A discussion with an ER doc

In all your musings, learning, researching and your career related to saving lives, what is your take on the non-life? Any opinions on continuation or other dimensionality, etc.? It seems everything is nicely designed to carefully hide what is really going on. Perhaps knowing what science is seeking would make living life pointless. I think we fool ourselves for our own good and we're very good at it.


I don't really give it much thought. I don't have any strong spiritual beliefs, and from a pragmatic standpoint I don't see much chance that an individual can be sustained in any meaningful way beyond life. I suppose I'll just have to wait and be surprised like everyone else. It's not a question that science could ever answer.


I think the older you get, the more you think about it and wonder why. Obvious, but no less important.

From my perspective, I think it's unfortunate that meaning has been stripped from the agenda of science. Learning how the universe works without the explicit goal of threading it together in a set of possible philosophies to live and die by seems pretty pointless to me. Seems like if we can create a hypothesis for how dark matter or quarks work, we could be just as formal in our models for why we should care to study such things in the first place. Religion rejects physics as a basis for philosophy and science explicitly avoids the subject altogether. Formal philosophy, mostly buried in mathematics these days, is the least desirable pursuit one can choose while having no hope of keeping up with scientific advances. We have the most information about things today, but the cultures of yore were much better at finding meaning in it all.

The gap between humanities and science widens every day even as interdisciplinary approaches attempt to bring them together. Where will it be in a hundred years or 500 years? Even more pointless or will some breakthrough (scientific or not) finally enable everyone to learn why they're here?

Here is what I am trying to say with these past few emails:

1) Religion is no longer based in nature and in fact, relies entirely on group faith in mythology having the primary objective to control human behavior (and building church auditoriums),

2) Science does not have any mechanism for hypotheses beyond the mechanical function of nature (and monetizing that),

3) Pseudo Science is fodder for debunkers and would-be scientists,

4) Metaphysics is usually administered by people untrained in science and more interested in religious experience (and selling health advice),

5) Philosophy and Mathematics are both too abstract for anyone to understand and apply to their daily experience,

6) Art and Music are both ways of communicating meaning, but not meaning itself.

7) The Media promotes paranoia to sell advertising, playing to base memes while taking everyone down a step at a time.

There is no forum or structure or discipline that allows any number of people to collaborate continuously to form a consensus about why we are here and where we are going together. The structures in place in modern civilization support and encourage us all to be blind men walking in the dark - reaching out to feel the very next object in a dark room with no model for what's in the room or how to get out of the room.

Without a meaningful direction, the only model that seems to work in the world is capitalism based on materialism, consumption and immediate gratification. Yet this is unsustainable.

With this as a backdrop, I think it inevitable that some new idea and activity will emerge to fill the void. I don't know what it is, but something fundamental will happen.

That’s my rant for the day…


I didn't see any ranting in there. It sounds fairly rational to me. You seem to be echoing what I've read, in part, in the Closing of the American Mind.

You should read Before the Dawn. I think it is a very useful background for trying to understand "the human condition."

I agree with you that there seems to be a plausible market demand for some new kind of cult. I have sensed it for decades, and I'd love to get in on the ground floor of something like that, so let me know if you have any openings for a shaman or something like that.

I guess my core problem revolves around the sustainability of any direction I take, including who is the audience, what do I need to say to them and what would be the desired result from all the work. I've been in a career for so long that required this rationale, it's hard to not ask this about any endeavor I undertake. I also have to really really be inspired to work on something.

I went to hear a jazz big band last night run by a musician friend of mine started up and they were as good as it gets for that kind of music. The pianist though was just so-so and I thought boy wouldn't that be fun to play in that band. I've got the equipment and have done that before, so why not? The reason why not is: 1) it's not a sufficient challenge, 2) it's a hassle to have my life prioritized by a large group, 3) don't need the money, 4) there is no specific goal to achieve, 5) the audience is too small and local.

The same thing applies to any art I do: 1) what would be a large enough challenge, 2) what do I need to say, 3) what audience do I want to reach and is it large enough to be important to invest myself into, 4) if I don't need the money. The same thing applies to any venture I might be involved with to any extent. We contribute to various art organizations, but are not compelled yet to get more involved on their boards or helping with their fundraising to any extent. We used to, but shy away these days.

If I am going to commit my time, it must be for a really big reason - one that has an impact. It seems playing music and painting are enjoyable, but not adequate at this point in my life. Thus the book because it's the only thing I have today that can make an impact.


I am right there with you, although the details are slightly different. Your success is derived from the fact that you are inherently results driven, and now you must struggle to somehow obtain the same kind of
satisfaction from process not results. You are not alone, but look at it this way: of all the problems you might have, this is one of the better ones to have.


It's interesting that you were reading that book when I started discussing the same thing with you. I have been spending a great deal of time researching Greek music theory and philosophy along with its
central position in the medieval quadrivum educational system. It seems until Galileo, harmonic science provided the meaning in the educational process. After all, philosophy of life was the reason to
study - it's not like you needed a specialized degree to get a job back then.