This is a sequel to (Re?)Introducing Meh and Lah. Read that first.
Picture now the creation of an artificial world. A simulation. Possibly an artificial life simulation, or a MMORPG like World of Warcraft, or something along those lines. This creation is performed by a human, using his hands, creating something new in Lah. He or she achieves this creation by thinking and planning in Meh, and communicating with other team members using Meh.
The computer exists in Lah, consisting of physical parts. Electrons travel through circuits, performing some voltage-and-no-voltage
computations. (Ones and zeros on the lowest level of our Meh. Numbers, colours, properties and code on higher levels of our Meh.) Electrons pass through coils in speakers, electrons are fired at a fluorescent screen, or electrons are used to charge tiny capacitors containing liquid crystals. Lah.
On this piece of Lah, a software simulation is running, a new universe is simulated. A world containing new entities. These entities do not exist, in the sense of our Lah. Personally, we experience them in our Meh, in interpreting what we see on the screen, what we hear on the speakers. But they don’t really exist in human Meh either. In fact, the screen and speakers are merely the tools with which they make their existence known to us. Or more correctly, the tools by which we eavesdrop and spy on their existence. Built on human-Lah, it is a human-Meh portal into their reality, into their Lah.
The entities running around in a virtual world are not aware of its virtuality. Their virtual world is the only thing they can test, the only thing they can interact with. They have a Lah. And their Lah is not our Lah.
What about their Meh?
Now here’s where things get tricky. Let us think first about other primates’ Meh. Similar to ours, but different. Possibly simpler? from our perspective? Less developed language, less “deep philosophical” concern? Still, the primates’ Meh.
Now other mammals: Meh (Lah).
Predators: their thinking (a bunch of neurons firing), their planning (a higher-level neuronal response to complex stimulii), their observing of the environment (neurons from eyes, ears, nose), the smell of food (particles travelling through the air, reaching the predator’s nose), the excitement of the hunt (some hormones pumping in preparation for rapid and accurate muscle twitching and coordination).
Prey: fear (self preservation, neurons, hormones), flight (complex survival-response to complex stimulii)…
Sex drive: a desire for mating (selfish genes ensuring their replication through hormones and neural wiring, instincts).
Digging deeper, what about reptiles? Birds? Other vertebrates? Invertebrates? Fish? Insects? Bacteria? They might not be self-aware in the same sense we are, but they could still have a Meh of some sorts. As uneasy as I feel about this kind of comparison, I’m prepared to accept the statement that their Meh is less “sophisticated”. They are not sophists like we are…
Back to the entities living in a virtual world. Take World of Warcraft first. Lah-wise, a character’s “neurons fire” according to the computer code that defines their behaviour. They receive a sensory input (another entity in the virtual world striking it with a sword, or a human clicking with a mouse), and they have some kind of response to that stimulus. On the Meh level, they are intricately connected with “the gods”, controlling them from a “higher plane”, they don’t have any significant kind of “free will”. They live to serve their master.
Now an artificial life simulation, somewhat more interesting. Entities in this virtual world evolve. Their code and behaviour is not pre-programmed, it develops over time. Their behaviour is linked to and defined by their Lah, or evolved in response to their Lah, rather than directly linked to and defined by “the gods” from a “higher plane”.
Now let these entities evolve… Give them a complex and sophisticated enough virtual world and enough “virtual time”, and they eventually develop something that looks like self-awareness. Now what? Now they have a rather “sophisticated” Meh. Possibly a pre-enlightenment Meh, not quite aware of the “factuality” found in Lah, they still take Meh as their reality. They build a Tower of Babel based on it. (They try to understand and describe everything around them, using Meh. They develop intricate mythologies, and they reach out, they search, they are looking for the god of their universe, they are looking for us.) The tower tumbles, because it is based on Meh, on wishful thinking. And so they battle, realising they have multiple cultures, with diverse Meh, and they cannot understand one another.
And yet, they still want to build a tower. An enlightenment event happens, they become Lah-obsessed. Since they share a Lah, they can cooperate on the search for Lah-based knowledge, aka science. They try to forget Meh, they develop some sort of Objectivism or something, they cling to Lah. And they build another tower, a modernistic one built only Lah. And here’s the limit of Lah-obsession: they can explore their reality, their virtual reality, but its very existence won’t exactly make sense. And if they are emotional creatures, their personal realities, their experienced realities, are still ruled by their Meh. They need something that resonates with that, and Lah-obsession will be inadequate. Their dreamers will dream, their artists will create, and they will come to understand the separation between Meh and Lah.
See Also: Non Sequitur, The Matrix, The Thirteenth Floor