Is long life a blessing or a curse?
Neither concept – blessing or curse, seems to have much validity to it.
Long life just is what it is.
Long life, without disability, extending thousands of years, is definitely my desired outcome.
I see it very differently, and I can see aspects of what you say in life.
It is clear to me, beyond any reasonable doubt, that we are each as individuals very complex entities.
We each carry a genetic heritage, the result of evolution by natural selection operating at the level of genes and populations over deep time, going back several billion years. We each carry shadows of those selection pressures at many different levels.
We each carry a memetic heritage, the result of evolution by natural selection operating at the level of behaviour and ideas, producing all the many different levels of culture that we find ourselves immersed in, and simply absorb without question as very small people.
Once our individual genetic and cultural development of the neural networks of our brains reaches a certain level, we begin to make choices. At every level of development, the choices we make are strongly influenced by many factors that we have not yet distinguished about the complexity that is us, and the complexity that is the environment within which we find ourselves.
As adults, we have some ability to pick and choose amongst the cultural forms of thought (at many levels) that are available to us, so in this sense, there is a certain sense that we can take up forms that have existed in the deep time of genetics or culture.
And as individuals we also have the creative ability to explore areas of the “space” of “all possible strategies” that have not previously been explored by anyone. Some people never reach that space, and stay firmly within the bounds of strategies explored by past cultures, and that is a possible way of being. And some of us go so deeply into the space of previously unexplored strategies that communication with people who have not is extremely difficult, and often only a tiny fraction of the sets of concepts we are trying to communicate actually make it across to the brains and minds of the other person.
The idea of anything being timeless and unchanging seems to be one of the many cultural illusions that come out of a set of ideas present in deep culture, and to me that set of ideas (encapsulated in the Platonic idea of forms in a sense) has been clearly falsified, and it is easy to see why it seemed to be so, in the absence of the datasets available from biochemistry, neurology, psychology, cybernetics and systems theory.
If one examines memory clearly, then it becomes very clear that we change with time. Sometimes those changes are subtle. Sometimes those changes are step changes, phase changes, level changes.
And neurons learn by doing, they require repeated exposure to learn, unless there is very strong emotion present. Strong emotion is worth a few thousand repetitions in terms of learning. This is one of the deep evolutionary aspects of being. It is sensible in the sense that if you come across a predator, or a great source of food then you want to preferentially be able to recall those experiences. Yet it is not powerful in a world where there are thousands of concepts and strategies that are powerful to learn and apply in practice in life.
So yes, we are the form we are in the individual moments of our existence, the eternal now to which we are connected by the models of reality we have in our brains.
And at the same time, we have all these myriad aspects and possibilities and probability extant within us.
And it seems that we do have choice, at whatever level it is that we happen to occupy at any given instant.
It seems that all levels are infinite.
All levels come with aspects and powers and influences not available at other levels. Some levels trump others in specific situations, and there is nothing I have found in any realm, or the logic of any set of realms, to indicate any sort of universal power at any “higher” level. All levels in this sense demand a certain respect from all other levels.
It seems to me that we are all searching to understand ourselves in a sense, and we are all equally searching for some satisfaction in the present.
My last post gave a few aspects of what seems most likely to be what we are in the most basic of senses, and the numeric complexity of us is just so mind numbingly huge. If we could look at 3 objects per second, it would take roughly a million years to see either the cells of our body, or the molecules within a single cell.
That level of complexity is just so staggeringly huge.
In a very real sense we can never understand it, we are the result of it, not the cause of it. It actually seems to be possible to model many of the major subsystems that make us what we are, and never to a level that offers absolute predictability, only ever to a certain confidence, a certain level of probability.
So in that sense, the sense that any model of us is going to give probabilistic outcomes, I can see the attraction of models that are framed within familiar concepts, and familiar heuristics.
I can acknowledge that all models contain heuristic shortcuts.
I acknowledge that there is a very real sense in which it is only worth putting as much effort into constructing a model as one expects to get out of it in benefits, so not many people see it being worthwhile to spend 10s of thousands of hours over 5 decades continuously expanding and refining the model. Most simply don’t see the need, or any potential utility. I really can get that, at so many different levels.
And for me, when I am contemplating the possibility of living a very long time, I need to have models that are capable of delivering useful probabilities at levels that most people don’t explore. To live a very long time, I need to have effective mitigation strategies against not just aging, but all of the many other risk factors that exist. And it is clear to me that one of those required strategies is making everything available to everyone else, so that there is no real incentive for anyone to take anything I have (because they can get it simply by requesting it).
And I am clear there is no shortage of resources.
We live on a huge ball of mass, and there is another orbiting close by.
There is no shortage of energy.
The sun delivers to the surface of the earth more than a thousand times the energy that humanity as a whole currently uses, and the sun gives off enough energy that every family on earth could have as much energy as currently hits the earth (thousands of times more than humanity currently uses).
So there is no shortage of these things. They are present in abundance. All we lack is appropriate mechanisms to harvest and distribute the energy, and the biggest single obstacle to our developing such mechanisms is the market based economy, as markets cannot value any universal abundance of anything at other than zero, and there will always therefore exist a set of meta incentives to prevent or destroy such abundance, and turn it into a marketable scarcity.
Coming back to us, we are complex at so many different levels.
We seem capable of expansion into any of an infinite set of possible domains and levels of awareness.
And while we can do anything, we cannot do everything. Every possibility chosen and bought into reality excludes all of the other things that were possible in that instant. Every choice has consequence, in this and many other senses.
So it seems clear to me that there is sense in existence, in terms of systems in action, in evolution, in emergence and transcendence.
And it seems clear to me that meaning exists only in our models of reality, and not in reality itself.
Meaning seems to be something that languaging awarenesses such as ourselves bring into existence.
It can be very real for us, as our only experience seems to be of our model, not of reality itself.
It seems that we each as children inherit many levels of meaning from our cultures. We can in later life add to or subtract from that set of meanings by our choices, at whatever levels we make those choices.
And it is clear to me that none of us are rational or logical in the ways some people believe possible.
It is clear to me that our reason and logic is built atop many levels of intuitive systems.
I am clear that in my own operation, I am basically intuitive, and I use reason and logic as filters and tools to deal with the material that intuition delivers to me, and I am clear that all of my creativity comes from that intuition. Reason and logic can be industrious and productive in a sense, and it seems that all true creativity (as in production of something novel or new in kind) is based in intuition.
As a cousin of mine once accurately observed of me, I am not rational, but I am the fastest rationaliser he had ever seen in action.
The more I learn of myself, the more truth I see in that statement.