Re: The Quest for the Purpose of Life

From: Robert Coyote (
Date: Tue Jan 29 2002 - 17:29:21 MST

Again IMHO the idea of 'purpose' is wholly human and nonsensical, as is the
idea of 'why', we could remove the idea (and word) 'why from the language
and it would not be missed much, it would be replaced by things like 'what

Mommy why did that little bird die?
The bird died because it flew into the window and smashed its head.
Yes but whyyyyyy did it die??
because it needs a healthy brain to be alive and its brain was broken.
No mommy.. whyyyyy did it have to die.. it was a pretty bird!!
Life stops when too much damage occurs.
(I know I'd be a bad father yea yea)

Do you think it would be helpful if the mom said 'its gods will, it was its
time, its the will of Allah, its part of a divine plan, it gives meaning to
life, it was a bad bird, so that other birds may live, it was unlucky,
everything dies, it is the way of the Tao, just because'?

----- Original Message -----
From: "Alden Streeter" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2002 10:11 AM
Subject: Re: The Quest for the Purpose of Life

: > >The primary purpose of life is to survive. The secondary purpose
: > >is to evolve (or become extinct).
: >
: > The second sentence requires a pre-Darwinian metaphysics: evolution *per
: > se* as teleological. If it *were* so, then punctuated equilibrium (say)
: > would not be an observed fact of biological history. Every species would
: > have its mutation checkers and repair systems turned down to the very
: > lowest set point compatible with individuals surviving barely long
: > to reproduce and aid offspring (if that is beneficial). Indeed, we'd
: > probably find copious programming designed to modify the genome as
: > as possible in each generation. I don't think that's a good description
: > current life on earth, even if some bacteria approach it.
: What makes you think that every species doesn't maximize it's rate of
: mutation? Evolution predicts that there should be an equilibrium between
: mutation rate ensuring maximum variation for potential evolution and
: mutation prevention ensuring adequate health of the population.
: rate is itself an evolved trait.

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