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What does it mean?

What does it mean?
March 06, 2014, 04:36:41 AM
You fellas are always going on about there being no meaning in anything, and for all I know, you may well be right.
I am becoming aware that what passes for meaning, to me, might not to anybody else.
The other day, Bruce Charlton wrote something very odd - which is nothing very unusual, for him - something about "what God really meant..."
I smiled at that. Not least because God - in the Christian view - is actually a person, with a personality, and a whole pile of neuroses and insecurities and fears, like any other person. Hmmm.

I see meaning in everything. Meaning being something signified by a manifestation of effect. It is very wet. Meaning it is raining. It is very dark. Meaning rain clouds have gathered. I am very cold. Meaning I am very wet. Many would moan about all this, because the effect is not something that they like. While I take it to mean I am not dead yet, and wow, what does that mean?

Here's what it might mean.

Most of us are hard pressed to even put one foot in front of the other, and even if we can manage to do that, to be able to do it without moaning about how crap everything is. But I don't do that. Because, so far, my feet still follow each other just fine. And while there is definitely a lot of crap around, it really doesn't bother me much, because I've decided that it's about time I started just being myself, abandoning any further attempt to protect everyone else from exposure to the monster that is me. They'll just have to deal with it.

So I subjected a cashier in the local food store to my special rendition of Shakespeare, in a suitable 'off' accent, which went like...

Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble.
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Eye of newt, tongue of frog.
Dead man's liver, Dutch man's clog!

I'm not really sure how well it went down, but it sure was fun.

Re: What does it mean?
March 06, 2014, 06:10:37 AM
I'm not sure what it all means, and to be honest, I'm ok with that. 

Re: What does it mean?
March 06, 2014, 06:19:45 AM
Ah, but you're an easy-going one. That's the spirit, and well done for deciphering the intent of this fine post.


Re: What does it mean?
March 06, 2014, 03:42:08 PM
Wot, will this aspiring blood of Lancaster sink?
I thought it would have mounted!
Oh may such purple tears always be shed for those who wish the down fall of our house..
And if any spark of life be yet remaining,
DOWN, down unto hell and say I sent thee thithaaa!

Re: What does it mean?
March 06, 2014, 07:56:26 PM
meaning only exist in the mind of the person. Remove the person and the meaning is gone. The rest will continue to be.

Re: What does it mean?
March 06, 2014, 08:56:02 PM
If the person was removed, meaning would neither matter, nor exist.
But since the person exists, so does meaning.
Take away the meaning, and the person may as well not exist.
Maybe there is an inherent flaw in the nihilistic outlook?

Re: What does it mean?
March 06, 2014, 09:53:36 PM
If the person was removed, meaning would neither matter, nor exist.
But since the person exists, so does meaning.
Take away the meaning, and the person may as well not exist.
Maybe there is an inherent flaw in the nihilistic outlook?

Here's the flaw:

The idea that meaning is only a mental abstraction, is still a mental abstraction. Nihilists put their faith in one mental abstraction to reject another. It's incoherent and it's maddening.

Re: What does it mean?
March 06, 2014, 10:29:45 PM
Ah. That's it. Glad we sorted that out.

Re: What does it mean?
March 07, 2014, 01:53:12 AM
I smiled at that. Not least because God - in the Christian view - is actually a person, with a personality, and a whole pile of neuroses and insecurities and fears, like any other person. Hmmm.

If the Divine is supposed to be perfect, it can't have human imperfections and idiosyncrasies. People have been projecting their own qualities into things in order to have a basis to begin understanding. It's like a computer requiring the timestamp off its internal clock as a basis for random number generations. Or, you need to know your own position in land navigation to orient your bearing toward your destination.

Computers are often pretty poor at truly randomizing things. People can still get lost while going somewhere even if they have an approximate heading. Religious scholars and atheists alike can fail to understand God. A subjective quality can be a flawed starting point but it is often the only possible place to begin unfortunately.

Re: What does it mean?
March 07, 2014, 03:26:56 AM
Maybe "God", and not just certain traits thereof, is the ultimate manifestation of our tendancy  towards subjectivity. Our collective projection of human nature onto all that we suppose to exist.

Re: What does it mean?
March 07, 2014, 04:08:55 AM
Have you been listening? Here's how it works...
God IS. Period. It is absolutely necessary for a human to know this, or he ends up listening to deathmetal and being a hopeless case.
It is also absolutely necessary for a man to resist the urge to project his ego onto God, or he ends up a raving loony Christian who is clearly bonkers to anyone who listens to deathmetal.

Re: What does it mean?
March 07, 2014, 06:38:35 AM
If it's any consolation, I only occasionally listen to deathmetal  :-\

Re: What does it mean?
March 08, 2014, 04:31:10 AM
Hmm. I listen to death metal pretty frequently (crazy fact: I stumbled upon this forum for that very reason!) but I think I am a believer in God.

Experience has shown me that there is a very definite way that things happen to be, even though we can convince ourselves that whatever we're dealing with is very different than whatever might actually be going on. Sometimes I think this tendency is very natural (what we could call hubris in this context) because it has probably helped us out a lot as a species. The ability to forge ahead against daunting odds, and the willingness to take on arbitrary challenges, is no doubt a useful cognitive feature for staying alive and sharing knowledge with the upcoming generations. It probably did take quite a bit of bold odds-denying thought that got us to where we are today as a species.

Anyway, that theory of mine came from thinking about why we (or some of us) are inclined toward the idea of gods in the first place. They are like archetypes that we can look toward to give us motivation and courage to act righteously even in the face of defeat. That is how we got around obstacles in the past, and we still apply that ability constantly though at a smaller scale.

Another quick theory of mine (buckle your seatbelts; this gets a little Freudian) is that neuroses develop when one of our sruvival instincts is overdriven. For example, America has a load of fat people, because fatty food (high in sodium, carbohydrates, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin) is really satisfying and easy to come by. In the past, humans were lucky to find fatty orr sugary foods. Now, it is so abundant for us, that we are unable to consciously curb our craving because it was a very handy evolutionary feature in the past. So compare this example (laterally, so much as you can muster, because it relates to a general biological process rather than a neurological or psychical process) with our need to find a supernatural explanation for occurences (superstition) and you might have an idea of what I'm saying.

With the help of science, we now understand more about the way things like our bodies and brains work on a very basic level. The same with weather, stars, and animals. This understanding has removed much of the "childish" magic of explaining things like consciousness, love, space, etc. Still, we are inclined to believe in that sort of magic, because it is the way we understood things when our species was like a child. It ois the way things are put together in our brain from pure observation, without any abstractions like quantified weight, speed, pressure, density, distance, time, or whatever else we can apply an objective value to. Those nummbers don't really matter to our brains, which have their own way of storing information. To bring this post back to the topic, the means by which we come around to God is the way he brain stores information a out the unbendable rules of the universe around him. Hubris might let him test the actual bendability of the rules, but God will always be there to remind him of how far rules can actually bend.

Re: What does it mean?
March 08, 2014, 11:46:15 AM
If the person was removed, meaning would neither matter, nor exist.
But since the person exists, so does meaning.
Take away the meaning, and the person may as well not exist.
Maybe there is an inherent flaw in the nihilistic outlook?

Here's the flaw:

The idea that meaning is only a mental abstraction, is still a mental abstraction. Nihilists put their faith in one mental abstraction to reject another. It's incoherent and it's maddening.


Nihilists do not reject meaning. It is rather reframed as a construction that does not exist independently of any being to formulate it.

The above achieves its meaning only when one chooses to apply it.

I am agnostic about agnosticism.

Quote
Hubris might let him test the actual bendability of the rules, but God will always be there to remind him of how far rules can actually bend.
When trying to split an atom, how does the notion of "God" contribute anything?

Re: What does it mean?
March 08, 2014, 06:08:23 PM
The notion of God prevents a man from ever undertaking such reckless craziness.
It is for us to discover the many ways we can make use of the framework that enables us to live.
Messing with the framework itself, is a really bad idea.