Book Cover

An Engineer's Search for Meaning

A Principled, Fact-Based Approach for Finding Meaning, Purpose and Hope in Life

You can read this book in 4 ways:

  1. Read it online (for free) OR
  2. Download it as an eBook (ePub format) [21MB] (for free) (This can be opened on most eBook readers / apps such as Kindle and Apple Books) OR
  3. Download it as a PDF [18MB] (for free) OR
  4. Purchase It (Coming soon)

This book is still under development, but very close to being ready. It is a part of a larger effort known as LifeVisor.AI.

Frequently Asked Questions

The main message of the book is that it is possible to find meaning, purpose, and hope in life by following a principled, fact-based approach that relies on evidence and reason rather than faith or opinion.

Of course, we all know that various people have tried this approach in the past and the results have not been great. So it is perfectly reasonable to be skeptical and ask what's different this time.

Whenever something that has failed many times before (such as heavier-than-air flight or disease treatment outcomes) suddenly starts to work, it usually involves one of 2 things:

  • New knowledge or techniques
  • New attitude or way of looking at the problem
And I believe that we have made great strides in both of these areas fairly recently, enabling us to make another attempt at this problem. Allow me to show you how.

In the book, I develop a rigorous framework, based entirely on evidence and reason, to create a rigorous model of reality as well as definitions of what we mean by meaning, purpose and hope in life and how they can be achieved. I build this framework, that I am calling the Meaning-Seeking Entities (MSE) Framework, from First Principles, using a methodology I call Mindful Bounded Rationality (MBR).

This methodology is based on the idea that while science and rationality are our best tools for understanding reality, they have some limitations which you simply can not ignore. This fact has been used by many in the past to suggest that science and rationality are completely useless for this type of effort. Surprisingly, their solution to this problem is to go with far less rigorous and unproven approaches! This is akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

In the book, I show honest ways of dealing with the limitations of science and rationality and still attain the intended goal.

The target audience for this book consists of:

  • Individuals seeking a new, modern, fact-based approach to finding meaning, purpose and hope in life because other approaches aren't working for them.
  • Scientists, engineers or anyone with a STEM background with an interest in the intersection of science and meaning.
  • Honest truth seekers of all types. Those who are itching to get out of the Matrix / Plato's cave, because they realize that that is the only journey worth being on, even if it is a tough one.

The book uses a definition of "meaning in life" that is well established in scientific literature, rather than relying on religious or poetic ideas. The concensus among psychologists is that meaning in life consists of 3 components:

  • Having a sense of coherence or comprehensibility in life
  • Having a sense of purpose in life
  • Having a sense that one's life matters or has existential significance
The book shows how one can attain meaning in their lives in all the 3 ways using the MSE Framework.

I am not claiming that religion or philosophies or even poetry are irrelevant to finding meaning. I acknowledge that all of these approaches have a proven track record of helping scores of people find meaning in their lives.

I am simply trying to demonstrate a far more rigorous way of getting there. Not surprisingly, despite this path being different, the final conclusions reached using this new approach have a lot in common with the other approaches (though there are also some significant differences).

This is a great question (if I may say so myself!) The obvious reason is that I am an engineer myself. But it goes a lot deeper than that.

Normally when people think of things like rationality or evidence and reason, they immediately think of science. And then they run into the problem of limitations of science. These limitations result from the fact that reality is extremely complex and full of nebulosity and unknowns, and thus we haven't been successful in capturing it fully using science.

It turns out that engineering is far better suited to this task! Engineering doesn't just limit itself to logic and abstractions as science does, it occupies itself with the far more difficult task of bulding real working artifacts and solving real problems in the real world. This makes engineering far more capable of understanding and manipulating reality, which is crucial when talking about creating realistic models of reality or indeed, dealing with concepts like meaning, purpose and hope in life.

Of course, this argument gets a lot deeper and far more complex than what can be described in an FAQ. I would suggest diving into the book to appreciate it fully.

About the Author

Vin Bhalerao
Vinayak (Vin) Bhalerao

I am a curious, open minded, unapologetically nerdy software engineer / consultant.

I was perfecly happy writing code for large corporations like Microsoft and Expedia until one day I realized that, for me, coding was far more than something one did just to pay the bills. I felt that it had much wider applications. Reality contains code-like patterns everywhere, kind of like in the movie Matrix! These patterns aren't always quite as well defined as computer code, but they aren't completely nebulous either. There is a lot of middle ground in the form of heuristics, mental models, practices, tacit and embedded knowledge and so on. I felt that I had to become more familiar with them and see what I could do with them.

So finally in my mid-life I started writing as an experiment to capture some of these patterns in words.

At first I wrote quick little pieces on Facebook, then graduated to a personal blog (that no one read), and then on to Medium, where I was finally able to find some readers. After I had written about 50 blog posts, my chest filled up a little too much with pride and I mistakenly concluded that I was ready to write a whole book about life, the universe and everything!

Just in case someone doesn't know, this is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect in psychology: It is a cognitive bias in which people with limited competence overestimate their abilities. I suspect this bias is rather strong in me.

(For more such self-deprecating humor, not to mention enlightening nuggets of wisdom that will turn you into the center of attention at parties, you may want to read my book. Don't overdo it though, or you may get yourself thrown out just when things start to get interesting! 😃)

Anyway, the rest of the story of how this book came about is included in the book itself. Happy reading!

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