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20150327 The Meaning of Human Existence

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MAIN IDEA:

The meaning of human existence is not coming from god or any other supreme conscious entity that set up some objective for human live. It comes from evolution that produced humanity via change-selection process. Every human being is just an intermediate link in the continuing process of development of humanity and meaning of live is to prevent interruption of this process and eventually to take over future development away from evolution into consciously development under human control for human objective. This process should include transformation of continuously changing environment in such way that it would become sustainable with maintenance of biodiversity, merge of technology and humanities, and probable improvements in both human biology and society.

DETAILS:

I THE REASON WE EXIST

  1. The Meaning of Meaning

It is an interesting discussion about meaning of “meaning”. Two definitions are provided: Intentionality as in Intention that implies Design that implies Designer; and another one: Accidents of history and evolution creates meaning without any need for intentional design or designer. The first definition is trying to answer to “WHY” by referencing to Designer’s intention, the second: by trying to answer this question by using science and reformulates question into HOW DID IT HAPPENED and WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT.

  1. Solving the Riddle of the Human Species

This is discussion about riddle of human nature and how it came to be. It very briefly reviews prehistory of human species with conclusion that we are just a biological species adapted to live in biological world; no notions of angels or demons would be applicable.

  1. Evolution and Our Inner Conflict

This is the presentation of key features of our species as product of multi-level evolution when features preferable for individual survival are always in conflict with features preferable for group level survival causing extreme complexity of human behavior and attitudes.

II THE UNITY OF KNOWLEDGE

  1. The New Enlightenment

The new Enlightenment is the path that author believes we are already on. It is merge of science and humanities. This chapter reviews historical process of enlightenment as generation of new form of human mental representation of the world via scientific method that not only developed into separate branch of knowledge but become practically dominant approach. The new Enlightenment would be based on global interconnection and bring science and humanities back together.

5 The All-Importance of the Humanities

This is discussion of current and future technological development that would allow humans to practically reinvent themselves as species by changing DNA, environment, even creating new species as needed. Another important question is what humans would do if robots do all the work. Author believes that the only way to answer these questions is via development of humanities.

6 The Driving Force of Social Evolution

This is discussion of social evolution through the prism of two competing theories of evolution: theory of inclusive fitness and theory of multilayered evolution that includes individual level and group level. Author himself over the years moved from complete support of inclusive fitness to individual-group duality of evolutionary process.

III OTHER WORLDS

  1. Humanity Lost in a Pheromone World

This chapter is the step aside from human world and attempt to find explanations in the world of insects, which is the area of author’s expertise.

8. Superorganism

This is about ants and their society that could be considered as a super-organism.

9. Why Microbes Rule the Galaxy

This is view at colonies of insects as superorganisms. Interestingly enough these superorganisms are as complex as human society and are as effective in survival games as humans are even if there is nothing even remotely close in structure and functions of colony of ants and human city. The main difference is that humans are autonomous self-conscious creatures who however have inherent need to congregate in groups and coordinate their actions, while insects have not even an inkling of individuality and self-consciousness in any of their separate organisms.

  1. A Portrait of E.T.

This is a speculative discussion of possible ETs and what their features would be based on what we know about evolution. Unsurprisingly they have all typical characteristics of humans. They even has to achieve similar level of ecological consciousness to understand that conquest of earth makes no sense so we can rest assured that war of the worlds is not going to happen.

  1. The Collapse of Biodiversity.

This chapter is dedicated to discussion of dramatic decrease of biodiversity caused by expansion of human species. Author expects the bottleneck of existence that world will go through during current century with appearance at the end sustainable balance between humanity and all other species.

IV IDOLS OF THE MIND

  1. Instinct

The key point here is that humans as all other animals are driven by instincts, needs, and prone to develop phobias that are all but impossible to overcome. There are overall at least 67 universals found in all known human societies such as music, sports, body decorations, incest taboos and others making it highly probable that they have genetic origins common for humanity. It also includes acquired preference for natural environment that person grew up in that, however has underlying preference for natural environment of savannah where humanity came from.

  1. Religion

This chapter is about religion and its biological roots. From evolutionary point of view of multilevel selection, religions are highly beneficial adaptive tool that increases coherence of the group and assures necessary sacrifices by an individual for the best of the group. However all religions tend to define people as us: the true believers and others who reject the truth. Consequently all inclined to fight these others until they accept the truth or annihilated, making it quite difficult for humanity to coexist. The solution of this problem is found in America. It is tolerance for everybody’s faith and creation myths.

  1. Free Will

This is discussion of human free will with reference to failure of philosophy to come up with anything even remotely plausible. However being scientist and biologist at that author has no doubt in material nature of the mind and free will and assigns high expectation to the new project for Brain Activity Mapping (BAM). Author also expresses an interesting notion of self, as confabulation for multiple stories from individual’s past, present, and imagined future constantly reprocessed and changed to refit them to perceived reality. The final note here is that free will as notion is highly adaptable feature that helps human to survive in complex world regardless of actual production of human action based on neural activities of the brain.

  1. A HUMAN FUTURE
  2. Alone and Free in the Universe

Author is mainly optimistic about future of humanity, however he sees a lot of danger in contradiction between human nature created by evolution, Paleolithic environment, and what is required to accommodate to techno scientific global human community. Author compares negative features of human nature to biological notion of tolerable parasite load when presence of parasite does not hamper survival of organism. One of the most virulent and distractive features of human nature author considers religious denial of science, especially evolution. At the end author once again stresses what he believes is necessity of merge of science, humanities, and art in unified model of reality.

MY TAKE ON IT:

I pretty much agree with just about everything in this worldview. I also believe that humanity is the random outcome of spontaneous biological evolution, that human mind has 100% material base, and that we have to transform ourselves into sustainable society in harmony with environment. The only probable disagreement is that I do not see it happening via coercive power of governments and I do not believe that biodiversity is that important. I think that we are on the brink of remodeling environment rather than just accommodating to it and that would include development of new organisms, modification of our DNAs, and reconstruction of environment to fit our needs. However in my view the meaning of human live depends on time scale we apply looking at it. At the scale of a few decades of our lives it has lots of meaning in enjoying and/or suffering everything that life can provide for human being. On the scale of billions of years of universe it makes no sense whatsoever.


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