Speculations about the ultimate nature of reality
This page contains speculations about the ultimate nature of reality. It is intended to be read as one single piece, across sections, from top to bottom. It starts with a brief philosophical intro, then moving on to a brief summary of our current understanding of reality in terms of physics, then to a novel interpretation of physics which in turn leads down the rabbit hole. It might take some time to read it but hopefully it'll be worth it.
why am I here...?
...is all that we see or seem
but a dream within a dream?
The only place where you've never not been.
Why are we here? What's the meaning of life?
Existence…what is this place?
Well… Let's contemplate another question:
What is optimal existence?
What would optimal existence look like? Consider an existence in and of itself, beyond space and time. Not contained within a larger existence. A reality carrying itself. If this existence would be static, without any change ever occurring, wouldn't it be rather dull? Complete permanence for an eternity. What about the opposite? Complete chaos: fluctuations so intense there never would be any path to trace, no memory, utter non-permanence -- this would, from an ontological standpoint, not be optimal either. From these extremes, let's entertain the idea that optimal existence takes place at a golden mean: at a balance between permanence and non-permanence. If you were to exist for an eternity, you'd likely prefer some sort of change balanced with some sort of non-change, wouldn't you?
17th century philosopher Leibniz had the view that, even though expressed in a slightly different way, our world actually is optimal.
According to him,
"We live in the best
of all possible worlds"
-- Gottfried Leibniz
What would such a world look like? What world do we actually live in? One of the tenets of Buddhism is Anitya; the Sanskrit word for the fact that even though things seem to exist, they are all temporary.
"The only thing that's permanent is change"
-- The Buddha
In other words, at the face of it at least, our universe certainly seems to be a world of some sort of balance between permanence and non-permanence. But what is our world, more specifically, and more technically? Let's see what modern science has to say about it.
A BRIEF SUMMARY
THE BIG BANG
So, here we are. 13.8 billion years after the advent of space, time and energy. Like the rippling water of a wild river, matter and energy are curling throughout space and extending into time. Most people say the Big Bang happened a long time ago. However, another way to view it is that the Big Bang is still happening -- that it's an event that's still ongoing:
We are within it. We are within the Big Bang, rippling throughout space and time. Or, put another way:
We are it -- we are the Big Bang.
But then, what is it?
WHAT IS THE UNIVERSE?
The universe, in simple terms, is matter and energy spread out through space and time. However, according to the most famous equation in the world, matter is really just another form of energy. So then, the universe is just energy spread out through space and time. However, Landauer's principle states that there is a direct relationship between energy and information. In fact, an increasing number of physicists today have no problem viewing energy as essentially information. Renowned physicist John Wheeler coined the now famous phrase "it from bit" referring to the idea that information is at the very basis of our universe, writing "all things physical are information-theoretic in origin". In other words, all the stuff in the universe that's spread out through space and time can be seen as information. A matrix of information. But if that's true, then…
What is the matrix?
To investigate what this matrix of information is, what all the matter and energy is, physicists look at the smallest scale they are able to: the quantum mechanical scale. At this very small scale, objects are often described mathematically as wave packets. Interestingly, something called wavelets, a concept related to these wave packets, are used within computer science for data compression.
One of the hallmarks of quantum mechanics is quantization; the small stuff that makes up our universe has a discrete nature. Again, we see similarities with computer science: a form of quantization is used for lossy data compression.
Entanglement is likely the most famous aspect of quantum mechanics. It involves a spooky sharing of information between small stuff. If, for example, two atoms are entangled, they cannot be fully described without considering each other. In a way, information is fundamentally shared between them. Within computer science, typically when a file is compressed, it's done by identifying and eliminating redundancies. In other words, it's done by finding and removing parts of a file that's superfluous. In information theory, the notion of redundancy is related to when two variables share mutual information. Following this, entanglement could be seen as a feature that would allow for compression of some underlying description.
A BEGINNING AND AN END
So, the universe had a beginning -- but does it have an end? There's this concept called entropy, loosely defined as when things go from order to disorder. According to the second law of thermodynamics, overall this entropy is always increasing. The universe started with a state of low entropy and will eventually reach a state of maximum entropy. Unfortunately this means that everything will inevitably perish. How solid is the second law of thermodynamics? Well, it's often used as a primary gauge for whether other theories are solid or not:
"If your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation."
So, as the universe progresses, a pitiless wave of ever-increasing entropy will eventually in the far future lead to the heat death of the universe where nothing discernible will be left. Interestingly, the evolution of quantum entanglement is linked to increasing entropy. Put another way: the progress of something that can be seen as a compression feature will eventually render the universe indiscernible.
Our universe is made of information.
Our universe had a beginning and is gradually diminishing towards an end state where nothing will be discernible.
Characteristics of the very small constituents of our universe resemble what sometimes is being used in computers when data is compressed.
Why does the universe exhibit quantization on the smallest scale?
Why does the universe seem to have a beginning and an end?
Why does matter tend to aggregate through gravity?
Why does information seem to be fundamental?
The Incremental Compression Conjecture
states that these seemingly somewhat
disparate facts are all part of a
THE INCREMENTAL COMPRESSION CONJECTURE
The Incremental Compression Conjecture (ICC) is a conjecture about the fundamental nature of our universe. It states that our universe is the result of an incremental compression operation.
Let's first briefly introduce the concept of compression. Within computer science, there are two forms of compression; lossy and lossless. Lossless compression reduces a file size while preserving the information. An example of this would be a ZIP-file: size is reduced but the information content is intact. Conversely, lossy compression reduces file size but also reduces the information content. An example of this would be the JPEG image format: size is reduced but image quality is also reduced. One way to perform lossy compression of a computer image is to slightly change the colors of some of the pixels to make them more like the colors in some of the other pixels in the image. In effect, colors in the image approach each other color-wise and are overall color-wise clustered together, which allows for a more compressed description of the image and thus for a reduced file size. For example -- in a picture containing a blue sky, changing all the sky pixels to the same shade of blue instead of a plethora of slightly different shades of blue would drastically reduce the file size while keeping the human impression of the picture reasonably intact. The amount of data required to express 100 pixels of one shade of blue is significantly less than the amount of data required to express 100 pixels of 100 shades of blue.
So, the ICC states that our universe is the result of an incremental lossy compression operation of some underlying information set. To illustrate the general concept, let's incrementally lossy compress the following image by quantizing its colors using the fairly standard k-NN algorithm. Every pixel in the image can be described by a combination of a varying degree of each of the three colors red, green and blue (RGB). A maximum value of each RGB color yields a white pixel, and a minimum value of each RGB color yields a black pixel. This is how colors work. Each incremental compression step we perform reduces the total number of colors used in the image by one; from an initial 256 down to only 1 remaining after the final compression step. In effect, a total of 256 consecutive compression steps are performed.
The first image of the compression series animated below has a file size of about 125 kb, and the last image containing only one color has a file size of about 1 kb. When several pixels of the image share mutual information, in other words when several pixels contain the same color, compression by redundancy of the underlying description is possible. Just like in the sky pixel example above, file size can be reduced.
A version of how the image is expressed -- the three dimensional RGB color space -- is plotted below the image for each compression step. The size of each point in the color space corresponds to how many pixels use each particular color, and the color of each such point is related to the respective color in the image being compressed. Note the dynamics of this representation during the incremental compression operation.
This is just a simple demonstration of the general concept of incremental compression. As one can see, each compression step of the underlying description of the image moves the colors in the 3d RGB space closer to each other, seemingly somewhat analogous to gravity. In other words, a very simple example of a rather arbitrary incremental lossy information compression results in the emergence of a dynamic quite similar to gravity. Not by design, but rather emerging from the operation of incremental lossy compression. In this fashion, the ICC assumes that the primary aspect underlying our universe is information, and that a lossy compression of this information is performed incrementally which in effect manifests the universe and its physical forces of nature. Somewhat like the animated picture above. Specifically, each entropy increasing rearrangement of matter and energy by way of the natural forces is assumed to be a reflection of an incremental compression of the universe's underlying information set. The lossy compression transform the underlying information to allow for more redundancy, which in effect corresponds to matter and energy moving around in our universe. The initial low entropy state of the universe would then correspond to an initial large underlying information set. In other words, entropy is inversely proportional to underlying compressible information. The gradual increase in entropy of the second law of thermodynamics is then a reflection of an incremental lossy compression, and thereby a gradual decrease in size, of this information set.
Note that the incremental compression of the image above is performed using the concepts of quantization and redundancy by mutual information. As indicated in the introductory section, these concepts are also fundamental aspects of the very building blocks of our universe. In fact, the mathematical equations of the wave packets describing quantum objects, which make up all the stuff in our universe, are eerily similar to the mathematical equations used in many forms of data compression. For example, below follows an image of a Morlet wavelet; an exact mathematical object used both to describe the very small stuff making up our universe and within computer science for various forms of data compression.
As the effects in 3d color space of an incremental compression of the image above seem to be somewhat similar to gravity, and the compression concepts used are strikingly similar to fundamental aspects of the small stuff making up our universe, let's simply assume that what drives our universe forward one tiny step at a time is an incremental compression of an underlying information set.
The rest of this section focuses on the technical aspects of how the conjectured compression might relate to our physical universe. Feel free to skip it.
When all of the underlying information has been compressed, when all free energy in the universe has been transformed to a state of unavailable energy, when the universe reaches its final state of heat death, the ICC assumes that the underlying information set then has been compressed down to a minimum. In other words, the ICC suggests that potential energy, and then by extension also matter, corresponds to compressible underlying information. Furthermore, the ICC postulates that distance in space and time corresponds to information distance between the underlying information represented by each respective part of matter or energy.
The ICC assumes that each incremental step of the compression procedure is of a certain fixed size. As the compression operation proceeds incrementally, various parts of the universe becomes increasingly quantum mechanically entangled. Each such part is assumed to correspond to a segment of compressible underlying information. Eventually multiple entangled parts, in terms of the underlying information, starts to exceed the compression step size. In this case, as all entangled parts share mutual information and can't be considered individually by the fundamental aspect of entanglement mentioned in the introductory section, they have to be considered as a whole during each compression step. For such a system of many entangled parts, this results in a joint underlying information that allows for and indeed requires several steps of compression.
When a system of entangled parts requires several steps of compression, a new internal time for the object is manifested, and in effect it gains mass. Matter, then, is simply assumed to be an entangled system that's compressed one step at a time and reflects an underlying information content that's large enough to entail several compression steps. The superposition of such a system, the curious and seemingly paradoxical phenomena of quantum systems being able to hold several states at the same time, is assumed to be extended and branched out into the forward temporal direction. In other words, a system of entangled parts that has gained mass, has its superposition moved into the future. In effect, a future of several possible outcomes, viewed from the perspective of us humans.
The superposition moved into the forward temporal direction, the future, is according to the ICC also subject to incremental compression. As these entangled superposed states of the future are rearranged to allow for more redundancy in the underlying information, the ICC posits that the overall superposition tends to contract spatially. The space, or the vacuum, around an object that has gained mass is assumed to be entangled with future superposed states though the mechanism described above. As incremental compression proceeds and the superposed states of the future rearranges and contracts spatially to allow for redundancy in the underlying information, the entangled vacuum around the mass in the present is also assumed to contract in conjunction with contraction of the superposed states of the future. In other words, the ICC suggests that gravity is a manifestation of the compression of superposed states of the future.
There might be a point where the proposed source of gravity -- increased mutual information between entangled parts of future superposed states -- yield negative informational gain, conceptualized by negative interaction information. The ICC speculates that the effects of dark energy and possibly also dark matter arises from such dynamics.
When entanglement evolves and the information underlying a system reaches a size that exceeds the size of a compression step, but the entangled quantum description, future and present, at the same time is completely bounded to the system itself, this would according to the ICC correspond to a black hole. And, speaking of black holes, the ICC suggests information is lost in them; contrary to the common view of one of the most famous unsolved problems in physics.
The Incremental Compression Conjecture states that
-- An information set underlies our universe, where matter and energy has a correspondence to various parts of this underlying information set
-- An incremental compression of this underlying information is what manifests our universe. The continual rearrangement of its matter and energy through natural forces over space and time, and steady increase in entropy, is a manifestation of this incremental compression
WHAT IS REAL?
The ICC states that our universe is the result of an incremental compression operation.
What does that tell us?
Well, consider this:
The performance of compression is not a trivial operation.
BEYOND THE UNIVERSE
SIMULACRA & SIMULATION
Jean Baudrillard, a philosopher active in the 20th century, contemplated about reality and simulated reality. According to him, the postmodern world would contain less and less real things until eventually nothing was real anymore. The rise of simulacra -- images and representations of things where there's no longer an original -- would increasingly begin to dominate to the point of replacing actual reality. Today, in a world where many social media posts are carefully created, sometimes even staged, and yet being a very real part of many people's lives -- it seems Baudrillard was on to something. The Hollywood blockbuster "The Matrix" was partly based on his ideas. As a tribute, in one scene the protagonist happens to hold a copy of Baudrillard's philosophical treatise Simulacra & simulation. Some might say the movie took the ideas too far by depicting the entire world being a computer simulation secretly running on computers located on the original earth. However, perhaps the movie didn't take his ideas far enough. What if real barely even exists as a concept at all? What if all is simulation?
IS OUR UNIVERSE REAL?
According to renowned theoretical physicist Nima Arkani-Hamed, there are indications within modern physics that our universe of space and time is not fundamental reality. Rather, some underlying and more fundamental process is manifesting it. Meanwhile, other mainstream theoretical physicists argue that our universe might in fact be a hologram. In other words, the universe we seem to live and operate in might not be the fundamental layer of reality. With this in mind -- if our universe is manifested by a deeper information process as suggested by the ICC above, then presumably one can say that our universe is a simulation. A level of reality that's manifested by another level of reality.
-- Consider your experience of sight: you're not experiencing the actual outside world -- you're experiencing a simulation of the outside world within your brain based on incoming information from your eyes. Your brain produces a simulation, trying to fit it in an evolutionarily beneficial way to the outside world. No light has ever reached your brain. Light as you experience it is just a simulation of light, originating in a place that never has been exposed to actual light.
-- Consider dreams. Wild simulated worlds but still we rarely even realize that we are dreaming.
-- Consider the evolution of computers and video games:
Pong, a video game released in 1972
Horizon Zero Dawn 2, a video game released in 2021
This is the progress during a period of less than 50 years. One can barely imagine what could happen given enough time. As mentioned in the introductory section, the universe will likely go on for a very long time until the hypothetical heat death. At least trillions of years. As of the year 2020, the total time people had spent playing one popular and recently released computer game, "Fortnite", was 10.4 million years. The game is essentially a simulated world, although accessed with the rather crude interfaces of screen, keyboard and mouse. Given the progress of technology, given that there apparently is demand and given that there is plenty of time -- better interfaces will likely emerge eventually. In light of this, it's not hard to envision a future where simulated computer worlds will begin to seem more and more real. Taking it one step further, it's possible to imagine a future where at some point certain simulations will be indistinguishable from reality. But again -- your current perception of reality is just a simulation of reality produced in your brain. So, what's the point of this section? The point is the fact that our universe apparently can produce its own simulations.
MULTIPLE LAYERS OF SIMULATION
So, our universe has the capability of producing its own simulations. If our universe is simulated and it in turn can produce various forms of simulations -- then the layer simulating our universe could itself also be simulated. Let's assume basic evolutionary dynamics apply in that layer as they do in our own. After all, distinguished physicist Lee Smolin has a theory where our entire universe and its physical laws is the result of an evolutionary process. If existence, loosely defined as the entirety of it all, consists of a hierarchy of simulated layers where evolutionary forces are active in at least some of them, then perhaps we can draw some conclusions about the preceding layer that presumably might be simulating our own universe. So, let's assume a deeper layer of reality performs an incremental compression operation that in effect manifests our universe. Then, why compression? And, why incremental?
It turns out that compression is tightly linked to intelligence. Some even argue that compression and intelligence are equivalent. It bears repeating: some argue that compression and intelligence are equivalent. Let's then assume that some sort of intelligence manifests our universe by performing the conjectured compression. But why would the compression performed by this intelligence be incremental? To investigate further, let's analyze an intelligence closer to home: our own.
Shaped by evolution, humans need to update their intelligence constantly under the constraint of having only a limited capacity to integrate a true flood of continuously incoming experiences into their brains. As this update needs to take place at regular intervals to keep the intelligence adapted during the steady stream of sensory inputs -- and, as there's a natural 24h cycle -- the main integration might presumably, suitably, occur during the night. Specifically, assume that this update, the integration of recent relevant experience into the intelligence, is performed during the dream state.
THE NATURE OF DREAMS
The content and functioning of dreams are not fully understood, but as a typical human spends about six years dreaming it must be something important. This part speculates that dreams are, in fact, an incremental compression operation.
To fit as much recent relevant experience as possible into the brain, assume that during the dream state of each night your experience is compressed. Also, assume that as the information to be compressed is general and arbitrary in nature, the compression operator evolution has produced can not beforehand know the exact and suitable level of compression needed for optimal fit. Therefore, assume that compression is applied incrementally until a sufficient level of compression is achieved. Notably, this is contrary to the way it's normally done in our computers, where we have different compression operators designed for different and specific cases. For example, a music file might be compressed in a certain way down to a certain size, all in one step, as the nature and purpose of the information is known at the time when the compression operator is designed. However, if we were to compress a general snippet of information to fit in a general piece of space which is not exactly known a priori, then we might benefit from incremental compression through a general compression operator. In other words, if evolution produces one compression operator which is used in a broad number of cases, one might expect it to be applied incrementally in various of these cases. Perhaps such a dynamic might be a way towards artificial general intelligence, but that's a another story.
Assume that the human subconscious intelligence is structured like a vast network of symbols, where each symbol has various degrees of mutual information with other symbols. A symbol in the human subconscious intelligence can then, by nature of sharing mutual information with other symbols, represent many things to the awoken, conscious mind. The more things a symbol represents, the more mutual information is shared with other symbols, and thus the more general it is. A car, for example, might for a certain person be a fairly general symbol and represent a range of things such as travel, freedom, danger, adventure and work. The more specific things a symbol represents, the less mutual information is shared with other symbols, and the less general it is. A particular vacation spot, for example, might for a certain person be a slightly more specific symbol and represent a particular vacation experienced on that particular spot, but also represent travel in general. As each individual has a particular intelligence shaped by nature and nurture, each individual presumably then has a particular set of symbol representations and associations. Furthermore, some symbols might be archaic and archetypal, common and shared across a population by inheritance from culture and ancestors -- and some symbols might be originating from individual life experience. All of this might be where the seeming, and quite particular, symbolism in dreams comes from.
Let's assume that the more mutual information that a symbol shares with other symbols, the more efficient it is in terms of storage within the brain. Similar to what is assumed in the ICC, and as it is a general principle within computer data compression, more mutual information is assumed to allow for more compression by redundancy. Let's further assume that lossy compression of a symbol can be performed by transforming the symbol to a slightly more general representation. This then reduces the specificity and information of the concept expressed but increases redundancy -- and, by extension, also increases the potential for compression through mutual information with other symbols. The seeming logic of such a symbol transformation might appear -- for a conscious mind -- to be absurd, surreal or dreamlike. Even though the symbol after the transformation is simply a slightly more compressed and thereby more general representation of what was represented before, it can at face value seem completely different from the initial symbol. This dynamic is assumed to be where the seemingly surreal narrative arc of dreams originates from. For example, a segment of a dream might consist of a unique and particular vacation spot experienced recently by the dreamer. This symbol representation is then compressed lossy to a more general representation; to a car, for which the dreamer among other things represent travel, which would then be a more general representation of what initially was represented by the particular vacation spot. Through this transformation, the dream narrative suddenly switches from the initial segment consisting of the particular vacation spot, to the next segment consisting of the inside of a generic car. Through the transformation from a relatively specific symbol representation to a relatively more general symbol representation, some aspects of the dreamer's recent experience is compressed and integrated in the dreamer's intelligence. At face value, of course, it seems absurd to during the dream suddenly and seemingly without explanation go from a vacation spot to the inside of a generic car -- but perhaps this is just the result of the suggested symbol transformation.
Assume our dreams are an operation where our intelligence is updated based on recent experience, and assume that this operation is performed by incremental compression of symbol representations. Each segment of a dream narrative consists of symbols that represents something for the dreamer, and each incremental step of compression generalizes the symbol representation and moves the dream along its seemingly surreal narrative arc. The initial segment of a dream is presumably then the most specific symbol representation of whatever concept is being integrated into the intelligence, and the last part of a dream is then presumably the most general and compressed version of what is being represented in the initial segment. The next time you remember a dream, perhaps it would be interesting to see if you find that the initial segment of the dream seems like a relatively specific symbolic representation of some recent experience, and also if the last segment of the dream seems like a more general symbolic representation of what was represented in the initial segment. If so, then perhaps dreams are an incremental compression operation.
If this is what dreams are, an intelligence performing an incremental compression, and the speculation above is true that our universe is the result of an intelligence performing incremental compression -- then one might suppose that our universe is a dream. An update of an intelligence based in a deeper layer of existence.
LET'S INVESTIGATE ONE MORE OPEN PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEM AND THEN TRY TO CIRCLE DOWN TO A POTENTIAL FUNDAMENTAL
LAYER OF EXISTENCE
We can write down the mathematical equations governing our universe on a piece of paper -- and use them to calculate things that happened from a split second after the Big Bang all the way to the end of the universe. But nowhere in these equations is there any suggestion or indication that any of the resulting mess of matter, energy, space and time would be conscious. So what is it? From my point of view at least, consciousness is a superposition of things. In other words, many things at the same time; sights, sounds, feelings, smells, thoughts. Furthermore, since we are talking about it, unless it's an illusion it seems consciousness might also have some sort of causal influence. There's not much room in the laws of physics for this, however. As there are indications quantum effects take place within the brain, let's assume that the contents of consciousness is the contents of a quantum wave function. As suggested by the ICC, lossy compression is associated with an increase in entropy and increasing entropy in turn is associated with a quantum wave function entangling with its environment. Consciousness might then be the reading and subsequent lossy compression of the contents of a quantum wave function. The perception of human consciousness would then be the compression operator of the universe acting on a quantum wave function in the brain. If so, then presumably evolution has harnessed this phenomenon for some survival fitness. Perhaps as an evolutionarily free information operator, as life itself essentially can be seen as an information process. On a side note, if consciousness is the contents of a quantum wave function then pure contemporary AI models will never be conscious.
A THREAD BETWEEN LAYERS
If consciousness is the compression operator of the universe applied incrementally all over space and time, then presumably the entire universe is conscious. Furthermore, consciousness must also then originate from a deeper layer. However, it might then not necessarily originate completely from the preceding layer. If we assume an intelligence based in the preceding layer is dreaming this universe, then perhaps that intelligence brings consciousness into its dream just as we humans bring consciousness into ours -- for some evolutionary benefit. In any case, as we seem to be able to bring our consciousness into new simulations created within this universe, consciousness seems to be able to stitch through layers of simulation like a thread.
THE FUNDAMENTAL LAYER
Where does all of this leave us?
Renaissance polymath Copernicus proposed that the universe doesn't revolve around the Earth, upending the then currently held belief that the Earth was in the center. In cosmology today, the Copernican principle is the generalized idea that humans on the Earth or in the solar system are not privileged observers of the universe. In other words, our place in the universe is not special. However -- are we not only lost among the stars, but also lost within layers of simulated realities? Perhaps is all that we see or seem, but a dream within a dream. If so, it would be hard to say how many potential simulated layers there might be. The presumed dreaming intelligence of the preceding layer must also be subject to evolutionary forces -- it follows from the assumptions. As such, its layer is perhaps not entirely unlike our own universe. There might then be many simulated layers below the preceding one. If all this is simulation, then what is real? If the speculation on this page is true, then simulation seems to be a foundational aspect of existence. But could there be a deepest, most fundamental, most real, layer of existence? If there is such a layer…
What can we surmise about it?
Assume that consciousness stitches through the layers of simulation like a thread and originates from the deepest possible layer. Let's call this layer the fundamental layer. If consciousness is linked to compression, as is speculatively suggested above, it can in fact essentially be seen as choice. Put another way; choice can be seen as a lossy compression of certain alternatives down to one. Perhaps that's exactly what choice is, in its purest form: simply lossy compression. If time is only a characteristic of our layer, as indicated by the advent of time at the beginning of our universe, it might not exist in the same way or even at all in the other layers. As consciousness is experienced in the present moment, let's assume that the present moment is also a characteristic of the fundamental layer. If so, then the thing that's real, the thing that's not simulated, would be a choice in a present moment. That would then be the fundamental basis of existence, the fundamental layer. Beyond space, beyond time. Eternal. An existence that's never not been. A place where the chooser has never not been. And it seems, for us at least, to have resulted in a seeming balance between permanence and non-permanence. However you might feel about that, perhaps Leibniz was right. After all -- if the only real thing is choice, wouldn't whatever is chosen, by definition, be preferable?
"We live in the best
of all possible worlds"
-- Gottfried Leibniz
What's the meaning of life? Life in it's biological form has survival as its prime objective. Intelligence evolved as it benefited survival. Eventually, this intelligence reached a point where it could prognosticate the future. This was very beneficial for survival. However, sufficient prognostication of the future also entails the inescapable conclusion that survival will, eventually, be impossible. This poses a problem, as the main objective that engages the intelligence then, in the end, is unreachable. An impossible task. If the sole and singular goal of an action is impossible to reach, then why engage in the action at all? Historically, humans have had various religious pursuits to alleviate this problem. To explain this why. Existentialism, spearheaded by Nietzsche, questions such pursuits but in my opinion turns out lacking in providing a solution to the underlying problem. One might consider the contents of this page as an idea for a synthesis between the thesis of religion and anti-thesis of existentialism. As the experience of an intelligence updating itself can be considered a learning experience - it follows, if the speculation on this page is true, that our entire universe can be considered a learning experience. In other words, at the end of the day in a universe of ever-increasing entropy, it's all a learning experience.