Monday, July 25, 2011

Elegance and Beauty

     This post is a collection of some of my philosophies, along with my follow-ups.


    Humans exist. Why they exist is beyond the scope of my philosophy and will not be discussed. There are a variety of ways to organize all of the things that exist. For the purposes here, I have chosen to organize things (all things that exist) 3 ways:

Category 1: Humans.
Category 2: Exist because of humans. (Humans are relevant.)
Category 3: Exist prior to humans. (Humans are irrelevant.)

    Summarily, we have humans, those things humans have brought into existence, and those things that existed prior to humans. Examples, I feel, are appropriate at this point.
    -An ant maintains a category 3 existence. If humans disappeared, ants would not disappear. Ants do not require humans in order to exist. This example can be extended to nearly the entirety of the animal kingdom, with the exception of certain bacteria and insects that require humans.
    -The boogeyman maintains a category 2 existence. He exists within the imagination of human beings. If humans ceased to exist, the boogeyman would go extinct. This example can be extended considerably to encompass the totality of human imagination.
    -Atoms maintain a category 2 and 3 existence. Elements heavier than plutonium do not occur naturally, so they require our existence. Those lighter than, and including plutonium, do not require humans.
    -Both science and religion maintain a category 2 existence. Science is a process by which natural processes are investigated and occurs due to the human mind. Religion is a collection of belief systems and exists due to human imagination.
    -The Gods (Christian, Muslim, Greek, Norse, etc.) maintain a category 2 existence. Since Gods arise from religion, they are automatically category 2. Some people mistakenly place Gods in category 3.
    More examples of category 2 existence:
 Art, sports, writing systems, music, computers and books.
    Highly debatable category 2 possibility:
Language. (Animals do communicate.)
    More examples of category 3 existence:
Dinosaurs, planets, gravity, stars, electrons, space and time.

    My philosophy does not invalidate the existence of anything. Reality is simple and this is a simple explanation. In order to accept my philosophy, one must overlook a minor detail - the future. The future is beyond the scope of my philosophy, although time is included. The future, although a part of time, has not yet happened. I am not sure how to sufficiently explain this problem, so I must call it a 'paradox' for now.


FOLLOW-UP to Philosophy of Reality

    I had written my philosophy about 3 years ago, due to frustration. I’m not sure what use it may have, or even if it has any use. It is interesting to think about. I chose to place humans (us) above everything else because it is impossible to deny that we exist. While you may certainly deny that other humans exist, you would be hard pressed to deny your own existence. So each human, at the very least, believes that at least one human exists. Since one human exists, this implies that others exist, since it takes humans to make humans. So it is conceivable that even the most stubborn solipsist acknowledges the existence of other humans.
    I got to thinking about what could be possibly be left if humans exist. That leaves two possibilities (not to be mistaken with the categories):
    1. Things that humans did make.
    2. Things that humans did not make.
    After thinking about my philosophy, I have decided it is elegant. This is because it is simple and easy to understand. A child could have made this up. There is a fine point to discuss, though. Humans have actually not created anything (physically). All humans are capable of doing is transforming matter, or making complicated things from simpler things. For example, a building is made from materials that were dredged from the earth. Everything used to make a building was already on this planet. So we can’t create anything, since we essentially just change the shape and properties of materials. We don’t actually create matter. Even childbirth is not a creation. If childbirth were actually a creation of life, then the pregnant female would not need to eat food. A pregnant woman unconsciously changes the shape of matter. She essentially ingests a great deal of atoms, which combine to form another human. Those atoms that form a new human could have come from anywhere on this planet. Parts of your infant self could have formerly been grasshopper legs or dinosaur teeth. It would be really hard to find out what you were before you started to develop in the womb.   
    One might argue, however, that certain abstractions, such as numbers, were created by humans. This would contradict my statement that humans have not created anything. It’s hard to say whether the number 5 existed or not before we came up with the notion. It doesn’t matter whether humans exist or not; quantities of 5 objects are all over the place. I would argue that assigning numbers to objects could just be a way of thinking.
    How could I not place God above humans? There is evidence that humans exist, but God isn’t doing so well. While He purportedly created us, no evidence has been found indicating that He exists. God must be accepted on faith. The thing about faith is that humans invented it. Since humans invented faith, that makes it a Category 2 (refer to the first page). If humans did not exist, then faith would not exist. Since faith is required to make God “exist”, this implies that God would disappear if humans disappeared. Which means: God needs us. We don’t need Him.
    I have decided not to be concerned with how humans originated. It is still beyond the scope of my philosophy. The bigger question is: Where did all of the matter come from? I disagree with the Big Bang Theory, simply because it was proposed as a joke (by the physicist Fred Hoyle). No one has any clue where the matter came from that makes up our Universe. We certainly didn’t make it. So all matter, including ourselves, is Category 3. That is one hell of a paradox. We existed prior to ourselves. Great. So much for elegance.



    Let’s say that God really did create humans. First of all, what is God? God is supposed to be an all-powerful being responsible for the creation of the universe. God, if it exists, is not all powerful if it created humans. We humans are extremely advanced, but very incapable of certain tasks. We made computers because they are more advanced in certain areas, but they are not considered to be alive because they don’t fit our definition. The purpose of the computer is to do what humans cannot. The purpose of God is to do what humans cannot. From God’s point of view we are probably not considered to be alive. God must be more aware of things, just as humans are more aware than computers. Somehow, God is more alive. If God created humans, then we are artificial and not natural. Therefore we are not alive. If God were infinitely powerful and knowledgeable, then it would only need to exist for a fleeting instant. It would only need an infinitesimal instant to do everything possible. Is what we consider to be the universe part of God’s infinite possibilities? Not likely. If God knew everything, it would have to do nothing.
    As far as I’m concerned, humans are alive and God did not create us - we created him. God fills an enormous gap in our knowledge of things. The gap is shrinking and so is God. Eventually God will vanish because it is just a placeholder for much of reality. Everything humans have created has a purpose. We created God and its purpose was to create us. What’s wrong with existing just to exist? For the time being that will have to be sufficient, because we don’t know where we came from. For the small amount of us that think all too clearly, God is just a festering annoyance.

    (The above was written in 1999, when I was 23.)

    FOLLOW-UP to Artificial Humans

    I don’t remember writing it, since it was done 11 years ago. But I do remember the point I was trying to make.
    Whenever we humans make something, it is typically done out of a desire to improve our lives. A car offers significant improvements over walking. A car is able to do something we cannot - and it is also not alive. Almost everything we make is considered artificial. We don’t make natural things; they occur without our involvement.
    My reasoning was that if we were created, then we must be artificial. We wouldn’t be natural. This would imply that there is a type of life that is “more alive” than us. Since we have no evidence of anything “more alive” than us, we must have occurred naturally.
    The difference between create and make in the way I’m using them is subtle. As an example, we can make a building, but we cannot create one. We can create a short story, but we cannot make one. Making refers to things that can be touched (since it involves the transformation of materials), while creation refers to things that cannot be touched.
    If God did create humans, then that would further imply we are not made of any sort of material, but simply thoughts in his mind. We’re His story. That’s even less tenable than being artificial, since it implies we are just a bunch of characters.



    It may seem on the surface level that I'm referring to a freedom associated with stimulating the mind to a high level of mental activity. In fact, the title of this page has an unwanted psychological effect. Inspiration, among other meanings, means the act of drawing in air, or simply - breathing. The Latin root is spirare, which means “to breathe”.
       The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees U.S. citizens freedom of speech. It may appear that freedom of inspiration and freedom of speech are not related, but they are almost
precisely the same thing. All people, everywhere, are allowed to breathe freely. There are no restrictions on the amount and type of breathing that one may engage in. If, for instance, one wishes to breathe underwater (without any type of SCUBA - self contained underwater breathing apparatus), one may do so. However, there is a penalty for breathing in certain places, such as underwater. Just like one may breathe anywhere, one may talk anywhere.
       Freedom of speech is precisely that. We all have complete freedom to say whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want. Just like there is a penalty for breathing in certain places, there is a penalty for talking in certain places and times, and saying certain things. The freedom cannot be violated and anyone that thinks otherwise needs to remember their place in things. Freedom of speech not only applies to YOU, but to everyone else. If someone decides they don't like what you are saying on TV and cuts you off, your freedom of speech has not been violated. Remember - we all have freedom of speech. Even the censors. If someone censors your words, they are merely exercising their freedom of speech.
       So, there are 2 main types of freedom of speech...

   1. Freedom, but with penalty.
   2. Freedom - with no penalty.

       The first type of freedom is the one that we, along with the rest of life, experience. It is the same in every country. Whether one lives in North Korea, Cambodia, Russia, or the United States, the freedom of speech is precisely the same - the kind that has a penalty. To explicitly state that Americans have freedom of speech is no different than stating that we have freedom of breathing. This type of freedom is not an illusion, as one may suspect, although it is deceptively contradictory. The second type of freedom, actually, is the illusion.
       In order to realize the second type of freedom, humans would need to form a single mind or live in isolation, singly. Neither situation is palatable nor allows life to flourish; thus, freedom must carry a penalty.
        The seemingly contradictory nature of freedom is so problematic that the definition ought to be heavily modified. But this is reality, not an illusion.


FOLLOW-UP to Freedom of Inspiration

    How could someone possibly relate breathing to freedom of speech? Well, it seems obvious to me that we are allowed to breathe wherever we want, even in situations that would kill us. So we have the freedom to breathe, but it is not free of problems. Likewise, we are able to say anything we want, even things that could get us into a lot of trouble. So we do have freedom of speech, in the sense that we can say anything.
    However, after thinking about freedom, I realized there are at least 2 types. Everyone knows this, but I would suspect few people are concerned with defining it.
    I didn’t know about Facebook when I wrote the essay. Due to Facebook, I can now provide a more relevant example; something more in tune with the Zeitgeist (German for “spirit of the times”).
    On Facebook, one has the freedom to post anything they want on their “wall”. That freedom even extends to other users’ pages, which are considered, often in name only, “friends” of the poster. The casual postings, often made in a few seconds or less, can cause real-life complications, such as losing one’s job or losing one’s life. (Though I would argue that losing one’s life is a little bit more than a complication.)
    So, Facebook users are exposed to the penalizing consequences of freedom of speech at a frequency that our ancestors could have never imagined. Our ancestors had to wait to use the telephone, wait for physical encounters, etc. They couldn’t just turn on a computer and instantly annoy the shit out of 258 people.
    In summary, the point of the original essay was to show that freedom of speech, in the sense we’d like to believe, does not exist. The only possible way to have freedom of speech without consequences is to reduce the population of the planet to one person. In other words, freedom is more an ideal concept than an actuality.



    By my reasoning, their first "life" experiences would occur in the afterlife. These people would, of course, be trained as angels - or demons. These people that die early would ultimately be called the "Superiors". When us regular humans die, we are shuffled into heaven or hell, since we had a life to judge. The Superiors bypass heaven and hell. I would have to invent this third place. I'm not sure what it is yet.   

    (I wrote the above sometime in 2007, spurred by my readings of the Riverworld series.)   


    The above is purely fantasy. I don’t believe in heaven or hell. I was writing about people that die early, before age 3 or 4. They didn’t live long enough to experience much of anything on the Earth, so their first “experiences” would occur in the afterlife, assuming it exists. This would make them “Superior” to someone that lived for a long time on the Earth, since they would be exempt from judgment. They didn’t have a life to judge, so they could not possibly enter heaven or hell. There logically must be a third place, for people that died early.
    Another reason why they would be superior is due to the fact they would be “raised” in the afterlife. Whatever the afterlife is, people that die early would regard that as their first life. So they would be more comfortable and knowledgeable about the afterlife than some person that had 80 years of experience on the Earth. Long-lived people would thus be at a disadvantage when entering the afterlife, and the early death people would tell them what to do.
    So if you believe in the afterlife, then get ready. There will be no freedom for you.



    Sometime in 2007, I had proposed a question concerning the afterlife:

    If you could choose between immortality and the afterlife, which would you choose?

    I called it the “Ultimate Gamble”. This is because, if one chooses immortality, then they will be unable to die. It would lock one into a permanent existence in a body. If one chooses the afterlife, then they will die. But there is a problem with dying. We have no actual information about the afterlife. We don’t know if it’s real. So, if one picks immortality, then they would be unable to experience the afterlife, assuming it exists. One would have to choose between guaranteed life (immortality) and guarantees according to religion (afterlife). It’s an unrealistic decision, but would be the toughest decision I can imagine. It would be easy for me, since I’m not religious. But most people are religious.



    My thoughts often drift into the realm of science. I wonder where our universe came from and if there can be a smallest thing. According to science, our universe exploded and created space. There was no explosion in space, since space was created by the explosion. So I wonder if the universe ever had a smallest size, a starting point. Or perhaps it has always been expanding? If the universe never had a smallest size, then that neatly eliminates what happened “before”, since there was no before (in that case). Some religious people have it very easy; they merely say God created the universe and they are satisfied. In order for me to think that way, I would first have to understand where God came from (if He exists). I stated some religious people because some religions, like Buddhism, don’t have God. That doesn’t mean I’m Buddhist or Hindu; reincarnation and nirvana have no supporting evidence. In fact, there is no evidence of any kind suggesting an afterlife exists. Death, to me, is much like the period of time before birth. An interesting question I propose is this:
    Is the period of time before birth longer than the period of time after death? In other words, which interval of nonexistence is longer?
    Imagine for a moment that, somehow, each interval is infinitely long. This means there was an infinite amount of time before your birth and there will be an infinite amount of time after your death. If that is valid, then we have all already been dead. There will be no surprise - we’ve already been there. One could almost argue that life is an interruption, it’s so damned brief.

    (I wrote the above sometime in 2005.)

    FOLLOW-UP to Interruption

    I was thinking that life could be interpreted as a point on a number line. Compared to the amount of time that exists, a human life would be a mere pinprick. The amount of numbers that exist is infinite. No matter where one decides to put their life on a number line, there would be an infinite stretch in both directions. This implies that one’s life is just a slight disturbance; hardly worth noticing.


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