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

Brian Manning Delaney (
Sat, 04 Sep 1999 10:44:29 -0700

"Robert J. Bradbury" wrote:
> On Sat, 4 Sep 1999, Brian Manning Delaney wrote:

>> 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.

> Justified in what sense?

Philosophically; or perhaps just in the simple sense of: convince me. (Ok, not simple.)

> If we reject the idea that we are here to
> survive & reproduce, it seems perfectly *self*-justified
> to say I am here to have fun.

Doesn't seem so to me (that is, you haven't "convinced me").

> Taking a different viewpoint -- "I am here to
> contribute to my fellow [trans]human" seems much
> more difficult for me to justfy (to myself).

Personally, it seems easier to me, though "easier" _definitely_ doesn't mean "easy."

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

>> Why?

> A more complex answer
> is because a big chunk of what I've been
> researching the last two years (what are the
> limits to computing [intelligence]) rests on the
> idea that you can't violate entropy. So I've
> got a vested interest in SIs having limits. I
> would probably believe that SIs have a better
> chance of tunneling out of this universe than
> violating the laws of entropy. Finally, on the
> slippery slope from classical physics to magical
> physics, I find it satisfying to draw a line
> that says -- "This is as far as I go buddy" (said
> with a John Wayne accent).

Understood. To me there are two distinct realms of questioning (which it is my philosophical goal to connect, though I can't image succeeding): empirical, and philosophical. If we're designing something, trying to figure out some question within the terms of physics as we know it, etc., we're in the empirical realm. And people who start dealing with "magical physics" in this realm, are, well..., let's just say I don't "go that far" either. In the philosophical realm, however, we need to leave open the question of alternate physics until a foundation for the physics we have now is established. Without such a foundation, we simply can't rule out radically alternate physics.

The question, for me here, then, is this: to which realm of questioning does the question about "why we still see stars" belong? It's in some ways obviously an empirical question. But, I contend, it's also a philosophical question, since it requires precisely thought _about_ physics, not just thought _within_ physics.

> I'm guess going to have to think a little more
> before I can clearly state what the alien's
> can't be I guess.

We all have to think more! It's a tricky question.


Brian Manning Delaney
(No need to CC replies to me.)