Re: The Quest for the Purpose of Life

From: Jacques Du Pasquier (
Date: Wed Jan 23 2002 - 11:19:52 MST

It seems to me that Eric and Eliezer both fail to realize that the
purpose of something is nowhere to be discovered, whether by normal or

Purpose, like value, is something you assign to something, not a fact
of nature.

Needless to say, you may consider an artefact and try to find the
purpose its maker had in mind ; and if considering living things,
including yourself, you may do the same with evolution. But this -- as
Eliezer recognizes -- doesn't answer THAT question ; no more than the
value given to something by someone else (or by the market) tells you
the value it has for you (unless you plan to sell it of course).

In the end, you are just what you are, and though you may feel it
isn't much, it is the sole basis for any such judgement you may make.

Don't see it as a limitation : it is actually the only basis FOR ANY

Saying all your inherited goals are "arbitrary" only shows you can
somehow step outside of yourself through conceptual thought, for best
and worse ; but it is not the path to non-arbitrary ones, for there
can be only "arbitrary" ones in that sense of "arbitrary".

When we start changing ourselves, and reorganizing our goals based on
our present goals (for every rational action, including changing your
goals, follows your present goals), we may get rid of things that we
experience as desires but don't value as goals, and our goals may
evolve as we experience more situations and keep evolving. (It is an
interesting thing to imagine.) But if we stay autonomous individuals
rationnally controling their actions, it won't change the situation


Eliezer S. Yudkowsky a écrit (23.1.2002/11:21) :
> "Chen Yixiong, Eric" wrote:
> >
> > Topic Question: "What is the meaning/purpose of life?"
> Dear Chen:
> Please see the Meaning of Life FAQ at
> Of course, this FAQ is now substantially outdated, and is aimed at a
> nontechnical audience, but it should nonetheless serve.
> Do you have any other questions?
> -- -- -- -- --
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
> Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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