Ask A Genius 428 – Scientific Nihilism: Nihil (5)

In-Sight Publishing

Ask A Genius 428 – Scientific Nihilism: Nihil (5)

October 30, 2018

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: If you look at humanism, they have the view of the cold universe but the meaning you get is the meaning you make, the Golden Rule matters, compassion matters, and science matters.

Rick Rosner: It is science plus existentialism.

Jacobsen: Yes, but not as bleak, it assumes a tendency in the inherent goodness in people.

Rosner: To wrap up, the possible future systems of belief are not as bleak as cold naturalism. That order in the universe might be a thing. That order might be connectable to ethics.

That is, in a set-theoretic way, there are, to some extent, absolutes of existence. Because one of the problems of cold naturalism is that universes can wink out in a quantum mechanical manner, leaving nothing.

No record of that existence. It is not as if the universe never was; it is that the universe never was, according to some versions of super cold naturalism. If there is a set-theoretic requirement of possible universes to exist, the constraints of what can and can not exist are not sufficiently tight to deny everything.

There may a certain absolutism to our existences, even though they are temporally limited. On the third hand, the whole set-theoretic argument itself be demolished by shit we discover farther into the future.

Jacobsen: If you take naturalism and the characterization of a cold, random universe, in the same way the Enlightenment was a reaction to the superstition and bigotry of the Christian church for centuries, and if you build a natural philosophic worldview, then you will derive naturalism through fundamental epistemologies. Your ontology will reflect this.

Rosner: That’s what happens a lot. As humans acquire or develop the power to make their wishes come true, they also tend to acquire the power to realize that said wishes are meaningless or some other bullshit.

Jacobsen: I think it’s a psychological construct. If you find yourself in a world of decentralized importance, at least geographically – so to speak – or topologically, your internal locus of control probably reduces. It is a theory. But I think it might be a psychological reflection of worldview. 

People saying, “Humanity and its lessening importance in a role in the universe implies a lessened importance of your own role,” which is probably the wrong frame of the conversation.

When you’re talking interpersonal things, you’re talking about how to relate to one another, and when you’re talking about how to relate to one another, then you’re talking about ethics. It builds right back into the Golden Rule, and it builds right back into its fundamental emergence in compassion.

That’s not meaningless at all.

Rosner: The upshot is that as we gain more and more control over the world and ourselves. We will have to rebuild ourselves. The values, translated as human values, will become, to put it glibly, post-human values.

This is what yelled at Lance for the last few sessions. What of your values will make it? He argued, “People will realize marriage is between one man and one woman.” He believes it will become well-established and completely apparent to everyone.

Jacobsen: It never was well-established. That’s a new thing!

Rosner: The idea that we’re going to keep biologically having kids and most of the conscious entities on Earth will be biological humans having biological kids. It will be the thing for the next 100 years.

Then it is “Katy, bar the door!” for a trillion alternate forms of consciousness.

Jacobsen: Anything that’s talking outside of the universe, the natural world or the physical world, is automatically a metaphysical perspective. Hence, the prefix. If you’re talking about an information processing universe that implies an armature, it automatically becomes not only an information-based universe but also a metaphysical informationalism.

Rosner: That’s true. Unless, you can haul it back into physics by coming up with some proof. But yes.

Jacobsen: When people talk about naturalism, whether humanistic or rationalistic or empiricist, or they have a split in their mind between a theology and they incorporate that somehow, looking at those ideas, the concept is a natural world for all of those.

It is almost taking metaphysics completely out of the equation, because they don’t see it as important. So, those questions do not get asked because they are keeping all the frameworks within a naturalistic perspective.

Rosner: To put it in general terms, any time that you take the dominant belief system in any civilization; 100% of past belief systems have been debunked by future or coming belief systems.

So, the idea that the natural world is everything and that it rolls along randomly or according to raw randomness or probability.

Jacobsen: Cosmic billiards.

Rosner: Yes, a clockworky kind of deal, the history of the past ideas getting debunked: those ideas themselves will probably get debunked themselves before too long.

Jacobsen: That would undermine entire philosophies.

Rosner: Well, all philosophies get undermined. That’s the nature of how stuff goes.

Jacobsen: The successful one gets refined. Newton is good for engineering but not black holes.

Rosner: What survived in the philosophies of antiquity, maybe Plato’s Cave, everyone knows Plato’s Cave.

Jacobsen: Laws of Logic, Animalia and Plantae, the first biological/taxonomical classifications there. But if you are talking about the world made of water, a world made of the infinite, and a world made of air, if you have Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes, then, yes, those are definitely gone. 

Rosner: Democritus gets credit for first postulating atoms.

Jacobsen: He and Leucippus, they were the Atomists.

Rosner: The argument is, you have to have smallest possible things in the universe or things are infinitely divisible. Once someone makes the argument, one half of the argument will be right.

Jacobsen: It’s those monads that you were talking about.

Rosner: Most philosophies get their asses kicked by increases in knowledge.

Jacobsen: But those are bounded to physical models of the world. So, the idea that everything is made of water, infinite, air, or atoms. Most are gone but atoms stay.

Rosner: Thos are bound to shit visions of the world, bound to wild guesses about the structures of things in the same way we are making wild guesses about Set Theory and armatures and ladders of armatures, and all that.

All that stuff will be rejiggered by future discoveries.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner

American Television Writer


Rick Rosner

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing


In-Sight Publishing


[1] Four format points for the session article:

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  2. Session article conducted, transcribed, edited, formatted, and published by Scott.
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For further information on the formatting guidelines incorporated into this document, please see the following documents:

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