Re: Upload motivations (was SPACE: Lunar Billboard?)

Eric Watt Forste (
Wed, 08 Jan 1997 11:46:15 -0800

Eliezer writes:
>You haven't Doubted enough if your world is so secure that you don't
>care to know the *real* truth. When was the last time you confronted a
>Hard Problem... something so completely and blankly unanswerable that
>you couldn't even touch it? The Meaning of Life? The First Cause?
>Conscious experience? I could be wrong, oh Eric Watt Forste, but from
>what you have said your world is far too... not certain... *solid*. You
>blithely speak of answering the First Cause with the Anthropic Principle
>and say life has "many" meanings if asked why you get out of bed in the
>Doubting is only *mere* fun when you doubt only the deep surface issues
>like political conflicts and your emotional motivations. When your
>Doubting has reduced your entire goal system to a shambles, so that you
>cannot even walk across a room without wondering why, you will take
>Doubt a bit more seriously.

Perhaps I take Doubt so seriously that I have deep need to maintain a sense
of humor about it in order to prevent it from overwhelming my soul with these
kinds of troubles. Perhaps I think there are far too many people in the world
wandering around torturing each other with their value crises instead of
living their lives and enjoying them, and I don't want to set a bad example
by doing more of the same. I think it's a good idea on mailing lists like
these not to make presumptions about how far we are actually seeing into one
another's heads. (Except when deliberately trying to annoy someone... I do
this occasionally.)

My world isn't always as solid as I'd like it to be.

>I want the Final Answers.

Careful what you wish for. You might get it. And what would you do then?

(I don't actually worry about these things, because my experience all my
life has been that new questions follow hard on the heels of new answers,
and I have no reason to expect that to change. It's right up there with
expecting the sun to rise every day.)

>The burning search for that takes precedence
>over everything else. What can I do without the Truth? How can I know
>what I'm doing or why I should be doing it without the Truth?

Depends on what you mean by "the Truth". I've been studying
epistemology on and off as something of a hobby for a while, and
by now I can come up with a number of different interpretations of
what people might mean when they say "the Truth". But I'm not going
to bore the list with an exercise in pointless sophistry.

I don't think you do know what you're doing, entirely, and neither
do I. Just because it's a good idea to constantly develop a better
understanding of what we are actually doing doesn't mean that we can
reasonably aspire to some Final Perfect State in which we will be utterly
transparent to ourselves. Besides, being utterly transparent to myself
doesn't really sound like all that much fun. How could I ever hope to
surprise myself? But I don't worry about it, because *that* level of
self-awareness just doesn't seem possible to me, given my understanding of
how human brains work. If I switched to a new platform, though, this
might become an open question again, but I'll cross that bridge when I
come to it.

I also think that the burning search for Final Answers does *not*
take precedence over everything else, at least not all the time.
When I have leisure is when I work on such things. At other times,
what takes precedence over everything else is comforting a friend
or finding a better job.

>isn't just a hobby or even just a way of life. It is an action taken
>with a specific and most final goal in mind: To Know everything that

If you want to Know everything that matters, then first you need to know
what matters. But I certainly hope you're not saying what you seem to be
saying here: "give me omniscience or give me death". If I ever found myself
in that unpleasant dilemma, I would slip out of it by choosing the third
alternative: life.

And lately I've grown suspicious of the practice of adorning big phrases
like "way of life" with adverbial diminutives like "mere" or "just". You
wonder why I get out of bed in the morning? I have found that it can be
quite difficult to come up with a reason to get out of bed in the morning if
I phrase the question as a philosophical puzzle, but I don't find it
difficult at all to come up with a reason to get out of bed in the morning
if I just put my mind to coming up with a reason. There are all kinds of
good reasons to get out of bed in the morning. I must have come up with
about ten thousand of them so far, so I don't see much reason to fear that
I'll suddenly lose this ability.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++