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PocketMatrix • View topic - On meaning
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On meaning


On meaning

Postby sandmann » Apr 6, 2006 @ 5:01am

I'm curious as to what you all think about meaning. Is there a "meaning of life" as such? That is to say, is there a pre-assigned meaning -- a purpose -- to your life that you are obligated to fulfill? Or is life inherently meaningless, and we only assign a meaning after the fact? To clarify, I believe that there is no meaning of life that exists before I assign it. If I want to write novels, then that's the meaning of my life. If I want to raise a family, then that's my meaning. If I want to pave streets, then I live for that purpose -- but it was not preordained to be so.

The second question is narrower in scope. Say you're thinking about a particular girl on a particular sunny afternoon. You're daydreaming about how you would love to get in touch with her, but you haven't talked to her for weeks. Just as you're about to give up, she taps you on your back and says hi. (This actualy happened to me). Do you believe that this encounter was arranged -- was destined -- to happen? Do you think you are now somehow obligated by some higher power to pursue that girl? Was it a sign? Or do you believe its only value is in the conclusions that we can draw from it?

My personal belief is that everything is coincidence. There is no such thing as fate. But that's not to say we can't learn a great deal from coincidence, and I often do.

First, I believe that any meaning we find in a situation is assigned to it by us -- in other words, that it isn't intrinsic to the experience. Second, I believe that reading meaning into these things that probably doesn't exist can be dangerous. In the case of the first question, you can wander through life looking for a "sign" telling you what to do with your time on Earth. With respect to the second question, you can fool yourself into believing that you are "fated" to be with that girl, and it will only set you up for a more painful disappointment if it doesn't happen.

But then I think I'm in the vast minority. I'd guess that most people are superstitious and would like to breath a powerful meaning into anything that seems like it might be meaningful. I'd like to hear what you guys think.
The fates lead him who will;
Him who won't, they drag.

Seneca
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Re: On meaning

Postby Brig » Apr 6, 2006 @ 7:03am

Truth is a possession.
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Postby James S » Apr 6, 2006 @ 7:32pm

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Postby sandmann » Apr 6, 2006 @ 10:35pm

The fates lead him who will;
Him who won't, they drag.

Seneca
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Postby sandmann » Apr 6, 2006 @ 10:43pm

The fates lead him who will;
Him who won't, they drag.

Seneca
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Postby Brig » Apr 7, 2006 @ 12:06am

Truth is a possession.
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Postby James S » Apr 7, 2006 @ 4:04am

I believe that a person's source of meaning can be judged based on its effectiveness at promoting a flourishing life. If the "meaning" found by hitting acid means a person gets the twitches and other health problems as well as a decreased ability to relate to others and function productively in society, then that "meaning" is drastically less valuable than a meaning that allows a person to flourish. And don't get stuck on the "in society" part, it's not simply about the ability of a person to achieve relative to a society. It's more of a self-fulfillment thing that can occur within society.

I believe that free will only exists in our limited understanding of our actions. I think that [the ontological] God is an intrinsic force that causes events to take place. Not only isolated events, but because God is IS (noun-verb duality) everything that is is wrapped up in God. This is an etheral notion, not a big guy in Heaven kind of thing. Because God caused everything to exist, and because nothing would exist unless it contually exists in God, then God directs everything at all times. Again, God being an etheral essence.
To use Physics: To our senses, we make our choices, but because we are governed by the forces of the universe we never actually make our own choices but are governed by these external forces (electromagnetism, weak, strong, gravity all act upon the molecules that make up our biological system and ultimately are what acts when our neurons fire).

Now, back to ontology, because God (the etheral, unconditional cause that is perpetually is-ing) is what makes us exist (if God were not is-ing us we would cease to be, because everything that exists exists in the will of God - philosophically, not biblically) he is ultimately in charge and as the unconditional cause he continually causes us as effects.

I use "he" very loosely in this post. If this were German I would use the indefinite article, equivalent to "the" instead.

But yeah, it is my philosophy that we have no free will, and it is simply our perspective in time that gives us this illusion.
But we can never know this, and it's ridiculous to act based on the idea that 'my actions are Gods' because, although they are, they are in a far larger since than the prophetic idea. We are like one proton in the body of the universe. And this is not to bring about a lack of responsibilty, either. For if the murderer is bound by forces, so is the judge and the executioner, and it is indeed balanced universally.

There are things about this philosophy I can't explain, but I personally think intellectually that it is the right one. Of course, I wouldn't believe anything unless I thought it was the right idea, so that doesn't really say much. I'll try to think it over some more, but please poke holes in it. Mention the holocaust, or Hurricane Katrina, or whathaveyou.
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Postby Blade Runner » Apr 7, 2006 @ 11:57am

I thought that there was matter, than cells came with som kind of luck, and their goal was to divide.
No, I've never seen that, I've never seen anyone drive their garbage out to the curb and bang the hell out of it with a stick. No, I've never seen that.
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Postby Andy » Apr 7, 2006 @ 12:26pm

I seem to recall quite a bit of resistance to that perspective on free-will when I first joined this board. The problem of evil, as you've mentioned, flows very easily from that. To the best of my knowledge, you're going to have to strip omnipotence or goodness from your concept of God to remedy that logical dilemma -- or be able to tolerate a large amount of absurdity (eg, suffering people don't really suffer, God just makes it look that way).

Here's an interesting scenario: you're a mother of 3 in a besieged Stalingrad. Your daily food rations are enough to feed two of the children (and hardly that). Before you starve to death, you'll get to pick which of your children is going to do so before you. "Hey mommy, why don't I get any food?"

I saw a documentary on the History channel where one of the surviving children told that story. It became very clear that the Christian "God is love" nonsense being sold to me was complete and utter bullshit at that point.

You also seem to have depersonified God. That isn't very inline with Christian doctrine, neither with the Old (bastardized Sumerian myth) or New (man-god cult) Testaments.
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Postby James S » Apr 7, 2006 @ 1:42pm

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