How can life have meaning in a mechanical universe?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. Rita Registered Member

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    When you write "mechanical", I think of WWI and saying the war was against the mechanical society of Germany, but since then the US has adopted the German models of bureaucracy and education, and the US seems to on the same path Germany followed to a mechanical society, so the question becomes who defines "meaning"? Is it the pharaoh and his great pyramid, the king or the church, the individual, or the Military Industrial Complex? I would not want to be lost in space questioning if the universe has meaning. I think I need to keep my feet on the ground, and figure out if I can be of any good here.
     
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  3. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Well, I was thinking mechanical in the sense that science reduces all phenomena to--to the motions and interaction of particles of matter. But on second thought few even in the field of science take this view anymore and allow for the emergence of new phenomena and properties at every scale. For example, life emerges from the non-living. And consciousness emerges from the non-conscious. It is a testament to the shoddiness of the mechanistic view of science that it has to invoke emergence to fill in the gaps of all the phenomena it cannot explain. If everything's reducible to matter, why so many irreducibles? Meaning in fact just might BE one of these emergent irreducibles.
     
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  5. Balerion Banned Banned

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    I think that point touches upon the impractical nature of this question. Even people who do fret over such questions more often than not find themselves more concerned with terrestrial matters. It's almost like, what's the point of asking if there's a point?
     
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  7. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Way off base here. Your belief in design is no different than a God of the Gaps argument that so many theists employ--where we have no or incomplete understanding, you call it a failure and posit that therefore we must be part of some grand design. It's a logical fallacy on top of lazy thinking.
     
  8. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    Magical Realist,
    I here what you're saying, and you're right. Getting into a pissing match about the meaning (lack of meaning) of life is itself a meaningless enterprise. I guess some people find the tedium of life to be very exciting and rewarding; I wish I was that way. I've always been the one who looked out the window, daydreaming about anything other than what I was doing.

    Nevertheless, I still stick to my guns that wave-functions are part of reality and are just beyond our ability to measure directly.
     
  9. Balerion Banned Banned

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    So you believe there is more to this life because your life sucks. I can understand why you'd delude yourself, in that case. But I would advise against engaging in discussions such as this one, because you inevitably have your worldview challenged, and defending it requires a level of maturity you simply haven't displayed.

    Of course you do. It allows you to maintain the delusion. And because it's wholly unscientific, your position isn't reliant on evidence or anything that might be challenged. This is why scientific understanding constantly changes, but the beliefs of loons and kooks never does.
     
  10. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    Is this an example of nihlism?

    Look at the two slit experiment. The photons (or electrons) act as if the described wave-function (one for each slit) are interfering with one another. Wave-functions seem to act like something that really exists, but something that is not directly measureable.

    http://scitechdaily.com/quantum-the...s-are-real-states-not-just-statistical-tools/

    Quite simply, there are things in nature that are just not measureable, yet they seem to exist anyway. Do you challenge this as unscientific?
     
  11. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    I've seen the two slit diffraction pattern caused by a laser and a diffraction grating. When there are lots of photons, it just looks like light is a wave and is going to interfere like a wave. But what happens when we fire only a single particle, a single photon or a single electron through the 2 slits (or n-slits)? Oddly, the particle behaves as if it's still part of a wave. And indeed it is. It's part of a wave amplitude (a.k.a. a wave-function). The wave-function is not just a mathematical description. The wave-function exists as a mysterious invisible aether medium. Nihilists like Baleron gloss over this very subtle but important fact with their classical logic and self gratifying egotism.

     
  12. Balerion Banned Banned

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    You really don't even know what it means, do you?

    We've all seen the double-slit experiment. Our lack of understanding of its outcome does not mean that we will always lack understanding of it. You're doing the same thing MR is doing, by inserting your faith into the knowledge gaps and presuming that because we don't know something today, that thing is unknowable and, therefore, God/design/whatever. It's an old fallacy that gets defeated every time we make an advancement in a given field. You should know better.

    There's nothing subtle about the wave function. It's a big deal. But it has nothing to do whatsoever with whether or not this whole deal is designed, or whether or not life has intrinsic purpose. You make that leap because you're a crank.
     
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    It seems to me that you had a rather limited exposure to meditation instructions!

    Have you ever tried practicing according to instructions like this -- With each and every breath?
     
  14. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    You were talking about it being to possible to ACT AS IF life had purpose:

    Just like Sarkus likes to argue that we can act as if we would have genuine free will, while we also believe that we don't really have it, you are arguing that it is possible to act as if life would have purpose, even as we believe that ultimately, there isn't one or that there might not be one.

    No, I really don't think it is possible to fool oneself like that, at least not for long. That cognitive - and ethical - dissonance will have to be resolved at some point, we cannot be allright with it.


    Then it is not inevitable.


    Already pointed out: if we are part of the universe, and function by the same principles as the universe, then truth cannot be uncomfortable. Unless you posit that the universe is self-hating and evil.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Some people have the tendency to see themselves and others as reduced to mechanical or chemical processes. They also tend to dismiss philosophy. To them, any existential questioning is to be understood as evidence of illness - something undesirable, something to be done away with.
    So if you wonder about the meaning of life, such people will accuse you of being depressed or suicidal and will possibly call the authorities to take you away.


    Like such people, much psychology has an aversion to philosophy, and tries to remain on the surface of human experience, avoiding existential topics and trying to remedy all human suffering with happy pills or a change of diet and such. As if we would be robots who simply need to be tuned up every now and then - "Don't think, don't feel, and you'll be happy."

    And some people work very hard to fit themselves into such a robotic mould, and then it even seems to work for them.
     
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Or maybe they just subjectively appear to you to be totally sure about their own answers - maybe that surety is just your specific perception or projection.

    Or maybe they knowingly pretend to be totally sure about their own answers - maybe they are putting on an act.

    Much of human interaction is a power play; manifesting any kind of weakness is a liability. It is thus to be expected that people may be enacting surety, at least occasionally.


    IOW, in your efforts to question other people's surety, you might in fact be battling phantoms!
     
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    The non-controversial fact of the matter seems to be that it is not the case that just anything goes. For example, all other things remaining the same, rocks don't fall up, and living according to your (current) values won't necessarily make you happy (this is in reference to a popular idea that if you live by your values, you'll be happy).

    Traditional Buddhist ethics as exemplified in the Five Precepts are sometimes understood in an objective, absolute sense: that killing, lying, stealing, having illicit sex and taking intoxicants are never skillful, that they always result in suffering.
    The idea is that there is a regularity to the dhammas - and that thus, not just anything goes. That we cannot decide what result a particular action will have.

    Relativists would like us to believe that anything goes, and that basically, it is up to us to decide what result an action will have - e.g. as if it would be up to us to decide whether killing someone will cause suffering or not, or that it is up to you whether you will enjoy coffee or not.
    But apparently, reality doesn't work like that.

    If there is a regularity to the dhammas, then we can also say that there is "something fundamental to the entire universe that gives meaning to our individual lives and provides direction about how best to conduct those lives."

    We might not know how exactly those regularities work out, but for our actions to be purposeful, we have to assume that such a regularity exists. Otherwise, we end up in some kind of chaotism.
     
  18. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    I can see what nihilism has done to your consciousness. Like a disease it has destroyed your ability to understand other human beings. It has destroyed your humanity and made you cold hearted. What you mistake for strength is really just callousness, hollowness. We should thank God that most people counteract nihilism with care and concern for others.

    Why does coherent light create interference patterns in the two slit experiment? Clearly it is not caused by the energy of the light; one could emit a single photon once every 24 hours, and after several months, the interference pattern would appear. It is not about energy. It is about the presence of the wave-function. The wave-function is what has an ethereal existence in nature. It is so subtle that scientists cannot measure or prove that it exists, it is only suspected to exist.

    We don't actually know why this space-time continuum has constants that are anthropomorphically serendipitous. All we know is that the gravitational constant is just right to give stars the right amount of time to support the existence of light without burning out to quickly. Since there are no anthropomorphic failure universes to compare our anthropomorphically successful universe to, maybe the physics constants are not an accident. Maybe there is a grand designer out there somewhere.
     
  19. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member

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    Mazulu

    And we can see that your religious beliefs have rotted your brain, corrupted your morals and made you an intolerant, ignorant little troll. Good job. Labels obscure, they do not define. That I agree with the nihilist idea of there being no universal purpose or purpose giver does not mean I match your caricature of what that means as to my behavior, care or other traits. Being a realist and facing facts instead of hiding behind beliefs and religious prejudice is a much more moral position. Stop the hating or you are fooling yourself to call yourself "Godly" or "Christian" or any other deity meme.

    Grumpy

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  20. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    When you're biased, the person you don't agree with is always the hater. You attack them and call them a troll. You disparage their moral fiber and character unjustly. You want to talk about facts? Let's talk about facts.

    First, science doesn't have a clue why the big bang happened. You universe just popped into existence for no apparent reason.

    Second, science refuses to admit that there are things that exist that cannot be measured or directly detected. Their existence is inferred. For example, the wave-function. People like you obscure this fact to serve your own secular agenda.

    Third, you put too much faith in anthropic principle. You can't explain how the physics constants were assigned the values that they have; values that allowed life to evolve. You cannot justify anthropic serendipity as anything more than your personal belief.
     
  21. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    "Being a realist and facing facts", how did you come to the conclusion that intolerance was wrong? I don't see anything in the stucture of the atom or the evolution of life that elevates tolerance as some sort of absolute value. Indeed, every species I observe is intolerant of differences and quirks within their species. Watch how fast the lame crow is picked to death by its flock. Surely you have strayed from your scientistic creed here: that only that which can be empirically demonstrated is true. Return to the faith pronto. You wouldn't want to wind up some self-deluding "hider behind beliefs" now would you?
     
  22. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    It's actually the Golden rule that prompts us to be tolerant of others. But when others jump over the fence and attack believers with secularly biased views that God does not exist because universes can pop into existence any time they want (or whatever atheists believe), then don't be shocked when defenders of the faith take you to task.

    Go back and figure out how big bangs pop into existence, how universal constants are assigned. Then demonstrate your own big bang. When you can do that, we'll re-examine our faith..

    By the way, on the topic of of "self-deluding hider behind the faith", do you pay your own way?
     
  23. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Like I've said before I don't require a designer God to have MY universe meaningful. In fact a universe predesigned like some machine is precisely what I am arguing against--a mere functioning device that must have all its meaning and purpose imposed upon it from the outside. That sort of mechanistic ontology is what I am challenging here. But see, I'm a minimalist when it comes to cosmic meaning. I take reality itself as an infinitely creative player of games, games within games within games, all the way from complex waltzes of the galaxies to the elaborate VR sim game of human culture and history. Apparently the universe is one big playground and WE are players participating in its own SELF-CREATED meaning. And the scientific quest for the theory of everything is just one more of these games some of us get to play. Play then as the creation of purposeless totally self-contained meaning. Everything a vast three dimensional holographic kaliedoscope churning and flashing forth new and elegant patterns totally for its own self-enjoyment. Is this not purpose enough?
     

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