Incomplete knowledge

  • Thread starter Zero
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  • #1
..is what humans are built for. I seriously don't think that we can know everything, or frankly should even bother to try. The beauty of thought, from birds all the way to Einstein, is the way we can approximate answers that aren't absolutely perfect, but that are good 'working models'. It is the way brains are wired, after all, and is probably the reason that AI doesn't work.

In other words, I suggest that the search for ultimate truth flies in the face of what we are capable of, at least this early in evolution.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Kerrie
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interesting point, however your theory would suggest that there was almost a "conscious" effort in making the human mind this way, therefore supporting the concept of a higher being defining the human mind in this way...
 
  • #3
Originally posted by Kerrie
interesting point, however your theory would suggest that there was almost a "conscious" effort in making the human mind this way, therefore supporting the concept of a higher being defining the human mind in this way...
Just linguistic shorthand, babe...the only designers are physics, chenistry, and time...and I don't think we can have afinal answer on those ideas, either.
 
  • #4
Another God
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Umm... i thought i had something to say, but turns out I would probably only be repeating what u said Zero.

I agree.
 
  • #5
Iacchus32
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Except that when we ground ourselves in "practical knowledge" -- which includes our abilitiy to say "we don't know" -- then we discover the ground of our "true being" which, becomes an "ultimate truth." Which I think is what Kerrie was alluding to. :smile:
 
  • #6
Originally posted by Iacchus32
Except that when we ground ourselves in "practical knowledge" -- which includes our abilitiy to say "we don't know" -- then we discover the ground of our "true being" which, becomes an "ultimate truth." Which I think is what Kerrie was alluding to. :smile:
I don't buy it...ultimate truth seems impossible, although you could have 'good enough for you truth' which may appear to be 'ultimate' to you.
 
  • #7
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by Zero
I don't buy it...ultimate truth seems impossible, although you could have 'good enough for you truth' which may appear to be 'ultimate' to you.
Except you would probably agree, that if science ever discovered God exists, it would probably also discover He were "practical." Of course we may not always be able to construe what practical means? but, practical nonetheless.
 
  • #8
Another God
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Originally posted by Iacchus32
Of course we may not always be able to construe what practical means? but, practical nonetheless.
I don't think it is always necessary to construe what things like practical mean...we all intuitively know what is practical and what isn't.
 
  • #9
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by Another God
I don't think it is always necessary to construe what things like practical mean...we all intuitively know what is practical and what isn't.
Well all I'm saying, is that just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean there's nothing practical involved. In fact that's the only way you can put it to good use, is by finding its practical application. Otherwise what purpose does it serve?

Whereas I think if we understood God had a methodology -- i.e., how it works -- then we would also understand its practical side.
 
  • #10
sascha
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The trouble with sayings of the sort "we can't know everything, or frankly should even bother to try" is that they express an idea that proposes universal validity while simultaneously denying the mere possibility of such universal insight. Hence they are self-defeating.

It is true that no language can contain absolutely everything. But this does not mean that universality and completness of grasp are mere chimeras and ought thus be dismissed. The problem is the same as with ideals such as truth, harmony, integrity, authenticity, etc., which have an important role as regulative principles (as Kant would say).

The interesting thing is that such ideas / ideals can indeed be understood, while simultaneously they do elude all attempts of catching them in any linguistic formula.
 
  • #11
Originally posted by sascha
The trouble with sayings of the sort "we can't know everything, or frankly should even bother to try" is that they express an idea that proposes universal validity while simultaneously denying the mere possibility of such universal insight. Hence they are self-defeating.

It is true that no language can contain absolutely everything. But this does not mean that universality and completness of grasp are mere chimeras and ought thus be dismissed. The problem is the same as with ideals such as truth, harmony, integrity, authenticity, etc., which have an important role as regulative principles (as Kant would say).

The interesting thing is that such ideas / ideals can indeed be understood, while simultaneously they do elude all attempts of catching them in any linguistic formula.
The point I am trying to make is that by trying to force the creation of a 'complete' answer, we may in fact overlook a more easily attainable 'practical' answer. I think far too many 'holistic' answers(to riff on your thread for a moment) assume far too much to be useful!
 
  • #12
Iacchus32
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And yet that which is practical or neutral, is of "the whole" which exists between the two extremes. For example by mixing something which is highly alkaline (hence masculine), with something which is highly acidic (hence feminine), both of which are highly corrosive and exist at opposite ends of the PH spectrum, you get something as neutral as water, hence that which is an essential "medium" for life to exist on this planet.
 
  • #13
sascha
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What is useful and what is not is, therefore, dependent on the objective and on the overview one manages to have. Take for example the usefulness of cutting down all the forests in Europe, because of pragmatically needing the wood -- and then centuries later having to fight draught. So what is usefulness, really? Today everybody wants to extract energy from wherever one can -- and you don't know whether tomorrow people will lament the created disequilibria, like now they lament the ozone hole. Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis (latin proverb: times change, and we change with them). Seeking completeness can be helpful for more overview than the average develops. There are methods for that...
 
  • #14
Mentat
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I think Zero makes a really good point, though I have one thing to add: Often, in history, it has been the quest for "Ultimate Truths" that has led to the discovery of practical truths. Thus, while I think the end-result should be practical truths, I think some people should still concern themselves with Ultimate Truths, since their failures often bring very useful side-effects .
 
  • #15
THANOS
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we all find out the ultimate truth. after we die and no longer think of things like truth. nothing is more ultimate then something aint it?
 
  • #16
Seeking ultimate truth is one thing...blinding ourselves to the smaller useful answers in the search is another thing entirely.
 
  • #17
sascha
127
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Thanos or thanatos, this is here the question. You are maybe closer than others to an interesting insight, but still far away from it too. Indeed the fundamental characteristic of matter -- underlying what today's physics can find out -- has a lot to do with the state of death. But the way you talk about it reveals that you have not reached that level. By the way, this insight can only be found as long as one is incarnated, because only in this situation does one have the power to direct one's thought. Afterwards it is too late. So the 'hope' you express is, in fact, a mere myth.
 
  • #18
sascha
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Sure, Zero. But one should not mix up strategy and tactics. Too many people are into that -- and look at how they make a shambles out of the world.
 
  • #19
Mentat
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Originally posted by THANOS
we all find out the ultimate truth. after we die and no longer think of things like truth. nothing is more ultimate then something aint it?

Isn't what?
 
  • #20
THANOS
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I can't believe it's not butter.

Well it's THANOS the mad titan from marvel comics. And THANOS means death.
Look i love death so i won't be blind to what it should mean. When we die sure maybe our minds will wonder off as our body begins to lose all functions. But we will turn into dust and into soil and the rest will evaporate. Now by then I am pretty damn sure our minds can no longer function if they no longer exist (perhaps that's why Egypt leaders mummified themselves heh). If you seek ultimate truth then you seek a needle in and needle less haystack. Although it is still possible that you may someday find one for nothing is impossible excluding impossibility itself of course. I have my own truths but they are far from ultimate because an ultimate truth requires an agreement with all beings. Otherwise one disagreement will render the ultimate into almost ultimate. My truth is simple.
What is truth enough for me is that we humans are a part of this system of live and die. But this system is no different then our surroundings like Earth and space. Someday even Earth will no longer exist. We confuse ourselves about meanings and truths about everything when the truth is that the only truth that matters is the beginning and the end. What happens between life and death doesn't matter. Sure we may want more to life then just a simple philosophy of live and die but there's no reason to seek meaning or truth in life but if it completes you then by all means search.

Now a mere myth would be more like spirits or angels telling me about the truth. It's a fact that our body decompose and rot away meaning nothing should be all that is left. And again "nothing is more ultimate then something" maybe because nobody can disagree about nothing then maybe making nothing ultimate.
 
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  • #21
FZ+
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Let's alter the wording.

From what you say, am I right in getting the impression that what you mean is:

"Change is the only constant"?
 
  • #22
sascha
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The word "myth" denotes an imagery woven around a problematic issue, a vague guideline in an attempt to understand. This method can appear useful as long as there are not yet clear reasons. No need for spirits or angels. Humans are very good at inventing myths. For example Hollywood is a myth machine (albeit not always of very good myths). There are many interpretations of death, and the vast majority is mythical, not coming from clear insight and corresponding reasons.

On the other hand, to say "Change is the only constant" does not yet cover the gist of death, which is precisely that there is no change whatsoever. This bedrock of constancy is close to the immutability of laws, and it can be approched by minds who can 'listen' to the ultimate consequences of laws (pure structure, pure order). The constancy of 'listening' can be the bedrock for assimilating mentally the basic structure of matter (which is what physics ought to be looking out for), which is the fundamental equilibrium underlying the 'things' that arise in the processes of nucleosynthesis.

Why do you think truths are truths only when being expressed? Are laws no truth -- irrespective of being expressed or not?
 
  • #23
Iacchus32
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But, does everything originate from nowhere?

What if there were a perpetual beginning which, when we die, we return to the "spring of our youth," so to speak?

Doesn't that entertain the possibility that spirits and angels do exist?

"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."
Doesn't that sound a bit like the ultimate statement for reality?
 
  • #24
THANOS
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Laws may have some truths but they can not be ultimate for an event may someday occur that will change these laws. As long as there is a possibility that these laws will not be there forever then these laws can not be truth. Then I guess everything is a myth for there can be no certainty that the events in our past has even happened. People may try to figure out what happens after death because we don't want to die. But it's going to happen we are going to die. So what's the next best thing? Heaven, reincarnation, hell or whatever blows your hair back (assuming you have any hair of course). Humans are no more special then the pets that occupy us or the animals we eat. Or even the dirt we clean off or the crap we poop out of our butt and our mouth heh. But we think, because we are living beings and that making us wonder about wonders. I often wonder why people wonder.
i guess change is the only constant although i never though of it in that manner. Our beginning and our end changes then maybe making our existence just one lucky cosmic gamble. But who says it's luck when the gambler has an infinite number of turns.
 
  • #25
Iacchus32
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Yep, when you're dead you're dead, and it'll be like you were never here, at least for you (the deceased) anyway. You also seem to be saying that the sum of the parts is not greater than the whole, which is why death becomes incomprehensible.

The only thing "real" about anything is the fact that you're conscious. Does that just "evaporate" when you die? Can you be that sure?

If consciousess is necessary in order to acknowledge reality, then consciousness must be inherent with reality, therefore consciousness must continue.
 
  • #26
sascha
127
2
Laws can't be changed; they can only apply or not apply in a situation or process. If something changes a law, it was not a real law. The problem these days is that most people mix up the pure law aspect with the force aspect of agency. Then we get all the unclear sayings we hear -- up to bizarre ideas like the velocity of light being a law, etc. Moreover, events (like an apple falling from a tree) usually do not follow only one law, but a combination of laws -- for example in this case not only the law of gravity is involved.

The problem of what happens after death need not be "figured out", because doing so can only lead to wild fantasies (like Thanos expressed some). It can actually be found out precisely because the state of death is simply there being no change whatsoever. The curious mind can get into complete 'listening' (i.e. stopping the monkey business of introducing presuppositions), where it can find out in an empirical process what all that really means.

For doing so, there is no need to imagine spirits or angels. Reality can be understood without any of that. But in actually doing so (on the path of 'listening' to the totality of interconnections), which is nothing mystical, one can get some insight about what degree of reality such beings can have. No amount of abstract considerations can replace actual personal insight.

The question of whether consciousness just "evaporates" when dying or remains after death cannot be answered correctly in the usual perspective, if only because people have no clear and full insight of what the diverse aspects of consciousness are about. The idea that one will continue as George Bush or whatever one was is silly because of the way being George Bush usually is experienced. Whoever does not go to the limits in investigating his own consciousness -- in the mentioned 'listening' mode, not in consuming some drug -- will never get anywhere real, espeacially not with respect to what happens after death.

On the other hand, as mentioned earlier, this investigation is possible only as an incarnated person, because only in this state one can direct one's thoughts, e.g. into 'listening'. The achievable completeness of knowledge depends on how we direct our thoughts. There is no limit a priori; limits are introduced by the presuppositions of all sorts (including tacit or unconscious ones, prejudices, fears, illusions, etc.). But all of that can gradually be filtered out by persevering in remaining open.
 
  • #27
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by sascha
The problem of what happens after death need not be "figured out", because doing so can only lead to wild fantasies (like Thanos expressed some). It can actually be found out precisely because the state of death is simply there being no change whatsoever. The curious mind can get into complete 'listening' (i.e. stopping the monkey business of introducing presuppositions), where it can find out in an empirical process what all that really means.
What, then are you suggesting we continue to remain conscious when we die? Where does our consciousness come from anyway? Is it just a by-product of the fact that we have a brain? Or, is it more like the radio waves that we receive over the radio?


For doing so, there is no need to imagine spirits or angels. Reality can be understood without any of that. But in actually doing so (on the path of 'listening' to the totality of interconnections), which is nothing mystical, one can get some insight about what degree of reality such beings can have. No amount of abstract considerations can replace actual personal insight.
Reality is only the aftermath, of everything which occurred prior to its coming into existence ... seen as well as unseen.


The question of whether consciousness just "evaporates" when dying or remains after death cannot be answered correctly in the usual perspective, if only because people have no clear and full insight of what the diverse aspects of consciousness are about. The idea that one will continue as George Bush or whatever one was is silly because of the way being George Bush usually is experienced. Whoever does not go to the limits in investigating his own consciousness -- in the mentioned 'listening' mode, not in consuming some drug -- will never get anywhere real, espeacially not with respect to what happens after death.
And yet if it weren't for the fact that we have dreams, then we would have no means by which to get in touch with it -- the "id" of our id-entity.


On the other hand, as mentioned earlier, this investigation is possible only as an incarnated person, because only in this state one can direct one's thoughts, e.g. into 'listening'. The achievable completeness of knowledge depends on how we direct our thoughts. There is no limit a priori; limits are introduced by the presuppositions of all sorts (including tacit or unconscious ones, prejudices, fears, illusions, etc.). But all of that can gradually be filtered out by persevering in remaining open.
There is no prior reality before the one which we have before us, right? Which is to say, everything exists in the here and now, and yet, originates (springs) from nowhere?
 
  • #28
sascha
127
2
Iacchus32, in what you say you remain in the traditional perspective: looking at a world 'out there', then wondering about how we can understand it. In contrast, I propose to consider the strict totality (i.e. with no subdivision introduced, such as thinker and thought, subject and object, etc.), and to keep up systematically this openness (that's what I mean by 'listening'). What you say is the result of not doing so. You only repeat today's mainstream, albeit in a slightly more holistic way than usual. In the end the mainstream must rely on dreams for its id-entity, it remains in the imagination of an origin in time (and maybe even space), etc.. What a pity. The really relevant things cannot be consumed as 'information', or by adopting the 'right' belief (as opposed to 'wrong' ones). They must be sought in personal involvement. The subjective effort ('listening') is the necessary condition for being able to become aware of what finally is objective. Every person has his / her own path. Even ideas like time and space must be thought through. I am not proposing a (more or less new or original) belief, I am trying to show how insight can objectively be achieved.
 
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  • #29
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by sascha
Iacchus32, in what you say you remain in the traditional perspective: looking at a world 'out there', then wondering about how we can understand it.
Actually I acknowledge both an inner-world and an outer-world, and am in fact more concerned with what's going on in the inner-world, because this entails the act of "knowing what we know" -- i.e., through the experience -- which indeed is subjective. But still, unless you can see it for yourself, how would you know?

Which is to say, the acknowledgment of an objective reality is a totally a subjective experience. Therefore, why should we try to rule out our subjective capabilities, when in fact that's all we've really got?


In contrast, I propose to consider the strict totality (i.e. with no subdivision introduced, such as thinker and thought, subject and object, etc.), and to keep up systematically this openness (that's what I mean by 'listening'). What you say is the result of not doing so. You only repeat today's mainstream, albeit in a slightly more holistic way than usual.
And yet when I know something, I also associate the tag of "experience," because that's exactly what it is, an experience. Hence the act of being conscious.


In the end the mainstream must rely on dreams for its id-entity, it remains in the imagination of an origin in time (and maybe even space), etc..
In what way? As electro-chemical processes that go off in the brain? That sounds like more of a means of discounting it than acknowledging it exists? Unless of course that's all it really entails. Or, maybe what you're saying is that science is actually in la la land and doesn't really know about it? :wink:


What a pity. The really relevant things cannot be consumed as 'information', or by adopting the 'right' belief (as opposed to 'wrong' ones). They must be sought in personal involvement.
Personal involvement in what? Do you mean in a religious sense? Or, are you referring to the "experience of knowing" itself?


The subjective effort ('listening') is the necessary condition for being able to become aware of what finally is objective. Every person has his / her own path. Even ideas like time and space must be thought through. I am not proposing a (more or less new or original) belief, I am trying to show how insight can objectively be achieved.
Yes, insight is typically achieved through the means of introspection. Whereas reality has to bounce off of something, which is accomplished through what we "mirror" on our insides.
 
  • #30
Sounds like some people create entire fantasy worlds to fill in the gaps of their incomplete knowledge. That too is accounted for in our biology.
 
  • #31
sascha
127
2
To my sense things become really interesting once one notices that both the inner-world and the outer-world are finally judged by the same instance. In the last resort, thinking the cosmos means considering strict totality (but I admit that few are uncompromising enough to reach there). The relevant question is thus not how to introduce 'useful' subdivisons (which all end up in some aporia), but whether the judging instance is fully aware of its own means and way of doing so (its categoreal structure). Any basic subdivison introduces a one-eyedness, a bias, etc. -- something distorting.

The tag of "experience" is more relevant in getting to know (the cognitive process) than in knowing (the result). Usually people can either think something, or think the thought of thinking that thing, but not both simultaneously. This is why they believe there must be basic splits. But in fact, if they would care to 'step back' inside and contemplate strictly the whole, they would be able to notice that they actually are the unity of their awareness, by being attentive to it. One's own act of thinking can then gradually be experienced -- instead of only perceiving its results (and ending up in wanting natural science -- the look of others -- to give the answers, which can of course never reach the core of the issue, but only lead into more and more words about less and less of what really is relevant). Yes, this is the path to la la land... in utterly serious stone-faced attitudes, believing god knows what... looking at everything 'from outside' and feeling thus enormously 'objective', but -- because of not noticing the personal involvement (e.g. in the assumptions, beliefs, hopes, fears, etc.) -- finally never reaching the essentials.

The term "introspection" is not wrong here, but unfortunately burdened with useless connotations. Most people imagine introspection to be some kind of 'inner looking' (remember e.g. Mentat's fantasies), which in the end famously leads to the 'homunculus problem'. The fact that one is actually doing something (directing thoughts) while thinking escapes the usual attention. Then these people are compelled to invent all sorts of abstract construals for making up for the lost terrain (which can't ever be conclusive -- see above). The scene would be rather amusing if it did not lead to so many absurdities in the ensuing human relations.
 
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  • #32
sascha
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Zero, could you be more specific about who fantasizes what?
 
  • #33
THANOS
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Reason why I say we will get the truth after we die is for the following reason i have written down.

We are a part of a system of live and die and every life must live by that system. Some question what happens after death and I am pretty sure i can acknowledge what happens because of my beliefs. I believe that all matter has a drive to reach perfection and will always seek ways to reach that goal. Thinking about the universe, galaxies, solar systems and Earth works together it makes a lot of sense. There are different types of perfection seekers for not every life thinks in the same manner. Now with the drive that exist in all matter will also mean existing in all life. Life is with thinking in most cases. Maybe all but we don't know that for certain. I'll direct this to humans since we are humans and can understand our kind more then any other. Our brains hold all of our information, thoughts, personalities and emotions. And our memories that caused them. We die then our thoughts will parish. We, our personality will cease to exist. Our body will decompose and the rest will evaporate. With our body and mind gone then how can we live on, we can't.

Earth has enough chemicals to create the essence of life. As soon as life was mixed up then became evolving. Since every matter has a goal to perfection. A part of perfection is dealing with what you got and for life that was to live on by reproducing and survival. For mankind they created a concepts of right and wrong to survive for perfection could not be reached if we did it alone and destroyed each other. After we die that drive for perfection still exist but it exist without thought. That is why we can't comprehend that answer. That moment after we die, the moment where thought no longer exist is the moment where the answer is perfectly clear. But how can we comprehend a moment without thought when the thought of nothing and void is incomprehensible. We may not be able to comprehend nothing but we can acknowledge it. Like how most people can not comprehend how a computer works but they acknowledge that is does work.
 
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  • #34
Originally posted by sascha
Zero, could you be more specific about who fantasizes what?
Everyone, to a degree...some much more than others. we all pretend to understand things we really don't, but people like me at least try to keep it to a minimum. Others believe in all sorts of gap-filling things like religion, faith in general, UFOs, ESP, talking to the dead, herbs, drugs...conspiracy theories in general are also very popular, because they carry on the myth of control. --

THe reasons our brains do this are probably too many to list...here's a couple:
1) A close enough answer derived quickly has more survival benefit than a perfect answer arrived at too late.
2) A need to feel in control exists, the lack of which will cause madness and eventually death. A false sense is as good as a real one.
3) A curiosity that cannot be contained, combined with a limited ability to satusfy it.

I think that these three points explain the whole 'inner world/outer world' myth. It is a quick explanation that works in the short term, it clears your mind for other tasks, and allows you a false sense of control.
 
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  • #35
sascha
127
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Thanks, Zero, for your details. Sure, many such motivations are operative in generating fantasies -- especially in a cultural context that does not exactly foster quiet sober reflection, but rather is a bit pushy (the idea of "control" has become extremely pervasive) and hence reproduces pushyness all the time, which has more irrational effects than rational ones. So it is nice to find people who keep a bit of distance from all those coercions.

And thanks, Thanos, for your details. They show me a bit more clearly how you feel while existing and about the moment when all this changes. Note that there is an interesting counterpart, which merits some attention too: the change called birth, from nothingness towards being.

Maybe both of you can appreciate that the fundamental gesture I propose, which is to maintain a mental openness (the term 'listening' is something like a metaphor) instead of introducing fantasies into our queries, can be useful to both of you: it is as much a way of approaching the "nothing" that Thanos is hinting at, as it is a way of avoiding excessive fantasizing, as Zero observes.
 

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