say but of course it existed in the past. Where "we" is the set of all beings in the universe who may perceive. "Meaning" is a sentient invention, without us there is no meaning. Certainly there is some inherent structure with a pattern that we may observe and say, yes "this is", but again, it is required that "we" exist to make this observation. If there was no one to ever observe the universe, what point would there be? Can you see what I am driving at? There may be aliens, even if we do not see them that we acknowledge that they may exist is sufficient that they exist. So, it is true that aliens exist (see modal logic, the philosophical part of my RPG is tied to this). But those who make this observation must themselves exist to make this observation. If no one did, if no one could, would anything exist? This question makes me cry. But I feel that the answer *should* be Yes. Things had to exist before us before we got here. But I feel that they had no meaning, meaning is subjective. We bring our own meaning to the universe. Without us (the set of all self aware) the universe might as well not exist. Because it would be meaningless, essentially, pointless. Do you disagree? If yes, please state, it would mean so much to me.

(b) It is often remarked that humans and similar exist because the universe would not go about the business of creating itself if there was no one to admire it. Is that the purpose to our existence? Is that why we exist? I leave that as un-answerable, and un-addressable. It may be or it may not be. This question may as well not have been asked, it may as well not exist. There is not sufficient data to even speculate on this possibility.

(c) It is more acceptable to think that we were created by random non-directed purposes and that our existence is explainable as being a result as such. But if you agree with me then you accept (a) and thus feel that we bring our meaning to the universe. With (a) in mind one cannot help but consider (b) which immediately leads to (c) which must be considered with (a). Nonetheless (a) does not imply (b). We could very well have been a result of random processes and it is only a coincidence that we validated the universe's existence. What a happy thing.

Whatever you believe, its Objective truthiness will never be known. But hopefully, your conclusion is a happy one. Me, I see that we have no impact on the universe, we may as well not exist but then again, we add our own take of meaning to it. And if we are the only life in the universe, we give the universe its meaning. This is for me, a good ending.

-----------------------------------

Hah! I caught Sneftel in one of the rare moments when he is not playing with his tower.
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I think you're secretly Des Cartes reincarnated as a postmodernist [grin]

Interesting questions, to be sure... but unfortunately the questions aren't anything new in the land of philosophy. To me the interesting part of philosophy isn't finding questions - it's creating good answers.


Nice to read someone else around here who digs into this sort of stuff [smile]

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Hehe thanks. Hmm postmodernist? I guess, I do have tendencies towards relativism.. I also consider myself to be a positivist.

Soo... did you type that post from your spanking new laptop? [grin]

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Nope... still shuffling between machines. I'm copying over my source tree to prep for my trip, though, so in about an hour I'll switch over to using the laptop exclusively (saves me having to sync between my workstation and the laptop between now and when I leave).

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Being myself educated in the murky waters of continental philosophy and humanities, I must say I like the clarity of analytic philosophy and I think you show that too in your post!

Allow me to respond to some of your thoughts:

Quote:
Original post by Daerax
I read somewhere that blogs allow people to think aloud and to think loudly. Begin.

I am a philosopher, one studying math but only because there is no better tool, no better way to exercise the mind than to partake in mathematics. Of course there are many who would state that musing on philosophy is a waste of time. But truly, since on the most objective scale, nothing we do on this world has meaning [without us], has no impact on the rest of the universe that is not us (which is basically to say we have no impact whatsoever), and all that we do may as well not have been since we die and it as if we never were within decades, what I ask, is a waste of time? And for those few who are remembered what good does it do the dead to remember them? Perhaps in forward thought it is good to think that you will be remembered but again, what good is that to you dead? There is an answer to this and I will give it later, in another entry.

Agreeing with your stance, there is no waste in philosophy but since ultimately no higher goal is served by our existence, no goal is served by philosophy too, rendering this activity equilly pointless. That brings the reason for engaging in philosophical activity back to earthly measures. Ultimately I would say the goal of philosophy is philosophy itself.

Quote:
The point of philosophy is to ask why? And to try to answer this "why" as objectively as possible by using purely subjective analogies. This is the best that may be done. This is the human, the finite minded sentient condition. All other endeavors - even physics - they do not ask why. Physics says this is how it is but it does not tell why, is this predilection for ignoring why, going about as if it is not a question worthy of pursuit,is it some sort of defense mechanism for those who would rather not ponder the pointlessness of all they do? I would rebut the last with this that is the core of this series of essays: "To each his own". Such lines of thought may ultimately lead nowhere, but then what does? Leads somewhere, that is. Again, what is time not wasted? I will note though, I feel not but scorn for those who would feel superior to others because their job requires more "skill". Pfeh. If it is not evident, I have strong tendencies towards relativism but I am *not* a relativist.

The interesting question to me regarding the previous is: why is the best that may be done not good enough?

Quote:
(a) Why does the universe exist? More importantly without someone self aware to perceive it would the universe exist? I am not thinking about quantum mechanics because that one does say yes to my second question. No I mean, without someone self aware to perceive it would the universe exist? Of course you could say, yes, the universe does not need to be perceived to exist - stuff still goes on and has gone on without us. But then, the notion of existence is not possible without perception, it is an invention of the ability to consciously perceive. That we are here now is required for us to be able to say but of course it existed in the past. Where "we" is the set of all beings in the universe who may perceive. "Meaning" is a sentient invention, without us there is no meaning. Certainly there is some inherent structure with a pattern that we may observe and say, yes "this is", but again, it is required that "we" exist to make this observation. If there was no one to ever observe the universe, what point would there be? Can you see what I am driving at? There may be aliens, even if we do not see them that we acknowledge that they may exist is sufficient that they exist. So, it is true that aliens exist (see modal logic, the philosophical part of my RPG is tied to this). But those who make this observation must themselves exist to make this observation. If no one did, if no one could, would anything exist? This question makes me cry. But I feel that the answer *should* be Yes. Things had to exist before us before we got here. But I feel that they had no meaning, meaning is subjective. We bring our own meaning to the universe. Without us (the set of all self aware) the universe might as well not exist. Because it would be meaningless, essentially, pointless. Do you disagree? If yes, please state, it would mean so much to me.

I disagree, not with the provisional answer, but with the question.
The universe you talk about is the, as Kant called it, 'thing in itself'. This means, as you state, we have no way of knowing anything about it, because every thought and perception is constituted partly by some interpreting activity of our mind: we give it meaning, it would not exist without us, as it is to us. As such this universe or thing in itself is inaccesible to us and any thought about it is a metaphysical, relatively arbitrary one (act of faith I would say).
But then your statement that the universe is meaningless, pointless, is also an act of faith. I'm not saying that the universe might have meaning, but that the thought of meaning (purpose maybe?) in relation to the thing in itself is a metaphysical thought, we simply cannot ever know of such things.
You can go one step further and question the idea of a 'thing in itself'. This idea is dependent on the subject-object split, and once you start to question this generally cartesian assumption most of your statements will become shaky. Of course, Heidegger is frowned upon by many analytical thinkers, I still think his work is worth reading in regard to these questions. Heidegger casts the subject-object split in other terms, it is 'only' a secondary mode of relating to the world. First and foremost people are rooted in the world in a practical way. Only when things 'break', we are caused to think of things as objects before us instead of instruments besides us. This applies then to the world too: instead of a world in which we live, it is regarded as collection of all things. Furthermore, this way of relating is extended to ourselves, looking at ourselves as an object.
What Heidegger explored and is made very clear by my favorite but perhaps unoriginal philosopher Richard Rorty, is the possibility of thinking about ourselves in the world: there is no 'us' separate from 'the world'. We have no 'minds' that acts as threatres where a constant play is performed about the real universe behind the scenes which is unreachable: "Think of the term 'mind' or 'language' not as the name of a medium between self and reality but simply as a flag which signals the desirability of using a certain vocabulary when trying to cope with certain kinds of organisms."

Quote:
(b) It is often remarked that humans and similar exist because the universe would not

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DeadXorAlive thank you for writing such an insightful post! I have a response coming but I must think on how you respond to section (a) and by implication (c).

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Well I'm glad you appreciate my comments, reading english is no problem for me but formulating complex issues in a different language, I find that not so easy. Actually I have trouble enough with it in my native tongue.[rolleyes]
You have made some interesting posts here, I checked out the croquet project, that's an amazing idea.

Let me recommend this excellent and provocative paper by Richard Rorty: A pragmatist view of contemporary analytic philosophy.

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