The June 4, 2007
Life, the Universe, and Everything
Let us defer to the scientists, and stipulate that the stuff of the universe is
Particles, and Energy, and something Dark we can't see.
The stuff we can see, we measure; and it moves, and bumps. Sometimes it bumps
us. We divide up the movements and the bumps, and call the basic ones Physics,
and the complex ones, Chemistry. If they're far away, we call them Cosmology.
The modeling of the stuff and the moving and the bumping we call Mathematics.
The dark part we can't see, we can call Mxyzptlk or Odin or 42. Since we can't
see it, and it doesn't bump us, it doesn't much matter.
When the chemistry becomes very complicated, it turns into Biology. And when
the biology becomes self-aware, it discovers Language and Politics and Art and
History. Those aren't really part of the essential moving and bumping, since
we made them up, but we can use them to argue about the dark stuff, and to bump
Mathematics and physics and chemistry are very good at explaining how all the
essential moving and bumping happens. It makes us feel more secure, in our
self-aware state, to try to predict when we might get bumped by the universe,
even if we can't account for the bumps we cause ourselves.
But there's this awkward period when we're self-aware, but we don't know very
much about physics or chemistry, because we're still inventing mathematics, and
we're distracted by language and politics.
We want explanations, and we want not to be bumped, and if we're going to be
bumped, we want to know when and where and how, so we can make it not happen.
We ask the smartest people we know to explain it to us. But even the smart
people are not yet scientists, in this awkward period, and they're busy
inventing mathematics, so somebody who isn't busy makes up a story.
The story doesn't keep us from getting bumped, so we complain to the
not-yet-scientists, or whoever made up the story, and they say:
"Getting bumped is what happens when you are stupid; pay attention to our
story, and you won't get bumped, or not as much; but everyone is stupid, so
expect to get bumped anyway, especially if you dispute our story."
Eventually, some real scientists share the great secret of mathematics and
physics and chemistry:
"Being stupid has nothing to do with it, except when you bump each other. Some
bumps just happen. Help each other when you get bumped. And stop bumping each
Self awareness (under the assumption that I can use self-consciousness
interchangeably here) is what differentiates humans from all other life; within
the bounds of what we know. Self-consciousness, being unique to humans, gives
us an awareness of ourselves that allows us to think about the fact that we
think and provides the opportunity to be bumped. Self-consciousness/awareness
causes misperceptions. If we could find that higher consciousness, that cosmic-
consciousness we would never feel the bumps.
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