On Everything That Happens

“Everything that happens, happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.”

– Marcus Aurelius

20 thoughts on “On Everything That Happens

  1. Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius demonstrated a great deal of wisdom in many areas, but for the above statement to be valid, requires that the Universe have a sentient purpose, and that demands far more rationalization than that of which I’m capable. Clearly Marcus never met Heisenberg.

  2. True, although I think my reading of this quotation negates the notion of a sentient purpose: “if you observe the universe carefully – that is to say, try to establish whatever there is to know as accurately as you can – you will find that everything in the universe behaves as it should.”

  3. Having always admired the mind of Aurelius, I prefer to go with your reading of it.

  4. Observing the universe tells us that everything is behaving as it should… or something to that effect. Let me see if I get that: I observe the universe and I see something that isn’t behaving as it should… but wait, I can’t do that because whatever I’m observing is what it is and what would I judge the universe’s performance by? Wouldn’t I need another universe of the same species as this one to make any sort of valid comparison, and then decide which of the two is behaving as it should, and which isn’t?

    I don’t know what “observing the universe” can possibly mean, since as far as I can see, that’s not very deep into the workings and purposes of the universe. Is an ant in a position to judge that the UN is (are?) behaving as it should? I can, and do, however, judge how well planet earth is doing overall. There is one thing on this world I totally disagree with, and it has to do with earth nature, not with man, as far as I can reason it, and that’s the reliance on the predator-prey system to presumably keep things in some sort of balance of terror. Surely man, and nature, can come up with something more evolutionary acceptable, dare I say, more compassionate?

    Maybe we should think about, and resolve, problems in the home before we go judging performance in the rest of the universe.

  5. “Wouldn’t I need another universe of the same species as this one to make any sort of valid comparison, and then decide which of the two is behaving as it should, and which isn’t?”

    Your question seems to have arisen as a result of a certain reading of the word should, and even though it is an interesting question, it is based on a miscommunication:

    You appear to talk about “observing a universe and drawing conclusions from that” as if I’m reviewing a play, and you know my review is going to be rubbish because I have only ever seen one play.

    We do not need to observe three laws of gravity in as many universes to conclude that in this universe, as far as gravity is concerned, everything appears to “behave as it should”; that is to say, roughly put, the behaviour of certain matter in certain situations is accounted for. No, we observe certain phenomena, determine a law and conclude with the benefit of hindsight that everything “has behaved as it should” and will probably continue to do so. And even if it doesn’t, experience tells us that, given time, we are able to find new insights into the mechanics of almost anything.

  6. But… but… but… aren’t we here dealing in rationalizations? We don’t know any other universes, therefore any observation remains questionable. What we are doing is accepting that what we are observing is what it is and it isn’t something else… because we cannot conceive of something else and therefore, lacking any relevant information, deducing that it is all unfolding as it should! The fish in the fishbowl cannot experience the sea, hence can’t observe it except by comparing it to conditions in the fishbowl. Yes, there is water, and there is food to be found. Beyond that, not much in common. Conclusion, the sea is unfolding as it should. is, man simply cannot “observe the universe” at all. He can observe a tiny slice of his own home world and in wishful thinking claim that “it’s all unfolding as it should.” Of course, what else could man say and not come across as a George Bush intellectual? Whether the universe is indeed unfolding as it should, there isn’t a damn thing man can do about it, so go with the flow, but let’s not add the folly of rationalizing that just because something is, it’s how it aught to be, or it’s the absolutely only way it could be.

    Marcus Aurelius’ claim is no different in value than Robert Browning’s famous line: “God’s in his heaven and all’s well with the world.” Spurious and ultimately better left unsaid.

  7. Typo! Conclusion, the sea is unfolding as it should. is, man simply cannot “observe the universe” at all. He can observe a tiny slice of his own home world and in wishful thinking claim that “it’s all unfolding as it should.” Missing edit: “the sea is unfolding as it should. Man simply cannot…

  8. Still, I have to think that if you saw something fall up, you’d have to admit there could be a problem —

  9. Of course, what else could man say and not come across as a George Bush intellectual?” – Bite your tongue, Girl – I can’t imagine “George Bush” and “intellectual” EVER being worked into the same sentence. ;)

  10. Ok, let me think on that one… I just saw a glimpse of something in my crazy mind that tells me you could be right, and so could MA and Kuba. Just thinking, not convinced yet.

  11. I’ll just sit here, holding my breath and quietly turning blue – let me know what you decide —

  12. I must have meant “intellect” – not intellectual. I’m still thinking though, please don’t pass out on me, I’m not great at mouth-to-mouth…

  13. I can’t help it – as the scorpion said to the swan as they sank out of sight, “It’s in my nature —

  14. Ok Arch, this is what I think: If I saw something fall up, I’d probably think that something weird was up (pun intended) but (but and what if being favourite interjections of mine in philosophical debate!) would that mean that the universe was no longer unfolding as it should? Or that “I” as the observer, got trapped in my own expectations of correctness, as in a belief system, and now unable, or more likely unwilling, to enter into the paradigm shift that my universe just entered into by reversing gravity? Imagine a see-saw, with little old me on one end and the universe on the other. Who’s most likely to go flying up and stay there, however much she thinks it just shouldn’t be that way? Not the best analogy, but I can’t help seeing the ludicrousness of “me” judging, for any and all reasons known to man, that suddenly “my” universe has gone nuts and is no longer unfolding as it should. If I were arguing my case in a court of law, I’d say the whole point rests on “unfolding as it should” and who should be the judge of that? No matter what happens within the universe, does one Earthian with such limited scope, have the wisdom, much less the right to state whether a universe is unfolding as it should? Isn’t that ultimate hubris? I’m not trying to be difficult here, just logical.

    Now you see how dangerous it is to mental evolution to rely too heavily, or exclusively, on those “dead smart guys” I mentioned before? It’s like religion: you get to that place of “worship” of those people and now their word becomes the unchanging god and must carry the day. Well, they put their pants on one leg at a time, just like we do today. They struggled too, and they had ideas which they tried out on their world, and if their world was more gullible, less educated, less aware, then chances are their pronouncements had few challengers. Chances are though that they actually no longer work because conditions have changed, paradigms have shifted.

    The gospel according to John begins thus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word came and dwelt with us…” (and it should end thus:) …”and now we’re all ef’d because the Word has fast-frozen us into the past.”

    “Duhhh, I dunno. Pass me another beer, Arch… and keep that tongue where it belongs.

  15. I’m not trying to be difficult here, just logical.

    OK, Mz Spock – taking your side of the debate for just a sec, if I were you, arguing the case, as you say, in a court of law, I would rely heavily on the formula N + 1, where N = the number of times a given act has been performed with the same results. That is no absolute guarantee that the NEXT time it is performed (+1), the results will be the same. I would further argue that at any given point in time, we can’t even be certain the sun is shining – we know it was +/- eight minutes ago, but not now.

    Flipping back now to my side of the coin, I don’t believe the human mind (at least as yet, in its current stage of evolution) can deal with the kind of reality you describe – we need at least the illusion of absolutes in our lives, islands to cling to in a sea of uncertainty.

    And finally, if we can’t say for sure how things are “s’pozed” to be, how can you say with any degree of certainty, where my tongue belongs? ;p

  16. …and now we’re all ef’d because the Word has fast-frozen us into the past.

    It may seem fast-frozen, but when we’re in the middle of it, we can’t see just how slowly evolution works.

    As for the beer, would if I could – it’s a hundred degrees (F) here, and trust me, a cold one really hits the spot.

  17. Master stroke, Arch. Brilliant demonstration. I’m not completely anti-evolution, but I don’t need to rely on an evolution theory to debate anyone about God or aliens or whatever is thrown my way. Nature is what nature is and in that realm, evolution seems the likely motor factor. My personal “awareness” if you will is directed more towards “man” as a species. Something about “man” just doesn’t add up and I have determined to figure out what happened that took man away from a naturally evolving path into his disastrous attempts at developing what he calls “civilization.” Many creatures have come and gone here, many have continued, older, much older than man, and they haven’t made that quantum leap man finds himself confusedly saddled with. He ‘s got all that mental creativity that he continues to turn into madness and bloodshed and environmental degradation. All his civilizations have (and continue to) collapsed around him. He’s killing his world and holds enough weapons of mass destruction to blow up this world many times over. Those aren’t the acts of a naturally-evolved species, much less a sane species. Of course I’m being rhetorical here. I kinda sorta know what happened in the recent (less than 500,000 years) past. But that is not kosher understanding as it is as yet not approved by religion or science, i.e, by the System. Given time people may be “allowed” to think their way along that alternate thought-path to some sort of non-repetitive search for solutions to man’s social disasters. Meanwhile I’m being thoughtfully challenged as an observer of “Earthianity.” As I watch, I’m constantly reminded of the saw, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.”

    There are so many things “man” could stop doing that would change the world practically overnight.

    No, I can’t tell at what point the text becomes purely blue… :-)

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