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 Neptune74
Joined: 2/16/2011
Msg: 29
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The purpose of the universe?Page 2 of 3    (1, 2, 3)
In my understanding of the universe there is no purpose to it. Why are people looking to create a purpose out of things? Create your own direction instead, that is the ultimate freedom here in life. You are not bound choose to fill life the way you see fit for yourself.
 7thour
Joined: 12/2/2011
Msg: 30
The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 4/27/2012 6:13:59 PM
The purpose of the universe is so that I could be right here right now doing what I am doing the way I am doing.

God appoved.
 Kohmelo
Joined: 9/20/2011
Msg: 31
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 4/27/2012 6:29:45 PM
@Neptune
Good call
 lagoda
Joined: 11/20/2009
Msg: 32
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 4/27/2012 9:18:02 PM

The purpose of the universe is so that I could be right here right now doing what I am doing the way I am doing.

God appoved.



Scientists have been working on that one for quite a while now. It's good to know that you have discovered what is at the centre of the universe.
 Travis-813
Joined: 4/12/2010
Msg: 33
The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 4/27/2012 10:10:11 PM
I like the post, at-least the direction... all-though, i think your answer is more theological/philosophical then Astro-Physics, so i'm a big confused why your supporting your theological post with scientific here-say (As with all scientific discussion, you need to cite credible sources, and make sure your data is correct to current terms, I.E. the current popularized theories isn't a re-big-bang, but rather after the universe expands to it's apex, it will enter one of the follow, big freeze, big rip, or big come-back ~ Not that i'm saying you are wrong, but you have no sources? ).

Since i think the answer to "The purpose of the universe" question is a philosophical one, i'll give my interpretation of it ~ The universe is not chaos by nature, it has order ~ order imposed by forces that are mathematical in presentation, as we understand the universe to be Binary, so should it's purpose be ~ The universe exists to provide answers to questions created by it's own existence ~ The universe is the question, the universe is the answer, it's a perpetual one, for once we peel back the layers of the physics required to answer the questions, we will be imposed with new ones, like-wise answered in the same fashion, and in time, we may break the binary super-structure, and transcend the 4th, 5th, 6th dimensions, and have the foundation of existence shaken by the scope of how deep the answers, and questions may go down the rabbit hole... The universe is a stage, we may one day possibly be able to act upon it, and present a new set purpose, for now perpetuation of reality is the purpose, should the universe end, as would it's purpose.

Consider the universe a canvass, one of such complexities that as now no such artist can truly utilize it's potential... for that.. it waits, will it be humanity? Maybe some other sentient race... when the proper conditions are set, life thrives, when live thrives intelligence follows, when intelligence is present it will inevitably act upon the universe, for that there is no other reason to have a universe.

To avoid going in circles with my own thoughts, that is the best i can do for you right now ~

For the record, i don't like to label myself, but i am Atheist/Agnostic whatever~ I don't rely on one school of thought to help me cope with my existence, but rather blend many together to create a final product to at-least find contention in my existence, and the universe.

Progress is the direction we must go, never digress for then you waste the canvass.
 lyingcheat
Joined: 9/13/2009
Msg: 34
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 4/27/2012 10:33:09 PM

I'm agnostic for the following reasons and would love for someone to pull my theories apart.
/snip/
What do ya think?

I think... there is no 'purpose' to the universe.
Purpose implies a primary goal, with the universe being used as a tool to reach it, all of which implies some kind of intent.
Which all look like anthropomorphic ideas to me.

One might just as well ask, what is the 'purpose' of a mountain.
Mountains have no 'purpose', they just are. They may have factors that either explain or cause their appearance and/or existence, and they may have consequences that are by-products of those things.
An instance of the first might be vulcanism, or perhaps tectonic plate movement, an instance of the second might be local climate, or plains formed from eons of erosion.
But that's not 'purpose'.
Mountains may be used for things like skiing, hiking, or climbing. But it's obvious these things are consequences of them being there, not the purpose.

Why is 'the universe' any different? We (humans) ski, hike, and climb all over it, we 'crack' its rocks looking for the factors that explain its origins just as if it was a mountain, yet for some reason some people think it was 'created' here especially so we could do those things, rather than those activities being merely consequences of it just being here.
 Travis-813
Joined: 4/12/2010
Msg: 35
The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 4/27/2012 11:41:10 PM
"One might just as well ask, what is the 'purpose' of a mountain.
Mountains have no 'purpose', they just are. They may have factors that either explain or cause their appearance and/or existence, and they may have consequences that are by-products of those things. "


That's crap, because you can decipher a purpose for something doesn't mean it's devoid of one - That's just a relative ~ Purpose can be defined in many aspects, the purpose of the Mountain could be to provide a environment inducive of variety in environmental evolution by providing Terra-Forma on a different elevation ground, or to provide a comparison to give meaning to geographical values not of it's type, maybe something else... who knows.. just because you don't know it's purpose, doesn't mean it doesn't have one.. and comparing a geographical face to the largest body of organization known to us is rather silly.

If you ask me, it exists to exist, that is the purpose of all things, otherwise it wouldn't be so, and the conversation would not be taking place, obvious...
 lyingcheat
Joined: 9/13/2009
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 4/28/2012 12:44:39 AM

One might just as well ask, what is the 'purpose' of a mountain.
Mountains have no 'purpose', they just are. They may have factors that either explain or cause their appearance and/or existence, and they may have consequences that are by-products of those things.


That's crap, because you can decipher a purpose for something doesn't mean it's devoid of one - That's just a relative ~ Purpose can be defined in many aspects, the purpose of the Mountain could be to provide a environment inducive of variety in environmental evolution by providing Terra-Forma on a different elevation ground, or to provide a comparison to give meaning to geographical values not of it's type, maybe something else... who knows.. just because you don't know it's purpose, doesn't mean it doesn't have one..
(my emphasis)

As written, this ^ ^ ^ doesn't make sense. Presumably you meant "can't decipher"?
Assuming you did though doesn't improve it, it still doesn't make sense.

As I said, 'purpose' implies intent, an objective.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/purpose
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purpose
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purpose_(disambiguation)
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purpose
http://www.answers.com/topic/purpose

Magma eruptions aren't consciously planned with the intention of creating a mountain, nor are tectonic plate movements.
Mountains are consequences of the forces that shaped them.

To propose, bearing in mind the definition of 'purpose', that mountains exist to provide variety in climate and geographical elevation is to imply an architect. Which violates the law of parsimony and introduces redundancy, considering that the process of mountain creation is well understood and neither requires, nor implies, planning, intent, or an objective.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor


and comparing a geographical face to the largest body of organization known to us is rather silly.

Why? The thread question relates to purpose. Point out where the analogy fails.
Either objects have 'purpose' or they don't.


If you ask me, it exists to exist, that is the purpose of all things, otherwise it wouldn't be so, and the conversation would not be taking place, obvious...

Huh? Things exist to exist? This ^ ^ ^ appears to be a somewhat vacuous tautology that, though still clinging to the idea of 'purpose', contradicts everything else you just said.
 Kohmelo
Joined: 9/20/2011
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 4/28/2012 10:15:49 AM

As I said, 'purpose' implies intent, an objective.


The definition you give does not state who's intent. You are assuming the purpose of an object is the intent of the inventor or creator or perhaps even the object itself, however, it is my position that the purpose of an object is the intent of the user.
For example, when someone designed the first kitchen knife, it's purpose was to prepare food. Over time someone realized that it can also be used to stab other people. This wasn't the intent of the inventor, but it was most certainly the intent of the user... to the user, the purpose of the knife is to stab.

When we apply this approach to the universe, the purpose of it is to house me... and to provide me heat and light... to inspire me with awe and wonder and whatever else I so choose to use it for. In the case of the mountain, consider a mountain goat's perspective. It is the home of the goat and from the goat's perspective, the purpose of the mountain is to house him.

The purpose is defined by the use.

EDIT:
If you look deeper at the knife, it is made of wood and iron and perhaps a few other choice elements. These elements were not intended to be knives, they were merely used to create the knife ergo, purpose is defined by use. To say otherwise is to say nothing has purpose.
 Balsamica
Joined: 2/24/2012
Msg: 38
The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 4/29/2012 8:59:47 AM
There can only be one universe, that which encompasses all.

If it doesn't encompass all, it is not the universe. It is a system of some kind, like a solar system, and should have another name.

And then, when we're satisfied we've captured all such systems, known and yet to be known, we can call that the universe.
 lyingcheat
Joined: 9/13/2009
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 4/29/2012 10:10:08 AM

As I said, 'purpose' implies intent, an objective.


The definition you give does not state who's intent. You are assuming the purpose of an object is the intent of the inventor or creator or perhaps even the object itself, however, it is my position that the purpose of an object is the intent of the user.

I agree, someone has to have intent and it may well be the user. But their intent, or purpose, doesn't necessarily transfer to the object.

For instance, the example I used of 'mountains'. A person may well claim the purpose of a mountain is to provide elevation and attract snow so people can ski down it. Another person may claim the same mountains purpose is to provide interesting hiking trails, etc etc etc.
But none of that means 'the mountain' is a multi-purpose tool that exists to provide those services, they are just uses to which it may be put, not the purpose of its existence or why it is there.
Those uses refer to the purposes of the users, not the mountain.



For example, when someone designed the first kitchen knife, it's purpose was to prepare food. Over time someone realized that it can also be used to stab other people. This wasn't the intent of the inventor, but it was most certainly the intent of the user... to the user, the purpose of the knife is to stab.

Some objects do have a purpose built in, like the knives you mention for instance. They are tools, designed with intent, to fulfil some purpose.
It may be that a kitchen knife is put to uses other than its intended one, but there are actually knives designed with the intention to cut or stab people. Bayonets for instance have that purpose, though one supposes they could also be used to prepare food.
The uses something may be put to doesn't necessarily refer to the purpose of the object, but rather to the purpose, or intention, of the user.

One further example, a cardboard box has many uses, but each one is (presumably) designed for some specific purpose.
That a homeless person is living in one doesn't mean the box's purpose is a portable residence, that's just a use to which it is being put. The purpose is coming from the user, not the box, since it wasn't necessarily designed with residential uses (purposes) in mind.



When we apply this approach to the universe, the purpose of it is to house me... and to provide me heat and light... to inspire me with awe and wonder and whatever else I so choose to use it for. In the case of the mountain, consider a mountain goat's perspective. It is the home of the goat and from the goat's perspective, the purpose of the mountain is to house him.

The purpose is defined by the use.

It may seem pedantic, but no. Purpose implies intent and the mountain has no intention in regard to the goat. The mountain itself has no 'purpose', it is a side effect of the forces that shaped it, just as the goat is a side effect of the mountain.
The goat may have intentions, desires, and purposes, shelter and food for instance, and he/she may find those purposes conveniently satisfied by any mountain shaped object, but the object itself lacks intent. It is a passive partner in the exchange and doesn't necessarily exist to serve the purposes required by the goat.

Consider the sun, you might say it too has the clear 'purpose' of providing heat and light for humans etc etc, but if it has a 'purpose' it's as an engine to convert hydrogen to helium. The heat and light are just side effects. The sun is indifferent to the anthropocentric 'purposes' attributed to it and will demonstrate its indifference in about 5 billion years by blinking out.

Likewise the universe itself has no discernible intent and therefore no 'purpose' despite that it may have many side effects and be put to many uses.
To suppose otherwise ignores the definition of 'purpose'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purpose_(disambiguation)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purpose
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purpose


EDIT: If you look deeper at the knife, it is made of wood and iron and perhaps a few other choice elements. These elements were not intended to be knives, they were merely used to create the knife ergo, purpose is defined by use. To say otherwise is to say nothing has purpose.

Not at all. The elements that make up the knife didn't exist (have the purpose) to make knives. The knife is a side effect, not an intentional purpose resident in the elements. Production of a knife is a just a use to which the elements have been put, not the purpose of their existence.

Many things have purpose built in, all tools for instance, which tend to be designed for a specific purpose. Contrast that with, for instance, using a handy rock to open a bottle. The rock wasn't lying there, perhaps for millions of years, waiting for someone to discover its purpose is really a bottle opener. That is just a use to which it may be put by someone who has the intention of opening a bottle, and uses it for that purpose. The purpose and intention are resident in the person opening the bottle, not the rock.

Likewise, all of the purposes you attribute to the universe are properties of your experience and your 'purposes' in the same way a religious person might say the 'purpose' of the universe is to demonstrate the power of a god and thereby inspire awe in His/Her/Its followers.

It's anthropocentric to project ones own purposes onto the object, whether it's a rock, a mountain, a star, or the universe.

The distinction between 'purpose' and 'use', along with the analysis of where intention lies is pedantic, but it isn't just pointless semantics when the question is the 'purpose of the universe' because attributing 'purpose' to objects, whether it's a mountain, a rock, or the universe, is getting perilously close to an idea that sounds a lot like creationism.

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Note this idea of universes sticking around is a sort of purpose. That is an important sort of purpose that Dan Dennett discusses. The point is that in evolution things have purposes. Organs have purposes, adaptations like wings and eyes have purposes. They have purpose because they are good at performing some important function that allows genes to perpetuate. In particular, if one considers nature carefully, one observes a lot of particular cycles and processes that form and some are good at sticking around and others aren't. Genes that serve the purpose of producing adaptations that are good at their functions stick around and other genes die off. This gives you a notion of purpose of sorts. With your universe creating life creating more universes idea, you have precisely the sort of cycle of a good universe perpetuating itself. Here's a talk by Dennett on this sort of purpose: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab1TaROJ5bo

I don't agree that this ^ ^ ^ summary is an entirely accurate reflection of what Dennet is saying, but nonetheless the video is interesting.

He notes that the question 'why?' has two senses, and suggests the distinction between them is important.
Why, as in 'how come?' (the process)
And 'why', as in 'what for?' (the purpose)
He illustrates the difference by asking, at 8.15 - 9.50 - Why does ice float?
And shows that it's a 'how come' question - ice floats because the density of solid water is lower than that of liquid water. It's a neutral process., a consequence.
it's not a 'what for' question - as in, ice floats so fish can live through the winter, or ice floats so people can skate on it. No 'purpose' can be attributed to the ice.

He goes on to isolate, at 11.45 - 15.26, two categories of 'what for/why' question, and notes that these questions always presuppose there must be some kind justification for the answer.

And follows, at 15.30 - 16.21, with a discussion of 'how come/why' questions.
These don't require, or imply, justification, They are just neutral descriptions, a 'process narrative'.

Serendipitously, he actually illustrates (with pictures), at 16.25 - 18.02, the very point I'm trying to get across.
He shows two pictures of vaguely similar looking gravel formations and asks if the explanation for them can be found via a 'why/what for?' or a 'why/how come?' question. Recall that one type implies purpose, the other does not.
It turns out that though the formations are kind of similar, they don't respond equally when interrogated by each variety of 'why' question, they represent one of each.

What for?
One is a sculpture, designed and built with intent, it has purpose - it is a work of art meant to be observed, if not admired.

The other has no 'what for' component since it is a natural formation, it isn't 'for' anything, it responds only to 'how come?'

How come?
Repeated cyclic thawing and freezing of gravel beds in the Arctic sorts the gravel into sizes and produces formations - it is a process, it's not 'for' anything, there's no purpose. It just is.


Likewise, the question "The purpose of the universe?" is a 'How come?' question. The answer is a process narrative. It isn't a 'What for?' question and doesn't require, or imply, justification through 'purpose'.

 Neptune74
Joined: 2/16/2011
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 4/29/2012 11:04:46 AM
@lyingcheat,


...(a lot of stuff)...


Seems the conclusion of your post is that purpose is a human trait. The inventor has a purpose in mind the user might have another, but then isn't the user a creator in his own right? Isn't the core of this that humans fulfil an end with the aid of something? And the "purpose" is just a label of the aid to achieve an end?
 lyingcheat
Joined: 9/13/2009
Msg: 41
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 4/30/2012 2:01:38 AM

Seems the conclusion of your post is that purpose is a human trait.

Not necessarily only human, but that it always implies intent. I didn't invent that implication, it's explicit in the definition of 'purpose'.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/purpose
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purpose
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purpose_(disambiguation)

The inventor has a purpose in mind the user might have another, but then isn't the user a creator in his own right?

I'm not sure what you mean. The 'user' may 'create' a use I guess, and devise a purpose for any object or thing, but that 'purpose' doesn't necessarily or automatically transfer to the object or thing.

Tools (in the broadest sense of the word) do have a purpose, the purpose was intentionally loaded into the object by the designer and is often manifest in the appearance of the object itself.
But simply using even a tool for some other purpose, scissors to pop open a bottle cap for instance, or using a spanner to hammer in a nail, doesn't necessarily bestow new 'purpose' on the tool.
The above named tools are generally used for such alternative purposes because of their (partial or sufficient) resemblance to the tool that actually was designed for that purpose.

But! The newly devised purpose (unless it turns out to be universally useful) generally expires when they put the tool down, and leaves the scene with them. Because the newly devised purpose resides with the individual user, not the tool. This would immediately become obvious if one were to claim that the 'purpose' of a spanner is to drive in nails.

Isn't the core of this that humans fulfil an end with the aid of something? And the "purpose" is just a label of the aid to achieve an end?

One may use two pairs of scissors to (very carefully) tie ones shoelaces, but that doesn't mean that all scissors have the 'purpose' of being shoelace tying aids.
One might use a broken glass vase to cut a piece of paper, but that doesn't mean vases are paper cutting tools.

So no, not really, unless you're suggesting a change to the definition of 'purpose'.

 Littlewolf208
Joined: 4/23/2012
Msg: 42
The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 5/1/2012 4:39:03 AM
[There can only be one universe, that which encompasses all.]
Highlanderverse?
 Kohmelo
Joined: 9/20/2011
Msg: 43
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 5/1/2012 4:58:12 PM


One may use two pairs of scissors to (very carefully) tie ones shoelaces, but that doesn't mean that all scissors have the 'purpose' of being shoelace tying aids.
One might use a broken glass vase to cut a piece of paper, but that doesn't mean vases are paper cutting tools.


Reverse that for a second... if a pair of scissors is made but is never used does it still have a purpose?
Does the complete lack of use not completely remove the purpose of the object?



Not necessarily only human, but that it always implies intent. I didn't invent that implication, it's explicit in the definition of 'purpose'.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/purpose
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purpose
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purpose_(disambiguation)


First link, first definition
"the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc."
2nd is a re-direct and 3rd is case specific and does not necessarily apply

What is the reason an un-used pair of scissors exists? (they are not used, there is no reason)
What is the reason an un-used pair of scissors is done? (makes no sense, does not apply)
What is the reason an un-used pair of scissors is made? (if there was a reason, it no longer exists for this particular pair of scissors)
What is the reason an un-used pair of scissors is used? (this is a contradiction, does not apply)

Now - these scissors have no purpose.
If someone happens to use them to help tie their shoes, I dare say, they yet again have a purpose.
 DameWrite
Joined: 2/27/2010
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 5/1/2012 5:39:45 PM
Even if chaos started the whole ball rolling something might be needed to hold it all together. What we call universe could be a membrane of sorts. It may have been created by a cell/virus/protein/molecule?) through a series of events (including creating us and what is around us) simply for the continuation of the cell/ virus/protein/molecule?) so that just in case of another chaotic event happens, it can divide or "give birth" where it might otherwise die off.

There's hope yet!

Is the creator/god a cell/virus/protein/ molecule?

In DNA, what it the smallest? Whatever it is, I kneel before it.
 1966bri
Joined: 4/2/2012
Msg: 45
The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 5/1/2012 7:15:54 PM
I agree so whole heartedly I can't believe I still believe in God. I definitely think that I was given an open mind for a reason...To reason!But damn if energy being a forever thing is kind of a paraodox or paradyne to my mind,Because how can you know you look forward or back enough to see the true begining or far enough ahead to see the ultimate end..Scientificly) Science and God are searches,studies,evidence and ultimitely revelation of truth.Both alike in that, until it all plays out or we can honestly say we know every damn thing now,WE DON'T KNOW;0..But I wanna know...Really like your stuff!thank you!
 magnificent_glow
Joined: 4/6/2012
Msg: 46
The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 5/1/2012 7:44:52 PM
thanks for sharing that Dennett video. was interesting.

my issue with intelligence/god creating the universe...what intelligent being would include negative aspects to existence. if you were all powerful and could do anything, wouldn't you find a way around it? just like a programmer does their best to get all the bugs out of software. this is where the process of evolution makes more sense.
 Skyliner1001
Joined: 5/26/2007
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 5/3/2012 9:15:31 PM
-I thought the universe existed to sastify the number 42 ;)

Deep Thought stated the Ultimate Answer is "42". But reread "Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and remember what was the Ultimate Question.
 lyingcheat
Joined: 9/13/2009
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 5/4/2012 5:13:22 PM

Not necessarily only human, but that it always implies intent. I didn't invent that implication, it's explicit in the definition of 'purpose'.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/purpose
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purpose
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purpose_(disambiguation)


First link, first definition
"the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc."
2nd is a re-direct and 3rd is case specific and does not necessarily apply


There are many sources of definitions but the above three are representative.
The first -

purpose - noun
1. the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.
2. an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.
3. determination; resoluteness.
4. the subject in hand; the point at issue.
5. practical result, effect, or advantage: to act to good purpose.
purpose - verb (used with object)
6. to set as an aim, intention, or goal for oneself.
7. to intend; design.
8. to resolve (to do something): He purposed to change his way of life radically.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/purpose

Note the emphasis on 'the reason for', 'aim', 'goal', etc etc

The second is indeed a redirect, but did you ask yourself why the Wiki definition for 'Purpose' redirects to the definition of 'Intention'?


Intention
"Intentionally" redirects here.
"Purpose" redirects here. For other uses, see Purpose (disambiguation).

Intention is an agent's specific purpose in performing an action or series of actions, the end or goal that is aimed at. Outcomes that are unanticipated or unforeseen are known as unintended consequences.
Intentional behavior can also be just thoughtful and deliberate goal-directedness. Recent research in experimental philosophy has shown that other factors may also matter for whether or not an action is counted as intentional.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purpose


The third definition is the Wiki page "Purpose_(disambiguation)" which you dismissed as not necessarily applicable, but I beg to differ, I included it because it's entirely relevant.

Purpose (disambiguation)
Purpose is a word, that as a noun or a verb, has various meanings including: an object to be reached; a target; an aim; a goal; a result that is desired; an intention. Purpose's basic concept is an individual's voluntary behavior activity awareness. The concept has a significant history in religion, philosophy and science. Purpose can be operational defined as entity class property which may, but need not have consciousness. Intentionality, target-directedness, future orientation and a hypothetical result state are the central conceptual ingredients of purpose.
Purpose may refer to:
* Intention
* Goal
* Teleology
* Subject of discourse

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purpose_(disambiguation)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intention
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goal
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleology

The central meanings of 'purpose', applicable to the question "Does the Universe Have a Purpose?" all imply intention, an aim, and a goal. Which in turn either imply an author or "agent" who/which designed it with these things in mind, or suggest that the universe itself has a goal and is purposefully, intentionally working towards it.

Where is the evidence for this?

All the evidence we have suggests that the universe is a manifestation of the forces and processes that formed it, not the result of an intentional action - by the universe itself, or by an "agent". Likewise, the underlying processes betray no guiding "agent" responsible for contributing 'purpose', or a universe creating goal.

As far as we know, the universe (being everything known) couldn't have had an external 'cause' that preceded it, there's no built in 'purpose' that can be compared or contrasted with an alternate 'purpose'. It just 'is'.

Most of the 'purposes' suggested for the universe are just 'uses' or are purposes that are held by the users, not by the universe.
It's pedantic, but the definitions are very important if one is attempting to attribute 'purpose' to an object, or collection of objects, as significant as 'the universe'.




______________________________________________________________________________________
I am open to entertaining that I might have described Dennett a bit wrong. I'm not a philosopher and I am certainly not Dan Dennett! But please address the overall talk and the overall issue of how teleology does or doesn't map onto evolution, both biological evolution (as discussed in the talk) and evolution of universes (as discussed in this forum).

Mostly I had no problem with the way you introduced the video, but the thread topic concerns 'the universe' and much of your introductory passage was about evolutionary biology. I quoted such a large chunk really only to be fair to you - it was the video I was interested in and you had introduced it.
So rather than dissect your post I simply noted, mostly because of a few scattered sentences regarding universes, that I didn't agree it was an 'entirely' accurate summary of Dennetts ideas.

With regard to the evolutionary biology parts it probably was, and is, but to the extent your post implied that the universe (or universes) can form intent then I think you've deviated from the implications of what Dennett was saying.

For instance -
I think Lagoda had a very good answer of mentioning Lee Smolin's speculation that maybe there are baby universes and there is an evolution of universes based on what universes have the properties to stick around. You idea fits into that nicely, as the creation of life that creates more universes like its own would be a good way to have universes stick around.

Note this idea of universes sticking around is a sort of purpose. That is an important sort of purpose that Dan Dennett discusses. The point is that in evolution things have purposes.
(my emphasis)
Whether or not one accepts the idea that universes 'stick around' with or without spawning 'baby universes' all that is being described is a process. Not a purpose.
I don't agree, being mindful of the definition of 'purpose', that universes, persistent or otherwise, can form an intent or have a 'goal'. They are expressions of the natural forces that formed them - processes all. Successful ones (processes) tend to be repeated, unsuccessful ones expire.

To relate this to your later post, and further points about the application of the word 'purpose' to biology -
lyingcheat, you seem to only reference the beginning of the talk where Dennett distinguishes between "how come?" and "what for?" questions. That's only a small part of the bigger talk. Later in the video (after 18:02) Dennett discusses how in evolution you gradually transitioned from only asking "how come?" questions to also asking "what for?" questions. And once you get to that point, my description of what Dennett is say, though obviously not his precise choice of words, accurately captures how "what for?" equations are relevant to evolution. What is the purpose of eyes? Well, you can ask the "how come?" question of the process by which eyes evolved. But you can also ask the "what for?" question of what are eyes for? Eyes are for seeing.


You are right that the evolution of photo-sensitive cells leading to 'eyes' is a "how come?" question. The short answer is by billions of evolutionary processes over a billion years or so.
Can these processes be said to have a purpose, a goal, an intent? Or is it only that the results and outcomes of the unsuccessful processes, of which there were just as many, simply expired so that all we have is the apparent successful outcome (eyes) of what now looks like a neat and tidy goal directed process driven by purpose.

It's my contention that the processes, being merely explorations of possibility with success being rewarded, are neutral with regard to motivational intent or purpose.

However, the end result (an eye) does have a 'purpose', it's a tool used for 'seeing' but the intent sense of 'purpose', resides with the organism it is embedded in, who/which is capable of forming an intent, unlike a detached eyeball.

Note that many cave dwelling beasties have non-functional eyes - what is the 'purpose' of that?

It's pedantic to stick so closely to the definitions but IMO ascribing 'purpose' to processes and functions is skating very close to Intelligent Design, which inevitably leads to a 'Designer' - which is just a pseudonym for a 'God' thing.

In terms of purpose a universe is no different to an atom. They are both just manifestations of forces and possibilities.
Does the sun have a purpose? Not really.
It has lots of uses, and it's fantastic at converting hydrogen to helium, but does it 'know' what it is doing? Did it form to fulfil the 'purposes' we ascribe to it? Does it have intent? A goal?

Do industrial robots have a 'purpose'? In the sense they are used for something they do, but that purpose was built into them by an agent that had a goal in mind and was capable of forming an intent.
As the robots whizz about assembling cars or whatever they have no personal goals, and they're not thinking about their intentions - they have no internal, intrinsic, sense of purpose, and don't need one to exist.

Does a shaded bend in an isolated creek that supports a rare species of frog be said to have a purpose? Or is the fact that it supports those frogs just an accident? Can the creek be thought to have been formed with intent, or is it just a fortunate manifestation of natural forces?
If it was formed with intent, who holds it? The creek? Or a 'designer'?

Once again - the strict definition of 'purpose' becomes important in answering these questions.


Eyesight enables you to do a range of things like seeing prey and predators that is useful for survival. Eyes were designed, there just was not intelligent designer. There is a "what for?" purpose to eyes, just no intelligent intent behind that purpose. Moreover, if you want to be technical about things (to some extent I do) the genes for eyes have the purpose of allowing the organism to survive long enough to pass on the eye genes and thus eye genes can stick around. Eye genes are in one of these cycles, part of the reproductive cycle, that Dennett talks about.

Eyes aren't 'designed'. Eyes evolve. They evolved in many different ways to suit many different conditions.
Evolution isn't a process of 'designing' things, it's a process of semi-random development with fitness enhancing, or advantage conferring, adaptions being rewarded.
They might seem 'designed' because they more or less suit the purpose we use them for, but human eyes are badly 'designed' compared to octopus eyes, which are very similar.

Genes (for whatever) have a function they express through a process, which is why it follows that genes that enhance the organism tend to persist.

Reading 'purpose' into non-conscious mechanical or biological processes is not much different to reading meaning in entrails. Or interpreting the past in retrospect and attributing meaning, or 'purpose', to some random past event that deterministically brought about the present as if it were 'ordained' somehow.
 Kohmelo
Joined: 9/20/2011
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 5/4/2012 6:49:11 PM


It's pedantic, but the definitions are very important if one is attempting to attribute 'purpose' to an object, or collection of objects, as significant as 'the universe'.

You're right, they are.
But what is required for a definition

from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definition


A definition (≝) is a passage that explains the meaning of a term (a word, phrase or other set of symbols), or a type of thing. The term to be defined is the definiendum. A term may have many different senses or meanings.

and


Like other words, the term definition has subtly different meanings in different contexts. A definition may be descriptive of the general use meaning, or stipulative of the speaker's immediate intentional meaning. For example, in formal languages like mathematics, a 'stipulative' definition guides a specific discussion. A descriptive definition can be shown to be "right" or "wrong" by comparison to general usage, but a stipulative definition can only be disproved by showing a logical contradiction


I'm using reference 1, definition 1. "the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc"
I'm specifying use in the context. In this case, the the argument I am making is based on use. In this case, I'm discussing "the reason something is used". This still fits the definition of purpose.



The central meanings of 'purpose', applicable to the question "Does the Universe Have a Purpose?" all imply intention, an aim, and a goal. Which in turn either imply an author or "agent" who/which designed it with these things in mind, or suggest that the universe itself has a goal and is purposefully, intentionally working towards it.

I just re-read the entire OP... with reference to it's context, you're so right.

However, I'm not going to let the OP dictate my stand-point. The universe still has a purpose, even if it is not it's own purpose, even if it didn't create it's purpose or intent it... it is solely in how we use it.
 lyingcheat
Joined: 9/13/2009
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 5/4/2012 7:56:43 PM

However, I'm not going to let the OP dictate my stand-point.

Fair enough. Topics evolve.
 gingerosity
Joined: 12/10/2011
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 5/4/2012 8:06:34 PM

Fair enough. Topics evolve.


Do they evolve, or are they designed with a purpose?
 Kohmelo
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 5/4/2012 9:40:32 PM
In this case, the topic had a designer. Perhaps he even had a purpose, however, the thread is more-so being used to debate the definition of the word purpose. The definition of purpose is dependent on the context in which they are used.

It's quite obvious to me that we must now discuss the definition of evolve in the given context.

ref: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/evolve


To develop or achieve gradually

(my best guess of the definition in the given context)

It's debatable that this topic was designed with purpose. It is undeniable that it has evolved.
 CressB
Joined: 7/1/2011
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The purpose of the universe?
Posted: 5/4/2012 9:44:07 PM

Do they evolve, or are they designed with a purpose?


Ah, "the best laid plans of mice and men...".
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