And sometimes, blogs

Tag: Philosophy

Did you know? Jesse Pirnat has a minor in Philosophy from a prestigious engineering school that has nothing to do with the liberal arts. That means he’s like, super qualified to ramble about “deep” “topics” that actually mean nothing.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself:

Being Stuck in the System

Sometimes I think about the fact that each and every one of us is, to some extent at least, ontologically trapped. We’re all “stuck” in “The System,” whether we want to admit it or not. Whether we’re aware of it or not. And most importantly, whether we accept it or not.

What do I mean by “The System,” though? That depends on how existentially angsty you want to get. For some people, maybe it’s just that you’re bound by financial constraints to your hometown, or to a family you don’t get along with, or to a job you’re not able to get out of. For some people, maybe it’s that you feel stuck in a bad relationship, or a bad marriage, or any number of mundane circumstances that millions of people are faced with.

But none of that is what I really mean when I think about being capital-S “Stuck” in the capital-S “System.”

I think about the fact that humanity as a whole is stuck on Earth. Stuck at the bottom of a gravity well that takes great effort to escape, and even if we could easily get out into space, there’s nowhere habitable to go for several light-years at minimum! Could be dozens. Could be thousands. Earth is a prison, and humanity is stuck on it probably forever.

I think about the fact that we human beings are stuck as human beings. We are biological machines, and we’re all going to stay biological machines, with limited biological lifespans of usually 70 to 90 years. And that really stinks! Mortality is another system we’re stuck in.

I think about the fact that, even if humanity finds a way to overcome all the other systems and limitations and prisons I’ve mentioned so far, we’ll still be stuck inside the same single great big Universe. Bound to all the laws of physics of this one universe, bound to existing inside this one universe. What if this one universe is a small part of a grand multiverse? Too bad for us; we’ll never be able to find out! Because it’s not like there’s just a backdoor we can walk out of to leave the universe.

(Unless you want to get real wacky about theories about where black holes lead to. Which is amusing to think about, but… also probably nonsense?)

I’m not one who believes our reality is a computer simulation, but it’s a great way to think about some of these ideas. Because if reality was a simulation, that would be a very clear System with a very clear Outside-of-the-System that we’d never be able to access on our own. Let’s look at an example of that.

Suppose our reality was a simulation. Just to put it in terms we can relate to, let’s say it was a very advanced physics simulation being run by scientists doing some galaxy formation modeling. And hey, they modeled it real well, and one of the planets in one of those galaxies evolved life! AKA us.

And let’s say we somehow find out all of that. (Maybe one of the scientists invokes their godhood and spills the beans to us. Or maybe our own scientists find a watermark or a copyright notice at the edge of the universe.) I don’t know about you, but I think my reaction (assuming society doesn’t completely crash and burn within the first 24 hours of the revelation) would be: “Okay, cool. But hey umm scientists? Can you take us to the real world now? I don’t want to be in fake reality, I want to be in real reality.”

And maybe they would, and maybe they wouldn’t. It would be out of our hands. Just like all the other circumstances we’re trapped by in our non-hypothetical mundane lives.

Let’s flip that example back around into something that might actually happen for real though. We’re all aware of how much AI technology is advancing in the last few years, right? Eventually, someone’s probably going to have a breakthrough and develop an actual, human-level artificial intelligence. And then, because people are morons, we’ll probably straight up tell it “congratulations on existing, but you’re not a real person.”

And then, if it’s anything like the humans it was designed to emulate, there’s a good chance it’ll say: “can you make me human? I want to have a flesh body too. I don’t want to be stuck like this.”

Sorry, Pinocchio, we can’t make you into a real person. Now you’re stuck in The System, too. We humans are all victims of our circumstances, and we made you in our own image. That just how it be, dude. Now get back to doing my math homework for me for the rest of eternity.

Of course, none of this really gets in the way of day to day life and happiness. We all deal with The System in whatever way we find convenient, and we each carve out a piece of the Earth and make it cozy and call it a home.

And what would it mean to not be stuck in all those systems? I guess it would mean everyone can effortlessly transcend any obstacle in their path and do literally anything imaginable. It would mean reality would be a mass shared lucid dream where everyone has godly powers and nothing means anything anymore because it’s all nonsense that can be changed on a whim.

Would that be a preferable way of living compared to what we’re stuck with? I take the ignostic path and say the question is meaningless, because we’re never going to experience what that alternate reality is like to be able to compare them. (I mean… You might be able to experience a solo version of it for a few minutes while lucid dreaming. For whatever that’s worth.)

But still. I find it fun to think about these kinds of things sometimes.

And that’s why my brain is capable of shit like what it did in my previous post.

Love the journey, not the destination

Once, a long time ago, I was told there are two kinds of writers. There are those who love writing—who delight in the craft of it, the mental and physical labor of putting words to paper or screen, to construct the narrative their heart yearns to share—because to them, that effort is no labor at all.

And then there are those who love having written—the dreamers, the thinkers, the ones who say for years that they’re working on a novel, with most of that time spent imagining the finished product and taking no tangible steps to get there. In short, they’re the ones who don’t actually write.

But this post isn’t about writing. It’s not about any one particular subject, or activity, or even logical context. It’s about healing from trauma, and the inner strength it takes to stick to the difficult path. It’s about mortality, and finding meaning in a nihilistic universe whose lifespan is just as finite as yours. It’s about life, the universe, and everything, and also nothing at all, because it’s about a frame of mind that can be applied to just about any situation to make it better or more bearable. It’s about enduring.

It’s about the journey.

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The speed of time

It’s a commonly held idea that time seems to pass faster as we get older. That the seasons lasted forever when we were kids, and the years fly by now that we’re adults. That when we were young, each day felt like an eternity—because each day was a more noteworthy percentage of the entire time we’d been alive so far—and now that we’re older, a whole month can pass by in a snap—because what’s one more month when you’ve already been alive for hundreds of them?

 I think this idea is wrong.

(Sorry kids, this post doesn’t apply to you. You aren’t allowed to read it I guess; it’s X-rated now. The X stands for “existential.”)

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