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Politics

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When have you last heard of an ism that’s good? Socialism, capitalism,
conservatism, progressivism, liberalism, libertarianism…

They all reek of dogma. The only isms you should go for is realism and
pragmatism, and that’s because those two aren’t exclusively and not
even predominantly political terms.

But isms blind you. They talk not of what is but present a platonic
ideal of what should be. That’s why I’m so opposed to striving for or
calling any system socialist or capitalist or anything. They blind you
when you run away from them and they blind you when you seek to come
close to one.

Sane people steer clear of political isms. Social, capital, conserva-
tive, progressive… Sometimes just cutting off the ism makes you look
at the ideas that they represent in a much more relative, pragmatic
fashion, learning that it depends on context whether they represent a
good tool to tackle a certain problem or not…

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Written by ulrichschreglmann

April 18, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Fundamental Physics.

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If you think that we may someday reach a fundamental level of understanding.

I think we never will.

Not because we lack the resources, which we may or may not, but because there is no level that is ever fundamental.

The most fundamental understanding we already have today.

Or at least *I* have it. And it’s exactly what I keep talking about.

In the most simple terms it’s like this: There’s a phenomenon. Why did it occur? Ah, it seems to be causally linked to these phenomena. But why did they occur? Well, they seem to occur within this causal pattern with even more subtle phenomena. But why do those phenomena occur? And so on, and so on, and so on.

You either follow a never ending network of causality between ever new phenomenal patterns or you encounter at some point phenomena that don’t seem to be causally connected to anything and just happen. Once you encounter those you can come to the conclusion that they do, indeed happen for no reason or that they are causally connected in ways that you cannot fathom. But even assuming the latter you’re only back to chasing an infinite causality along an infinite causal network.

Well, if you assume that some phenomena happen for no reason then you can stop asking questions about a phenomenon’s past. The question “why” means “for what reason,” and if you assume that there are none then there is no “why.” If you assume that even if you can’t find any reason for the moment there might still be one you’re still stuck with why the infinite network of cause and effect exists. It could be caused by something but that just means there’s an even bigger network into which the infinite network is embedded. What about the whole thing of all causal connections, no matter how big it is? Well, if it’s *all* causal connections that there are then it cannot have a causal connection to anything outside it any more. So the whole entirety of phenomena and causal patterns between them has no cause.

And that’s the only fundamental metaphysical law you can be sure of. Everything altogether can’t have a reason because there’s nothing else by definition.

What else do you suggest would be a fundamental understanding? So we’ve discovered the hot, dense state that the Universe used to be in and we call it the Big Bang. Well, why did the Big Bang happen? Apparently our matter was caused by initial imbalances in the energy distribution of the Universe in its initial stages. Well, why did those imbalances exist? Even if you explain them through even earlier imbalances you haven’t really answered anything. Either you can infinitely regress in your causality or you can postulate at some point that this is just the Universe the way it was for no reason.

It can be fun to dig ever deeper, looking to see what else will turn up. But don’t expect ever to hit bottom! Or, if you hit bottom, you’re left with explaining why there’s a bottom there. There’s never any final answer that way.

The only final answers there are are: The principle of cause and effect exists for no reason, everything altogether exists for no reason, therefore its particular shape has no ultimate reason other than internal consistency if cause and effect sticks to the laws we’ve figured out. And that’s the way it is, the way it was, and the way it always will be, no matter how primitive or how technologically advanced we are.

Physics is interesting. It provides us with a certain amount of control over our environment and a reasonably good life. So, by all means, let’s keep exploring! But don’t expect it to ever provide you with salvation from existentialist uncertainty! Cosmologists who claim they could explain it all any day now are bullshitting you and maybe even themselves.

Written by ulrichschreglmann

April 18, 2010 at 4:08 am

Religion

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It’s funny how the word “fearing” generally holds negative connota-
tions of helplessness and victimhood or danger and aggression (de-
pending on whether you’re the person feeling the fear or the one in-
stilling it).
But add the word “God-” and it suddenly turns into a virtue and both
the fearer and the fearee into an all-around good individual.
Religion has established the Stockholm syndrome thousands of years
before there even was a city of Stockholm…

Written by ulrichschreglmann

April 4, 2010 at 1:20 am

Posted in Philosophy, religion

Tagged with ,

Anthropic Principle.

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Combining the weak anthropic principle with the concept of
infinity one comes to the conclusion that one’s existence is, indeed,
inevitable. So is one’s everlasting future, like it or not!

I think that’s why I’m going to call what I used to call “quantum im-
mortality” “anthropic infinity” instead. It leads to the same conclu-
sions but without the need for the many-worlds interpretation of the
Uncertainty Principle. Even in a totally deterministic Universe the
extrapolation of causal infinity would lead to anthropic infinity, as
well as certain unavoidable aspects of indeterminacy, such as the
existence of everything altogether and its particular observed pat-
tern, beyond the inevitable requirement of an observer.

Written by ulrichschreglmann

April 4, 2010 at 12:58 am

Here is the Problem I have with Free Will.

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It’s the same problem I have with “deterministic universe” or “omnipo-
tent being.

You can imagine a model of the Universe in which everything is causally
related in some way, but then you look at the entirety of the thing —
all of it — and because it is everything there is nothing else and so
therefore there is nothing that could have caused that Universe to be
the way it is, or to be at all.

So even a totally deterministic Universe doesn’t mean everything is
connected to something outside itself. So you could, in turn, argue
that it isn’t really deterministic at all but completely arbitrary.

Then there’s ultimate power. Does it mean power over the very princi-
ple of cause and effect itself? The only way you have power is if
your decisions cause desired results. For that cause and effect must
exist first. If there were no cause and effect then no decisions
would have consequences, desired or otherwise.

So being all-powerful cannot mean having power over literally every-
thing. There are conditions that must exist for power to exist, over
which there is, therefore, no power to be had.

So then I hear all this talk about free will. Freedom means without
constrictions and coercion. But if there were no constrictions such as
causal relations between what you do and what happens then nothing you
did would have an effect and you would therefore not be free to choose
what happens. On the other hand, if there are such constrictions, al-
lowing you to have an effect on the world, then you are not totally
free to live in whatever world you choose, such as one in which your
decisions have no consequences.

No matter which way you turn it. Freedom is always relative. Deter-
minism is never perfect. Power is never all-encompassing. All those
terms, if you analyze them properly, contain contradictions in terms if
you try to create totalitarian versions of them.

So I’m actually bored by titles such as “Free Will is an Illusion,” or
whatever. Freedom, power, causation, are always relative, and if only
you go far enough you can seemingly turn those expressions on their
heads. But it’s like saying that because there is no up or down in the
Cosmos as a whole we should all be floating around “down here.” No, we
shouldn’t, because locally there are virtually inescapable gravity
wells. Stop wasting my time trying to blow my mind in such a primitive
fashion! It takes more than that.

Written by ulrichschreglmann

March 29, 2010 at 4:32 am

Posted in Free Will, Philosophy

Tagged with ,