“The desire to know something of our neighbors in the immense depths of space does not spring from idle curiosity nor thirst for knowledge, but from a deeper cause, and it is a feeling firmly rooted in the heart of every human being capable of thinking at all.” – Nikola Tesla.
If, as I concluded last time, a person chooses a cosmic purpose over a societal one from the sheer desire to advance an undeniable if incremental cosmic good, then one must still choose the form of that commitment. In the case of cultural purpose I identified eight role types: occupations, callings, missions, entertainers, influencers, politicians, practical scientists or inventors, and creators. In regards to cosmic purpose, I would exclude the roles of entertainers, creators, and to some extent politicians, and practical scientists (although some invention is essential to some cosmic purposes).
Occupations, callings, and missions merge in the setting of cosmic purpose. The wildlife manager, botanist, animal researcher may be paid a salary for her labor, but her motivation is similar to that of those with societal callings or missions. The main aim is not some good for humanity, but for other living beings. Other persons choose a role to influence society on behalf of a non-human interest rather than participate directly in its realization. In this case, individuals adopt a cause such as battling climate change, environmentalism, rare species preservation, even extraterrestrial colonization. Alternatively pure scientists and mathematicians usually serve two roles – research towards incremental progress and influence through their function as educators and experts.
One distinction that applies to cultural purpose, but not cosmic purpose is a basis distinct from specific roles. Adam Smith categorized social purpose based on economic productivity while Thomas Hobbes based it on power. Neither of these seems to fit cosmic purpose; one does not choose to preserve nature mainly for its secondary economic value, nor do most devotees consider the ultimate value of space travel to be its financial return as a form of recreation or as a source of future minerals. In this sense cosmic purpose seems more pure akin to charitable social missions such as helping the unfortunate or solving world hunger. This sense of purity appears to underlie virtually all cosmic purpose.