Anthropic Principle

The definition of the “anthropic principle” from Wikipedia states that “The principle was formulated as a response to a series of observations that the laws of nature and parameters of the universe take on values that are consistent with conditions for life as we know it rather than a set of values that would not be consistent with life on Earth.” In simpler terms, it is the observation that, since we exist, the conditions of the universe must be such as to permit life to exist. The “weak anthropic principle” holds that the conditions necessary for the development of intelligent life will be met only in certain regions that are limited in space and time. That is, the region of the Universe in which we live is not necessarily representative of a purely random set of initial conditions; only conditions favorable to intelligent life would actually develop creatures who wonder what the initial conditions of the Universe were, and this process can only happen at certain times through the evolution of any given universe. The “strong anthropic principle” argues that that if the laws of the Universe were not conducive to the development of intelligent creatures to ask about the initial conditions of the Universe, intelligent life would never have evolved to ask the question in the first place. In other words, the laws of the Universe are the way they are because if they weren’t, no intelligent beings would be able to consider the laws of the Universe at all.

The anthropic principle appears to be (at least to me) a philosophical extension of Rene Descartes’ famous quote, “I think, therefore I am.” originally in French as ” je pensedonc je suis” and published in 1637 in his book Discourse on the Method.  As he explained, “We cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt.” While Descartes looks internally, the anthropic principle seeks an external perspective to explain our place in the Universe.