It seems to me that the evidence from multiple domains, like complexity theory, evolutionary biology, quantum mechanics, and many others, indicates that there are fundamentally uncertain aspects to being – in a sense a fundamental balance between order and chaos at many different levels.
It seems beyond reasonable doubt that the idea of hard causality, of every next state necessarily being the only possible outcome, rather that a more probabilistic idea of causality, has been disproven.
And there are certainly many levels of boundaries and patterns present, that in the absence of modification, do tend to produce certain outcomes. So in the absences of choice, yes – a sort of pattern exists, and it is not absolute.
For me, it seems beyond reasonable doubt that all knowledge is heuristic at base, all contains fundamental uncertainties.
In the absence of choice – something approximating destiny, in the presence of choice, creativity,
[followed by in response to Boon’s reply to Pascal Eberle March 26, 2018 ]
We are really complex.
A page on my blog site gives a basic introduction to some of the major ideas required to get a sketch of an understanding about some of that complexity:
Our genetics has many levels of complexity.
Our culture has many levels of complexity.
We can each develop many more levels on top of our genetic and cultural base.
We bring all of that to a complex reality with lots of other complex people in it.
We try to look for simple answers where they simply do not exist.
One of the things we must accept is our profound ignorance and uncertainty, and the humility that such things demand.
You asked “Can this be said about the idea of our existence, meaning, will be ever know?”
It seems clear to me, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that the idea that existence itself has a meaning for us (beyond any meaning we might declare or choose for ourselves), is a category error of interpretation. The question comes out of using a simple approximation to something that is much more complex, and the question simply evaporates when one uses a more complex approximation to what seems to be the reality of our existence.
And I am not making any claim that my model of reality is any sort of final truth, just that it is a more accurate approximation to something vastly more complex, a reality so complex that no human mind (no computational system) could ever fully understand it.
Thus while I am confident that full Artificial General Intelligence will surpass our human abilities, it will still end up using models that are uncertain heuristic approximations.
It seems clear to me that the meaning we have in life is up to us.
We either choose it for ourselves, or we accept the defaults of some culture.
Personally, I am a very strong advocate for personal choice, and post cultural existence; and I acknowledge that there are many levels of value deeply embodied in culture, and to that degree strongly align with Jordan Peterson’s interpretation of culture.
I am not saying that a cultural existence is “bad”.
I am saying that it is just one of many possible classes of existence, and it is not necessarily the most secure, loving, or powerful way to live.
It seems clear to me, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that going post cultural offers the greatest probability of a secure future that contains the positive elements that most of us desire.
And the unknown, the chaotic, must always exist – and one of the major aspects of being human is finding a boundary between order and chaos that works in practice for us.
You asked “So, is what we’re seeing is not actually what it is?”.
To get a feel for that, you need to understand something of evolution, and about the way that cooperative systems can evolve greater levels of complexity in their responses to environmental conditions.
It now seems beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that what we perceive and experience as reality isn’t . What it is, is our personal, subconsciously generated (by the interaction of many different body and brain subsystems) model of reality. In this sense, our experiential reality is a sort of low resolution “virtual reality” of whatever it is we actually exist in.
Both physics and our understanding of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and neurofunction (in the wider context of systems theory and information theory) all seem to be pointing to this as being how it is to be human.
Evolution, in selecting what best survives, seems to have selected the heuristics that form the base of the model.
[followed by – in a lower thread – under Barry McCormack March 26, 2018 ]
For me, suffering ended when I finally got that it always comes from a refusal to accept some aspect of reality being as it is.
That does not mean that I need to find any current aspect of reality desirable.
I can experience great unpleasantness, and pain, etc. And none of those need necessarily lead to suffering. They can simply be what they are.
Once we can accept reality as it is (at least to some useful approximation), then we can effectively create from that base.
As long as the base we are using to create from is misaligned, then anything we build upon it is likely to be unstable and collapse.
Acceptance of reality, or at least the best approximation to it that we can manage in any particular context; does seem to eliminate suffering (if not pain).
Pain can be a useful signal. It carries survival oriented information.
One is still faced with risk and uncertainty, and that can require a different level of acceptance.
Next question is – now what might be present that I think of as being real, that is preventing me from finding a way of removing this pain?
What have other people done that might work for me?
Where might I find reliable evidence of such things?
Can I find any correlates in the cases of those that have solved this problem that seem more probable than any of those already enumerated?
Those sorts of questions I found really useful in surviving a terminal cancer diagnosis.
[followed by – in yet another thread – Barry McCormack March 27, 2018 – ..cont]
Being hit by a bus doesn’t require stupidity, just an unfortunate set of circumstances.
You mentioned whales.
I live in Kaikoura – a town known internationally for whale watching.
I have spent a lot of time in boats (over 30,000 hours), and am in my 13th year as president of our local boating club.
2 times I have been at sea when whales have exploded out of the water, and come crashing down, close by. I had no idea the whales were there, and they didn’t seem to have and idea I was there. Having done a lot of deep diving, I can understand that sometimes you stay down a bit too deep for a bit too long, and only just manage to get back to the surface, and have no idea what is up there, other than air that you desperately need to survive the next few seconds.
So being hit by a whale is a possibility for anyone at sea, just as being hit by a bus is a possibility for almost anyone on land.
It just stands for, sometimes things beyond knowledge or control happen.
Yeah – people do die from being hit by whales.
Just in this tiny town of 4,000 people, a good friend Tom Smith died when he was hit by a whale about 15 years ago. It happens sometimes.
The whale didn’t know Tom was trying to help it. It was just in distress, and lashed out.
And yes – they are magnificent.
I have touched dolphins, orca, southern right whale, brydes whales, and been within touching range of humpback and sperm whales. They are magnificent, and they need to be treated with a great deal of respect. It pays to let them come to you, rather than trying to have it be the other way round.
Just carefully and respectfully place yourself near by (never approach directly as a threat, always at an oblique angle), and act in a calm and interested fashion, and they will usually come over to check you out.
[followed by – in response to thread – James Pott March 27, 2018 – Life is hard….]
A great question you ask Boon – “How do we work with one another and yet don’t force anyone to forget who they are in the process?”
To me, the answer to that question is in part very clear – we create fully automated systems that do all the production, so every one of us can enjoy the freedom to exist with all the reasonably necessary requirements of that existence provided by automated systems.
That then puts us immediately into James’ observation “Not many people can handle the freedom”. And to a degree I agree, and I think that most people can be taught how to handle it quite quickly. And there is much truth in the observation that just giving an addict money only leads them deeper into addiction. So there is much deeper degrees of social responsibility involved.
It is a very complex problem, and it does seem to be capable of resolution – in quite short time-frames (within 20 years), if we as a society make the choice to do so. Which must start one at a time.
It seems to me that the way you characterize your society is more illusion than real, and it does capture an aspect of something that often characterizes political debate in your country.
Understanding our animal heritage is key to seeing something of what is present.
In evolutionary terms, it makes sense to simplify decision making as much as possible, in times of high stress. When faced with a charging big animal, you need to know very quickly – is this food or predator – nothing much more than that. Thus our neural networks automatically simplify for us under stress.
If it were a characteristic of the population generally, then music would not exist. Music is often extremely complex, at many different levels, particularly with classical symphonies, or more modern pieces like Hamilton. So the ability to create, distinguish and appreciate subtle pattern is alive and well in your culture – so it all comes back to context.
I challenge your statement that you live in a black and white world.
I could accept a more limited statement, that certain “cheating strategies” have found effective methods of dominating political dialogue by framing it in contexts that create stress, and therefore oversimplify the very real complexities present to the point that the entire process now creates existential level risk for everyone (both within and outside the USA).
The key distinction here, is seeing that it is not an attribute of the people, but rather an attribute of the context those people see themselves in. Change the context, and the ways people perceive and interact will change.
Reduce the stress, and people will again see the amazing richness of color, texture, temperature, smell, and some of the many other dimensions of culture, relatedness, dependence and awareness that are actually present.
Creating those high stress contexts may seem to some to be a tried and true method from the past of obtaining short term benefit, but it is actually gaining exponentially increasing sets of existential risk, in the exponentially changing context we now live in.
It seems possible to me that most people will be able to see that – when it is clearly demonstrated as such.
I am all for individual life and individual liberty – those are my highest values.
And individual life actually makes demands on us for responsible action in both social and ecological contexts.
From a systems perspective, all levels of complexity require levels of boundaries.
Some of what seem to be constraints on freedom are actually things that are required for entities such as ourselves to survive. Now there is certainly room for a lot of discussion about what boundaries are actually necessary in any particular context, and such discussions will always be necessary as contexts evolve and change.
So we need to have much more complex models of what it is to be human.
Everyone needs to be able to see that we are all individualist and collectivist, to different degrees in different contexts. Reality is in fact that complex (much, much more so).
We are all optimistic and pessimistic, to different degrees, about different subjects in different contexts.
Yes sure, there are very real differences between men and women in general, and when you look at a particular man or woman, in all but the most extreme cases, it is easy to find others of the opposite sex that have more or less of any particular attribute they possess.
It isn’t nature or nurture, it is nature and nurture, to different degrees, in different contexts.
And sometimes small differences in one aspect can make a big difference in other aspects. Our genetics are about 99% the same as chimps. And that 1% difference has some huge consequences on our ability to handle tools and complex abstract concepts.
That sort of thing can happen at every subsequent level of development.
I get what you say.
And I was writing more broadly.
I have seen many people who would rather die than change their diet.
I do get that such attachment to habit is profound.
I also get that there is real threat.
And there does seem to be a solution.
And it will take a lot of work by a lot of people.
And Jordan Peterson is doing a great job.
He is making it clear to both liberal and conservative that both are necessary.
It isn’t either or, it is both in appropriate balance.
Putting two essential parts of a system in opposition is insane, it sets up an oscillator that will shake the system apart.
People are starting to wake up to that.
I am cautiously optimistic, and it is far from a “done deal”.
And it is a bit scary how many US billionaires have been buying land in NZ over recent years.
So yes – the defaults of intolerance are far more deeply rooted in your culture than in ours here, and we have plenty here.
NZ is one of the safest places on the planet to live.
It has the worlds biggest moat.
It has low population density (the island I live on – creatively called “South Island”) is about 1/6 the area of Texas and about half a million people.
Most people are honest, trusting, hard working, respectful.
And there are challenges here.
That’s understandable, we are a tiny country. Our total population is about half that of Chicago. Our total land area about half that of Texas.
But we do tend to “punch above our weight” on most metrics – sporting, science, technology, arts, etc.
Until quite recently, being such a long way from anywhere meant we often had to make things work with what we had available. It used to be said of kiwi farmers that they could make anything from #8 wire. That is the tradition I grew up in. In order to be able to fix things with non-standard componentry, you have to understand every aspect of what it is you are working on. So that is the habit I developed very young, from about age 5. I have a good workshop, woodworking, metal working, electrical and electronics – can fix most things.
Lots of people in this country like me – question everything, keep on digging until you figure out what is not working, why, and what needs to be done about it.