Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Life, Death, and Aliens... The Arrival of Something Bigger Than Ourselves. Also, Weird Spider Monsters

Perhaps one of the oldest questions that has plagued humankind throughout the ages is the question of whether or not we have free will. Well, I guess considering the totality of human history, it might be tied with "What the hell is this thing that's killing me?!" The free will question seems tantalizing specifically because it's intangible. We may not always have known what was killing/eating us, but there was always concrete evidence of death, whether it be a plague-riddled corpse or some bones in mound of lion shit. Free will is "fun" to speculate about because, currently, there's no way to prove it either way. The significance is clear: are we free agents, forging our destiny and boldly splitting infinitives where nobody has split them before, or are our lives and the choices we make merely the end result of forces beyond our control? In our relationship with the cosmos, were we pitching or catching?

It's a tough question to square away, what with the lack of any current means of quantifying it, but it's also kind of central to our lives as sapient beings. It's also kind of a loaded question. The implication in most cases is that having free will is preferable to not having free will, and that in the demonstrable absence of free will, we would lose any sense of agency and accountability.