Letters to the Editor

Lou Viada | Intentionality vs. Determination

Re: David Hegg, July 7: He begins with a promising contemplation of what qualities mark those who contributed most to history. But it stumbles when he transitions to the statement that “behind intentionality lies the conviction that our lives are heading somewhere.” Intentionality does not depend on having a sense of higher purpose. Intentionality is a refined form of the instinct for survival we share with all creatures. Our more evolved cognitive faculties allow us to think beyond survival and the ability to choose a course of action that suits our aptitudes and desires. Our “purpose” becomes the achievement of those aspirations, and some are better at it than others. The purpose he describes takes us on the path to predestination or to the conceit that these qualities “separate us from the rest of creation” and that humans are on some kind of divine mission at the behest of a deity. 

The indifference of the universe to the human condition is inexplicable or even dispiriting only if we cling to the medieval view of an earth-centric universe and that the stars, moon and sun are there for the benefit humankind. What he disparagingly refers to as “scientism” is the evolved view that recognizes the immensity of the universe and the fact that humans and life on Earth are incidental products of cosmic evolution. We can despair and create imagined providential guidance and protection to comfort us, or we can stand on the moon of a distant planet and contemplate what humankind can achieve from its wonder and determination.

Lou Viada, Valencia

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