Friday, September 10, 2010

Life has no intrinsic purpose

This post has been designed with the intent to quell any unfounded inferences regarding what building a better society implies about reality as a whole; I may find repairing the world in which I live to be immensely valuable, but I will never purport to believe that life is sacred, or that we should live our lives as individuals for our own independent reasons, or that life is a wonderful thing worthy of purposeless perpetuation. None of these ideals could be further from reality, despite being touted by everyone from existentialists to New Agers* to even, yes, many members of grass roots movements like the Zeitgeist Movement and the Venus Project.

As outlined in an earlier post, suffering and pleasure are not opposites. Life is rife with the most abominable of horrors, as there doesn't appear to be anyone "in charge" of its underlying processes. Having children, therefore, is incredibly irresponsible and selfish so long as there are no realistic simulations of reality or safe means of euthanasia or suicide available to the general population. Furthermore, debilitating bouts of the flu, life-changing car accidents, kidney stones, and any other obviously horrible experience should be enough to make anyone with a conscience control themselves. Stomach cancer, a common cause of death among the modern elderly, is reputed to be extremely painful and difficult to endure. Death itself is almost a guarantee -- not a risk -- and so, if we do not believe in a god, but still desire to have children, we are imposing risk, fear, and suffering upon non-consenting sentient creatures without any meaningful return on our investment to balance out the equation. Nothing could be more barbaric.

As an illustration of the imbalance of pleasure and pain, if you were promised a billion dollars, but in order to receive the money, it was required that you also receive AIDS, would you agree to the transaction?

This rationale invokes risk management, which, while applied rather effectively in many business environments, seems to be nonexistent in our larger, selfishly democratic civilization, with its emphasis on doing what feels good, satisfies our expectations of ourselves, or is popular. Risk management is only necessary, of course, if our ideals are predicated on the crude, binary system of attraction and repulsion which makes up the agenda of all living organisms on Earth. Unfortunately, there is no evidence for anything else being of greater, 'objective' value, so we must pay attention when sentience perceives something as negative.

Sentient life has created value merely by existing, and is almost impossible to ignore, especially in its most stark manifestations. Therefore, we must listen to it by minimizing negative sensation wherever we encounter it -- that is, so long as our methods are practical and efficient first and foremost. This is the default stance to take, and should anything prove more sensible, it will be tentatively adopted, or at least implemented under the pretense that we "believe" in it until something better comes along.

This approach differs from nihilism, which asserts that, not only does reality lack any inherent purpose or ultimate meaning, it lacks meaning or purpose of any kind. The evidence is not in nihilism's favor, however. Therefore, we have to care about improving life for all sentient organisms.

But we can't just care. We also have to get it right, or at least get it as close to right as we can based on probability assessments. Multiculturalism, the sanctity of "opinions," and the power of the individual (as opposed to the power of well-tested ideas), then, are all dangerous.

Our existence necessitates that we take responsibility for the welfare of all feeling organisms, because we possess intelligence through language, and are therefore the first beings in documented evolutionary history to be able to ratify the world in which we live in any sustained, planned, and meaningful way. There is an inherent, cause-and-effect logic to the universe; as a result, we have to draw conclusions. Even remaining undecided is a form of 'conclusion,' though it's quite impractical and silly in any instance where we have enough data to make an informed decision about something. Therefore, it is up to us to give our lives a purpose -- one aimed at putting the termination of negatives far before the creation of positives* -- but we must also come to a consensus where possible, and reject the sanctity of individual opinion in favor of the scientific method.

Also consider this: subjectively, I may prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla ice cream, but if both chocolate ice cream and vanilla ice cream were sentient creatures, I'd not let my psychology get in the way, and would value both flavors equally from a purely rational and unbiased perspective. It should be noted, though, that I expect everyone in a productive society to also be this rational, because the more bias we introduce into our lives, the more problems we create.

* I would never (or at least doubt that it would ever be acceptable to) generalize anyone based on their beliefs into any preordained category, let alone an 'ism,' or to the extent that I'd personally refer to them as an 'er.' If you hold 'New Age' beliefs, I'll still listen to what you have to say for as long as it is an efficient use of my time to do so. Everyone is a feeling organism long before they are an 'ist' or an 'er.'

* I do not think that it's even possible to create real positives at the moment. All perceived positives are born of deprivation, and are merely the return to a zero-sum state.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, a purely rational and unbiased perspective. And in the meantime, let's make a hot ice cube and a tall dwarf.

    Fuck you, you logic-worshipping creep.