I would like to share my thoughts on and expand a topic which Bernardo Kastrup touched back in “Rationalist Spirituality”.
He postulated and argued that the meaning of existence, as individual splinters from the cosmic consciousness that generates and sustains the Universe (Atman is Brahman, eh?) is to enrich the knowledge of Universe about itself, or, in other words, to gather meaning out of our lives. The compelling case he made seems very natural and common sense to me, so that i won’t even argue on it, rather will use it as a starting point.
But for each individual, this process is very brief, when compared to the universal scale, due to aging and the seemingly inescapable death. But what is death anyway? Death it is just a fuzzily defined state in which our body becomes unable to support the individual “segment” of consciousness that is our mind. The reason for which this happens is (excluding violent/unnatural deaths) entropy.
As a physical phenomenon, entropy is the inescapable universal consequence of the second law of thermodynamics. In layman terms, the entropy (measurement for the increase of disorder) in a system always increases.
Thus, as complex biological systems, organisms, such our own body, are seemingly doomed to gradually lose their complexity after a certain age and lose vital information, which corresponds to the process of aging, that eventually ends up in death.
A short and vivid description of what entropy is, we can find in this excerpt from Through the Wormhole with Michio Kaku:
Nonetheless, a very interesting aspect is that fact that even if, individually, this is the case, at the level of the entire ecosystem, life seems to be an anti-entropic phenomenon. That means that the complexity of life increases. Numbers of individuals grow, number of species grows as well, and, in the case of humans, their complexity as individuals increases as well, over the course of history.
Put in the context of Bernardo’s idea of existence having a meaning in knowledge of itself, life is the vehicle through which the Universe seeks to know itself, otherwise the process being impossible and everything would evolve towards the state of highest entropy with no structures and no informational enrichment whatsoever.
But what would happen if individuals would be able to live and gather information forever?
From the entropic point of view, that is somehow possible. In another video (unfortunately i can’t find it now), Michio Kaku made another visual depiction of what reversing entropy means. In a box of marbles, after they get mixed (entropy increase) he would manually separate them, as they were in the original structure, before the mixing began.
That means any structure that suffered the entropic decay could come back to its original shape, with two things:
- Knowledge about its original structure
- Energy to reverse the process
Basically, if we would PERFECTLY knew the biological structure and laws of our bodies, we could use energy in various forms to prevent or repair the decay of the physical body so that it would be able to sustain our consciousness nearly endlessly. I say nearly endlessly, because i am not aware what would the end of the Universe be. In the context of a Big Freeze/Rip, there is not such thing as real immortality in the physical realm, because of two reasons: eventually the Universe will run out of energy AND time and space itself will end. Nonetheless, i tend to believe in a Big Crunch scenario leading to a never ending cycle of creation and destruction, because it sounds more natural to everything we know about the workings of the Universe.
So, coming back at the subject at hand, lets suppose we master biology and medicine and through biologic or cybernetic engineering we become biologically immortal. One question posed is: Is that even “good” for the goal of life and universe itself?
Perhaps one answer is that we would then have the “duty” to continue to gather information and knowledge to near godly states. Sounds fine to me. Knowledge as the purpose in itself of an immortal being would indeed, pose no contradiction to Bernardo’s postulate as raison d’etre.
What are your thoughts upon it?