Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday Video: Sean Carroll - From Particles to People

by Salman Hameed

Here is an excellent talk by Sean Carroll, From Particles to People: The Laws of Nature and the Meaning of Life, that looks at what we know about the universe and how we can rule out certain things (like astrology) from even realm of possibility. The last part of the talk focuses on the way we look for the meaning of life. A fantastic talk and highly enjoyable.

Here is how he describes it at his blog, Cosmic Variance:

There are actually three points I try to hit here. The first is that the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood. There is an enormous amount that we don’t know about how the world works, but we actually do know the basic rules underlying atoms and their interactions — enough to rule out telekinesis, life after death, and so on. The second point is that those laws are dysteleological — they describe a universe without intrinsic meaning or purpose, just one that moves from moment to moment. 
The third point — the important one, and the most subtle — is that the absence of meaning “out there in the universe” does not mean that people can’t live meaningful lives. Far from it. It simply means that whatever meaning our lives might have must be created by us, not given to us by the natural or supernatural world. There is one world that exists, but many ways to talk about; many stories we can imagine telling about that world and our place within it, without succumbing to the temptation to ignore the laws of nature. That’s the hard part of living life in a natural world, and we need to summon the courage to face up to the challenge.


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