Today is a good day. Today we listen to the joyous banging of the pan drums.
Yesterday I came up with a new word for my fictional Universe. If the human form, and all humanoid bodies are not based on the human being but in stead the visible identity of the original personality, ‘humanoid’ is only a useful term when describing this category of body when it is influenced by humans. So what is the more general term? Long story short, I settled on ‘reflectling’, as we all reflect the image of the original personality, reminiscent of the phrase ‘made in the image of god’, though this was no conscious phenomenon (and according to Greek Orthodox roots, neither was the creation of man by God, in my interpretation).
That was your fun anecdote for the day. What I’m really here to discuss is what makes us human. Do I believe in the framework of my stories as true to real life? Not really, but I do appreciate a less human-centric view of existence, so I introduced the practicality of having a more general term that includes humanity. Aside from a body, what can we share with extraterrestrial alien life? Our minds of course. This is what I mean to type about. Whether a thinking, feeling, and behaving mind is in a human brain, a electro-mechanical computer, or is just an absurd amount of energy containing its self in space, I think that general claims can be made about what it means to be intelligent.
We search for happiness; we search for meaning. We suffer; we fall prey to nihilism. Technically speaking, suffering and the emotional-cognitive patterns that lead to suffering in a peaceful environment and nihilism can be eradicated. Neuroscientists in the future and gods should be able to make this happen. What do we sacrifice in that case? Meaning seems to satisfy through challenge. Doing this would eliminate challenge. So how do we prevent the elimination of challenge? This sounds like a balancing problem. Do we allow- do we force our world to keep some level of chaos? Do we need war and poverty and terror?
That would be the external approach. I find that internal struggles are just as meaningful, if not moreso (you can still share these struggles with others, help others with their internal struggles for the sake of growing-closer), and they seem to be a lot safer! So, where does internal conflict lie? What is the root of the reason why we practice introspection? I point my finger at programming. What is mind programming? I blame emotions. Powerful mind constructs that bring about automatic behaviors, catching stimuli that pertains to them and reacting by triggering behaviors and other programs, are collections of solidified thoughts (abstract memories, I suppose) glued to emotions. This is how multiple programs can seem to be related to the same basic emotion, such as fear. Fear is at the base, but it is fear coupled with these crystallized thoughts or those crystallized thoughts.
These are what habits are. Habits are mind programs. They can do both good and bad. Habits that run in response to physical danger, triggering behavior that can nullify or avoid the danger, are generally good. Habits that trigger expression of aggression in response to a difference of opinion are bad. With this basic concept in mind, we should be able to develop our critical thinking habits, allowing us to function independently from our other habits (as much as possible) in order to consciously build new, better habits.
Some think that good habits have one thing in common, that they improve happiness. Following this goal to its logical conclusion, we are right back where we started, though. We start as robots autopiloted by a plethora of habits, regardless of whether they are good or bad. If we end up with only habits that make us happy, we can shut down our critical thinking and just be, because now, on autopilot, we will be happy no matter what stimulus we receive. Is this what being intelligent is all about?
I say that having an end goal in mind, an absolute end goal to end all goals, is counter to intelligence. The above model of goodness uses intelligence as a means to an end, which is some thing that Kant taught us to never do, with good reason (using people as a means to an end is regarded in popular belief as bad, regardless of the logic behind it). Do we want to utilize our intelligence only to get rid of it when we’re done with it? Are we intelligent beings only as a means to become unintelligent beings? I think that the answer is ‘no’.
So, for joy or suffering, too much reliance on habits is bad. Good instincts are still just instincts. What is the alternative? The opposite extreme would be to fight every habit all of the time, relying only on critical thinking, and constantly questioning and reinventing even that. With this we lose identity in a different way, we are the ’empty cup’ for an eternity. While this may seem to me like a better life than that of the habitually happy, I can only imagine how stressful and prone to suicidal nihilism it may be. Of course a balance is key. What does this mean? That even the best leaders and gods must have faulty programming. This is a roundabout way of providing the age-old ‘perfection in imperfection’ concept. A balance between chaos and order within the individual, with an interesting twist:
Emotional programming (subconscious) is chaos that brings about order (habitual responses to specific stimuli), and critical thinking (consciousness) is chaos (the ever-changing variable in the human equation) that brings about order.
Only with this in mind can one secure a life of challenge and peace, of purpose and happiness, all things needed to live in full.