Re: The Quest for the Purpose of Life

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Mon Jan 28 2002 - 10:49:50 MST

(Phil Osborn)
> This is so-oo depressing. Like, how many times do we have to keep
> re-inventing the wheel?
> Ayn Rand covered this topic rather well, I thought, and I would have
> assumed that as astute a group as extropians would surely have absorbed
> at least the basics of Rand's thought with their mother's milk.
> Briefly, the question "what is the purpose of life" contains an error
> of category. Things only HAVE purposes TO living entities. Purpose to
> WHOM and FOR WHAT???? Purpose only has meaning with regard to a living
> entity. To ask then - what is the purpose of LIFE? - is meaningless.
> LIFE creates and identifies purposes. (This does not mean, however,
> that all purposes are equally valid. Life itself - and each living
> entity - has a specific identity.)

Well, she was almost right on that one: purpose requires an entity
capable of /desire/ and /free will/; such an entity must be able to
form goals that support its desires, and can therefore choose its
own purposes. Whether or not such an entity is "life" is an
entirely orthogonal issue. Rand was not qualified to comment on the
question of whether an AI would have these features. As usual, though,
she didn't let her ignorance get in the way of expressing and opinion,
and she simply declared by fiat that robots weren't "alive" and
couldn't have free will or desire or purpose. There is no reason to
think she was correct on that score.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Nov 01 2002 - 13:37:36 MST