The Meaning of Life

Chimp Wise Blog


The universe is the collection of all spaces and algebras
  1. Some argue that mathematics is not discovered but created.

    Clearly the form of maths is something we create. Two balls don't use Newtonian equations of motion to figure out what they ought to do when they collide; when they collide newtonian equations describe very accurately what happens. No doubt the two balls would have behaved the same before Newton.

  2. "A mathematical world is deterministic and mechanical, mine isn't."

    Unpredictable events can arise from purely deterministic processes - roll a die or spin a roulette wheel. If any of these things have happened to you, you are living in a world that isn't mathematical:

    • You have taken two beans in one hand, two beans in your other hand, brought them together, counted the beans and found that you do not have four beans.
    • You or an object has moved from one place to another without travelling through points in between.
    • The shop was further away coming back than it was getting there.

  3. Emotions aren't mathematical

    Oh yes they are. This is how we have emotions:

    1. Physical body notices environment
    2. Physical bodies that react negatively to stimulus that represents bad environment survive better
    3. Physical bodies that react positively to stimulus that represents good environment survive better
    4. Some anticipate bad / good environment and associate the anticipation with the reaction sensations
    5. That combines with the other physical changes a body makes in reaction to its anticipations (eg release of adrenalin)
    6. Presto emotions.

  4. SO?

    Given that every event is mathematical the simplest assumption is that the universe is a mathematical structure. Alternatively suggest how a universe that appears mathematical from below the atom to above the galaxy hosts non mathematical function at just the same time, place and scale that you happen to be at.

There is only information and randomness
  1. Not much to say here.

    We're good at recognising patterns: seasons, people's behaviour, music etc. We also impose patterns where they don't exist, eg picking out shapes in the clouds. Looking at a mathematical structure, you get patterns that arise from the structure, patterns that arise from coincidence (2.718281828...) and the rest I'm calling random.

Patterns in information succeed differently along directions in the universe
  1. Spaces.

    A direction, or "space" is an ordered collection of points in a mathematical structure. Think of your world right now at this moment. Now collect all the moments you know and string them together. That's a time space.

  2. Success

    Some patterns persist better than others. Trees last longer than ants. An ant colony may last longer than a tree. A forest may last longer than a species. Stars last a hell of a long time. Some songs just won't go away. The last is in a very different space to the others, a space of collective culture, a space none the less.

Collections of information give identity
  1. Philosophy 101 - Objects.

    We see the world full of things, but at the lowest level we don't see objects, we see mathematical patterns and flows. What gives a table tableness? You your youness? It's the properties you attribute to the table and yourself plus the agreement of an observer to the list of properties with the skill to judge them. Without the observer, the table is the collection of atoms each reacting to its environment. With the observer, the atoms are the same, but the idea of "table" now exists in the observer associated with the atoms. Another observer may just see fuel.

Life has/is direction: the propagation of identity
  1. Existence

    Philosophers often begin by dividing the world in to living and not. But before we make that distinction we should recognise that we are in a most excellent position to look at what being a thing, live or not, is - for before being live things we are things.

  2. Life

    Some properties for life:

    • Reacts to environment
    • Uses resources to maintain itself
    • Reproduces

    So a city is alive. A machine could be if we got smart enough to make it. An impotent man isn't alive? A dying man who doesn't feed himself is already dead? A woman in a persistent vegetative state isn't alive? Maybe it's about potential for life then. So machines are alive because we may one day get smart enough to make some that show life properties?

    It won't do.

    We can create a more definitive list and separate objects into live and not live but that tells us more about the list than what's on it. Far simpler to say in the universe we can identify structures (things) that respond to the environment. Obviously if something can't respond to the environment it is impossible to detect it.

    The more complex the more sophisticated the response. How does a brick fall from my hand unless it knows that there's gravity (or space-time curvature)?

  3. All things being "red", colour has no meaning

    So given that all things respond to the environment and given we see more complicated responses in more sophisticated things it is simplest to loose the distinction of live / not live.

  4. Propagation of Identity

    So we look at the structure of the universe and see some things that are more successful through time than others in our space (ie the collection directions we are aware of: space, time, cultural, social)

Direction is not external purpose or meaning
  1. How does the Direction Arise?

    There is no force for propagating identity, no more than there is a force of evolution. Success simply leads to success because that's what defines what is successful. It's survival of the fittest, where "fit" just means "well able to survive".

  2. Examples of Identity Propagated

    • Some genes
    • Political persuasion
    • Support for a sports team
    • Dawkins' idea of the "meme"
    • Belief in life after death

  3. Can I use this to get Happy?

    Unlikely. At a superficial level you might now recognise the constant competitions between identity facets and that may equip you better to deal with them. Striving to have your identity successful may feel good. You choose some of your identity (albeit through entirely deterministic mechanisms). Eg you can support a successful sports team and ensure good feelings about their success or a local sports team and feel more strongly about their ups and downs. If you're born in Manchester, UK you're OK for soccer.

All events are reactions, coincident sets of information
  1. Good News

    So that's the meaning of life wrapped up.

  2. Bad News

    There isn't a meaning.

  3. Good News

    Without the baggage of a meaning I can do what feels good for me.

  4. Bad News

    Yes, but what feels good for you arises from a mechanical, deterministic processes. You're just a witness to a body doing what it does. Your awareness arises from there being an identity space of you just as a brick's awareness of gravity arises from there being an identity space of matter and space-time that bends in it. Creativity is a myth.

    There are no active agents.

  5. Late Item of News

    You can still enjoy life with the motto "hang the sense of it and just keep yourself occupied".

    Of course you may well feel a sense of disappointment - depressingly so. Recognise that it's not reality to blame but your unrealistic expectations of it. You can't blame reality for being what it is. So have more realistic expectations.

No soul, no afterlife, no god nor guidance.
Not even "free will"


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