Why are we living? LO30766

From: Jan Lelie (janlelie@wxs.nl)
Date: 11/07/03

Replying to LO30758 --

Rrrr Leo,

I'm remembering suddenly that there are two types of problems:
"closed" and "open" problems. A "closed" problem has a (best)
solution that can be reached by thinking, tinkering, trying. These are
associated with what and how questions. Goal orientation. When i want
to go from here to Abilene, i can think of a number of constraints,
options ("what?") and find ("how?") an optimal solution. We have not
solved all closed problems, like feeding the world, but have amassed a
lot of answers already.

An "open" problem is a problem that has no solution, not even one by
change. These question are usually associated with why and who
questions. Reason orientation. These are questions like: "Why do i
want to go to Abilene? Who do i want to please? (you have to know the
movie to get this)". An important class of these problems are
distribution problems, like feeding the world rightfully. We have
discovered a lot of open problems already, but have not yet acceped

An open problem is not a problem that is not yet closed. It cannot
(NOT) be "solved". When confronted with an anyproblem, it is not
immediately clear if we have an open problem or a closed problem with
no solution yet. Also we sometimes try to "solve" an open problem with
a technique from closed problems: try to analyse the problem and
divide it into smaller, better solvable problems. Also, like a trip to
Abilene, the answer might be that we had to go to Abilene in order to
learn that we didn't want to go. The "solution" is the solving of the
open problem. We're tempted to try to reduce an open problem to a
series of closed problems. My guess is that that is what happened with

"Who am i" seems a clear example of an open problem. A religion - on a
spiritual level - guides your development as a person, a personality,
an individual in finding yourself. Through ritual, services,
meditation, prayer, building, mastering your talents, what have you,
you develop your Self and develop a better idea of who you are.
Religion is then a means for self development. These answers seem to
be solutions to a set of closed problems and it is easy to codify
these into scriptures, rules, lessons and present them as "the
solution", a set of tools for improving one's soul. Religion now
becomes a goal in itself. Doesn't solution ("oplossing") sound a lot
like salvation (do you have a better word in English, liberation)
("verlossing")? Based on the confusions between goal and means and the
confusing nature of open and closed problems, we settle, like a large
prisoners dilemma, in the worst - or most average - of all situations.
Our own cruel world. The answer supplied by religions is a kind of
Pavlov reflex, because thanks to religion you do not have to think -
decide, choose - for yourself. And there is safety in numbers, isn't

Why gravity? That's simple, Einstein has discovered that that is a
consequence of time. Why time? That's the way nature prevents
everything from happening all at once. Why doesn't happen everything
all at once? It does, but we're much to small to perceive that. (By
the time, ;-), this universe has been noticed, it has disappeared
again, that might be why we are noticing it, :-) )

Why entropy production? Well, why not, we have to do something with
our time?

Take care,


leo minnigh wrote:

>I received so much comments on that text from people who visited my
>office that I removed it. The strange thing is that as soon one thinks
>or says something about the reasons why we live, immediately religion
>pops up.Why???
>At, your question is perhaps the oldest question on earth. It is a
>deep question, but it is also a strange question. Now, 10 years after
>my screen saver, I think differently. And I will explain via another
>"Why is there gravity?"
>One can answer this question with physics- because of the mass of the
>earth. But that answer does not satisfy me, because one will
>immediately ask ´why is there an earth?' No, these answers are all too
>I think that the question of At implies a REASON. And why should there
>be a reason? Life is intrinsic to this world, it is simply there.The
>same with sand grains and atoms and other elementary particles.
>But if you are not satisfied with this view, and if you alway need a
>reason and a goal, my answer to At'question is:
>Because of entropy production.


Drs J.C. Lelie (Jan, MSc MBA) facilitator mind@work

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