Of all the words that have been written and hours spent searching for, snuggled in, or smothering L-O-V-E, we seem as utterly lost as ever. Isn’t a planet in peril, a full 1-percent of the world’s population forcibly displaced, and the renewed rise of authoritarianism a crisis of the lack of love?
We exchange Valentines with those in arms reach, truly feeling the warmth and comforts of kindling those same feelings in another. Some maintain a consistent coupling during the dynamic differentiation that makes up courtship, family-building, professionalism, and retirement; learning to appreciate the new narratives and staying true to their friend throughout. Loving one another’s intimate relations can stand the test of family disapproval, loss, and all manner of psychological twists and turns, even becoming stronger, annealed under the heat and pressure of such shared suffering.
But go away from such bonds into a neighborhood, or even just include a loveless character into the relationship, and our fellow-feeling finds few handholds. Items that might be overcome by simply benefiting your doubts about your self-righteousness, become non-starters… so politics become polarizing, religions relegating, and we zone ourselves into tribes.
In the 21st century, we have lost love for our fellow human. Our evolutionary excitement to a stranger starting a conversation turns to embarassment when they cringe and indicate their Airbuds. All of our past losses are tallied on a one-sided scorecard and our worst moments define us to the Other. Our ideas–solidified often in adolescence by our parents’ ideas–offer branching tunnels further and further down the labyrinth until we arrive at our unique and lonely cell.
Items that might be overcome by simply benefiting your doubts about your self-righteousness, become non-starters… so politics become polarizing, religions relegating, and we zone ourselves into tribes.
Even where we see an immediate need to “let the love light glow” our systems are set against us. Governments and markets can secure resources for just and innovative ideas, but lag in truly human concerns and are still set largely on national (therefore tribal) lines. Religion is even more fractured and likely to set us against one another than to produce neighborly love. Science offers us our most objective and rational path forward against existential problems that it helped to create--like climate change--but without a much more advanced decision theory and science of the mind, alongside the elimination of the prohibition of the well-uses of psychadelics, little progress toward a greater deepening of love by scientific means is likely to result.
But all is not lost. Like the love between an intimate pair or family unit, a meaningful connection is available to all of humanity–a guiding moral and intellectual compass–our meaning in the multiverse.
(The below is an excerpt from the concluding chapter of "Meaning in the Multiverse: A Skeptic's Guide to a Loving Cosmos," available now in print or ebook format at justinaharnish.com/shop or on Amazon.)
Multiversal morality and the love of our fellow intelligent and conscious entities it engenders is more proactive than other universal moralities and has a broader perspective than other personal moralities. It challenges us to build out the consequences and express our love not only to humans living today but also our posterity and the project of our survival and progress.
Multiversal morality recognizes that humanity has a few unique qualities that should be perpetuated and that solutions to our survival, both on Earth and within our cosmic neighborhood, are within our current, and will be within our eventual means and knowledge.
Our effort to reverse the worst effects of climate change—through smarter grids, algorithmically-controlled automated traffic, renewable energy sources, and incentives for public and private conservation and innovation—is the first works project to truly challenge our global scientific capacity and the persuasiveness of saving posterity within the multiversal morality. Further solutions to maintain immunity, monitor the conditions that might incubate a rise of ‘super-bugs,’ and rapidly manufacture vaccines will have to run in parallel with geopolitical efforts to reduce nuclear weapons and promote the rise of science, liberty, and freedom for the entirety of the global community. Problems are inevitable, but problems are also solvable.
[Multiversalism] challenges us to build out the consequences and express our love not only to humans living today but also our posterity and the project of our survival and progress.
Few of the aforementioned improvements in civilization’s capacity will have as large an impact as our pursuit of consciousness. Debugging our subjective feelings on the spectrum from suffering to well-being to an extent where we can safely and benevolently reduce unsatisfactory experience and greatly improve on happiness, bliss, wisdom, contentment, love, and all other sorts of well-being should continue to persuade the individual mindful practitioner, the brain-based neuropharmacologist, and the quantum computer programmer alike.
The human quest for meaning has been continuous and creative, discovering the nature of existence and answering affirmatively that there is a grand universal purpose. We are curious and industrious, yearning at once for mystery and closure. The combination of spirituality, philosophy, and science quell our appetite for updated questions, probe at answers, and cycle back. When we have been capable of unifying, it has been in the solution of a problem. Our creations from liberal democracy to the Large Hadron Collider are inspiring in their distinction from our primary programming: the mass multiplication of our genetic material.
Multiversalism suggests a greater appreciation for nature, knowledge, and science, continued development of rites to enhance consciousness and flow, and the broadening of consequentialism to include impacts to posterity. Meaning in the modern world comes from actively noticing our moments of flourishing and latching onto them, nurturing them for ourselves and in the service of others; from developing wisdom in our relationship with other conscious entities; from diving into a deeper understanding of the world around us; and, if not supporting it with our own efforts, from advocating on behalf of those making a difference in solving existential threats and confronting the cynics that reduce solution efficacy.
The metaphysics and ethics of multiversalism bring together the wonders of the physical world of existence—a computational multiverse capable of programming persuasive optimizations interfering with space, matter, consciousness, and time—with our experience that is responsible for the landscape of well-being and suffering we base our morality and personal meaning upon. The dualism of setting ourselves and conscious experience outside of existence served us when this was the only universe and explanations required consistency in this framework. However, our universal myopia coupled with our self-disregard for our conscious and constructor talents—fairly unique in the universe—has caused humanity to accept a position of nihilism that we cannot (and even ought not) collaborate with existence to make improvements for our survival which impact and enrich the computational multiverse.
Multiversalism places us on a million-year trajectory of problem solving, a beginning of infinity for our understanding of existence and the optimization of experience, not just for humanity, but as a part of the deep learning algorithms and optimization routines running--lovingly--as the meaning of the multiverse.