Why are we living? LO30774

From: Philip Keogh (Philip.Keogh@leedsth.nhs.uk)
Date: 11/11/03

Replying to LO30754 --


At, there has been a definite and observable gap on this list. I look
forward to your words of wisdom.

Why do we live?

Living is purely and simply an emergent behavior of a system (that
system being the conglomeration of atoms into molecules, molecules
into chemicals, chemicals into substances and so ad finitum). It has
no predefined purpose and it has no in built spiritual meaning. (I can
feel those pens rising to write .. hold on, stand back look and feel).

Living is built upon essentially very simple rules (how sub-atomic
particles bind to make atoms, how atoms combine etc). It consists
entirely of one layer of emergent behaviour layered on other. Out of
this layering and emergence comes chaos and complexity. BUT it is only
chaotic and complex when one does not understand and appreciate the
mechanisms that drive the process. As an example, early astronomers
thought the planets revolved around the earth and they devised complex
rules to describe what seemed to be chaotic orbits. Only when it was
fully appreciated what was happening did order and simplicity develop
to describe their motions. Living is built upon a rule or rules (the
answer to the question of life, the universe and everything = 42 comes
to mind here! -- Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy). Once
we have discovered the rules (rightly or wrongly), that level then
becomes available to us to appreciate and integrate into our thinking.
BUT along with this it opens up more questions about higher levels of
chaos and complexity that we may not have been able to perceive

Living then is a constant voyage of discovery. From an individuals
perspective this lasts from birth .. till death. However, we do not
(generally) live as individuals, but in groups and communities .. and
yet again, there is an emergent behaviour over and above what one
would expect from individuals acting alone. Groups of individuals
behave and develop differently and group behaviour and belief spans a
different timeframe from that of an individuals. (this is why we try
to develop "learning organizations" .. to retain and develop a memory
or concept of a thing beyond the timeframe of the individual). Perhaps
it would be wise to perceive a "learning organization" as an emergence
rather than a development. In this way we would pay more attention to
the needs of the lower level (the person) and hence foster the rapid
development of the learning organization, rather than trying to "push"
the development of the learning organization by "forcing" upon it
artificial and mechanistic associations?

Living is a constant process of development, of becoming aware of more
levels of emergence, and (to what I think is most important) to
becoming self aware. With this self awareness there then appears
another level of chaos and complexity as one then asks "why am I
alive?", "What is the purpose of Life?" etc. For me, this is a very,
very complex concept and one can easily answer by referring back to
the concepts at the beginning of this communication ... pure emergence
based on simple rules. I feel there is more ... but what?

There is a great beauty to living and the living process, but beauty
alone is not sufficient reason for being. I am reminded strongly here
of a quotation attributed to Albert Einstein, "A human being is a part
of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and
space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something
separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his
consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting
us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest
to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening
our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole
of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely,
but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the
liberation and a foundation for inner security." I like this sentiment
for it fosters our journey onto the next level of chaos and complexity
.. in my opinion, it asks us to love each other, not for religious
reasons, but to enable us to transcend to the next level .. to

BUT WHY DO WE LIVE? What is the reason? for what purpose?

Of one thing I am certain -- I cannot answer these questions. I might
strike a guess at them, but in the end that is all it will be -- a
guess. It will be based on my observations, of my world and how I
perceive it. For some, they may have found an answer that satisfies
them. I feel however that the lasting answer is still out there,
waiting to be discovered.


Philip Keogh
Pathology Information Officer
(see our website at www.leedsteachinghospitals.com)


"Philip Keogh" <Philip.Keogh@leedsth.nhs.uk>

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