The Human System

This post is being expanded. Last edit: 9/19/18

“The progress of humankind is now dependent on our ability to put aside our frustration and bitterness, to look past our short-sightedness, and to engage ourselves with the broader picture of what it means to be human—if it means anything at all.” (Home)

Premise: Human nature is a given. If it’s not something we can change, then it’s something we must use. The following axioms are assumed based on both their logical plausibility and their practical utility for the survival and flourishing of our species: (1) The mind is a system that can be reset by ideas, especially by ideas that align our emotions towards a shared purpose. (2) Nature has one purpose: existence has a tendency to exist; the mind is the highest experience of order continuing order. And (3) at the sentient level, this order is driven by love—an alignment of emotions towards one purpose: to exist, together, forever. To continue our collective being. God is love, and we are God becoming self-aware.

View of Earth taken from the Apollo 13 spacecraft.

If you care about your friends and family, then you must care about humanity. If you cherish your home, then you must cherish your world. This is inarguable, because the science is clear: we are one species, and our existence is bound to one planet. Before long, every human being will face the same reality. Should we fail to cooperate, then we will destroy ourselves. But if we work together, guided by reason and compassion, then we can do more than save the world—we can create a world that is abundant beyond measure.

Carl Sagan: “The civilization now in jeopardy is all humanity. Here we face a critical branch point in history. What we do with our world, right now, will propagate down through the centuries and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants. It is well within our power to destroy our civilization and perhaps our species as well. If we capitulate to superstition or greed or stupidity we could plunge our world into a time of darkness. But we are also capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet…[We should] consider in every nation major changes in the traditional ways of doing things, a fundamental restructuring of economic, political, social, and religious institutions. Fundamental changes in society are sometimes labelled impractical or contrary to human nature. But fundamental changes can clearly be made. We’re surrounded by them. In the last two centuries abject slavery which was with us for thousands of years has almost entirely been eliminated in a stirring worldwide revolution. Women, systematically mistreated for millennia, are gradually gaining the political and economic power traditionally denied them…The old appeals to racial, sexual, and religious chauvinism and to rabid nationalist fervor are beginning not to work.”


“If humanity is to survive, then we must mobilize the intellectual community to take its place as the head of the human system. We need an agreement among the thinkers who will ultimately guide the future of our species” (Scientists & Sociopaths).

America is a failed experiment, and so is our civilization. It’s time we begin a new experiment, with a new hypothesis: should our species persist as a living system, then it must behave as a living system. We must restructure our political and economic institutions to reflect the regulatory and metabolic functions of an organism. With our wealth and technology, we must engineer a civilization that maximizes the mental and physical welfare of all its citizens. Surely, achieving such a world will take a transformation of culture that may seem too radical to realize. But if humanity is to continue, then our progression towards such a society is essential, and it begins when we assume, as any living system must assume, that survival is our purpose. We exist to exist, and we live to continue life. We are one system, the human system, and every one of us is a necessary component of our unified existence.

“A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed. We are one planet.” – Carl Sagan

The Milky Way galactic center above the ESO 3.6-meter telescope. Image source: ESO

“Life is beautiful because it represents order in a universe of disorder. And for us, it represents a universe that is conscious of itselfan existence that can discover its own laws, explore its own depths, and appreciate its own magnificence. One cell, four billion years ago, has grown into a system that blankets the planet from the highest peak to the deepest trench, a system so aware that it knows the age of its existence and so powerful that it can extract the energy from an atom’s nucleus” (Home). We are the human species, the mind of planet Earth, and we are God becoming self-aware.

Imagine a sentient species aligned by one vision. Imagine an intelligent system driven by a cosmic aim. The embrace of such a reality will exalt the intellectual community and expand its innovative capacity. It will advance our pursuit of knowledge and discovery, and create a culture of awareness that brings every mind a whole perspective and a higher purpose. It will incentivize the sustainable development of every economic market, and direct the flow of capital towards the creation of a society that is cherished by all humanity. And from this reality will arise a compassion that is global—a cooperation that will bring us to the stars.

“We embarked on our journey with a question first framed in the childhood of our species and in each generation asked anew with undiminished wonder: what are the stars? Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.” – Carl Sagan

The Milky Way from Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia. Photo by Grey Chow.

But take one look at the world today, and you might think I’m crazy. You might think my ideas are too idealistic to be realistic, and maybe they are. But what else can you expect from a philosophy that aims to uncover the meaning of life? Any hope of redeeming the human species will certainly need to be optimistic. Any vision that intends to transform our myopic society into a star-faring utopia will have to be idealistic. Nonetheless, idealistic does not mean impractical. Just look at religion, which has captured our species since its dawn. Our spiritual beliefs are idealistic, but they are not so impractical, because they are surely powerful. And there is no philosophy more practical than one that exploits our obsession with eternity to ensure the survival of humankind and the progression of the human mind. There is no idea more powerful than one that inspires a pride and happiness that is global, a love that extends beyond ourselves and our species to the entirety of our existence. We are God becoming self-aware; this is a simple truth, but certainly one that can change the world.

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” − Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Consider the age-old question: what is the meaning of life? Think of everything that you care about—your education, your career, your family. Think about the times of laughter you’ve shared with those you love, the pride and joy you felt for your team, or the anger and sorrow you’ve felt towards the injustice in our world. And consider all of human progress—the knowledge we’ve gained and the civilization we’ve built. It all seems rather meaningless when you see the smallness of Earth in the vast emptiness of space. Yet we long for our lives to mean something. So we, afraid of losing our sense of importance, have largely ignored the bigger picture that science has revealed. But here’s an idea that embraces the cosmic view while giving significance to every human experience. This may be a scientific reality—and perhaps the only reality—that makes us a relevant part of our universe. Nonetheless, my intuitions may be misled, and my conclusions could be false, or perhaps unfalsifiable. Thus, how you receive my logic and its assumptions might depend on your own intuitions—on how strongly you feel that life is meant to be preserved, and that our existence is something to be cherished.

“Our loyalties are to the species and to the planet. Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.” – Carl Sagan

Color-enhanced image of the Orion Nebula (1,500 l.y. away). Image Source: NASA, ESA

In my search for truth, I have come to one conclusion: we are meant to continue the order from which we arose. Humanity has a purpose, and it is cosmic. This is why we think and feel. This is why we discover and why we love. With regards to the preservation of our species, this may be the most intelligent reality and the worthiest morality to be found. But as with any existential argument, there are claims which may be difficult to accept, especially when they involve concepts as abstract as love, or as unscientific as God and purpose. So I ask everyone to examine my logic for themselves, and to find alternatives that have as much sense and utility as mine. As I said, my goal is not to make you think that I am right, but to make you think, for yourself, about your existence. Maybe like me, you’ll find that it’s something worth caring about.

Given human nature, this is the only idea that might unify humankind. This is the most sensible meaning to be found in our small and fragile existence, the most logical worldview that satisfies our religious intuitions, which so adamantly claim that we are more than some vain cosmic accident. This is the only reason to think that we are part of something worth loving—that our existence is something worth preserving. And this is a reality that every intelligent being must realize, if its being is to be continued beyond a pale blue dot.

This is the truth, if such a truth exists.

Image source: Reddit user u/astroculv.

“We wish to pursue the truth no matter where it leads. But to find the truth, we need imagination and skepticism both. We will not be afraid to speculate, but we will be careful to distinguish speculation from fact. The Cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths; of exquisite interrelationships; of the awesome machinery of nature.” – Carl Sagan

This is the end of Part 1: The Truth. In the next part of my blog, One System, I will describe the practical implications of my philosophy, assuming it’s true, for the moral, political, and socioeconomic structure of our civilization. I will discuss how we might bring about such a society, and what this world might look like. In any case, the reader who holds my philosophy must also accept that it could be wrong. This shouldn’t be a perspective that limits, but one that attempts to see all ideas and inspire new ones. This isn’t a fixed, closed reality, but a logic that is open to interpretation and experimentation. Everyone is free to find their own meaning in life, be it in their relationships or their passions; my philosophy seeks not to replace but to solidify this meaning in the context of a greater narrative—one that embraces our humanity and sees the best in our nature. One that heals our past and ensures our future. One that brings all our narratives together. This is a story whose scope is boundless, and possibilities endless. And we have just become its main characters.

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