Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Death of my Father, the Omega Point, and the Explanatory Gap part 2

     The Omega Point is the ultimate supreme consciousness toward which the universe was being drawn.  There is a great wikipedia article on the Omega Point, by the way.  It is certainly a comforting thought that one is part of a larger, infinite whole, Dad used to tell he was a panentheist:  I hope that Dad was indeed taking great comfort in his philosophy/theology during the final days of his arduous illness.

     It's not fair that I get to have comments on this philosophy after his passing, but I think Dad would want me to continue thinking about it both privately and publicly, so here goes...  I completely reject this entire philosophy.  I see nothing in the Universe to suggets it tends toward anything grand.  It all seems to me to be, in the words of Bertrand Russell(please excuse any sexism and/or stereotyping of Victorian governesses), "Full of spots and jumps, without continuity, without coherence or any of the other properties that governesses love."  Note that this quote is from Russell's work 'The Scientific Outlook' written in 1930 -- he actually accused Huxley of plaigerizing some of his ideas in Brave New World.

     It's true that we see our own development from earlier forms as one of increasing complexification from simpler life forms.   It seems logical that a certain ramping up of complexity in brain functions would have been very advantageous. But it is does not follow that 'consciousness' will continue to 'increase', whatever that even means.  Once machines develop the ability to produce machines with capabilities that we can't, and even to decide which machines should be built, we really will be seeing the effect of a 'singularity', but I can't see from a philosophical point of view, why these machines would be conscious our would improve our consciousness.  Nor is it clear that any increase of consciousness will have the moral qualities my father would hope for. 

    As an aside, when I was a Mennonite, I believed that an absolute commitment to nonviolence was the way of the future.  I am still committed to nonviolence but violence seems to be an inescapable part of evolution; aggression, with its attendant evils, is just part of survival.  I think now, despite what might be my fondest hopes, that violence is here to stay, it may even get worse.  As an individual, though, I can still see the benefit of supporting nonviolent means for dealing with conflict.
I thought youth was supposed to be idealistic, but it appears my father was more idealistic in his thinking than I am.

In the next post I will examine the relationship between evolution, Chardin, and the famous 'Explanatory Gap' in the philosophy of mind.



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