Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Ultimate Questions

"'...long after Earth is gone, when the universal night has extinguished all the stars, and all the cosmos dies of final entropy, the entities with the most wealth and stored-up energy...'"


"'...shall be the very last to go.'"
-John C. Wright, The Golden Age (New York, 2003), p. 43.

That conclusion surprised me because I expected some variation on Poul Anderson's speculations summarized here. See also here.

"'...which of us is simple enough to be understood by, or complex enough to understand, ourselves?!'" (p. 33)

That is a good question. Are we complex enough to understand and simple enough to be understood by ourselves? Can consciousness understand its own emergence from preconscious processes? A neurological description of a brain and a psychological description of a mind are related how? (See here.) I think that naturally selected organismic sensitivity to environmental alterations quantitatively increased until it was qualitatively transformed into conscious sensation. Thus, there was a first moment of consciousness and it was preceded by a very long period of unconscious physics, chemistry and biology. Mere internal complexity does not become conscious but that combined with quantitatively increasing and interacting external sensitivity might. But there remains a qualitative difference between unconsciousness and consciousness and we know/recognize/are conscious of this difference only by being conscious of it.


S.M. Stirling said...

"If our consciousness were so simple that we could understand it, we would be too simple to comprehend it."

Paul Shackley said...

Mr Stirling,
Yes, I was trying to formulate something like that!

Sean M. Brooks said...


I've also thought that Matthew 10.16b applies: "Be therefore wise as serpents, and guileless as doves."