What is the purpose of sentient life?

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  • #76
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Coldcall said:
All biology is a whole greater than the sum of its parts. A simple test is to ask yourself whether by understanding an atom you understand how the human body functions? The answer is No. So a human is greater than the sum of his/her parts.

...or, we could say we don't know the properties of the constituent parts too well(yet). The universe could well be 'alive' in some sense(although much different to what we are used to labeling 'alive'), and hence the emergent self-organising principles seen almost everywhere in nature and the uber-ridiculous precision of the values of the fundamental constants that shaped and guided the unfolding and evolution of the universe to its present state. It's funny how, if one day we manage to explain everything, this fact will pose serious philosophical questions(e.g. everything in the universe works according to some inherent logic that we humans, as we get more intelligent will be able to understand). On the other hand, if there is a phenomenon that cannot be explained for any period of time, it will also raise philosophical questions(i.e. it will remain close to our concept of 'magic'). There doesn't seem to be an in-between spot between these 2 possibilities.
 
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  • #77
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From context, I believe you mean sapient life rather than sentient. (The term is very widely misused, even by some scientists.) Sentient = "has feelings", Sapient = "intelligent, reasoning". (For instance, mice are sentient, but not very sapient compared to humans.) Either way, it can be addressed.

LIFE's only "purpose" is to thrive and survive as long and as well as possible in order to procreate so that it can reproduce. Every force of evolution and biology serves those functions in some way. The only other purpose is what YOU CHOOSE to be your purpose. So the question comes back to you--what is your purpose? Only you can answer.

The Universe is not predetermined, even taking out sapient life. There are too many things at the quantum level (and up) which are inherently indeterminate or probabilistic and that cannot at all be predicted. But I'm not just talking about prediction--if you ran time backwards and then let it go forward again, you'd get what would start to be an slight, invisibly different universe that would drift into something completely different--the Butterfly Effect on a universal scale. This alone means that the universe is not mechanistic, or even deterministic.

Then there are many emergent phenomena, including Life, and culminating in the human mind, which add non-deterministic agents (in our case, of intentional behavior) that opens it up even more. By interacting with both information and matter/energy (through the body), the human mind is able to affect and change the future. Quantum variables constantly roll the dice; if just one certain neuron crosses the threshold and is able to fire, it can trigger a thought that causes a human to do something that changes the course of history (in a good OR bad way--or neutral). Because of the effects of this (it could be a President), the whole planet can be affected. And we know that all matter is affected, however minutely, by all other matter, which randomizes and shakes things up even more; by snapping my fingers, I am affecting the farthest star in the most delicate and indetectible of ways. Subtle quantum outcomes are coming out a bit differently. There's something profound in that.


--Mike from Shreveport
 
  • #78
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If one takes causation seriously - one has to acknowledge that there is actually a reason why there is a universe and why it is the way it is.

If one thinks causation is an abstract notion in an abstract/illusory universe then yes, i agree there may not be a reason Why. But i don't support the idea that we live in such an unpredictable, lawless and indeterminate universe.
 
  • #79
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You assume that it has a purpose.

I say it does not. It just is, through the evolution of a universe in which we are an insignificant cog.
 
  • #80
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The ultimate purpose of life is to live. Survival is the top priority for all living things. Natural selection ensures this. Any traits that lead to non-survival of a species by definition means they do not survive. Survival of one's personal life typically falls second to survival of the genetic code, as evidenced by creatures that die after giving birth, or mother bears that fight to the death to protect her cubs.

The purpose of all living things is to go on living.


I think there was a long ago, where humanity could be harbored and constrained to design its sentient purpose by the instinctual, but I believe the sun has set. What if human consciousness in its exhausting longitude of questions, and its latitude of answers, that spawn the sphere of deeper questions, have changed humanity's purpose...I ask you, what is more important to the average American, survival or the fruition of our personal desire? Regardless of desire's content, whether it be scientific, philosophical, bent on some, somewhere the grass is greener, monetary greed, or otherwise, I think desire has become not just the genre, but the title of our human short story. How strange and short-lived we are in the grand scheme of planetary existence. I hesitate to stereotype everyone, but I think to myself, what if I were stripped entirely, of the dream to want, or desire, after having tasted the sweet severity of our human questions, or the answer that really just compounds its pondering, what would there be? For me, survival would probably mean nothing. If I never knew, well, maybe... but I do.
 
  • #81
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How strange and short-lived we are in the grand scheme of planetary existence. I hesitate to stereotype everyone, but I think to myself, what if I were stripped entirely, of the dream to want, or desire, after having tasted the sweet severity of our human questions, or the answer that really just compounds its pondering, what would there be? For me, survival would probably mean nothing. If I never knew, well, maybe... but I do.
Intriguing, but what does this say about purpose? Sure, we have desires, but those desires are no more our purpose than it is our purpose to survive. This is confusing what something DOES with its "purpose". Purpose isn't an action, its the goal of the actions. The purpose of working isn't to work, the purpose of working is to make money, gain experience, sell a product, ect. Likewise, the purpose of making money isn't to make money, it is to survive in our world. And the purpose of surviving is.... no one really knows.

The thing is, objects don't *have* any intrinsic purpose... it isn't a hammer's purpose to pound in a nail, that's OUR purpose for it. Purpose is really a synonym for "use." But what is the use of surviving? In other words, what is our use for ourselves? Usefulness or purpose isn't intrinsic to our being. Our purpose must come from a source external to us. A lot of people use God as that external source. God can have a purpose for us, but to ask what our purpose is without defining an external frame of reference is meaningless.

What is my purpose according to my genes? To survive and reproduce. What is my purpose according to my boyfriend? To provide love and companionship and to receive his love.

We don't have one purpose because it depends on who (or what) you ask.
 
  • #82
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Such typical answers for the scientifically minded. Either its pure biology, or its the quest for knowledge. We should get an artist to give their opinion. It will probably have something to do with painting.
 
  • #83
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The purpose must be just to live my life. And if I know I have positive and negative feelings and if I can understand that probably every other living thing has feelings like me then I have to think how I live. I have to try to understand what is necessary for me to live and what is not. Then I should try to think these things that are not necessary. Which of them are mostly good for everyone/everything and especially I have to think which of them might include some kind of violence toward someone/something(person/animal/ecosystem...). Then I think I can understand how I should live.
I still don't undertand How I should live, but I am trying to think things more seriously and also I have much to do with myself that i really take these into account in my way of life.

If it's possible for you to understand that you should let other organisms to live their life in their natural way then you should take that into account in your way of life or then I guess you can wait that someone will teach you to understand this.

One purpose might be to try to understand yourself better and better.
 
  • #84
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Old threads should rest in peace.
 

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