When I began writing in college, my thoughts were mostly about my engineering classes, and my ideas arose from an interest in the physics of living systems. I wanted to understand how nature, seemingly chaotic, could produce such seeming harmony—how perpetual order could arise from a universe of perpetual disorder. Having just left my childhood faith, I often wondered about the absurdity of my existence, but I had no expectation of figuring anything out. Nonetheless, I felt that life was something to be cherished, and that human existence was not as meaningless as my atheist friends had claimed. So, driven by a furtive curiosity, I began to observe the world more broadly, looking for patterns in everything from physics to economics, from religion to politics. And as I connected the dots, I glimpsed a picture that has fully captivated my imagination. What began as a scientific curiosity has expanded into a perspective that I find wholly satisfying.
The following is an excerpt from an article published in The Atlantic by Nancy Andreasen, a neuropsychiatrist and neuroscientist who studies creativity:
Creative people are better at recognizing relationships, making associations and connections, and seeing things in an original way—seeing things that others cannot see. …Of course, having too many ideas can be dangerous. One subject, a scientist, described to me “a willingness to take an enormous risk with your whole heart and soul and mind on something where you know the impact—if it worked—would be utterly transformative.” The if here is significant. Part of what comes with seeing connections no one else sees is that not all of these connections actually exist. “Everybody has crazy things they want to try,” that same subject told me. “Part of creativity is picking the little bubbles that come up to your conscious mind, and picking which one to let grow and which one to give access to more of your mind, and then have that translate into action.”
I’ve always had a lot of ideas, and most of them are pretty bad. But I find this one to be quite compelling, and you might agree that this reality is worth entertaining. As I write in my introduction, “this logic defines a reason for our existence, a purpose that might satisfy our search for significance.” My philosophy, if true, describes a vision of the future given an assumption about our nature. It begins with a metaphysical concept that is at once both profound and practical, with implications for the future of science, society, and humanity at large. But my philosophy could be wrong, rending it a mere fantasy based on some pseudoscientific theory.
So, I see this more as an ideological experiment with an incredible outcome: the emergent self-organization of a sentient species. Exploring the space of plausible ideas (that is, ideas compatible with our understanding of science), might any of them effectively motivate our self-preservation? Is there an idea that might “save the world”? Here is an answer that I’ve found. My philosophy presents “a perspective that could inspire, from our seeming brokenness, a compassion that is global and a vision that brings us to the stars.” This is a reality formed from my observations and speculations about the human mind and its most powerful inclinations.
“I believe in intuition and inspiration. At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason… Knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.” – Albert Einstein (1879-1955), theoretical physicist, “Cosmic Religion and Other Opinions and Aphorisms”
“Human progress now calls for a shared framework that grounds our morals and aligns our values. World peace requires a “liberty and justice” that works for everyone. My philosophy offers an answer, and it does even more. Imagine another movement, one that revives the compassion and altruism potentiated by every major faith. But unlike other spiritual awakenings, this one begins with the intellectual mind.” (From “The Whole First”)
Here is a set of first principles on which we might agree, and on which we can build a shared reality. With regards to human survival, the utility of such an idea is undeniable. I have no doubt that its impact—if it’s true—will be “utterly transformative.” And the if here is significant.
On a personal level, this philosophy represents the beginning of an unending effort to justify my confidence in the sanctity of life and the inherent value that we attribute to our existence. Without a doubt, this is an attitude that remains from my religious roots. Like most of the world, I still want my existence to matter in the grand scheme of things. I want to believe that this life is, in fact, worth living. Thus began my struggle with existential nihilism, specifically the idea that the universe is void of objective meaning and purpose, that humanity has no real relevance. And I stumbled upon a logic that seemed too good to be true.
“My goal is not to change your mind, but to open your mind. My intention is not to make you think that I am right, but to make you think, for yourself, about your existence. …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) With this discussion, I hope to inspire a concern and curiosity for matters of existential significance, because the survival of humanity now necessitates a discourse on its destiny. Our continued being now requires an idea of what we might become. And should my ideas fail to advance some good in this world, then they will, at the very least, make for some fantastic science fiction.
“It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. It’s a crazy world out there. Be curious.” – Stephen Hawking (theoretical physicist, 1942-2018)
Thanks for checking out this site, and please feel free to share it with anyone who might be interested. And thank you to everyone who has offered encouragement, suggestions for improvement, or ideas of your own, because my philosophy depends on them. In fact, my thoughts by themselves aren’t all that novel. My worldview isn’t a wholly new idea, but more so a new way of putting old ideas together. As Newton said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” This perspective was born from many others, and its growth will require integrating broad and diverse sets of knowledge. In any case, feedback and evolution are both necessary for survival, including the survival of ideas. And what is the truth, if not an idea that survives?
“Humans may crave absolute certainty; they may aspire to it; they may pretend, as partisans of certain religions do, to have attained it. But the history of science—by far the most successful claim to knowledge accessible to humans—teaches that the most we can hope for is successive improvement in our understanding. We have a method, and that method helps us to reach not absolute truth, only asymptotic approaches to the truth—never there, just closer and closer, always finding vast new oceans of undiscovered possibilities.” – Carl Sagan (astonomer, 1934−1996)