Simulation and Kindness

Traffic on a highway at night
© Adam36 | Dreamstime Stock Photos
The weekend was full of K-drama. Goblin, to be precise. Seriously, DramaFever is going to become my favorite timesink. I fell into Scarlet Heart Ryeo first of all, and have not looked back since. I love me some history, and I love me some paranormal, and I love love love me some angst.

So that, with a bunch of housework and playing with some fun things for my favorite editor’s delectation, was my weekend. I’m reading Bill Schutt’s Cannibalism, too, which is entertaining, to say the least.

But the thing I’ve been thinking about all weekend, when my brain settles into that peculiar hum of Curious Questions To Mull, is the crop of breathless stories about how “reality may be just a computer simulation.” Every time one of those comes up, I read it, and I am left amused.

The thing is, we made computers inside the framework of our processing of reality. It’s kind of putting the tail before the snake to assume reality, per se, is a simulation because the things we built process it the way we do.

…you can also tell I’ve been reading Kierkegaard lately. Well, not really Kierkegaard, but people writing about his philosophy. I don’t think I’m quite ready to tackle Either, Or yet. Frankly, I stop agreeing with him at the religious stage, but I suppose that’s only to be expected. His “leap of faith,” to me, is merely an abdication of responsibility. I get that he was fascinated by the Abraham and Isaac story, but I still think Abraham was an asshole for not telling his God to go fuck himself. A god who asks a parent to kill their child is wrong, and not one I care to spend any energy worshiping.

So, I believe I’ll stop firmly at Kierkegaard’s ethical stage, and leave the religious for others to murder each other over. I’m getting too old to coax assholes into behaving better.

All the same…I ran across an Arthur Conan Doyle quote today in the AWAD newsletter, and it summed up that entire uphill battle in a way I think is fitting and best.

I should dearly love that the world should be ever so little better for my presence. Even on this small stage we have our two sides, and something might be done by throwing all one’s weight on the scale of breadth, tolerance, charity, temperance, peace, and kindliness to man and beast. We can’t all strike very big blows, and even the little ones count for something. -Arthur Conan Doyle, physician and writer (22 May 1859-1930)

Kierkegaard may not agree, but I know I do. In the end, it matters little if this is a simulation, or a cold, uncaring, random existence, or both, or neither. What matters is that we behave as if things like decency, kindness, and tolerance matter. I feel no qualms about asserting that even if they do not, in the end, we must act as if they do, simply because it is right to do so.

And now, my chickadees, it’s time for a run, and for wordcount, and for any small act of kindness I can perform along the way.

Over and out.

  • Susanne Winter

    Yes. This.

    I watched something on TV the other night where people were devastated when they found out they were living in a computer simulation of real life (it was a little more complicated than that), and I was all “But it makes no difference!”

    Thanks.

  • I had to think about it for a long while before I figured out that’s what was bothering me about the whole concept. I may not be fast, but sometimes I get there.

  • Michael Mock

    That Arthur Conan Doyle quote puts me in mind of this bit from Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather.