Re: The Meaning of Life

Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Mon, 10 Feb 1997 22:17:43 -0600

Well, it's time for me to wrap this thread up.

Eric Watt Forste is (sorry!) becoming almost eerily similar to Searle at
this point - evasive, refusing to answer direct questions, making fun of
(and misinterpreting) the opposing position, and always claiming that
the answers are obvious. I am sure you'd get a similar answer if you
asked Searle what the hell "causal powers" are, why they don't exert any
detectable influence on our neurons, and if so, how Searle found out
about them. "Causal powers are there, and to say they aren't, is a
disorder of the affects. Breathe in the fresh air. How can you say you
don't have causal powers?"

John K Clark's argument is harder to grasp and counter, but I can still
try. There's joy in life, and then there's blind joy in life. I enjoy
Bach, but I am not afraid to question the value of my enjoyment.

Is the Meaning of Life *really* 42? Why should the Meaning of Life be
"survival" if the survival goal has genetic default value +42, and
"death" if the same goal has a value of -42? I refuse to give one
arbitrary number such power over my life!

Simple arbitrary things aren't answers, they're evasive actions. I
don't believe in Searle's "causal powers". They're too arbitrary. I
don't believe in Chalmers's irreducible qualia. They're too simple.
Take your flowchart for "consciousness", John K Clark, and apply it to

Am I out of contact with my emotions? Not at all.
In fact, I am a True Zen Master <tm>.

Observe this [true] koan:

Eliezer was explaining the Meaning of Life to a novice.
"Really," he said, "I know the Meaning of Life."

"What is it?" asked the novice, who was skeptical.

"It is -" began Eliezer, but suddenly sneezed.

And the novice was enlightened. In fact, she was enlightened so hard
she had trouble breathing. And thus Eliezer knew he was a True Zen

                    Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
                         Zen Master
                       Causal Analyst
                    And Viceroy of Titan
Disclaimer:  I'm not telling you everything I think I know, I'm not
telling you whether I don't know what I think you think I don't know, I
don't think I know whether you don't know what I think you don't know,
and I don't think I know whether you think I know what I think I know. 
And yet, life goes on.