Contemplating the purpose of existence and why everything in the universe is, rather than is not, is a rabbit hole I am by no means qualified to venture down. But perhaps a slightly more tangible question (meaning one that seven generations from now we may be closer to an answer for) could be: Why are we, as humans, conscious and sentient beings rather than not?
Consciousness itself is a mystery. The idea that a lump of matter made up of ordinary organic cells has given rise to a private, subjective, experience is baffling. Some feel that the study of brain activity by itself may some day be able to answer some of the trickiest questions about the consciousness phenomenon:
If the movie "The Matrix" has taught us anything, it is that we are more certain of the existence of our own consciousness than of the existence of the world around us. But getting beyond the broader concept of the purpose of the universe itself, why are we, individually, able to subjectively experience the world around us in the first place?
As I type this, and as you read it, our brains have made thousands of decisions on their own, subconsciously, without us even having the slightest clue. Why doesn't this apply to every "decision" we supposedly make? Could a world exist where humans look and act like us, make decisions like us, but have no true subjective or individual experience like us?
Why are we all conscious at all? Is there an evolutionary basis for it? Why aren't we all just "philosophical zombies" (or "toasters" à la Battlestar Galactica) acting purely upon subconscious impulses?
Or is consciousness, even if in varying degrees, something inherent in all information processing systems, whether human or otherwise?
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed herein are solely in a private capacity and do not, in any way, represent the views of any entity of the U.S. Government, Read our full Disclaimer for more information.
Counterpoint™ is a shared on-line journal covering current news and opinion analysis; specifically, developments relating to law¹ , philosophy, politics, and other social sciences.
Listen to the Counterpoint™ Podcast
¹ Materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. Contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on a specific legal issue. Read our full Disclaimer for more information.