Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Irony of Existential Thinking

"Ironically, not until computer science solves the AI Grand Challenge of making computers think like humans will thinking be rote." - Peter Denning (from The Profession of IT: beyond computational thinking)
There is only one idea of existentialism I would like to attack: that it states that existence precedes essence, and at the same time the grand focus on the concept of "self" - choice.
This belief claims that the self is able to go beyond everything that influences it - environment, genetics, power structure, and what not once the person is given awareness. Yet, the very fact that the belief is bound by one's existence, we should ask: how can an independent soul exists? What would constitute his choices if not the very premise of existence that shaped it.
As a matter of fact, his choices would not be his choices at all but what computer scientists label as "mechanical routines" of actions based from all the stimuli that influence him. Fear then would not be a product of choice - an action independent of EVERYTHING "brought forth" by awareness. Love would also not be a product of choice seen in this light. In short, the so called "awareness" is nothing but a result of another stimulus - in effect making our choices NOT independent at all.
Yet again, only when computer scientists can create this magnificent machine that can think like us will our human thinking be degraded to merely mechanical. But good thing that even the brilliant computer scientists admit that it is still far from possible at this moment in time - or not at all. But still, this creation would at the same time diminish the overrated exaltations existentialists put on choices.
What I'm saying is that an independent choice cannot exist if existence merely begets essence. What is true I say is that for us to be able to "choose" in the context of our free will - existential thinking can't be true.

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