Home > Critical Thinking, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason > You are the Most Important Person in the Universe

You are the Most Important Person in the Universe

Here is a thought experiment to help you rethink your long-held beliefs about the nature of reality and purpose of life.

Would the death of every human on this planet within two months of your death matter to you?

I am certainly not the first person to ask such a question or try to answer it. However, I am probably one of the very few who is trying to do so without the pretense of authority, certainty, metaphysics, rhetoric, sophism, solipsism or appeals to tradition. As you will see, even attempting to answer this question honestly will help you see the world around you in a very different light.

To better understand the issues posed in the main question, let us divide it into two parts.

Question 1: Who or what is “you”? and perhaps more importantly- who or what is not “you”?

Question 2: Does the existence of a large system matter without a sentient observer?

Let us try to answer the first question by first scrutinizing popular ideas about what the self is made up of. As many of you might already know, most traditional religious belief systems believe that the self is made up of a mysterious substance known as the “soul”. A few traditional religious belief systems (some interpretations of Buddhism) take a different approach by trying to deny the existence of the self by calling it an illusion using sophistic arguments.

Most modern secular belief systems, on the other hand, largely agree that whatever is commonly understood as the self resides in the brain. But they can’t seem to agree on what it is actually made up of beyond some hand-waving about neuronal networks, prior experiences, memories etc.

While we cannot be certain about the real nature of “you” or self, it appears to be linked to certain patterns of brain activity that can be modified and affected by past experiences. Additional requirement for the self to exist include a critical level of system-wide brain activity integration and ability to process feedback from interactions with the environment.

Here is an allegory that might help you understand my view on this issue. You are probably aware that computers loaded with the same operating system and containing the same chipsets almost always end up as very different machines after a year or two of active use. But why? Well.. it comes down to what happens to a given computer once a person starts using it. Every new action by the user (from data storage and creation, software installations and upgrades to hardware upgrades) will continuously alter the “personality”, “appearance” and “behavior” of a given machine such that two computers from the same batch will almost never be identical to each other after as little as a few weeks of use.

Each machine will develop its own unique “persona” which is a summation of data on the hard drives, data loaded into the RAM upon bootup (and during normal usage) plus the behavior of the operating system in combination with all other software on that particular machine. While you can clone and transfer the contents of the hard drive to another machine, you can almost never recreate the same user experience or persona on another machine- even on one with identical hardware.

The self is a lot like the unique user experience, behavior and abilities of a computer that has been used for a few months.

But why do we spend so much effort trying to define the self? Don’t other life-forms on earth (from bacteria to plants and other animals) go on living, reproducing and evolving without displaying any strong evidence for having selves or the biological hardware to host them? Why do humans care about something that is nothing more than an ephemeral phenomena dependent on information exchange among the underlying biological hardware components?

It comes down to how humans interact with the world around them.

All organisms on earth, except humans and perhaps apes and dolphins, act via reflex or instinct. This is not to say that they cannot think or solve problems logically. But they do so without a detailed mental model of the world around them. Humans, on the other hand, interact with the external world based on their internal mental model of it. They will do so even if the internal world model is obviously faulty- which is why we have cults, religions and ideologies.

But what does any of this have to do with each self being the most important person in the universe?

To answer this question, let us conduct another series of thought experiments. Imagine that there is a rock, with a mass of a few tons, floating somewhere in intergalactic space. Now imagine that this rock is in a region of space that is especially empty and essentially free of any electromagnetic radiation or gravitational fields. How would an observer know about the existence of something that does not interact with the rest of the universe in any measurable way. Something that does not interact with the rest of the universe does not exist even if it exists.

Now turn this idea around and ask yourself- If the ephemeral self ceases to exist, does the continued existence of rest of the universe matter even if it continues to exist? Let us take that question even further and ask ourselves whether the existence of a universe without sentient entities (biological or otherwise) matter even if said universe lasted forever. Without an observer capable of building a mental model of the universe, isn’t the existence of that physical system immaterial.

The point I am trying to make is that the self of a person, aka the “you” in you, is the most important part of a person.

However it is also the most perishable part of a person in addition to being not cloneable. Your genetic legacy is not “you” and neither are your relatives or members of any group that you supposedly belong to. Their continued survival is relevant only as far as enabling or facilitating the survival of your own self. There is therefore no reason to give a fuck about the continued survival of anyone else, especially if doing so would impair the survival of your self. Similarly there is no point in being concerned about how others might remember you after your death.

It is about being realistic about the nature of the self and the rest of the universe.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. Fuck Everyone
    January 11, 2014 at 12:55 am

    “Humans, on the other hand, interact with the external world based on their internal mental model of it. They will do so even if the internal world model is obviously faulty- which is why we have cults, religions and ideologies.”

    There is no “obviously faulty”, there is only one person’s opinion or 7 billion people’s opinion that such a model is “obviously faulty”. Whatever size government you believe in (I don’t care or want to know don’t bore me), is an ideology. Same with my take on government. For instance.

    And a chubby chaser, might consider your penchant for the modern interpretation of what constitutes a “hot chick in a bikini”, to be “obviously faulty”, or the “cult” of “what was considered a hot chick” by the mainstream when you were raised. I’m sure you know there was a time when fat bitches were considered things of beauty to be in fine art paintings and so on.

    In the end, it’s all about who outvotes who and dominates who to strangle out and be the first and strongest in numbers to declare some mental model “faulty”.

    What you say is true though, you know Thomas Harwell, the guy who died at 28 in the cemetery in Kansas? and how he worried what people would think of him after he died? I don’t know him. I just made him up. I’m sure such a guy exists, billions of times over. His great grandchildren are now dead and no one even fucken remembers him so why bother worrying about what fucksticks think of you?

    It is interesting to think about though, if you died in a car wreck, and 2 months later a virus wiped out mankind. What would be lost, what is lost when people die, but their cares?

    We know the sun is a star and we knows stars eventually blow up, so we are fucked either way. I certainly don’t think we are smart enough to fix the major problem of living in space, that is, that even Cosmonauts who spend like 2 years in a space station, get all fucked up from osteoporosis and shit. This body evolved over billions of years, and it did so on this unique planet, once this planet is uninhabitable, and it will be, (I am not talking about warmism, I’m not a warmist, I’m talking about the sun)…. that’s a hell of an insurmountably complex problem to solve, how to take billions of these living bodies and plop them on some other planet or some shit using technology to support their lives. Sounds like pie in the sky bullshit to me.

    You’re gonna be alive for a few more decades, eat a pizza and find some sloppy wet holes to fuck. And don’t worry about all this other bullshit. Personally I’m into skull fuck porn.

  2. January 11, 2014 at 11:22 am

    But AD, what about that girl who is going to fall in love with you one day and complete you?

    And I am also into skull fuck porn for the record.

    It is good to see that you are becoming cynical about social myths.

    • January 12, 2014 at 7:14 am

      I enjoy reading your posts on escorts, sex, and practical advice on how to use certain pharmaceuticals. Can you write more on those topics?

  3. EvilOne
    January 11, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    I think Im the most important person as well… trouble is, no one agrees with me.

    They don’t have to agree. And guess what, since they are useless or less than useless- they don’t matter.

  4. Yusef
    January 11, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Would the death of every human on this planet within two months of your death matter to you?

    If I’m dead, it can’t matter to me…I’m dead. There’s nothing of me around to care, think, feel, speculate, do or be. So, don’t you mean does it matter to me now, before I am dead?

    I can assert if I knew everyone would be dead two months after my death, (and how would I or anyone else know this?) it would make me sad. I would like the people I care about to go on living and enjoying life long after I am gone, whether I would be there to enjoy their enjoyment or not.

    I think you’re on to something important, but the posing of the question quoted needs clarification. Is the emphasis on, ” if a tree fell in a forest and no one heard, was there a sound”, or on ” is one’s own self the only important thing, more important than the entire rest of the universe?” or some mindbending combination of the two which I can’t quite get my head around so far?

    You could go on to say all social obligation, sentiment, convention, or law is abstract or idealistic bullshit.. is that where you are headed? Whatever “who or what we are,” it is not social? If someone believed they were Napoleon, it doesn’t matter if no one else agrees, they are Napoleon.

  5. P Ray
    January 12, 2014 at 1:19 am

    If I knew everyone was going to be dead 2 months after me,
    it would neither make me happy nor sad, since I would not be able to verify it.
    But it would be a very comforting thought to die to: I’d leave with a smile – as “homo-sapiens”-cide would also including taking out the a-holes.

    • Fuck Everyone
      January 12, 2014 at 5:09 am

      Yes P Ray, it’s a very comforting thought that the assholes we hate in life, are going to die one day too. Let’s hope it’s a painful death.

      And let’s hope all porn stars die a peaceful death, after all, the endured years of skull fucking and provided me much pleasure in the process. They deserve a peaceful death. May their fucked out skulls rest easy on their hospital pillows, at a grand old age.

      See, I’m nice. Apart from when I’m almost about to come. I can’t help it, I get that rape face look in my eyes for a few seconds.

      A youtube video, a compilation of “rape faces”. Very hilarious.

      • P Ray
        January 13, 2014 at 11:41 pm

        That only reaches maximum potential when kids are pulling such faces.
        Good try though, but a very small cast.

      • P Ray
        April 15, 2016 at 11:53 pm

        Orgasm face is also known as “the vinegar stroke”.

        That’s also the name of some bands and/or songs.

  6. webe
    January 12, 2014 at 7:36 am

    The term instinct is a cop-out. We just say instinct to behavior of which we have no inner understanding or feeling. Worms don’t feel pain because they don’t know what pain is. Vietnamese don’t feel grief because human life has a different value there. Etc. I doubt human beings are more or less instinctive than other mammals.
    What is probably unique to human beings is imagination and reflection. By that I mean that they can actively anticipate on how much pain something will cause, get bent out of shape by fears of things that have not yet come to pass, etc. Everything they feel and think reverberates back and forth in a mental echo chamber, or if you like is reflected back and forth by various kinds of mirrors. And it is especially the anticipation of death and the attempt to escape by becoming larger than life that is the root of so much evil.
    I don’t know to what extent salmon or birds have a mental map of the world around them that allows them such uncanny navigation — some ways they seem to have better native navigation than do we human beings.
    The being of animals is not determined to a great extent by their history, but for human beings their identity is largely determined by history. So we naturally care more about people with whose history ours is intertwined than with random people. The death of our own family members matters more than say 100 million Chinese dying in an earthquake, even though objectively we would never say that those people’s lives are somehow worth less; they are just worth less to us.
    And it is in this common history and destiny that we most invest in in our attempt at becoming larger than life and somehow besting death. Now it may very well appear as bullshit viewed abstractly from outside of our own continued sentience: none of it will matter in 100 years. But that is never the point of view one stands in, and is thus very abstract. It is like saying that experience is actually nothing more than molecules spinning around or materials engaged in chemical reactions. While not untrue, it is rather distant from concrete human experience, and therefore does not ring true or close to home.
    So, no. I don’t think we can deduce the paramount importance of only our own personal existence from the fact of death. Children have trouble thinking about the time before they were born or after they die, precisely because it is outside yourself and your experience and cannot be thought. As social beings, we do care about others, particularly when they are close to us, and will even sacrifice on their behalf. I don’t actually think that this is just because we’re acquiescing in skull-fucking ideology or complicit with bad faith in bulllshit illusions.

  7. Fuck Everyone
    January 12, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Maybe people just sacrifice because they are brainwashed. Like “the troops” for instance. I hate the troops myself, don’t “support” them at all. I definitely subscribe to the “cry me the tigris” mentality… http://buffalobeast.com/fuck-the-troops/

    It is hard to have sympathy for morons and mercenaries who put themselves in harms way to enrich a few. War is, and always has been, a big scam.

  8. unpaid
    January 13, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    What do you do, if no women want to have unpaid sex with you?

    • P Ray
      April 15, 2016 at 11:54 pm

      Exchange something else OR let someone else have a go.
      Just because she said no to you, doesn’t mean someone else will get a no,
      and if you’re lucky she ends up with a psychopath who puts out her eyes.

      Either way –
      you are no longer involved. Feel free to laugh 🙂

  9. July 24, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    the “self” is the observer.according to me death is like a deep deep sleep without sensation.nobody can wake up a dead man.the dead man’s “self”remains while the body destroyed. mind is in a state of dreaming .it may observe from a different plane.there is no pain after death.minds feels lighter than ever before.if any painful sensation occurs then one should descend into the base plane where one is alive.
    my thoughts may be right or wrong…i suppose these things…..

  1. October 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm

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