Fumbling Towards the Meaning of Life

jbone at place.org jbone at place.org
Mon Oct 20 22:43:39 PDT 2003

Mostly for Turpin, but please lay in.

In my fumbling towards a definition of "personhood" that encompasses 
something beyond survival instinct, here's what's holding me up:  if 
it's only self-preservation, then all animals qualify.  What I'm 
looking for is strategic decision-making encompassing self-detrimental 
but strategically-viable behavior beyond that.

First, the test individual has to be / express some notion of "self."

Second, necessarily, there has to be some notion --- some instinct to, 
some urge for --- self-preservation.

Third, there has to be some ability to project from immediate 
circumstances to an eventual desired goal.

Fourth, that desired goal has to be --- possibly under some 
hypotheticals, but acceptably transitively --- beyond 

Fifth, there has to be a way to plan from current situation to future 
situation that doesn't involve self.

Sixth, there has to be a method for evaluating strategies for goal 
fulfillment that doesn't ultimately weight self-preservation.

Seventh, there (reflexively) has to be some mechanism to weight 
ultimate "self" goal more than the value for self-preservation.

Eighth, "ultimate goal" has to be something other than axiomatic.  It 
has to be existentially self-determined.

Ninth:  per Turing, the "person" in question has to be unrecognizable 
vs. a biological human in an unbounded but (inherently, unavoidably) 
time-limited verbal  interaction with a human.  (That is:  despite the 
number or durations of all interactions between the candidate and a 
single human, the human can never decide...)


There's more to this amateur "Asimov's Laws" or Turing test than this, 
but I'm not sure where it is.

I'm probably missing in this the necessity for the individual to both 
form meta-models of its own goals, axioms, and behavior and to 
reverse-engineer axiomatic, goal-specific, and behavioral models of 
those it encounters.

Input welcome.


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