Re: The Future and Nihilism (was Re: >H RE: Present dangers to

Brian Manning Delaney (
Sat, 04 Sep 1999 01:43:11 -0700

>> ... Hopefully you've forgotten the whole >> encounter, and don't even know who I am!)

> Oh, absolutely. [....]

Excellent! (I want to have a personal electro-shock device so that I can zap away memories of insulting/obnoxious things I say. It "wasn't me....")

>> Having a philosophy in place before the Big
>> Change occurs might be an incredibly good thing
>> -- life-saving, even earth-saving, perhaps.

> Yep, to be saved, I think we need a philosophy
> that effectively allows us to transcend a
> massive body of gentic & cultural programming.
> Not a small task.


>> One thing I am fairly certain of, though:
>> Virtually ALL philosophies, as well as religions,
>> are concerned with the purpose of life.

> Yes, it seems to be a common thread. Is there
> any philosophy though that says "there is no
> purpose", or "the purpose is to have fun" or
> something that begins to deal with a motivational/operational
> paradigm when survival is no longer an issue?

There are definitely some schools of thought that make such claims, but, in my view they fail. How, after all, would one ground the notion that "the purpose is to have fun"? Not that, personally I believe such a view has zero merit. I just think it can't (easily, at least) be justified.

>> > re: SIs assembly & disassembly once >> > existance was shown to be pointless

>> Yup. Though maybe also: just stay the way you are,
>> and continue to try to verify -- forever -- that
>> your realization that there's no good philosophy
>> is accurate.

> Well, now you get into the realm of mathematical
> proofs where they can't "really" prove it, but
> they run enough computer programs and I think
> they get to the point where they can show that
> statistically it must be true.

For me, this is a question, not a certainty about method: is it, indeed, that one gets into the realm of mathematical proofs here? Or is it that one gets into the realm of whether mathematical proofs are the right way to answer these questions? The former is Russell (more or less), the latter is Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein, in my view, was closer to being on the right track.

> If I've thought about a philosopy for a billion
> years or so and haven't come up with one. I
> don't think there is much point for thinking
> another 10 billion years about it. But thats
> just my opinion.

Not "just": you may well be right. There may come a point where one says: it simply isn't going to work.

>>> This seems to fit the paradox of "Why do we >>> still see stars?".

>> Even under the (in my view, incorrect)
>> assumption of philosophical materialism, it
>> seems highly likely that there are energy
>> sources the use of which wouldn't have any
>> manifestation that we normo-humans could know
>> about.

> If you are talking about something that would
> violate the laws of entropy I would have to
> disagree.


>> > (b) SIs evolve to the point of:
>> > benevolence|caretaking|indifference|quiescence.

>> I'd add:
>>  (e) SIs are still evolving, we just don't see them.

> This seems to be a variant of (b). I didn't
> mean to imply that they are not still evolving.
> Though I would argue they rapidly get close to
> the limits physics allows, so the evolution
> would primarily occur on non-physical levels).

I see. That makes sense, though the description should include something other than "quiescence"-like terms

>> Do ants _see_ us?

> I suspect so, but I'm sure the sensory
> impression is rather "funny", perhaps similar to
> our impression of a mountain when we are
> climbing it.

Maybe. But it might be a much more radical "funniness": It's not us at all that they see. It's not BEINGS that they see. They're trying to get from the stove to the sink, and "something just goes wrong" [our standpoint: we squash them].

An exceptionally difficult matter.

> We can obviously detect things *much* larger
> than us (stars, galaxies, etc.). We also seem
> to understand *what* those things are. It can
> be shown that the ET could be here in large
> numbers and we don't see them (because they
> operate at the nano-level). Since we don't (mostly)
> have the tools to detect them, our only option
> in working on this problem is to look at things
> we cannot easily explain or that cannot be seen
> that we stronly suspect are there.

Empirically, yes, this is our only option. But in deciding whether or not aliens might pervade our world, we can entertain other options.