The Nature of Philosophical Questions in General
Philosophical questions are directed to our human family’s most profound and fundamental questions about the nature of our universe, our place in it, and why we exist at all.
- How did this universe in which we find ourselves actually get here? Has it simply always been here? Did it come into existence at one specific point in time in the past just as each one of us did?
- Will our universe and all of the wonderful things that we have achieved as a species simply disappear one day in our future just as it began in one single moment or might it all simply dissipate out into Infinity?
In short, such philosophical questions are directed toward our human family’s understanding of the principles pursuant to which events are taking place and what the importance might be (if any) of our human family within these unfolding events.
As we also noted in our 2010 opening discussion of this topic, the enterprise of philosophy is our human family’s attempt to:
- Acquire, categorize, analyze and evaluate the sensory data that is acquired by us Human Beings through the exercise of our five, physical human senses as well as our experience of intuition; then to
- Arrange ideas, assemble thoughts and reflect upon this experience through the application of our human intellect
- Construct a sound and effective mode of ethical reasoning which we can
- Apply to guide our human conduct both individual and collective, to address the individual problems of life and
- To try to answer the cosmic, profound, questions of life so that we as thinking, logical, rational, and logical beings can
- Rationally determine how best to comport our human conduct – both individual and collective – in a manner that is right and to refrain from engaging in human conduct that is wrong.
The Principal Pre- Contact Philosophical Questions and Pillars of Belief:
- The Cosmological Question:
WHEN and how did this entire material universe and all things that we see all around us come to be? In short, why is it that there is something rather than nothing? Did all of these material things come into existence at one single moment in time, in the past or is it possible that all of this has simply always existed? What difference -if any – does the answer to this question make?
The Teleological or Purpose Question:
However our material Universe came into physical being, is our universe physically unfolding, or physically moving in some particular direction toward some specific, ascertainable end or objective?
In short, is there any pre-ordained or pre-programmed purpose or end game toward which our universe seems to be heading; are the consequences of this purpose operating in the universe as natural laws?
The Ethical or Meaning / Purpose Question:
If there is such a specific end or objective toward which the universe is steadily and progressively unfolding does that end or objective implicitly provide some kind of relative meaning or purpose for the existence of the universe?
The Ontological or Being / Consciousness Question:
How did consciousness come into existence within this entire apparently strictly material universe? More specifically, how did this consciousness which I experience myself come into existence? What is the nature of this consciousness which distinguishes it from the rest of the seemingly non-conscious or strictly material universe?
The Epistemological or Nature of Truth Question:
What are the means by which we, as human beings can possibly ascertain the knowledge to answer these cosmic questions.
The Free Will Question:
Do animals or insects think or do they just do whatever comes naturally to them by pure instinct alone by dint of some entirely unreflective DNA programming? In other words, are animals and insects somehow physically programmed, simply mechanically, by nature to act in all of the ways in which they act?
If so, are we human beings mere animals in this way as well? That is, am I and are you to some degree simply biologically programmed by nature to act merely mechanically as all other animals do?
On the other hand are we, to some degree -if any- capable of choosing to consciously diverge from any such physical programming that we have received from nature?
Comparative Social Ethics:
If we are capable of freely choosing what conduct we will – or will not – engage in, then what norms, standards, criteria or objective principles are we to choose to guide our conduct? Pursuant to what criteria are we, in turn, to ascertain or discern these standards?
The Philosophical Endeavor:
Once we identify an effective and persuasive mode of ethical reasoning, the philosophical endeavor is our effort to apply it to guide our individual lives on a daily basis.
We engage in political philosophy when we apply this same specific mode of ethical reasoning to guide our collective human decision making in areas which affect entire communities regarding individual and group choices that confront us in the course of our daily community living.
Theology vs. Philosophy:
When we attempt to answer these philosophical questions with regard to activities outside of the physical parameters of our universe we are in the realm of theology.
The Principal Post – Contact Philosophical Questions
- Since the discovery by our human family of the existence of technologically advanced intelligent life forms what are the philosophical implications, in general, of this transformational discovery? Specifically, what are the philosophical implications of our discovery that we as a species are not necessarily at the apex of evolution in the universe?
The discovery of advanced extra-terrestrial life forms dislocates humanity from the center of the universe. It is analogous to Galileo’s discovery that the earth and other planets orbit the sun.
- Can we as a species accommodate this change philosophically the same way we eventually adjusted to the notion that the earth and planets orbit the sun? Is there a way to retain our assumed “privileged” states as a species?
While it is possible that extra-terrestrial species may be more advanced than we are in certain ways, there is the possibility that our faculties of intuition and spirituality would help us keep our preferred status. For examples, aliens who focused on reason at the expense of emotion or aesthetic values wouldn’t meet our criteria as advanced in some ways. Also, our encounter with other intelligent life forms may lead us to place less value on intelligence as the hallmark of evolution if aliens have a low social IQ by our standards.
- If the members of this newly discovered extra-terrestrial, intelligent species are more biologically evolved than we are what effect has that had on them relative to us? Do they still retain the basic survival, predatory, and dominance drives that we do or have they gone beyond them in some way?
If they have evolved in a way in which they can transcend basic survival drives for violence and domination, we may find ourselves having to deal with a greatly reduced sense of our place in the universe. This will be particularly true if it appears that their evolution is being directed to an end point of perfection in a purpose driven teleological fashion. This situation of inferiority may be compounded by encounters with more than one extra-terrestrial group with a higher state of emotional integration.
- Even if other intelligent life forms are more evolved, is there something about our intuition that is purpose driven (teleogical) which still gives us a unique superior place in the universe? In other words does intuition replace intelligence as the key indicator of evolutionary progress?
The short answer is yes. If we perceive and believe theologically in the power of grace as a divine free gift that has been bestowed on our species, we can see our status in a different light. Once again the primacy of intuition and spirituality may differentiate us from other advanced species we may encounter. Others who take the opposite theological tack that we can consciously increase our state of intuitive and spiritual function will focus more on the possibility of human growth and achievement. In either case our status would not be threatened by the discovery of other more advanced life forms since their participation in consciousness and evolution is analogous to ours. As a more evolved species they would be further along the development cycle but would share a common development dynamic with us.
If the biological experience of the unitive Intuition of being is the next phase of human evolution, will the extra-terrestrial species we encounter already have evolved to this state? What are the implications if such beings do not show a higher state of consciousness?
Craine Brinton marked the end of his 30 year tenure as Chair of the Department of Intellectual History at Harvard University with a talk in May of 1968. His topic was the single most important idea that he had encountered in his 50 year career as a scholar.
In brief, Professor Brinton said that just as the development of intellect caused our species Homo sapiens sapiens to diverge from Homo erectus, the evolution of the faculty of intuition would be the next transformation of our lineage.
“And it is by biologically experiencing this unitive experience that one comes to truly know that everything is one…including each of us…with all that exists. And by means of this direct, biological experience (like seeing, hearing or smelling), we can each experientially come to know what specific form of human conduct – both individual and collective is either harmonious with or disharmonious to the natural order of being.”
It may be that our unique contribution to other intelligent life forms may be our ability to achieve higher states of consciousness – such as the biological experience of the unitive intuition of being – as individuals now and perhaps as a universal trait in the future. In fact, this is a common philosophical theme in the various forms of the Star Trek sagas. The quest for such a faculty on a personal level is personified in the character of Data, an android with amazing intellectual and physical capabilities who can conceive of this faculty but does not experience it. This faculty allows us to experience the physical phenomenon of the Unified Field which physically bonds together ever single, ultimately non-divisible unit of mater in the entire universe into one integrated and harmonious whole.
Through this unitive experience each of us will come to know what conduct is either individually and collectively harmonious or disharmonious with natural order of being.
How would our encounter with an extra-terrestrial civilization change the context and dynamic of our internal political, economic, and social disputes? Shouldn’t we be recasting our relationships and institutions in preparation for this encounter?
“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.” -Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer (1934-1996)
It is now clear that we, as a species, ought to be directing our immediate collective human attention to the resolving these disputes which now appear to be petty in the context of a broader galactic perspective. This will be essential if we as a species hope to convey to the leadership of an extra-terrestrial civilization that we intend to retain certain absolutely fundamental principles and values.
- How will we explain to them our less than “stellar” qualities as a species without creating distrust and defining ourselves as inferior primitives?
Our only real hope in this type of encounter is to present our strengths as well particularly our sense of compassion. However, we need to strengthen and improve our species through compassion and affection for all humans.
So, we should begin now.
- Do they have philosophical questions and answers to such questions as to the physical source and origin of the universe and its organizing phenomenon? Do these philosophical answers lead to some type of ethical system? Would they try to impose this system of values and behavior on us?
Professor Carl Johan Calleman of the University of Washington in The Purposeful Universe: How Quantum Theory and Mayan Cosmology Explains the Origin and Evolution of Life (2009) asserts that scientists are, just now, beginning to discover evidence that there may well exist a physical vertical axis at the very center of our universe. This may be the so-called yaxin or Tree of Life to which the ancient Mayan culture attributed a personality whom they called Hunab-Ku.
Three perpendicular axes emerge from this physical vertical axis. The physical vibrations which these axes send out create the three physical dimensions of length, breadth and depth in the universe.
Such a fascinating idea may or may not be turn out to be true. However if it is true and an extra-terrestrial civilization already has the same or a similar notion, they may expect or even require that all intelligent beings adhere to these norms individually and collectively in order to harmonize with this source.
This change would give the Sixth or Radical Monist worldview priority among all seven human worldviews. In fact this discovery might eliminate the other human world views or drive them underground.
If the extra-terrestrial civilization we encounter does not have such an absolute source for its ethical system, what might their views be – if any?
The answer to this question is very important because it will determine whether:
A. Can we trust them to keep their promises?
B. Do they lie?
C. Do they kill other sentient beings?
D. Do they steal property, resources, or territory?
E. Do they engage in conduct all humans consider unethical?
There are ways in which we can determine the underlying value system or principles and the way in which norms or standards are embodied in the ethical system. This is a complex task. It can be done by looking for an internally self- consistent set of answers to four key questions which are the underpinnings of any philosophical system. You may recognize them since we have already discussed them.
A. The cosmological question – Why is there anything?
B. The teleological question – Is there a guiding purpose?
C. The ontological question – Why are we here?
D. The ethical question – What is right and wrong?
It is possible that extra-terrestrials we may encounter will not have definitive and verified answers to these questions. If that is the case they may also have developed alternative answers to each question. This would mean that they had also arrived at the same octave alternative answer giving them an octave of extra- terrestrial worldviews. We would then have a basis to relate to them.
- What is the likelihood that such a species created homo sapiens or directed our evolution?
This provocative thesis which is outside the scientific mainstream is advocated by Zecharia Sitchen in his books Genesis Revisited and the Earth Chronicles. In this scenario, human have mythologized our creators into gods. Similar speculations are put forth by Erich von Daniken’s book In Search of Ancient Astronauts.
While this appears to be a theological question, it is not since we are speaking of creation in a material and mechanical sense within the bounds of space-time. Even if humans are the result of some type of technical process, it only moves the theological question to the species responsible for our development. In other words, “Who created them?”