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Thu Dec 13, 2012, 02:14 PM

Sorcerers and Science

In the Disney movie "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", after Mickey unleashes forces he can't control, the Sorcerer comes back and saves the day.

These days it feels to me as though we have much in common with poor Mickey. We have unleashed a number of forces - such as climate change - that are threatening to drown us, and seem to have slipped out of our control. Unfortunately for us, there is no Sorcerer waiting offscreen to save our imprudent bacon, there is just us.

I don't expect us to be able to wriggle our way out of this with science. We probably need magic, and science doesn't do magic. This is why for me it all comes back to the personal, the place where magic has always lived.

I feel that many aspects of our unfolding reality are being driven more by impersonal external forces than by human volition. At the same time, the aspects of life that are most important and satisfying to us as individuals have always been those matters of personal choice. This reinforces my sense that all significant human-driven change in the coming years will happen at the grass roots, among individuals making personal choices for personal reasons.

Something is whispering to me that the stark juxtaposition of personal, individual choices and impersonal global forces will become the overarching narrative of the next decades. In that story-line, the institutions through which we have traditionally interacted with the world - politics, economics, science and religion to name just a few - may become (are becoming?) increasingly irrelevant.

I think humanity is out of time, but what that means in terms of specifics I haven't the foggiest idea. The universe sets the stage, while we get to write and perform the play. That's good enough for me.

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Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Reply Sorcerers and Science (Original post)
GliderGuider Dec 2012 OP
NoOneMan Dec 2012 #1
GliderGuider Dec 2012 #3
NoOneMan Dec 2012 #4
GliderGuider Dec 2012 #5
NoOneMan Dec 2012 #6
DCKit Dec 2012 #2
pscot Dec 2012 #7
GliderGuider Dec 2012 #8
pscot Dec 2012 #9

Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 03:34 PM

1. Do we get to write the play?

 

I certainly do not remember choosing the size of the earth, the amount of arable land, the efficiency of natural photosynthesis, etc...

Everything that is is because of specific physical rules operating on a single system/process (like the big bang), that has, over near infinite-time, created complex micro-systems with their own rule-sets bound by the universal rules. In the end, we are just performing the play (which is in itself another system, like agrarian civilization, bound by rules). "We" can perhaps change the play insofar as the rule-bound environment is hit with the precise amount of inputs that could produce a mass large enough to enable change.

We are stuck in some sort of Von Neumann Universe or some infinite state automata (consisting of multiple internal "independent" automata) that produces output we cannot choose, so much as exists as part of; any "choice" we make is actually an output of the machine itself.

This somewhat overlaps another debate about everything that is is the result of "human nature", which I find great fault with. I think that everything that is is rather the result of a rule-based "game" that created a self-sustaining system that humans may not in fact ever consciously chose. This is only important if the recognition of this "game" could alter its players circuitry, such that they would collectively pursue a more favorable "game" that could even be more compatible with a "human nature" we are not familiar with (which may be beyond possibility at this point).

In any case, I think we are just players in an originally simple game whose rules perpetually increased complexity, and which will do so infinitely. I do find it incredible, if this is the case, that life has even reached this stage and trended in this direction in our small corner of the universe. Its almost luring to think there is actually a reason for it. In any case, with or without us here, the rules will continually evolve and continually produce something, which may or may not trend toward species with increased cleverness.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 04:30 PM

3. I have a very different take on it.

Yes, I behave as though we do get to write the play, as though my choices affect reality on every level. I find my life works better that way, as I tend to be more mindful about things in general. YMMV.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #3)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 04:46 PM

4. I don't think what I've presented precludes mindfulness

 

If we are in some rule-based machine, then surely every action our own multi-processor brain produces cascades outward upon that system. Recognizing the universe like this doesn't embrace resignation to fatalism, but encourages an understanding of the system so that you can act upon it to produce a more beneficial environment (one that your personal machine derives more pleasure from). This is of course the computer science side of me talking here.

I also theorize that our machines already know how to act beneficially, and that sometimes over-thinking (over-riding) those instinctual processes is what has led to this mess; a process that is perpetrated by the current self-sustaining system we are in. Perhaps only by recognizing the malaise of this artificial, unnecessary system and tuning into our instinctual programming can we replace it with a more sustainable system.

By the time we re-figure everything out--maybe by unfiguring things out--we will probably be out of time.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #4)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 05:31 PM

5. No, it doesn't.

I just said that my view promotes mindfulness for me. Others have different ways of getting there.

My preferred view of the universe is as a conscious living organism. I used to be a mechanist, but I moved away from that view a few years ago because it no longer suited me. I'm not here to argue worldviews any more - whatever floats your boat is OK with me.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #5)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 05:36 PM

6. Gotcha

 

Whether the universe is a conscious organism or not, the results are the same. It is remarkable that through all that chaos, beings with consciousness were produced along the way.

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 03:39 PM

2. Not to worry. Rick Perry will lead the national prayer group...

 

but we still can't call it "climate change". Something with "Satan" in the title would work though.

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 12:20 AM

7. I sacrificed a chicken tonight

I don't suppose that'll help much, but it made good gravy.

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Response to pscot (Reply #7)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 12:33 AM

8. I'm a vegetarian...

But I prefer it if my vegetables are processed by an animal first. I'm partial to fatted calves...

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #8)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 12:51 AM

9. Given the price of fatted calves (Costco has 'em)

we reserve those for special appeals to Zeus Thunderer, or whatever name he prefers to be called.

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