Can Life Evolve Into Formless, Massless, Intelligent Energy?

Source

This question: (Can life evolve into formless, massless, intelligent energy?) comes from a forum topic, posted by a hubber called qwark six or seven months ago in the Education and Science forum. Pity the discussion didn't go very far, for some reason. But, it inspired me so I thought I'd take a crack at it. But first let me link you to the fine discussion qwark presented of it in a hub of his own.

Update Note (June 12, 2013): Unfortunately, it seems that that hub is no longer published. Too bad!

The Question

In trying to answer a highly speculative, theoretical, abstract question like this, I think it is helpful to always, always, always (did I mention 'always?') begin by making sure we understand the question. Just precisely are we being asked here. First of all: Can life evolve into formless, massless, intelligent energy?

'Life,' all life itself, is a very broad category. Surely we don't have the space and time to consider all of life in this question -- not if we hope to proceed with any precision and clarity. You do want to proceed with precision and clarity, don't you? Good. I thought so.

Fine, let's say the question is: Can human beings evolve into formless, massless, intelligent energy? Maybe another time we can consider if the same is so for salamanders, humpback whales, spotted owls, and chimpanzees. Or maybe not.

Now, in dealing with a question like this we must deal with (at least I think its helpful) the presupposition that is embedded within the question; and this embedded assumption often presents itself as another question that must be addressed -- but addressing this question can help you with the original inquiry. Whaaaaaat???

If the answer to our question (Can human beings evolve into formless, massless, intelligent energy?) is no, then we are done.

But if our answer is to be yes... then we are obliged to ask: To what extent has this process proceeded already?

Evolution is such that it cannot begin out of nowhere. If we assume that we can evolve into formless, massless, intelligent energy, this process must be identifiable in our developmental history as having occurred in two million years of our becoming us. That is, over that period of time we humans had to have been evolving in such a way that we were, in a sense, becoming less physical and more represented as 'intelligent energy.'

Can we make such an identification? We shall see.

By the way, what is the nature of this formless, massless, intelligent energy we might turn into?

We are not talking about the transmutation of the human form. We're talking about the stripping away of the human form, to reveal a greatly augmented pure enery-form that is the animating principle of our consciousness. I am no neuroscientist but I understand that the brain operates by the agency of electrical impulses that travel between neurons via synapses. So I would imagine the final form of humanity would be representations of crackling balls of electricity or something like that.

The body as it was

Okay, the issues is this. If it is possible for human beings to eventually evolve into formless, massless, intelligent energy, (and this essay is assuming we can) then the process just can't come out of nowhere. It should be identifiable as having been ongoing in us. As you read this, we should be able to identify the way in which our body as it was has turned, and is functioning as, formless, massless, intelligent energy.

That's right! We shold be able to identify the way in which the body as it was, is replaced by some formless, massless, intelligent energy that we utilize everyday. The easiest example that comes to mind is tools, our conception, creation, and utilization of tools. Careful now! Its not the tools, but the idea of tools that represents the formless, massless, intelligent energy.

Let's back up a step. As you know, for those of you who subscribe to the notion of evolution, during the course of humanoid modification over the period of two million years, our bodies got smaller, less sturdy and durable. We lost our claws, fangs, thick hair covering, some of our previous muscle mass and physical strength. As we devised new ways to do physically demanding tasks and created tools, we learned to "work smarter not harder."

Suppose for some reason you had to drive a nail into a two by four plank. We won't say that your life depends on it, but that it is crucial that you do this. You need a hammer but one isn't available. But as we all know, one does not precisely need a hammer, per se. Any heavy, flat object with which you can perform the "hammering" function will do, a brick or something will do.

So, here, we are guided by the idea of a hammer not a hammer itself. What I'm saying is: if it can be said that human beings can evolve into formless, massless, intelligent energy, we must be able to identify this process as having occurred to a certain extent already; and if it can be said that the human body as it was, has indeed, to some degree, already converted into formless, massless, intelligent energy, then it did so in the way I have just described, I think.

The Dune Paradox

I'll just close with this. I wonder how many of you have read any of the Dune novels by the late Frank Herbert, or any of the prequels of written by his son Brian Herbert and his collaborator. In this world humanity is spread out over one million worlds. It is an empire ruled by a classical monarch. Humanity has changed a little bit, taken on new features, developed new characteristics, and developed new abilities. General health and competence is greatly enhanced by the agency of a substance known as spice ('The spice must flow').

One of these interesting groups of humans are called mentats. These are human beings who showed a tremendous capacity and potential for quantitative, analytical thinking, and mathematical computation. This is a capacity that can be exponentially augmented through proper, regimented training, until these groups of humans become literal walking computers. This is important because in the universe of Dune, there are no computers or "thinking machines" of any kind. They have been strictly prohibited.

There was a time when the thinking machines becames too sophisticated and too powerful, and indeed there had been a period when the thinking machines had virtually enslaved their original creators, human beings. There was a terrific interstellar struggle, in which human beings eventually won back control of their own destiny. But computers or "thinking machines" were out! They put their technology on a different basis.

Now what is interesting about this is the fact that even though human beings did away with computers, they still recognized the need for their capacity. They recognized the need for the computaional capacity of computers, even as society had banned "thinking machines."

Furthermore, there's a fascinating inside-outside-inside dynamic operative here. In the Dune universe as well as our own, computers started as an idea we had within ourselves; and in both the literary reality of Dune and our own, we then built computers, we externalized them, translated the ideas into objects in the physical world; and in the Dune universe (and possibly our own someday?) the computers have been reabsorbed into the internal landscape of the people.

So this raises an interesting question, for me, as to whether this inside-outside-inside dynamic is a new force in evolution or exclusively human evolution. I'll leave it there. I'll just link you to a couple of articles I found of interest.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/6868/

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/07/get-smarter/7548/

Ta-Ta!

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Comments 8 comments

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

You always write on the most interesting stuff. As usual, I will leap in and throw my opinions around and try to wield language in a way that makes me sound right no matter how gaudily I am butchering the ideas I am trying to articulate...

So, first, the hammer or the idea of a hammer. To me that sounds like Platonic forms. It’s the argument of “is there a hammer?” or “is there only the ‘form’ of a hammer?” The latter of which might be broken down into even more precise forms that culminate in a hammer, forms like: hardness, flatness, handle, fits in hand, heft, etc. In which case, you can argue there is no such thing as a hammer at all, only the properties that, when properly aligned, become a collection that is simply more easily described by the word “hammer.”

Same goes for humans, by that reasoning. Intelligent, compassionate, physical, water, carbon, calcium, ambulatory, respiration, optical capacity, …etc. All of these forms, when instantiated simultaneously in one place become “a human.” So, in stripping away the forms that comprise humans, you can get back down to just “intelligence” which then exists as a form in its own right again because it can’t instantiate in singularity (at least not that I can fathom). The problem with forms is that they require instantiation to become “real” rather than forms, ideas of un-manifest traits.

So, a formless mass of intelligence is conceivable as a manifestation of three Platonic forms, but a formless mass of intelligent energy would actually need a “reality” in that it was A) the instantiation of the form of “having intelligence,” B) the form of “having energy” and C) the form of being “formless” (which I am thinking your intent is that this means not having shape or physicality, not that it has no Platonic “form”). However, I don’t think that can happen, as I understand energy requires some degree of mass/matter even if only as much as a proton. So to be formless negates a necessary condition of “having energy” and, therefore, literally means to be without a Platonic form actually instantiated due to the conflict there implied.

Given all that, and assuming I’m holding my answer and your question together in my head suitably, I would say, “No, it is not actually possible to have a formless, massless intelligent energy because the intelligence needs a place to reside and the energy is not energy without having mass and therefore “a place” or “a thing.” The intelligence cannot reside in the “wave” it must reside in the proton, thus there is both form and mass.

Let me know if that makes sense or if I should stop smoking crack. LOL. Either way, fun hub. Your stuff always gives me interesting stuff to mess with in my head.


wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things! Author

Good Day Shadesbreath

It is very good to hear from you again. I'm glad to see you haven't forgotten about poor, little old me. But I figured you were tending to your over one thousand other fans in addition to well, the whole living your life thing.

Thank you to commenting on my unworthy scribblings today, and for offering to help me think about this speculative, abstract matter. Your erudite remarks make perfect sense as always, and humble me by exposing the true depth of my ignorance. Not to make excuses for myself, but I don't offer this hub as any kind of final word on such things.

As I said, I saw that qwark had been trying to hold a discussion of this in the forums. Intrigued, I picked it up to see what I could do with it. You clearly also have the advantage on me in knowing a lot more about physical sciene and certainly the technical conceptual framework of philosophy. I am unschooled and so have to make it up, "reinvent the wheel," as I go along.

Yes, you have understood my hub perfectly, even though you are in disagreement, and you are probably right. In fact, I'll tell you it is a lot more likely that you're right and I'm wrong here.

Anyway, I think I've been operating with a more flexible, expansive, and frankly, conveniently shifting idea of what 'energy' is in this context; even though that means I have contradicted myself, with all my talk about human beings possibly turning into crackling balls of electrical energy.

Going back to the hammer and the idea of the hammer. For me, the idea of the hammer represents the energy, in both 'potential' and ('kinetic'?) forms. I mean the terms they way they are conventionally used. Potential energy means the energy an object might potentially contain, I guess -- its been eons since I took highschool science. By kinetic (or is it 'active') enery I mean the energy an object actually produces when in motion or is put to work.

If we need to drive a nail into a board, and we don't have a hammer, then the idea of the hammer is the dynamic that's operative. The moment we have the thought 'I need a hammer or something,' the idea of a hammer, at this point, is in the potential energy form.

When we find a stone to use instead and then use it, the idea of the hammer becomes actualized into the kinetic (or 'active') form. I guess, for me, 'energy' is improvisation. For me, I guess this 'energy' doesn't particularly have to reside anywhere.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

Nah, I didn't forget about you at all. The truth is, not even tending to others. I just read books more than hubs, and I really should spend more time on here because there's some great stuff. I enjoy your hubs, and you have a keen mind that is fun to try to keep up with. And for starters, the FUN part of philosophy is that nobody is “right” or “wrong,” it’s just about concepts and messing with them, so no worries on that one.

What you’re doing with the difference between the idea of the hammer and the actualization of it, from the concept to physicality is interesting. You sort of are on the road to reinventing Plato’s forms there, which is cool if you think about it. Most people wouldn’t/couldn’t do that.

And don’t feel bad if I read some stuff you didn’t, because it’s pretty even between us as near as I can tell. I was reading one of your financial/econ hubs a week or three ago and I was totally blown away by the depth of your knowledge there. I got nothing in that realm at all, and you’ve clearly done some deep, deep reading. So, I’ll take my little metaphysical “win” on this hub with a grin but also with a nod to yours on that other front.


wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things! Author

Thank you Shadesbreath. You give me far too much credit, I'm sure. But you are quite right: the FUN thing about philosophy is the joint enterprise of turning over concepts and so forth. The goal should be to arrive at enlightenment together.

The search for truth should not be a competitive thing, where one is trying to bludgeon his "opponent" into submission. Proper discourse, in the Socratic sense, anyway, is to be conducted with gentleness on all sides. You offer your beautifully expressed notion with gentleness, as a gift to your conversation partner (note: conversation partner instead of opponent), who listens, takes it in, and if necessary, even allows himself to be changed by a different point of view [I'm not, of course, advocating complete wishy-washiness].

Now, if someone could just tell that to those jokers in the forums!


spryte profile image

spryte 6 years ago from Arizona, USA

It figures...I see Shade commenting on something so I figure it must be entertaining. My curiosity piqued, I sneak in through the side door...(sneak, sneak, tippy-toe, sneak)...and find...well that once again, without me to point out the most obvious answer...you all go wandering off on an incorrect assumption.

The KEY word in the whole question lies in the word 'intelligent."

Let's say that you've just gotten off the LazyBoy to grab yourself another cold one during a commercial on the Jerry Springer Show. Unfortunately, the ball and chain didn't remember that you prefer cans and instead picked up a case of bottles while shopping at the local Walmart. To add insult to injury, they aren't even the tops you can just unscrew with a twist of your meaty palm.

You need the bottle opener...but it's in the kitchen drawer and that's more than ten feet from your recliner and besides the commercial is over and you really don't want to miss any of the sordid details regarding what that nubile and naughty fifteen year old trailer park vixen did with her mother's boyfriend.

You briefly think about the tool required to solve your dilemma...realize that the BiC lighter is not within easy reach either and settle for popping the cap with one of your own teeth...

If this is evolution, then it'll be a really, really, REALLY long time before we get to the stage in question.


wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things! Author

Good Day spryte

Thank you for commenting on my unworthy hub this evening. My but you do have a way with words, don't you? It's funny how you can get a sense of one's personality (or think you can) with just a few word, typed at some computer and commuicated over the many thousands, perhaps, of physical miles across the world wide web.

You are subtle. You are cunning. You are nimble. You are mischievious too. Admit it. The name spryte suits, the way you use words. The impression you, spryte, convey with them is very powerful.

And yet someone not on his guard might be foolish enough to underestimate you. I do believe I noticed some of you commentary of Shadesbreath's hubs. With this comment here, I like the way you're able to traverse the realm -- of wherever sprytes come from -- and the crude, dare I say, vulgar world of Wal-Mart, domestic beer, trailer parks, Lazy-Boys, and sordid details on the Jerry Springer show about what the "nubile and naughty fifteen year old trailer park vixen did with her mother's boyfriend," so effortlessly.

I hope you did indeed find Shadesbreath's and my efforts on this question amusing and entertaining. We do our best. But seriously though, you have given us something to think about. We will need to factor in the possibility of regression in our analysis, the question of (Can human beings evolve into intelligent, formless, massless energy?)

You're right, spryte, opening a bottle of beer with his teeth while watching Jerry Springer to see the shenanigans of over-sexed, nubile fifteen years olds get up to with their mother's boyfriends, while their fathers (still married to mothers) are off on a long distance trucking assignment, listening to the Willie Nelson marathon....., is not a good sign.

I'm not much of a drinker myself, but I think our friend Shadesbreath would say something like: 'All hope is not lost. It depends on the BRAND of beer the guy was ripping open with his mouth!!!

Thank you for giving this old hub a boost, spryte.

Ta-Ta!


qwark profile image

qwark 6 years ago

Winbgedcentaur, you have just earned me....as a follower. I "follow" few!

Qwark


wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things! Author

Good Day qwark

Thank you for that. As you can tell I am aware of you from the forums, and I think you're awfuly deep yourself. The question inspired me, and I guess my treatment of it has met your approval -- not saying you necessarily agree with all of my points and analysis.

But I feel honored that you have joined my "fan club."

Thanks again.

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