How about a change of tone from my usual? Do you ever think about what consciousness is? Or why there’s something, as in the whole universe, rather than nothing? I don’t mean in some trippy way, or superficial like college freshmen talking about philosophy in the dorm hallway.
These two questions, in various forms, have interested people since before history, but as best I can tell, no one has made any progress whatsoever:
One question is: What is consciousness?
In other forms: why do I sense thoughts that seem to have no tangible reality, yet feel as real as any physical sensation that all other humans seem to have, but I can’t sense theirs in the slightest? Do animals have consciousness? Does anything else in nature or only humans? For that matter only me? As best I can tell, consciousness emerges from the complexity of enough neurons. It could emerge from enough transistors in a computer, but we’re not sure yet. If it does, we won’t know if the computer has consciousness or only acts like it does, any more than I can tell if you have it or you can tell if I do.
The other question is: Why does anything exist?
We know we exist. Or at least I know I do. And there are dogs, cats, clouds, the sun, and stars. Given that all these things exist, I can muddle around in life responding to them, but why should they exist in the first place? Everything seems to have existed before me and will likely exist after me, so I’m not special. How did it all start? Did it start? Was there something before? Or not?
We don’t have to ask or answer either question to live a happy and healthy life. We were born into a world that already existed and gave us consciousness by default. So why ask them? I don’t bother with them too much, especially not since realizing that answers from recent times seem no closer to answering them than answers from centuries or millennia ago. I don’t see any progress, though many have played with them, so I don’t expect my playing with them will improve my life.
Some people propose answers, like that a god created everything or that we have a soul, but these “answers” just put names to the missing information.
As best I can tell, we answer the questions in ways to alleviate fear from uncertainty, relief from depression, and other ways of addressing insecurities. We think we’re going to die or suffer angst and an answer makes us feel better.
But if we master the skills of emotions, we don’t need to make up answers. In my experience, overcoming challenges like losing in sports, rejection from girls, exposing flaws in performance, failure in business or attempts to excel, and learning from others develop those skills. I find focusing on developing social and emotional skills improves my life more than spending time on these question. Well, sometimes I enjoy playing with them as mental toys as I might play with a physical toy.
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