الجمعة، سبتمبر 05، 2008

Probably Good, Probably Fair

Integrating Probability

into Morality &

New-Age Religions

In a previous article, we discussed the "Order of Probabilities" which govern our universe, material universe, that is.

We observed that the universe came with a set of "Rules", which govern the workings and interactions between all matter, energy and bodies, large or small.

That these rules come in the form of "possible" paths for all things to happen. And because there are always so many paths for any single event, that we have to describe our universe in terms of "Probability", that certain paths are more probable to be taken than others. And as V would say, in Wachowski brothers' Masterpiece, "V for Vendetta", "There is no Certainty, only Opportunity".

But even if the odds are extremely high for a certain path, other paths are also taken, less frequently, but they do eventually occur. This seeming chaos is responsible for the way the universe evolved, for bringing life to this earth through a process of evolution.

Genetic mutation, is an occurence whereby "an error" takes place during the process of making genetic "copies". This error, is an example of an improbable path. Such error could be responsible for a hereditary disease suffered by the off-spring, or a deformed baby or a miscarriage. But this genetic "error" is also responsible for giving birth to a new specie in the evolution process. And as errors mount and accumulate over a period of about a billion years, life forms went through a tedious process of selection and evolution, where we stand today, watching how Man emerged as an intelligent being, capable of inventing networked computers which enable you to read this article, coming at the end, so far, of a chain which probably started with a single cell amoeba.

But if there are pre-defined "paths" for everything to happen, where would "our choice" fit into this? Or did such "Order" lay out zillions of "potential" paths, each presenting "opportunity to happen", "probability to occur"? Can one "improve such probabilities"? Is that it? Is this what it is all about? That we just have pre-defined paths, and all we can do is to work really hard to make our "chosen path" more probable than others?

Can we absolve ourselves of "responsibility" then, since the limit of our responsibility is to make desired "outcomes" more probable, not more probable than "undesired" results, but rather more probable as compared to their original chance, if we were not there to influence such chance?

If we can accept, that the limit of our abilities, is to merely improve the probabilities, can we live and function as happier human beings, more in harmony with ourselves, with others, and with the universe which surrounds us, the universe which we can not change or alter in any significant way. Is this something we can accept? Is it productive, or do we sound to be victimizing Man and denying it "a larger degree of choice"?

When it comes to morality, we have always been told that if you do good, behave yourself and be good to your neighbor, you will be rewarded with good consequences. You go to heavens. In New-age religions, where rewards take place in this life, you live a happy and healthy life achieving harmony and inner peace. Evil behavior and crime do not pay. But every once in a while, we see the opposite taking place. Crime sometimes pay. In many situations, evil behavior goes unpunished. Some people practically get away with murder.

When this happens, it just demotivates us. We have learned that when we all respect the traffic laws, everyone will arrive faster and streets will be safer. But every once in a while, we see someone who zips through on a red light and he does seem to arrive even faster still. Sure. If we all did that, chances are, no one will be able to arrive to their destination in the first place. The Order can accept deviation. An improbable, rarely-occurring deviation, just like a mutation. And just like mutations are necessary for evolution, deviation from the system are also necessary because they eventually teach us new ways to doing things. Ninety Nine point nine nine nine percent of the time, these deviations, would be as unsuccessful as genetic mutations leading to a deformed embryo or a child who suffers from a hereditary disease. But every once in a while, these deviation serve to give us a new way of doing things better!

I like to define "good" as whatever works, most of the time- that is, on the long term achieving a balance between self-interest and others' interests. Our social experience has provided us with a set of values, behaviors, norms, religious teachings and even laws defining what is "good" and what is "not". But what is "good"? How did we know what is good and what is not? It basically comes in a social context, marking those values and behaviors which the society find acceptable and supporting to its survival (survival again, as an order of evolution), as good. I had earlier mentioned a "balance" between self-interest and that of the society, a balance between an individual's survival and group's survival. But the more the person sacrifices his own interest, trades his own survival for that of the "Group's", the more good, the better, he is, until that person becomes a "hero", foregoing all self-interest and sacrificing all for the well-being of the society. On the other hand, the person who focuses only on his or own interests, survival, neglecting interests of the group, sabotaging "survival" of the group, that person is deemed "bad" and "evil" and self-serving.

So, the essence is, continue being good to your neighbor. Pay your taxes. Be nice to other people, even if sometimes you meet people who despite being evil to their neighbors and big-time offenders, yet they seem to be happy and rise to high offices of power, wealth and fame. When you meet such exceptions, such error cases, do not get alarmed or disheartned. The "Order" is still there. It still works. But it does not work every time in the same way. Do not be frustrated that you start scratching your neighbor's fender! This is a part of the Order of Probability. It is like when you go gambling. The odds are that you will always lose money on the gambling table. So, you would better not gamble, except perhaps for fun. But you see people who gamble and clean the house collecting huge wins! It does happen, but it is highly unlikely and most likely unsustainable! You can think of this as a high-risk investment or a dangeorus sport. It is enjoyable, and some people win, but more often than not, those who go down that path eventually lose.

Goodness will probably prevail, as per definition above, and life will most likely be fair. But do not get disheartened when you find that life ocassionally is not fair. You just hit an unlucky streak and it is likely to change soon. Things will just have to get better, in compliance with the Order of the universe.

Blessed be the Order, which gives existence, life, meaning and Good Probabilities!

‏هناك 3 تعليقات:

Amr Farag يقول...

Dear Wael
I was not surprised by your poll result as it proves that everybody here doesnt know the real Egyptian people.Yes sir this parliment represents the Egyptian people, we are all corrupted sir, we were raised this way,of course there are some exceptions like you who are reading this, and me who just wrote it.Dear Wael keep up the good work and have a nice day,

Dalia Y.Alfarghal يقول...

Of course there is a chance to Improve the probability to do something ..but it's dependent on the information that we have about such probability ,that might happen in certain conditions ,The individuals must post their own mark, which flourish the legacy of human culture.
It won't be boring anyway or else , If we knew that there are zillion of probabilities exist. However it will be exciting to match actions with probability.

Some people are not able to accomplish favorable results, and that's based on their critical thinking and analytical abilities, that improve their Capability to predefine incidents.

I realized that the social legacy is almost the main provider of the good and evil culture.
The definition of Good and evil through the Group is very selfish toward the individuals ,but it can be also neglected from the same group according to their evaluation to individuals, this is the phenomena of being invisible, that appears in superpower' countries.And you are right about evolutionary expectations that appear through out mutation.

thank you for you critical article
Best regards

Wael Nawara يقول...

Thanks Dalia

I just think that "morality" is just a part of the laws of physics, mainly related to an individual's behavior towards the group and the environment as a whole

Thanks for your comments



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