[ExI] The meaning of life (in transhumanism)

Henry Rivera hrivera at alumni.virginia.edu
Sat Feb 22 02:29:35 UTC 2014

I'll chime in with the perspective of a psychologist, or at least this

The current version of humans are meaning-making creatures. We seek meaning
in everything. In the absence of finding such meaning in our daily
activities, psychopathology often results in the form of anxiety and/or
depression. Identifying with such meaning is so important to us that we
formulate (nonsensical) anthropocentric questions such as, "What is the
meaning of life?"

I recognize however that many view this question as synonymous with, "What
is the purpose of [sentient] life," although they are not equivalent IMHO.
I think of this question in terms of what is the goal of this game we call
life. I will put forth a few of my favorite transhumanist-inspired
-To solve the problem of why consciousness exists and its origins/destiny.
-To solve the imposition of death.
-To transcend our physical limitations and merge with other energy within
or outside our universe.
-The aim of the game is to feel real good.
-To create art for art's sake. This can be attributed to John Perry Barlow
I believe. I take this to mean that maybe our variety of life is destined
to create art for the rest of "life" elsewhere. Like this is a nuanced
strength of ours that we take for granted but that doesn't come so easily
to "life" elsewhere.
-If we are in a simulation, the purpose of the simulation could be to play
out alternate outcomes relative to the original. Alternately, if this is a
simulation, the purpose could be to learn about how our predecessors in the
original achieved a certain outcome (self-destruction?), like a history
lesson of sorts.

Live long and prosper,
-Henry Rivera, PsyD

On Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 6:41 PM, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:

> Thanks for your answers! Very thought provoking, and actually useful. Some
> observations:
> We are *way* naturalistic subjectivists on this list. I think Adrian was
> the only one even mentioning non-naturalistic sources of purpose, and
> objectivist ideas mentioned have mainly dealt with the nature of biological
> life and its purpose. In fact, many of the answers were pretty classic
> existentialism!
> It is interesting to note that most answers did not directly jump into
> transhumanism, but were about general life philosophies. So at least around
> here it doesn't look like people base their sense of purpose on a
> transhumanist idea as the core value, but rather that one can choose a
> meaning, and we happen to have chosen transhumanist-aligned views. Of
> course, cause and effect may be mixed.
> While most responses were individualistic or focused on enhancing the
> individual self, I also got a very relevant off-list response about
> non-individual goals. There seem to be an interesting tension between some
> of the me-centric subjective purposes of some transhumanists and the more
> other-regarding purposes of other transhumanists.
> Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford
> University
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