Livestock (Photo credit: Martin Cathrae)

figuring out the abstract reason for which we are alive, isn’t really that difficult.

like everything that’s alive, we live in order to die and to feed other creatures.
and for the latter reason procreation might be a good idea too.
so don’t dare to die till you have children. preferably children who procreate too.
and if you’re religious, then maybe you’ll add “postponing death for as long as possible” too.

especially since religious people tend to have a different understanding of “death”.
thinking about after-life tends to have that effect on us. we feel sort of immortal.
and so we fill the abstract notion of “death” with new meaning.
what commonly is called “death” refers to a part of us that definitely is mortal.
with the real “us” being immortal, its decay plays no important role.
well, except of course that this mortal part is what other creatures eat.
but there is little difference between leaving a corpse and producing milk, for an immortal being.
so above, wherever I said “death” a religious person would have said something else.
be it going to paradise/nirvana, or be it getting devoured by the devil or vultures.
no matter how you look at it, even an endless life has a moment of irreversible change.

if you’re religious, then you might throw up the question: whom do we actually feed?
quite an obvious answer is that our mortal body feeds our immortal soul.
and that’s practically all that’s to it. one answer and many possibilities to redefine the answer’s vocabulary.
although, I personally dislike the prospect of soul being the body’s predator.
it’s as if we were an insect and there’s an invisible-to-us mantis or dragonfly preying on us…

as our lives become longer various surrounding questions come up in this context though.

Hamlet with Yorick's skull

Hamlet with Yorick’s skull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

they all boil down to asking what to do with our lives.
if you really want to get told what to do: just follow nature’s call and become the best piece of food ever.
take care of your physical health. if you believe in an immortal predator, take care of mental health/growth too.
but imho this approach is revealing how bored the person must be, who asked that question.
we might create computer-games or other media, to keep us entertained. the subliminal boredom prevails though.
if you want to fill your life with an individual meaning, pick a random area of interest and aspire goals there!

thinking abstractly about such things makes it easy to find abstract answers.
even though those answers aren’t satisfying, they show how shallow those topics are.
a much deeper question than the question about “meaning of life” is the question:
what is the reason for lies? what use do they have? what lasting effect will they leave behind?
obviously some lies are for the purpose of deception. nature knows deception.
some birds deceive their own species’ comrades by pretending an action.
but is that already a lie? it isn’t as if they were talking with each other!
I would say lies are what distinguishes us humans from other creatures.

of course animals communicate, some paths of communication more comprehensible than others.
but all this communication is filled with purpose and otherwise void of intention.
the birds don’t “pretend an action with the intention of communicating”. humans do.
we even communicate through the choice of our clothes!
when an animal selects various objects for courting, they don’t communicate but rather make a presentation.
the difference is quite subtle, heavily abstract: communication lacks Intent! presentation is pure intent.
think of that next time you fire up powerpoint. do you want to present, or do you want to represent?

compared to humans, animals are quite introverted. what we constantly do is talking about ourselves.
take a look at our internal dialogue. it is as if we were communicating in our thoughts.
what for? who’s listening? our thoughts are usually not serving much purpose.
sometimes we might think in order to memorize something, to preprogram ourselves.
but most of our lives the thoughts merely draw a picture of what surrounds us and of how we believe to fit in.
and once we open our mouthes it isn’t surprising when that’s what we’re talking about.
so regardless of how much communication is lacking Intent, lies still are unusual.
but yet they exist. most of them are sitting right there in our minds, the self-lies.
the more self-lies the more there will be lies towards other people. a matter of self-discipline.

an interesting development in our society, in the last millenium, is the disappearance of violence.
it even went so far that now beatings are banished from schools.
the idea behind that was that of beating being hereditary.
just stop beating your children, or else they’ll beat theirs.
just break the cycle through sheer self-control.
and with the lowered likelihood of getting mugged, violence isn’t that important part of growing up.
priorities did shift from pure strength to advanced education in martial arts.
and rightly so. much more likely than getting killed is death through excessive stress.
for the sake of survival, taking the meditative approach to fighting is what we should do.

however, while physical abilities and mental capacities for coping with them are important, lies aren’t.
one just can’t ban lies by law and expect anyone to actually desire getting rid of such habits.
there is no incentive bound to survival. nobody died of lies, nor of lying.
additionally nobody ever died from lack of lies, so no reason to seek a replacement-habit.
what does happen is that lies indirectly cause events that lead to someone’s death.
but rarely it’s the liar who dies. same for always telling the truth, people might die but rarely the truth-teller.
sorry, no darwin’s award for liars and gossipers…

self-lie, delusion, is the root of all our lies it would seem. what other reason could we have for lying?
well, there also is the unintentional lie. we say the truth but others get it wrong. not misunderstanding, self-lie again.
what happens quite often is that people get accused of lying, while in reality the accusing person is victim to self-lies.

I watched a doku about wikileaks and assange. there nick davies accused assange of lying about the sex-assault-incident.
but he said that assange didn’t believe to have lied. classical situation of pot called the kettle black.
it becomes obvious there that nick was deeply hurt by the “truths” revealed about assange.
i.e. he lived in a delusion on how assange was, in a self-lie.
assange lived in the delusion of having absolute memory on what he said to whom.
I’d say neither of them lied, they merely said what they believed to be truth — self-lies.

this kind of pattern I’ve seen quite often:
one person is disappointed of another person, and additionally to lost trust, new self-lies get created.
a self-lie is supposed to be self-protection, although it’s questionable from what exactly it’s supposed to protect.
in this common circumstances of lost trust the self-lies are “excuses” for why one did trust in the first place.
but why not accept the situation as it is? why invent “facts” to cover up the self-image?

I know it from my own experience too. and with all this in mind I usually just laugh at myself.
and my solution is to keep my self-lies to myself. when I’m asked, I remain silent.
this way the lies wont escalate. I just self-lie, laugh and record the lies with the tag “lies”.
I’m wondering why at least the smart people I know didn’t get that idea…

in case you didn’t notice, the previous paragraph is a lie.
of course I’m no superhuman who without error can detect self-lies.
but then, that paragraph didn’t claim I was, only the implied meaning is a lie.
that’s a strong distinction I make: grey lies I call it when only implied meaning is a lie.
interpret my words literally and they aren’t a lie anymore. what irony.
such grey lies have an important property:
there are 2 people responsible for the lie. the liar and the person believing in the implied meaning.
it’s a shared responsibility, so the weight on the liar’s shoulders isn’t that heavy.

the foundation of this article should be a definition for what a lie is, but there is none.
the next best thing is defining what we think a lie would be.
when listening to how people accuse eachother of lying, eventually everything we say would fall into that definition.
and rightly so. our whole language is based on the concept of lies.
when I say “sun” I am not really talking of the star at the center of our planetary system.
instead I actually mean the bright thing I see in the sky during daytime.
there simply is no 1-to-1 mapping of words onto meaning. context always counts.

from the point of view of the liar one could define a lie as something contradicting the person’s beliefs.
self-lies are beliefs too. therefore most of our lies are no lies at all.
problem is a lie-detector might disagree here.
self-lies create stress too, but the liar will claim there’s no lie.
this kind of lie isn’t what a lie-detector is after, though.
but it must be quite funny when especially a female is caught lying about her age this way.
still, this point of view is rather useless. why would anyone want to know if he/she lied?

basically there is no objective truth on whether a sequence of words, words with partial context, is a lie.
redefine the meaning of some word, and a lie becomes truth. that’s simple change of context, extended context.
that way, figuring out the meaning of words obtained by hear-say is quite a piece of advanced algebra.
the only meaningful definition of lie is when putting that word in the context of a whole belief-system.
so using the word “lie” on its own doesn’t make sense, one must always add for whom it’s a lie.
and most likely also the point of time where it is a lie. people learn, extend belief-system. new words can turn lies into truth.

all this implies an easy answer to the question of why we lie: we don’t do it intentionally!
wrong answer. maybe we don’t lie intent-fully, but lies still are something intentional.
also our language cannot be blamed for all the lies. language is usually full of redundancy for this purpose.
a good liar will accompany each lie with a self-lie that makes the lie a subjective truth.
generally lies are extremely short-living knowledge, eventually contradictions will clear things up.
and if they don’t, then the topic wasn’t important anyway. then the contents of the lie is easily forgotten.

one common reason why I do lie is to  tell a joke, or otherwise express humour.
I am addicted to irony. irony for me is about 2 similar things opposing each other.
so I sometimes pretend to be pro some movement, just to exaggerate their beliefs.
this way I create a perverted image of their goals, turned into the opposite of what they want.
remember, my thoughts run in an abstract way, so also my definition of irony is abstract.
a mathematical function that is its own inverse function, self-inverse, that’s irony for me.
but also more generally, I enjoy it when an inverse function only differs by one glyph, is a “dual” function.
and when I see a bird landing on a twig too thin to hold its weight, I laugh too.
I don’t laugh at the stupidity of someone. it’s just that the same action elsewhere would be opposite.
an example for irony is my chiming into the clamour for punishment of all people who behave against society.
so when I say assange should be punished for rude behaviour to females even if otherwise non-guilty, it’s a joke, a lie.
the film Demolition Man did do something similar, peaceful society full of violence. what an ironic film.
btw, I don’t do sarcasm, each word I write is meant literally. when I lie, it’s the implied meaning that is a lie, never the literal.
sarcasm is a bad idea when writing, saying the opposite of what is meant will cause a lot of damage to the discussion.
irony on the other hand wont do much, it’s the sort of lie that’s easily forgotten when unnoticed.

an important notion when talking of lies is the notion of truth. truth isn’t the opposite of lie though.
a lie is something said or written, this way it can only be opposite to a truth being communicated.
however, somewhere I read there’s a bounty on a veritably true sentence, and nobody claimed it.
the notion of truth is much too strict to be applied to human communication.
lies simply have no opposite, only scales of severity. the whole idea of words representing objects is causing them to be lies.
nothing a human ever says can fully represent an actual object. objects are infinitely deeper than the words we use.
still doesn’t change my question. why do we use the grave kind of lies? why not stay closer to communicated truth?
and the reason for my question is that lies are bad for science. bad for growth of our knowledge.
in the middle-ages scientists had to lie in order to not be prosecuted by church. in a mild form some scientists still lie for similar reasons. white lies for the purpose of not offending someone’s beliefs.
we lie for entertainment. we lie for keeping up self-image, for self-representation. we lie for deception, for our advantage. or we use white lies for someone else’s advantage or lack of disadvantage.
all these lies are somehow steal time from the search for knowledge, from science.
but what exactly is the reason we need entertainment, self-image, egoism? what’s the use of people demanding protection from offensive science?
I can understand that we sometimes lie in order to speed up things, but why all the other lies?

one kind of lie I didn’t talk about yet: the lie with a purpose of speeding up things.
for example astronomers learn that the earth is the center of the universe, sun and planets revolve around it.
this knowledge, as antiquated it might sound, makes calculating planet-position faster.
for the same reason also in physics the relativistic point of view isn’t all-dominant.
the lowered complexity justifies the means.
but in a few thousand years archeologists might find our astronomy-books, and laugh at our geocentric beliefs.
maybe we’re already doing the same, with archeologist’s opinion on the ancient cultures.
my solution to this problem you can see here: the next paragraph says the previous was a lie.
and to speed up learning, that info is indented so the reader can skip it…


communication (Photo credit: flavijus)