At Home in the Universe The search for the laws of self-organization and complexity
Nietzsche was able to reproduce at will so-called "peak experiences" through mental concentration.
Sometimes he was almost blind, because he had swollen eyes, because he wept too much, not sentimantal tears, but tears of joy over the calm and peace spread over the mountains and forests.
Quote Nietzsche: "I'm one of the machines that sometimes explode."
Sounds much like the risks Van Gough took for his work and Pascal's "pleurs de joie".
Stuart Kauffman, a scientist (medical doctor, computer scientist and biologist) who devoded 30 years to research the secret of life at Santa Fee institute before he wrote his "at home in universe" elaborates on this machine. Although the secret of the creation of life is not yet revealed, Kauffman pausibly shows that mathematics created life and Boole's binary functions laid the foundations for us to understand the logic behind. The Fibonacci series has beautiful mathematical properties. In organic and non-organic organisms, it appears as phyllotaxis. This so-called devine section is a simple mathematical relation which is a property of (all?) visible objects which we call beautiful.
If I take Kauffman's definition, life means being able to reproduce. Sperm and egg each in isolation are not living organisms since they can't reproduce. Sperm and egg each are matter, but together they carry information which provide for the interpretation (execution) of this information (create a life from a "blue-print"). The information contains both, the code for interpreter plus the blue-print of father and mother. Matter is deterministic. Can deterministic (non-living) substance create a living being which is conscious of itself and be free? Have a free will? Deterministic means decidable. This contradicts our feeling that we are free to make decisions and our ability to remember ourselves.
Is freedom an illusion?
Isn't our free will limited by the perplexities of our intellect, as Pascal argued?
These are more philosophic questions which Colin Wilson tries to answer in his book The Outsider.
I believe intellect is our capability to reprogram ourselves to adapt to changes in environment. Unfortunately, Goedel's "undecidability" shows the limits of studying ourselves if we are a closed mathematical system.
Ever since I've read R. Dawkins' Selfish Gene, I'm interested in evolution and how consciousness can be created from pure information (code). If we found out how, computer code could be made conscious of itself and computer scientists would have a very interesting object to manipulate.