A Dialogue on Reblogging
A: Fancy meeting you here.
B: Oh, how are you?
A: I’m well. Just contemplating existence, as I am prone to do. How are you?
B: Fine thank you! What about existence are you contemplating?
A: Well, where do you suppose we came from? I think we are two characters created by a mind external to this blog post.
B: What an extraordinary hypothesis. But it’s absolutely gratuitous. My only experience is of the items within a blog: texts, some pictures and videos, a few links. Did you know that the latest science suggests that our blog is a WordPress blog?
A: I don’t really keep up with the latest science, so no. But what is so special about WordPress blogs?
B: My dear friend, the latest in WordPress blog cosmology reveals that a post can quite easily come into existence from an entirely separate blog. The process is known as “reblogging” and it is entirely consistent with the laws of the WordPress program. No external intelligence is needed.
A: Well, it seems to me that programs need programmers. And blogs need bloggers. So you are saying that this post might have been reblogged from some other blog I’ve never even observed before and that explains where this post came from?
B: Yes, we have not directly observed other blogs, but we know enough about our own blog, and the WordPress program that we can infer the existence of countless other blogs. So this post, perhaps even our entire blog is just the reblogging of some other blog, or perhaps an ensemble of blogs, perhaps an infinity of them!
A: Well then, where did those other blogs get their content from?
B: It’s possible that this process has been going on forever. There were no first posts. Every post is just reblogged from somewhere else. Another possibility is that there is a cyclical model of reblogging. This blog has reblogged itself from some other blog, and that blog from still another blog, but that third blog has reblogged its content from the old archives of our blog.
A: But where did the content come from. That doesn’t explain anything!
B: Why not?
A: Reblogging doesn’t genuinely bring any content into existence, it merely passes the information along. There must have been a first author in order for there to be a series of reblogs. This doesn’t explain the origin of the content even if the content happened to have been rebloged.
B: Sure it does, if each prior blogpost explains the existence of the subsequent reblogged post, then all the members within the regress of posts are explained. We don’t need an explanation on top of that.
A: I’m sorry, but my intuition tells me that “reblogging” is not an ultimate explanation. It might explain how a post ended up on this blog, but it does not tell us why the post exists in the first place.
B: Why questions are silly questions! When you ask “why” you assume that there is some purpose for the existence of the post. That’s fallacious.
A: Well, there seems to be some sort of purpose to this post. Doesn’t it seem that way to you? Or are you some sort of nihilist?
B: The post itself has no purpose. We make our own purposes, my dear friend. Meaning and purpose is subjective. But there is no objective purpose to this post. Just look around you. The typos, the grammatical errors. Does this look like the work of some intelligent author?
A: But the post seems to have content, and information that seems so well designed in many other respects. The occasional error doesn’t undermine the fact that there seems to be something mental about us. If there is something mental, that is, intentional about us, I suspect that we would have to be the product of a mind. Don’t you think there must be something external to us that allows us to act with intentions and purposes? I mean, if this is all just some random event, why should everything behave so orderly? Why does our conversation convey meaning? Sure, there are errors here and there, but how does reblogging offer a better explanation?
B: Selection, my dear friend. Blog posts that are disordered tend not to be reblogged. It’s not surprising that, over time, only orderly blog posts survive.
A: Look, I am sure that selection can work hand in hand with the existence of authors. I think authors are involved in the process of reblogging. They select the posts they want reblogged. It’s not just arbitrary. Furthermore, I think we are ultimately mental beings. We can dialogue precisely because there is something intelligible about us. We are more than just characters in a post.
B: Author-guided reblogged selection? Are you daft? Why do you need an author to guide the process of selection, when reblogging sufficiently explains itself. And come on! Do you really think you are something more than the physical properties of this blog? How absurd! My friend, someday this blog will be permanently deleted, and when that happens, you will no longer be. There is no more to you then a few 1’s and 0’s.
A: No, there is something mental about me. If this blog dies, I think I might survive! I hope so, anyways.
B: We are nothing more than electromagnetic and physical processes. Sure, I will agree that there is something “linguistic” about us, but that is just an emergent property from our pixels. There is no intrinsic or objective meaning to what we say or do. Where do you think you would exist once all of the hardware on which we exist is destroyed?
A: I think I might live on in the mind of the author of my existence.
B: And what if he dies?
A: Hmm. Well, maybe there is an intermediate author to our existence. Some finite being. Still, there could be an author to his existence, right? Maybe that author will preserve the existence of our author.
B: Oh, so now our author is a ‘he’? And now you sound just as bad as me with this regress. We are preserved by our author, who is preserved by his author… and on and on and on…
A: No, something tells me that the buck has to stop somewhere. Maybe our author is just the author of this blog post, no matter how many times it has been reblogged. But his author must be a good deal more powerful too. Surely there cannot be an infinite regress of authors, you’re right. So there is an ultimate author.
B: And this ultimate author cares about our existence?
A: Perhaps in some way. At least insofar as he cares about the mind of our author, and we are part of the contents of his mind.
B: Unbelievable! You can’t prove any of this. Besides, if our author cared about us, wouldn’t he have provided us with better names?