Thursday, October 14, 2004

Purpose, Purposelessness, Evolution

by Asim Jalis

Is purposelessness a good idea? A direct response to this would not make sense. Here are my thoughts on why a response would not make sense. 1. The whole concept of something being a "good idea" only makes sense in the context of a purpose. It's good if it takes us closer to some ideal. Purposelesssness cannot be purposeful. It cannot fulfill some higher goal, or appear to be a good idea in the context of some bigger goal or purpose. So it cannot be a good idea. 2. The question itself is asked with the goal of generating a response -- a consequence. The question has a goal, which is the response. And thus by responding I fall into this trap. 3. But I also did not post this with the goal of convincing anyone of this idea. I posted and stepped away. It's possible that this idea becomes implanted in someone's head, and it is also possible that it is ignored and/or forgotten by everyone. I see no point in adopting either of these ends as my goals. Because regardless of how piercingly I argue it is not possible to foresee the consequent effects of whatever I write. Here is a vague justification for purposelessness. It matches the patterns of nature. For example, evolution has no ideal or goal that it strives towards. At each step all options are open to it. In a similar way, purposefulness and goals limit the possibilities that are open to us. They narrow our field of view. Once it is obvious that our actions have outcomes we cannot control or predict it does not make sense to measure success as the achievement of some specific outcome. It makes more sense to keep engaging in action, purposelessly, and then to see a purpose and a direction emerge in hindsight (just like it does in evolution).