Now, the preliminaries done with, we begin our journey into the particulars of Cosmism.
I will begin at a very abstract level -- giving Cosmist answers to some of the good old Big Questions about life, the universe and everything. But if such philosophical explorations are not to your taste, don't worry -- this is a short work, so in just a few pages, we'll be on to sex, drugs, uploading, superhuman AI, the future of society and a bunch of other juicy specifics. This Manifesto actually started out dealing only with those more specific topics, but I found that in order to discuss them in a coherent and unified way, it was necessary to give some deeper conceptual foundations first.
Let's get started with some small issues like
Where do we live? What are we made of?
Is there some sort of underlying, universal Cosmos in which both our minds and our bodies, and the various things we see and experience, reside?
Is the physical world we move around in "real" in any absolute sense? Or is it "just" some sort of simulation -- could we be living in a video game written by an alien computer programmer? (perhaps an amateurish, botched job produced by a young programming student just learning his chops?)
Of course questions like these are useful more for stimulating thought than for attracting definitive and final answers. These are issues minds will likely be exploring for as long as minds exist.
One interesting way of addressing the Big Questions is to begin from the perspective that: we live in a world of patterns.
There are disorganized, teeming stimuli or entities of various sorts ... and then there are patterns organizing these entities.
A pattern, most generically, is something that brings simplicity to a complex collection of entities ... it's a "representation as something simpler"
The physical world presents itself to the mind, in large part, as a collection of patterns.
The mind presents itself to itself, in large part, as a collection of patterns.
One often-useful way to model the world we live and exist in is as a pattern space.
Of course, there is nothing "objective" about a pattern though ... whether a given entity is a pattern in some set of other entities is really a matter that's up to the perceiving mind.
In other words: a pattern is a representation as something simpler ... but who or what judges the simplicity?
The cosmos is a space of interrelating entities, and individual minds are distinguished in large part by which entities they perceive as simpler than others, which largely determines which entities it sees as being patterns in which others.
This may seem a very abstract perspective, but it actually sheds a lot of light on various situations we encounter in our practical lives. Approach the various things you encounter and experience, in the world and in yourself, as if they're patterns of organization -- because that is largely what they are.
Many of the difficulties we have in life arise from unconsciously assuming that various things we encounter have some fictitious sort of absolute reality, going beyond the reality of pattern space.
"Everything is pattern" is not a panacea for cosmic understanding -- I will introduce some further dimensions a little later -- but it's a powerful perspective.