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A resounding “Meh.”
surreality, chameleons in space!, space
So it’s the anniversary of the moon landings. Am I the only one who’s reaction is firstly “meh,” and secondly, “well, bloody lot we’ve managed to do since then, isn’t it?”

Am I supposed to be impressed that we hit the moon in 1969 and have done jack all to get us into space since? It’s actually rather depressing.

Less sardonically facetious, I’m not all that about the landing’s anniversary, but I do look around at current efforts and have to feel like we’re in a much less imaginative age. We’re making great strides with electronics and communications technology here on Earth, and that’s cool and stuff, but it won’t do us much good when we overcrowd the planet. We’re way behind the curve for getting into space. China has a space program now, to get out there and off the planet, and I’m pleased—someone needs to do it. Bush has the imagination and vision of a spirochete when you put him beside Kennedy, and the Democrats are trying to ape him and the Republicans so much that it’s laughable that NASA will ever regain the peak that they reached with Apollo 11.

A resounding “Meh.”

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In fact, if life echoes the point of things inside it on a larger scale, then it's as likely to have the point of a leaf (be produced, exist for awhile, and then return to its original components in totally different form) as it is of the particular protiens we call genes.

But the leaf is doing those things to feed the tree, which is growing to get to maturity and breed to perpetuate its genes, which are creating vessels to protect and perpetuate themselves to just keep continuing to exist...

Are you saying you feel this is why you want to do it, in the end, and we'll agree to disagree and avoid generalities too much together? Or do you feel you want to do this, and you're looking backwards to try and figure out why?

A bit of column A, a bit more of column B. In searching for meaning there are many layers: the reason the meanings are meaningful, the reasons those meanings are meaningful, and so on ad infinitum. What lies at the end of that?

Essentially, it comes down to either getting on Life's bandwagon and doing whatever it is that it's existing to do, or there's little difference between whether I watch TV or become a brain surgeon. Further, if the point of Life just is and doesn't have meaning, then my participation has no meaning and I could just as well exist as not exist.

Or... take a huge left turn at the light: my existence has meaning to other bits of Life (people, cats, etc.), but isn't their own existence and/or meaning tied up with Life? Maybe not, maybe the intertwining meanings have significance of their own, somehow forming something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Then again, if that's so, maybe that's the nearest level of transcendence that I was thinking about earlier, and it's just another ploy of Life's to expand into new and uncharted niches of reality.

You can find the perpetuating-your-genes theme in most things if you look deep enough, yes. You can find the cycle, birth-death-gone theme in most things if you look for them, too-- in genes, in populations, in species, just as much as anywhere. If you choose to focus on one, yes, you can find that one on any example.

The thing is, life's greater than the sum of its parts on every level. The selfish-genes thing is not likely to be a paradigm that continues forever, even in science. Already it's starting to be antiquated, we begin to see self-sacrificing behaviours (in the individual and the species level) and we see no real 'return' on the value that we've figured out yet. Perhaps they help keep the system stable, which preserves the genes of everything within it? C'est possible. Is a crocodile 'more sucessful' than a human for having retained an apparently stable geneset longer? A bacteria? But wait, you're speaking only of life that makes it beyond the universe, not longer on any shorter scale.

I've read the Selfish Gene, it doesn't make me an expert by any means, but the 'apparent altruistic behaviours' in there don't even begin to scratch the surface of what was discovered since it was written.

Getting on life's bandwagon in your genetic sense would involve doing a lot of things I'm quite happy not to do, and many I'd rather not see happen. Luckily, for me, I've already fulfilled my life-linked goal (existing, which is the point, and I have thus participated, which gives me meaning, and so it's good that I exist) and so I can get down to human goals that might not be linked to this gene thing. Be nice to people? Be nice to plants? Be mean to people I don't like? Those are all divorced, set in a seperate sphere that is removed from 'real' morality, and lives in the 'human-created' morality where my gut feeling and my for-the-best-of-all join together to make a gloriously complicated and unintelligible mismash of 'shoulds' and 'should-nots'.

So yes, society as a greater-than-the-sum-of-people? Definitely. Definitely. More worthwhile, because it's greater? Eh. It's enough, more is neat and wonderful but not the point, it's just gravy. But yeah, that's life expanding into (Dawkins-type) memespace for you, propagating like crazy.

And again, I have to restate-- I don't believe there has to be a goal to be meaning.

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