The Meaning of Life
Limbic structures nestled beneath the cerebral cortices.
I’m of the opinion that even though we have evolved to become the maestro of the technological complex adaptive system (CAS II), the brain structures that evolved prior to the neocortex with its specialized information processing areas, are guiding our journey. We can master the processes of storing and reading information and translating that information into infrastructure and tools, but we cannot exert enough control over older brain structures to prevent the technological system from destroying the ecosystem and thereby destroy itself. The direction of CAS II is being almost completely determined by the areas of the brain that demand emotional satisfaction, the limbic system. As an example, it seems as though an entire subset of knowledge concerning economics has been warped by a limbic/emotional mind that cannot and will not accept the salient fact that there are limits to growth, not just in resource acquisition, but in waste disposal. The students of economics, while measuring the metabolic relationships internal to the cancerous growth, fail to acknowledge what is beyond the metabolism and membranes of the malignancy, seeing the outside as just a ready source for energy and matter to be assimilated.
Likewise, when asked “What is the meaning of life?”, it is not too difficult to analytically describe the flow of energy and matter through both the organic and technological adaptive systems and thereby arrive at an answer as to what life is. But again it is the limbic brain that is not satisfied with explanations not providing emotional satisfaction. Some may believe that the meaning of life is to grow and spread into space and “go where no man has gone before” in the Star Trek vernacular, or the meaning of life is to serve God and hope for a place in heaven or to have a good time as long as possible. The limbic brain seems to be preferential to any ideas that support its basic mandates of reward and enhancement of social standing. Any ideas like population control, control of economic growth or the “pursuit of happiness” in general, are ignored or suppressed. Essentially you have a rather greedy limbic system capable of interpersonal warmth and kindness, surrounded by a newly evolved cortex that is simply an accessory for the goals of the controlling limbic system. Humans are a reward seeking organism and only seem capable of exerting free will in making choices as to which direction through the maze they will take in pursuit of their rewards.
Lunar module on the moon with a human RNA released from its protective transport structure. Unfortunately the RNA did not encounter the material necessary to support CAS II. Oh well, there is still the Arctic, once it melts
Our most respected leaders are not those that council circumspection and caution, but are rather those that have amassed the most rewards, like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates. Ask a human what they want to be when they grow up and a great majority will say “rich”. They are under limbic control and are more interested in obtaining rewards than in the survival of life. In past evolutionary history, obtaining rewards often meant survival, but now this focused pursuit on growth and rewards facilitated by the tools of CAS II has resulted in cancerous growth that may indeed end CAS II and a majority of species on the planet. When people like Elon Musk begin to muse about settling Mars, then you begin to realize that these people, even with great technological abilities, are unable to say “no” to themselves or lead society in the general direction of restraint. Maybe many that have been wildly successful in extracting wealth from the ecosystem find it impossible to tell others to cease and desist when to do so might mean a loss of their amassed wealth.
What can be done? I don’t think much can be done, CAS II will continue growing until the limits to growth are reached. The limbic brain interprets reaching the limits to growth as a stopping point where continued, sustainable metabolism may be enjoyed far into the future, but the analytical mind has discerned a different outcome.
Scanning Electron Micrograph of T4 Bacteriophage.
Biological T4 bacteriophage landing craft will expel two strands of DNA into a functioning E. coli bacterial factory and make out like a bandit without the need to establish hierarchical dominance by planting a flag. Phage prints can be obtained at an unaffiliated Etsy shop: