What is our purpose in life?
Why are we here?
What does it all mean?
As some point in our lives, we all seem to confront these rather cliché “life purpose” questions. It might be catalyzed by a round-numbered birthday, or having your ass fired from work, or having a former classmate pass away unexpectedly. Many things can cause us to reflect,i wherein our internal conversation will inevitably swirl around these aforementioned questions. We all want to improve the world, so why aren’t we all successful at it?
In a society fixated on golden calves, it’s little wonder that these questions burn so fervently. Nowhere in the shopping mall or car dealership can their answers be discovered. There’s no gizmo, gadget, nor metric on the planet that can possibly give meaning to our terrestrial time, no matter what politicians, economists,ii and the propaganda known as “Happiness Literature”iii say. It’s no wonder that so many of us are dissatisfied to the point of medication.
The simplest explanation for this general dissatisfaction with our own existence is that we’re either unequipped to seek the proper answer or we’re equipped to seek the proper answer but are using the wrong tools for the job. This former group would best be served by exploring the organic majesty that is the diversity of human religion while point their accusatory finger at their swindling nation states for robbing them of their mortal consolation. This latter group has a different, taller task, as befits their ability.
The task of those who are beyond religious doctrine (if not religious heuristics vis-à-vis survival), is to flip “the purpose question” on its head and instead ask “what are the causes?”iv To do so is to use the right tools for the job, and to at least give us a chance at improving the world.
Approaching life from causes works so well because it’s testable in and against the real world. Only through testing can we discern if an action is effective or not. There’s no room for “it’s not working yet but it will!” in this enterprise.v The rigourousness of this approach is the exact opposite of the sort of magical thinking prevalent among socialists. The testability of causes, best understood as Popperian falsifiability, is key to human growth and development, and therefore to improving the world. In fact, As MP shall now demonstrate to a fellow named Dimsler,vi working from causes is motherfucking non-negotiable in this pursuit:
Dimsler: Satoshi had no idea about economics
mircea_popescu: Now how would you know that.
Dimsler: He fucking read Murray Rothbard and applied his idiotic quantitive theory of money, which has been debunked for ages. Satoshi had no idea how to distribute new coins.
mircea_popescu: Looky here. All this would make a lot more sense to you if you read the Trilema explanation as to the difference of acting from a cause from acting towards a purpose. You’re trying to apply the acting towards a purpose approach, because that’s all they teach anymore.
Dimsler: But the logic isn’t very sound in many of the posted economic studies
mircea_popescu: Ok. So then. Satoshi didn’t proceed towards this goal or that goal, as presumed by this or that purpose-built theory of economics. He proceeded from basic principle. and he, and a lot of other people, couldn’t give less of a shit as to what the ultimate implications are.
Dimsler: Bless Satoshi.
mircea_popescu: It’s not that. I don’t care about the man’s memory or anything. I’m trying to explain a fundamental difference in approach.
thickasthieves: My main problem with arguments is when they proclaim ideals or extremes are achievable for more than a moment.
Dimsler: mircea_popescu, the ultimate implications are going to stifle any form of adoption.
mircea_popescu: Now how do you know what’s going to happen. See, you’re trapped in this particular worldview, which falsely promises you something.
Dimsler: Because history derp. Quantitive money theory fails on any systems its been tried on.
mircea_popescu: The way this promise goes is, “if you limit yourself to purpose-theory, you will have privileged access to ultimate effect.” This is false. you have no better access than the students of cause-theory, for very good thermodynamic reasons. It’s just that THEY do get to control your priors. You do not. Instead your priors are controlled by the authors of your favourite purpose-theory, which is why you imagine Satoshi to be a Rothbard tool. Because if he had been working in a purpose-theory approach, he would have been. But then again, the proposition that he was is easily falsifiable.
This, in a nutshell, is it.
Purpose-theory is a NYSE stock, it’s a mortgaged home, it’s a webwallet, it’s the appearance of ownership and control where there’s precisely none to be had. If you “own” these things, you are what’s owned. Full stop.vii
In Summa: You cannot have a purpose, you can only have causes.
Of course causes aren’t perfect. Of course life isn’t perfect! But reality isn’t competing with perfect. It never has and it never will.
Should you be so fortunate as to discover this first-hand, when you work from causes, you’ll see that some things are better than others. This is discernment.viii
This is sine qua non for adaptation,ix and by extension, survival.
If you want to improve the world, first you have to survive, y’know?
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- Hell, even Yom Kippur ticks the box. And annually! Speaking of which, Shana tova!↩
- The vulgarized, mathematized branch of philosophy known as “Economics” is at this point so barberous it’s laughable.↩
- This is one of the hokiest and most despicable branches of psychology/econometrics. It maintains that “happiness” can be measured, and worse still, that it can be numerically derived from such existing metrics GDP, income, leisure time, “freedom,” and disease incidence. One of the worst spreaders of this mental disease is Daniel Pink, who maintains that “autonomy, mastery and purpose” are the keys to fulfilment, as if any of these were available ex nihilo and in the absence of strong shepherds.↩
- A notable blend of these two questions is found in Jewish literature, which calls its adherents to tikkun olam, meaning “to improve the world.” This is not only a call to action, but also a call to understand the world as it is before imagining how it might be. Without knowledge of the world as it is, how could one possibly say that it’s been improved upon?↩
- That is, there’s no room for pre-orders.↩
- I don’t know much about Dimsler other than that he can’t PGP and that he Reddits. Neither is a particularly good sign.↩
- This is one of the primary reasons why Bitcoin is such a big fucking deal: because it makes ownership, as defined by one’s ability and authority to destroy something, possible for a unit of account. Not since physical gold was a thing has this been the case. Bitcoin is so not perfect and yet so much better than anything else in the world. And that’s what the competition is between: things in the world.↩
- Also known as “racism, sexism, speciesism, trolling,” etc. to those who belong in Churches and Mosques.↩
- “In any contest with an objective scoring criteria, the objectively fit behaviours will overcome the objectively unfit behaviours. Which means that you don’t get a chance to elect what you’d like to do or not to do. Which means that it doesn’t matter what you think is right or what you think is wrong. Or fair. Or nice. Which means it doesn’t matter what your previous identitarian or ideological investments were, nor what you thought they were.” via The USG wasted another hundred million dollars it previously stole from average, hard working US citizens. Nobody cares.↩