OK, time to get our geek on a little bit (just a little bit!). Over the next few posts we’re going to cover, in a bit more detail than the overview, this notion that absolutely everything “meaningful” or “valuable” is objectively based on existence. I mean, if Vearl didn’t exist, he wouldn’t matter, nor would anything matter to him. Kinda makes sense, right? All right, all right, there’s a bit more to it than that, and that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about.
To start with, we’re going to look at what is meant by “objective”, and qualify right up front that it’s more like “as objective as you can get”.
Why? Well, because you need a “subject” for stuff to matter to, for one thing. If there were no subjects, “meaning” and “value” wouldn’t make sense. Specifically, we need a subject that acts (remember, thinking is not required!) like it wants to keep existing.
If you’ve read/listened to the free overview (and if you haven’t, you should, because it’s pretty much required pre-reading to make sense out of almost every blog post) you’ll remember that Vearl was the first thing that mattered or that anything mattered to. Stuff existed before Vearl. The Big Answer was even present and in effect – it was driving evolution way before Vearl came along. It’s just that none of it mattered.
So if we need a subject for The Big Answer to create meaning and value, doesn’t that mean it’s still “subjective”?
Well, there are a few definitions of subjective, so let’s break it down to be really clear.
There is one definition of “subjective” which is simply “relating to a subject”. By that definition The Big Answer is certainly subjective.
But most of the definitions of “subjective” revolve around notions of perception, experience, awareness, or knowledge as they are interpreted by the mind, not how things are in the “real world”. Conversely, “objective” refers to things which do exist in the real world independently of thought.
By these definitions of subjective and objective, we can say that The Big Answer is objective, because how much of each quality something has is not based on any individual’s perception. Vearl has an A.S.S., but no brain – no ability to consciously perceive or experience or know or be aware of anything – yet the seven qualities still determine what is “good” or “bad” for him.
Likewise, someone who does have a brain and can do all that fancy perceiving stuff, is still objectively benefited by changes that increase the seven qualities, even if they don’t perceive the increase, and even if they subjectively interpret the change as being bad.
For example, someone may perceive house insurance as a waste of money, but their tenant agreement requires them to have it. It decreases their efficiency because they need more money to maintain their lifestyle, and they may not see the increase in stability as justifying it. But when a pipe bursts and their apartment floods, it was objectively good they had insurance!
As another example, this time at the societal level, if someone has a subjective preference for something that generally decreases the seven qualities – raping or killing or taking up two parking spots with one car – it is objectively bad that they subjectively perceive it as being good. The Big Answer overrides their subjective opinion!
Luckily, since our subjective preferences have been selected for by evolution, and since evolution is selecting for the seven qualities, our subjective preferences have, for the most part, evolved to appreciate and prefer things that increase the seven qualities (most people subjectively pooh-pooh killing and raping and taking up two parking spots with one car). So, in most cases, anything that is objectively bad will also be subjectively perceived as being bad.
This is actually really super cool when you think about it. The Big Answer not only provides an objective, consciousness-independent basis for meaning and value, it also works perfectly to help us untangle our own subjective preferences. So it’s actually both subjective and objective at the same time! Our subjective preferences were modeled on objective truths.
Knowing what our subjective preferences are trying to achieve, we can see that in cases where we perceive an increase in the seven qualities but there is, in reality, an objective decrease, we are objectively wrong. So it both explains us and guides us at the same time.
Tada! We have a model that fluidly connects the two seemingly disparate worlds of objective reality and subjective perception. Up next, we’ll be looking a bit more at how reality offers “existence” as a template for meaning, value, good, bad etc.