“What is the meaning of life?” is a question that has driven many to atrocities, to themselves and to others. In a wicked attempt to overcome the ‘weakness’ resulting from the inability to answer the question, some believe that they should live with a gun under their nose.
An often cited quote from Nazi Hermann Göring: “When I hear the word culture, I unlock my gun!”
It is easy to argue that life has no meaning because empirical evidence is impossible.
In science the inability to define the meaning of life has resulted in an ideal to abolish morality completely.
(2018) Immoral advances: Is science out of control?
To many scientists, moral objections to their work are not valid: science, by definition, is morally neutral, so any moral judgement on it simply reflects scientific illiteracy.
Source: New Scientist (PDF backup)
(2019) Science and Morals: Can morality be deduced from the facts of science?
The issue should have been settled by philosopher David Hume in 1740: the facts of science provide no basis for values. Yet, like some kind of recurrent meme, the idea that science is omnipotent and will sooner or later solve the problem of values seems to resurrect with every generation.
Source: Duke University: New Behaviorism (PDF backup)
Morality is based on ‘values’ and that logically means that science also wants to get rid of philosophy.
Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) in Beyond Good and Evil (Chapter 6 – We Scholars) shared the following perspective on the evolution of science in relation to philosophy.
The declaration of independence of the scientific man, his emancipation from philosophy, is one of the subtler after-effects of democratic organization and disorganization: the self- glorification and self-conceitedness of the learned man is now everywhere in full bloom, and in its best springtime – which does not mean to imply that in this case self-praise smells sweet. Here also the instinct of the populace cries, “Freedom from all masters!” and after science has, with the happiest results, resisted theology, whose “hand-maid” it had been too long, it now proposes in its wantonness and indiscretion to lay down laws for philosophy, and in its turn to play the “master” – what am I saying! to play the PHILOSOPHER on its own account.
It shows the path that science has pursued since as early as 1850. Science has intended to rid itself of philosophy.
Perspectives on philosophy by scientists at a forum of Cambridge University provide an example:
Philosophy is bunk.
You may describe philosophy as a search for knowledge and truth. That is indeed vanity. Science is about the acquisition of knowledge, and most scientists avoid the use of “truth”, preferring “repeatability” as more in line with our requisite humility in the face of observation.
Philosophers always pretend that their work is important and fundamental. It isn’t even consistent. You can’t build science on a rickety, shifting, arbitrary foundation. It is arguable that Judaeo-Christianity catalysed the development of science by insisting that there is a rational plan to the universe, but we left that idea behind a long time ago because there is no evidence for it.
Philosophy never provided a solution. But it has obstructed the march of science and the growth of understanding.
Philosophy is a retrospective discipline, trying to extract something that philosophers consider important from what scientists have done (not what scientists think – scientific writing is usually intellectually dishonest!). Science is a process, not a philosophy. Even the simplest linguistics confirms this: we “do” science, nobody “does” philosophy.
Science is no more or less than the application of the process of observe, hypothesise, test, repeat. There’s no suggestion of belief, philosophy or validity, any more than there is in the rules of cricket or the instructions on a bottle of shampoo: it’s what distinguishes cricket from football, and how we wash hair. The value of science is in its utility. Philosophy is something else.
Philosophers have indeed determined the best path forward for humanity. Every religion, communism, free market capitalism, Nazism, indeed every ism under the sun, all had their roots in philosophy, and have led to everlasting conflict and suffering. A philosopher can only make a living by disagreeing with everyone else, so what do you expect?
As can be seen, from the perspective of science, philosophy, which includes morality, should be abolished for science to flourish.
When science is practiced autonomously and intends to get rid of any influence of philosophy, the ‘knowing’ of a fact necessarily entails certainty. Without certainty, philosophy would be essential, and that would be obvious to any scientist, which it apparently is not.
It means that there is a belief involved (a belief in uniformitarianism) that legitimizes autonomous application of science without thinking about whether it is actually ‘good’ what is being done (i.e. without ‘morality’).
The idea that facts are valid without philosophy results in the natural tendency to completely abolish morality.
A case for morality
When it concerns the question whether morality is to be considered to be of substance, it concerns the question whether ‘meaning’ (as in “the meaning of life”) is applicable on a fundamental level (a priori or “before value”).
The following logic provides evidence that ‘meaning’ is applicable on a fundamental level.
Value (meaningful pattern)
The simplest departure from pure randomness implies value (meaningful pattern). This is evidence that all that can be seen in the world – from the simplest pattern onward – is value.
Value (meaningful pattern) is necessarily signified by perception on a fundamental level (a pattern can only derive significance by perception). This implies that the origin of value is to be considered ‘pure meaning’.
The following logic provides evidence:
- the origin of the quality patternness cannot be a pattern
- the origin of patternness is necessarily meaningful and thus is to be considered ‘pure meaning’ because a deviation from that concept would result in a pattern
- a pattern is signified by perception
Conclusion: perception-as-signifier must precede a pattern on a fundamental level because as signifier it represents ‘pure meaning’ that cannot be a pattern.
The preceding logic implies that ‘meaning’ is applicable on a fundamental level.
Origin of life: ‘good per se’
It was established in the theory of the origin of life that consciousness is a manifestation of the origin of life.
Consciousness can only manifest itself on the basis of information provided by the senses. Therefor, to explain the origin of consciousness is to explain the origin of sensing.
Sensing necessarily requires a ‘qualitative distinguish-ability’ which is provided for by ‘valuing‘.
The origin of valuing cannot be value (meaningful pattern) by the simple logical truth that the origin of value cannot be value itself.
By the nature of value, valuing requires a distinguish-ability which it logically appropriates from what can be indicated as ‘good per se’ (good that cannot be valued).
The origin of life is therefor established to be ‘good per se‘ (pure meaning).
Purpose of life: ‘good per se’
What preceded life on a fundamental level logically lays beyond it from the perspective of an individual. Therefor, the origin of life is also the purpose or goal of life. Life logically will seek the origin of itself, i.e. develop subjective experience and become self-conscious.
This logic implies that when one is to consider a purpose of life as ground for morality or moral consideration, it necessarily is bound to the origin of life, which was established to be ‘good per se’ (pure meaning).
The purpose of life is therefor established to be ‘good per se‘ (pure meaning).
Based on the preceding logic, ‘good’ and ‘truth’ are necessarily of substance as precursor to any value in the world and a meaning of life is applicable on a fundamental level (a priori or “before value”).
It has been established that morality is of substance beyond the scope of subjective experience.
The “why” of morality
When the human intends to prosper not only for the purpose to live another day (which would include 100-200 years, i.e. a ‘short term’ perspective), but for the long term (i.e. millions of years), the path that is chosen today can have a profound impact and it can be an argument that the human should chose wisely by which philosophy would acquire a leading position for humanity, not like a religion with dogma’s, but as a continuous quest to discover the optimal path for humanity.
Growth and progress is exponential by which it is increasingly important to make the right choices.
Morality would be the key for success and modern day morality is based on magical thinking by letting it depend (in general) on the lap part of the human.
🧭 Moral compass
Humans are naturally equipped with a moral compass but when progress is increasingly made outside the direct influence scope of the human being, paired with the modern day dogma that the facts of science are valid without philosophy (a belief in uniformitarianism), which naturally results in the tendency to completely abolish morality, it may be important that that magical ‘moral compass’ aspect of human evolution is provided for by a professional plausible method that can secure long term success on that regard: philosophy.
Morality in science today
A recent article on Phys.org displays the current state of morality in science.
(2020) How we make moral decisions
The researchers now hope to explore the reasons why people sometimes don’t seem to use universalization in cases where it could be applicable, such as combating climate change.
Source: Phys.org (PDF backup)
The article shows that in 2020, science has just the “universalization principle” available for moral considerations and for guiding science.
👁️ Meaning beyond what science can “see”
How could the universalisation principle prevent a practice like Eugenics on Nature when faced with a trillion USD synthetic biology revolution that reduces plants and animals to meaningless beyond the empirical value that a company can “see” in them?
A better method for morality may be urgently required to protect Nature.
Philosophy and morality may play a vital role in the next +10,000 years to allow humans to evolve into a ‘moral being’ to secure longer term prosperity and survival.