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Montecristo Captain Quixote


The World Line of the Horizon Star

Some would say I was a lost man in a lost world

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Montecristo Captain Quixote

So what if life IS a Kobayashi Maru?

prolixfootle and I have been having another discussion of our respective senses of life. He's been feeling somewhat pessimistic lately, and trapped in webs of circumstance. Mr. Footle enjoys a penchant for Star Trek metaphors and posited that life is a Kobayashi Maru. The Kobayashi Maru, featured in the movie "The Wrath of Khan", is a test of character given to cadets at Starfleet Academy. There is no way to "win" the scenario given in the test. No matter what course of action the student takes, the test is rigged to lead to a losing situation.

When prolixfootle first brought the idea up, that life could be compared to the Kobayashi Maru Test, with no winning possible, I rejected the view of life entirely, as did the movie's hero, Captain Kirk, who sabotaged the test so that it became possible for him to win the scenario. I do not believe in the no-win situation, for the most part. Where there is life, there is hope. There is always an alternative. To believe otherwise is to limit yourself and shut down your own options. There is nothing more self-fulfilling than the idea that you are predestined. It also forecloses your chance for happiness.

Of course, upon further reflection, I realize that life ultimately can be thought of as a kind of Kobayashi Maru test. There is nothing more inevitable than the end of life. There has not been a human born yet who has escaped the clutches of death, ultimately. I personally am hoping that medicine will crack the aging problem and that I will be able to plant a sequoia on my hundredth birthday and live to see it's great-great-great-great grandchildren turn into topsoil. Of course, it's a long-shot, but considering the alternative, it's something nice for which to hope. The thing is, there is always the possibility of catastrophe. I could be run over by a bus tomorrow, a world-wrecking meteor may have a fender-bender with the planet. Eventually, entropy will devour the universe. Ultimately, it is not without merit to regard life as a Kobayashi Maru -- it's like a video game -- you can't win; you can only play until you lose.

Now, given that, I say, "So what?" What does that change about what I am doing now? How does this information, the reality of the universe's teleology, change what I am going to do with myself in the next minute? None of us is an existential inevitability. We did not have to be, but we are. If I had not been born, the universe would have gone on ticking away despite missing my advent. Ultimately, existence is without any meaning, because it takes a mind to give meaning to what is. That's the point. If my existence is to have meaning it has no other meaning than that which I give it. Carpe diem: seize the day. The Kobayashi Maru is a test of character -- so is life. The end of the scenario is completely beside the point; the test is not about that, but about what you do with the time you have before the end. That time is ours to define and shape and give meaning. Doing these things effectively, in such a way that your existence is enriched by the acquisition of more and greater material and spiritual values, is the source of happiness.

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I agree with you 100% on all counts.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may - it's the journey, not the destination. I wonder how many other trite things I can come up with to demonstrate my agreement. ;)

Impeccable logic, well presented. I'm with you most of the way, though depart roughly at your statement that the purpose in life is to experience, to exist. I would prefer to acknowledge the existence of Humanity, and that it is the (current) culmination of evolution. If you accept (as I do, obviously) that the purpose of the Universe is to Evolve, then you must also accept that everything in the Universe exists to further that purpose or is a "dead end". Of course, the reason *why* the Universe is Evolving is inaccessible to us, as constituents of the Universe -- not that this fact stops people from creating [G|g]od(s).

Humans are one step, one "level", upwards, on the path towards ... The Ultimate Something. I've cast this whole worldview in terms of information processing, since that seems to me to be the most fundamental 'functional' interpretation of our existence I'm comfortable with. The "Meaning Of Life", then, is to further the Universal Evolution, preferrably by the facilitation of the emergence of the next ("post-Human"?) level. I belive this to be something we'll experience in our lifetimes, too. And no, I'm not talking about that ridiculous "Singularity" concept, I'm talking about the invention of a mathematics that will allow us, finally, to model Mind.

And it's a simple act of techonology and science to move from models to practise (real AI, not the junk being promulgated today), and onward to mind that can reconfigure itself with a much-reduced dependance on the physical form in which it manifests (i.e. our "meat" bodies).

But now I'm starting to froth and foam, so I'll just shut up.... =D


Leave it to you to extend a metaphor well beyond it's intended bounds.

I wasn't referring to life in general, but to specific situations. And I do believe that certain no-win situations exist.

And, if I'm not mistaken, that was why the Kobayashi Maru test was created - because the no win situation does occasionally present itself. Whether you and James T. believe in it or not.

it simply amazes me that in my present state of mind, i come across your lj and find such relevance to my life and what is going on in it. i want to thank you for helping me find somewhat of an answer(s) to questions that have been perplexing me.

Thanks. It's good to know that my rambling ponderings occasionally provide some small insights to friends as well as me.

you have no idea...here i sit thinking my thoughts are all my own and is there anyone else out there that has something similiar going on - and i go and read what you've written and it's just - wow...
thank you, again...

I stumbled across your journal at an exeedingly appropriate time, having just resolved from a similar pessimistic position as your friend. Thanks.

btw, I added you to my friends list. I like your stuff.


Thanks. Nice to meet you!

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