How can life have meaning in a mechanical universe?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. Mazulu Banned Banned

    Stop trying to be slippery and answer the question. In your opinion, does the wave-function exist as part of reality in nature? All you have told me so far is,
    The only answer I can gather is that you have no idea. But I don't know what you mean when you say that your understanding of the wave-function is not a problem (which means that you do understand what it is). That's called being slippery.

    In any event, I don't think that the wave-function of the human brain is the soul, per se. I think the wave-function of the brain is an interface that allows the soul to connect with the body. That is my view.
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  3. Balerion Banned Banned

    I already did answer your question. You've even quoted it in this very post. What are you having trouble comprehending? I didn't answer in the form of a riddle. I said I have no idea. When I said my understanding isn't the problem, it was in regards to your promise to explain it to me, which I'm not even remotely interested in. (For several reasons, not the least of them that you will undoubtedly get it wrong) In other words, I don't need to understand wave function to know that your claim of it having to do with the soul is religious in nature, and not rooted in any science. It is, as I said before, nothing more than a God of the Gaps belief. Where we lack understanding, you posit God. Or a soul, or whatever. You and MR are both subscribing to this same logical fallacy.
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  5. Cheezle Hab SoSlI' Quch! Registered Senior Member

    Mazulu, it seems to me that it is you who are being slippery here. Your questioning of Balerion on whether the wave function is real is a bit of misdirection. You are trying to get us to focus on the reality of the wave function, when the real question is the reality of the soul. But that is just the beginning of defending your (poorly thought out) idea. Before you can establish the reality of the soul you have to define it. Not only that but you have to define it in the same language that you are using to define the wave function. There would be no other way to establish the equivalence between the two things. In other words, you would need a mathematical description of the soul, or a spiritual description of the wave function. I am not just talking about redefining words. I could say that Leprechauns are really just Irish midgets in green suits and shamrocks in their lapels dancing a jig. Of course very few midgets do that, and it takes the magic out of the Leprechaun, and a Leprechaun would not be equivalent to but instead a subgroup of midgets. You need to leave both subjects, the soul and the wave function, intact, with all of the features of both fully expressed in what ever language you choose. There needs to be a direct equivalence, or perhaps establish that souls are a particular subset of wave functions, where you show the difference between soul-type wave functions and regular ones. That is a pretty big task. Bigger than constructing a gravity beam out of flashing colored lights.

    In a previous post in this thread you mentioned that consciousness is a wave function.
    And then you state that:
    Which implies a couple things. First that spirit is the same as soul (and perhaps consciousness too) since you are using them interchangeably and second that you seem to have worked on the problem of equivalence and have some proof to show that the soul is a very simple wave function. (of course we all know you haven't and that you just used the PIOOYA method).
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  7. Mazulu Banned Banned

    Gravity beam made from electromagnetic frequency sweeping, not flashing lights. This is a typical example of the arrogance of men of science.
    In spite of the disparaging attitude that men of science have towards the afterlife, it exists. In your defense, it may not be possible to study things that you cannot measure or even define. Science is not even sure if the wave-function exists in nature, yet it does exist. Yet it does exist. The wave-function is the tip of the iceberg of things that exist but cannot be directly observed. Just as quantum particles assemble to become atoms, molecules, cells, biology and ecosystems, the same is true of wave-functions and of things related to wave-functions that we haven't seen yet.

    In short, science hasn't caught up with nature. Science will always be ignorant of reality.
  8. Cheezle Hab SoSlI' Quch! Registered Senior Member

    As usual you avoid the central issue. More slipperiness. You claim that the soul is a wave function and yet you provide not even the smallest shred of evidence. Hence the PIOOYA claim. You seem to be saying that the wave function can't be observed and the soul can't be observed and so they must be the same thing.
  9. Mazulu Banned Banned

    For any configuration of electrical charges, there will be a potential energy U(x,y,z,t). For any U(x,y,z,t), there will be a wave-function that describes the energy, momentum and position states of these charges; the wave-function is a solution to the Schrodinger equation. The wave-function exists as a phenomena of nature.

    The wave-function will also obey unseen forces; generally, these unseen forces have to exert great effort to compel changes in the wave-function's states. But there are stronger forces, like invisible hands, that can push so hard against the wave-function, that the U(x,y,z,t) will change to U'(x,y,z,t), and the electrical charges will move.
  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    It's confusing MR. I get intellectual whiplash reading your posts.

    In countless threads you attack what you call "religion", without defining what you believe that target is. Then you turn around and start a thread that essentially argues that something very much like God must be assumed to exist (because otherwise we'd all be "nihilists"). In some threads you present yourself as Mr. Science, arguing for evolutionary biology in the face of religious creationists. In other threads you turn right around and attack science in the name of supernatural faith.

    Is this all just rhetoric? If somebody sounds too confident in their ideas, you try to show them up a little? Or is it, as I suspect, something deeper and more personal with you?

    I get the feeling that you've rejected the Christian fundamentalism of your youth, but you still think and conceive of things in a deeply religious way. I'm not criticizing that (I do the same thing, sometimes), just pointing out that it might create cognitive dissonance for you when you simultaneously pursue and attack religion. You seek something to fill the void where your faith in God once was, so you set off on your transcendental quest for cosmic meaning or whatever it is. That results in you fighting two very different battles, one with the Christians that you have rejected, the other with reductive scientific physicalism.


    You know, I attended a Unitarian church in southern California for a short time back then. I ended up leaving it because it was too political. If I wanted to be concerned about Daniel Ortega and the wonderful Nicaraguan revolution, I would join a left-political group. I was more interested in the transcendental aspect of life, in religious experience, and yes, in finding an alternative to conventional religiosity, I guess. The Unitarians, at that congregation at least, weren't particularly interested in that.

    "Project a construct"? (I'm not a social constructivist.) I am a realist, and I'm confident that the universe exists independently of whatever I, or any other human being, thinks about it. It's something that we investigate and learn more about, it isn't something that we construct or (like the gods we envy) create. We do construct our accounts of it and our scientific theories about it, so that's where the construction comes in. My point is that we shouldn't confuse the (constructed) map with the (independently existing) territory.

    I think that our current scientific accounts of the universe embody our best understanding of the universe at the moment. But our current scientific understanding is also incomplete and will almost certainly be extended as we learn more. (We're just one little species on one little planet, at one point in time.) It's even possible that future experience will demonstrate that some of the things that we think we know today might turn out to be mistaken or poorly conceived. (I'd say that's almost certain.)

    Human beings have purposes and goals. They find many things meaningful. That seems obvious to me, so why shouldn't someone who thinks like I do accept it? (I'd look for its explanation in human neural information processing.) Why must I believe that human goals and purposes can only be possible when the universe as a whole possesses a similar sort of meaning and purpose? I don't see how that follows.

    I think that the functioning of our nervous systems is what generates our behavior. It's certainly true for animals like worms. Animal behavior is typically goal-directed. We seek pleasure, avoid pain, try to get laid, eat food, and do all kinds of things. With humans, with our abilities to manipulate symbols, our goal-seeking behavior is all the more complex. Some of that probably is just individual taste, but I'd guess that a lot of it is innate and instinctive. We seek power, we seek wealth, we seek assurance against threats. We cheer for sports teams, we visit art museums in search of beauty, we seek knowledge for its own sake. And some of us kind of roll it all up together, wanting to believe that all of it, all the local goals that we incessantly seek in pretty much every moment of our lives, add up to something bigger, to some final conclusion that delivers us everything that we desire.

    Maybe that's why I've gravitated towards Buddhism over the years. It's a form of religiosity that doesn't depend on the faith that everything, the entire cosmos, is going to pay off like a giant slot machine at the end. Instead, it addresses why we are so convinced that it has to.
  11. Cheezle Hab SoSlI' Quch! Registered Senior Member

    Well, there you go. Because the soul is a wave function, then everything you said about the wave function, also must apply to the soul. The soul describes energy, momentum and position of states. The soul is a solution to the Schrödinger equation. That does not seem to jibe with the spiritual definition of the soul, but at least you tried. I would like to say that for a person that disdains science and math so much, you seem to be obsessed with the subjects. Why not just stick to the realm of religion and faith? And when does this all break down and you start damning people to eternal hellfire?
  12. Mazulu Banned Banned

    You seem to make it a habit of misquoting me. I see the wave-function as a conduit between this world and the next. A wave-function is a collection of states that particles can take in some indeterminate process. From the point of view of educated men like yourself, states of the particle cannot be predicted. From the point of view of someone creative like myself, those indeterminate states are a back door into our universe. The standard model is a collection of fundamental particles that have been detected, described and confirmed by the LHC. But the word "particle" might have narrowed our view of what to look for. The LHC may not be the right tool to detect quantum life-forms. A quantum lifeform might be a single "particle" creature that can grow in mass-energy and complexity. Such a life-form might live in an environment of what we would call quantum states of quantum systems. I offer this idea under the category of "philosophy" for your thoughtful introspection.
  13. Cheezle Hab SoSlI' Quch! Registered Senior Member

    No, I did not misquote you.

    You stated that the soul was a wave function. Your claim that I misquoted you is so false I would say it is a lie. That does not seem to fit with any definition of the soul that I have ever heard. Your soul is a wave function is a conduit ... for what? You have nothing. Your idea is crap.
  14. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    Evidence please.
  15. Mazulu Banned Banned

    This is a general philosophy thread, not a science thread. I am simply sharing a possible way that a soul/spirit/dynamics might be possible.
  16. Mazulu Banned Banned

    It is probably easier to find a more open-minded educated audience.
  17. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    No, you made a declaration... "it exists".

    But I'm glad to see you confess that you have no evidence. (The first step is in admitting that you have a problem.)
  18. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Are you asserting that the soul is physical? Because nothing about quantum mechanics is not physical.
  19. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Wouldn't that mean that the search for universal meaning is based on our evolutionary history as social animals? That's what I have been asserting, that it's simply a displaced need to social meaning and context. In other words, social animals are very concerned about where in the social hierarchy they fit. Now that we are aware of a greater universe, we seek knowledge of our position in some universal hierarchy.
  20. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    I don't suggest that my purpose in life is greater because I believe in it. But since I experience the feeling that there is a higher purpose then I could potentially find arguments for that purpose which those that doesn't experience that purpose can't find. I do think that all things we feel stem from something, I don't think they are based on nothing at all. There is a possibility that the feeling is only based on faith and hope, which aren't really a basis for evidence in any scientific sense, but then again there might be something logical in that feeling which is self-evidenced somehow.

    That we are so insignificant could be a indication that there is something totally beyond our understanding, to have a purpose in the grand scheme of things doesn't necessarily make us as significant as that scheme. But we could still hold a share of that meaning.

    I understand your confusion cause it really doesn't answer anything about the point you made about the nihilist, sorry.

    I do believe though that subjectivity depends on meaningfulness (even if there is no higher meaning, subjectivity seem to give meaning to anything it encounters), and while it is true that our bodies exist without our subjectivity, it is also true that our personal sense of existence depends on our subjectivity. Perhaps that's a clue to a higher purpose for us.

    Of course the nihilist even while experiences no point in existence as a whole still experience temporary points in existence like everyone else and that is enough to keep a person from commiting suicide. I do believe that believing in a higher purpose can help a person with suicidal thoughts, and also help them through tough situations in life. I don't have any statistics to support it though.

    First of all I don't think "purpose" is a silly concept. Many things have purpose within life and those aren't silly, actually things with purpose are what is not silly. The same holds true with cochroaches and other simple organisms, whatever they do have a purpose within their life, even though the things they do aren't indications of a higher purpose. So purpose isn't a foreign concept or a "fantasy" concept that you indicate it to be. A higher purpose is simply a purpose that aren't contained by our limited lives and through which our existence can't be limited to that life for that purpose to hold true (we need to exist forever in some way for us to have a true purpose like the one indicated by the OP).

    Even science needs to explore what it doesn't know, it is through that exploration that new knowledge can be achieved. You base your arguments that there is no meaning on the fact that there isn't any observations of it (that can be evidenced anyway). I'm just saying that this doesn't negate that there could be meaning anyway.

    I know that you aren't making claims of absolute knowledge, that it is just what you believe. But introducing Occam's Razor to convince yourself that there is no meaning isn't a more truthful pursuit than believing that there is a purpose to life. Occam's Razor has a application in scientific models to rule out unnecessary complexity, but doesn't say anything about the existence or non-existence of a purpose to life. There are too many unknowns for Occam's Razor to even begin working, it would shave away our subjectivity as well cause that's how little we know about it, could science measure the body and deduce that it has a subjective side to it without any prior knowledge about it? I don't think so, at least not today. If a purely objective scientific theory was made that a human body would have a subjective side to it then Occam'z Razor would just shave it away because it has unnecessary components.

    Perhaps purpose to life is as "necessary" as the subjective side of us?
  21. Balerion Banned Banned

    I think people who have purpose that is local rather than metaphysical feel the same as people who believe their purpose comes from agency. That's my guess, anyway. People seem similarly driven whether they claim it comes from God or just some vague sense of belonging. If there's any difference, it's maybe that the people who feel local purpose actually need to find their calling before such a feeling sets in, whereas perhaps people such as yourself just feel this purpose in general.

    Of course, the things we feel do stem from something. Why it isn't enough that it stems from our brains like anything else, I don't know.

    Of course, but that isn't suggestive of agency or the like. It suggests the opposite, in fact.

    If we had any significance, we wouldn't be insignificant.

    I don't see how. That is to say, I don't see what about subjectivity equates to or hints at purpose or agency. It seems a non-sequitur to me. The claim is essentially "I think, therefore I matter," and I don't really buy it.

    Could you be a bit more clear? What does this mean, "experiences no point in existence as a whole?"

    I'm sure it does, but by the same means that having a local purpose can help a person avoid suicide and get them through tough situations in life. Think of the distraught parent who can't take it anymore, and decides to carry on for their children. I don't buy that people need God, or some spiritual stand-in, to have meaning or happiness in their lives. I'm happy, and my life has meaning, yet I have neither God nor mysticism, so I'm living evidence of the fallacy of such a proposition. It's difficult to take people seriously when they're claiming that I don't exist, you know?

    On the cosmic scale, it certainly is. We live in a universe that is unaware of and ambivalent to our existence. Claiming that we matter is patently absurd.

    I didn't say the things themselves were silly. I said the concept of purpose--again, on the grandest scale--is silly.

    But there's nothing to suggest a higher purpose exists, so it absolutely is a silly concept. It's not absurd to say that your purpose is to help people because helping people makes the world a better place. That's a true statement. Saying you have a higher purpose that extends beyond your limited life is absurd because there is nothing beyond our limited lives that can served, and no "higher" place for such purpose to come from. It's like saying you feed unicorns.

    And that's fair, but that's not all you're saying. You're also saying that there is is meaning. You're making a positive claim, just like I am.

    I never introduced Occam's Razor. I think you're confusing me with someone else. That said, it has a place in this discussion.

    Not knowing all the variables doesn't mean it's too early for the Razor. And remember, the evidence for or against agency isn't just found in physics, but also in scholarly study of holy texts. The fact that all of the gods we know are false suggests that the concept of godhood itself may be false, sort of like how superheroes don't really exist. (Superheroes and gods probably came from the same desire to idealize human beings, in fact) So this isn't exactly as open a question as you're portraying it to be. Or at least, that's how I see it.

    I don't understand what you're trying to say with this subjectivity business. All it takes is a conversation between two people to know that we have subjectivity. Do you mean something else?

    Perhaps. But I see no reason to assume that it is.
  22. river

    One could ask though

    How did a mechanical Universe bring life at all ?
  23. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member


    Chemistry, mostly. It's mechanical too, in it's own way.


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