Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

Your Own Little Destiny Part 2 : The Origin of Destiny

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"I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this." – Emo Phillips, comedian.

We all now that all kind of dogs can be trained to be obedient and faithful to their owners. You can teach specific instructions to dogs and also shaping their behaviour. Nevertheless, we should never forget that although we can teach and train dogs, each of every different breed of dog has a different core instinct.

For instance, if I walk on the street and meet a stray Pit Bull Terrier, I know there’s a chance that it may attack me, even if it’s just a small chance (pit bull is the most common breed of dog to attack human). But instead, if I encounter a stray Chihuahua, I know for sure, with 99.999% certainty, that it will never attack me.

Although both Pit Bull and Chihuahua are dogs, their core behaviour and personality are wired differently from the beginning – Basically, different origin of Instinct (powered by Evolution). If between dogs’ behaviour already have such disparity, what more if compared with other species of animal?

The Brain

Animals have different core instincts, unique to every species, or even maybe to sub-species or perhaps up to individual species. But If someone ever ask the question – what’s the one major difference between human being and animals, the answer is clear – Consciousness.

Eliezer has written a very nice short essay about about how the brain thinks, titled – Cached Thoughts. I will briefly summarize what the essay is about (The essay is worth a read, really).

  • A typical human brain is only as powerful as a 200Hz computer processor, which is ridiculously weak.
  • The trick of how our brain manage to execute and run complicated task with this ‘weak processor’ is through a mechanism called ‘caching’.
  • In computing, that’s when you store the results of previous operations and look them up next time, instead of recomputing them from scratch. It works similarly in the human brain too.
  • This caching method is extremely useful, as we could analyze and solve problems using past experience or some presuppose knowledge as reference.
  • But looking from a conscious mind point of view, cached thoughts have a significant downside too – acting without questioning.

The Instinct

Animals live their lives purely following on their instinct. When they are hungry, they look for food. When they feel threaten, they attack. When they are sleepy, they sleep. All these programmed instincts are already well stored in their cached thoughts and basically, animals act up according to what their brain instruct them depending on circumstances. In other words, animals let the brain to complete the pattern and they will just repeat their routine over and over again.

When a tiger is provoked, its emotion of anger lights up, courtesy of cached thoughts, and the tiger will react and fight back to defend itself. A tiger will not ask questions like “Is this fellow a joke? Bah, I don’t wanna waste my time dealing with this moron”.

They will just bite.

Well, if you think that human being is unique because we do not have such ‘automatic instinct’ because we seems ‘consciously’ able to choose our actions, then you’re wrong – We also do have the same ‘programmed instinct’. And this is the same reason why racism and sexism exist, inferiority complex behaviour is common, tendency to be biased when making argument, office politics, first impression matters, cultural taboos, believing in God and many other things which once rationally thought out, seems pointless or obsolete. Most people simply absorb information from external world and then allow the brain to complete the pattern.

Don’t let your mind complete the pattern!  Think! – Eliezer

Nevertheless, due to our higher consciousness, we could actually realize and question our instinct, and this is what separates human and animal. Human has the capacity to ask the question – “Why did I lost my temper just now? Should I not lost my cool so easily? OK, I will be nice next time.” With this, the next time I’m provoked again, I will suppress my anger and thoughts and restrict my emotions from bursting away. This suppression, over long of period of time will turn to repression. There are also times when people are aware of the shortcoming of their instinct but choose to avoid doing anything about it or helpless about it. eg. depression problems.

(Buddhism called this as ‘animal instinct’ and Buddha said, the only way to get rid or unattached ourselves with this instinct is through vigorous meditation. Only then, we will attain enlightenment, the highest order of consciousness)

When a frog is hopping around to chase a grasshopper, which is also hopping away to escape from the frog, human being will find it amusing to watch this hopping battle on ‘who-can-hop-better’. But it’s kinda sadistic because thinking from the frog and grasshopper point of view it must be an intense experience. One is a hungry beast looking for its first meal of the day and another hopping away from the monster to save itself.

The instinct involved is a matter of life and death for the frog and grasshopper, but for human it’s an amusement simply because we have a higher level of consciousness and could see the humour side of it. However, if this same person get chased by a tiger, his consciousness will revert back to the basic instinct and the first thing he will do is to run away and escape from the monster, just like what the grasshopper did.

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Written by elan85

October 20, 2008 at 9:08 pm

One Response

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  1. […] Alter Ego : You should had expected this since people think with their cached thoughts. […]


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