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Author Topic:   Information and purpose or no purpose.
Suspended Member (Idle past 3958 days)
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Joined: 06-01-2006

Message 1 of 3 (395138)
04-15-2007 10:39 AM

Proposing a new thread on the purpose and meaning of information vs. it's non-meaning and non-purpose. Trying to honor the Topic requirements.

In message 136 of the thread Abiogenesis www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=13&t=81&m=136#136 -->www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=13&t=81&m=136#136">http://www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=13&t=81&m=136#136
Doddy writes the following:

Rob writes:
In one area we are talking definition. In the other we are talking about purpose.

Doddy: Yeah, I agree with that.

Rob writes:

The purpose is simply part of the definition.

Doddy: Nope, can't agree with that.

Purpose is intelligence. Purpose is something we, as intelligent agents, assign to things. There is no purpose in the universe without us.

But, you may say, is not the purpose of a lac inhibitor protein to inhibit transcription of the lac operon? Is not the purpose of a neuron to convey action potentials? Is not the purpose of the strong nuclear force to hold electrons together? Is not the purpose of the sun rising to give light and energy to the life of the earth?

The answer is, no. That's what they do, that is not the purpose. It is the 'what' and 'how', not the 'why'. The purpose of a bike is for someone to ride it, but what it does is transfer kinetic energy.

This can be hard to understand, because our brains operate based upon purposes, but consider that the purpose of an object is not actually 'real' in the sense that mass and energy are real, but implied by us.

Consider the scenario mentioned by Richard Dawkins in his book, Climbing Mount Improbable. He asked his daughter, I think it was, what the purpose of a flower was. Her answer was along the lines of "To look pretty and give the bees something to eat". Now, Richard was at the time I believe thinking along the lines of flowering being a good survival strategy for the plant's genes. But neither are in fact true. Plants do not flower for a purpose. There is no answer to 'Why do plants flower?'. There is an answer to "How do plants flower?", and "What is flowering?" and "What uses are there for flowers?" and even "How did flowering evolve?", but not to why. There was no intelligence involved in the flowering process, and so any purpose is only implied by intelligence in retrospect. As evident in that Dawkins initially implied a different purpose to flowering than his daughter did - why would that be, if purpose was as obvious as mass or energy?


Rob's Reply:

Doddy, you've raised questions that really belong in another topic. So here it is, if the Admins are willing.

All of your talk of purpose and meaning must assume one of two things: Was existence created by intelligence or not?

I say yes... you say no. that's where the difference lies.

What you and Dawkins say is true under your assumptions. But there are some dominoes that fall as a result of those assumptions that are plainly unacceptable in moral terms. I'll only hint at it here.

I have a couple questions:

What is your purpose for saying there is no purpose?
Why do you say all of this has no intrinsic meaning?

I ask, because as you said, it is intelligence (us) that infers meaning and purpose. And you do have a meaning and purpose for seeing it the way you do. Yours is not a neutral worldview (though you preach it as such).

There was a man who answered such questions. His name is Aldous Huxley. In his book 'Ends and Means', he was curtious enough to mechanically confess his motives. And why not? It is not as though it matters in the end whether we are honest or not, because as Bertrand Russel said of our existence, 'It's just there'! And as Dawkins said, 'There's no such thing as good and bad. We're all just dancing to our DNA'.

Consider Huxley's honesty and please do respond if it is meaningful to you.

"I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning - the Christian meaning, they insisted - of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever."
(Aldous Huxley / Ends and Means)

Edited by Rob, : No reason given.

Posts: 1909
From: Denver,Colorado USA
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Message 2 of 3 (395150)
04-15-2007 11:59 AM

Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by NosyNed, posted 04-15-2007 12:11 PM AdminPhat has not yet responded

Posts: 8842
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Message 3 of 3 (395154)
04-15-2007 12:11 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminPhat
04-15-2007 11:59 AM

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