The Unbearable Simplicity of Value

Thanks to friend MH of ::Dorang:: for passing this one on.

via Information Philosopher – Value

Is the Good something that exists in the world? The Existentialists thought not. Most religions place its origin in a supernatural Being. Humanists felt it a human invention. Modern bioethicists situate value in all life. A variety of ancient religions looked to the sun as the source of all life and thus good. They anthropomorphized the sun or the “bright sky” as God. Dark and night were stigmatized as evil and “fallen.”

Philosophers have ever longed to discover a cosmic good. The ideal source of the good is remote as possible from the Earth in space and in time, for Kant a transcendental God outside space and time, for Plato a timeless Good to be found in Being itself, for his student Aristotle a property of the first principles that set the world in motion.

Can we discover a cosmic good? At least identify the source of anything resembling the Good? Yes, we can. Does it resemble the Good anthropomorphized as a God personally concerned about our individual goods? No, it does not. But it has one outstanding characteristic of such a God, it is Providence. We have discovered that which provides. It provides the light, it provides life, it provides intelligence.

We replace the difficult problem of “Does God exist?” with the more tractable problem “Does Goodness exist?” Humanists situate values in reason or human nature. Bioethicists seek to move the source of goodness to the biosphere. Life becomes the summum bonum. Information philosophers look out to the universe as a whole and find a cosmos that grew from a chaos.

Exactly how that is possible requires a profound understanding of the second law of thermodynamics in an expanding and open universe. A very small number of processes that we call ergodic can reduce the entropy locally to create macroscopic information structures like galaxies, stars, and planets and microscopic ones like atoms, molecules, organisms, and human intelligence.

A battle rages between cosmic ergodic processes and chaotic entropic processes that destroy structure and information. Anthropomorphizing these processes as good and evil gives us a dualist image that nicely solves the monotheistic problem of evil.” If God is the Good, God is not responsible for the Evil. Instead, we can clearly see an Ergod who is Divine Providence – the cosmic source without which we would not exist and so a proper object of reverence. And Entropy is the “devil incarnate.”

Our moral guide to action is then very simple – preserve information structures against the entropy.

Celebrating the first modern philosopher, René Descartes, we call our model for value the Ergo. For those who want to anthropomorphize on the slender thread of discovering the natural Providence, call it Ergod. No God can be God without being Ergodic.

Ergodic processes are those that resist the terrible and universal Second Law of Thermodynamics, which commands the increase of chaos and entropy (disorder). Without violating that inviolable law overall, they reduce the entropy locally, bringing pockets of cosmos and negative entropy (order and information-rich structures). We call all this cosmic order the Ergo. It is the ultimate sine qua non.

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