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The Meaning of Life: The Sequel

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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In my last post, I argued that there is no single, “true” meaning of life, which applies to everyone. The meaning of life is a matter of taste, not of empirical truth. Thus, no matter how meaningful we find some belief system or activity or set of values, we shouldn’t insist that others embrace it.

Meaning of life, says 1983 Monty Python film, is, "Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then."

My post was inspired, in part, by two friends’ gentle attempt to persuade me to try a Buddhist retreat, but let me offer a more extreme example of proselytizing: I once encountered a Christian who, when I resisted his exhortations to embrace Jesus, compared me to a man on a burning plane, to whom he was offering a life-saving parachute.

He saw himself as compassionate. I saw him as nutty. Demanding that people embrace your faith because it works for you is as absurd as demanding that they listen only to Lady Gaga or have sex only with stuffed animals. If we could all adopt a live-and-let-live perspective toward each others’ meanings, we’d be a lot better off.

I hoped for, and got, some critical responses, which I’m posting, along with my replies, here. My Stevens colleague Garry Dobbins, a philosopher, objects to my interpretation of Socrates: “You err when you say, ‘Socrates implied that there is one optimal meaning of life when he said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”‘ Socrates was not saying that the only life worth living is one in which someone sits around all day examining his life! No! Socrates was saying that EVERYONE, whatever she or he does, who never, and regularly, challenges her or himself by asking such questions as ‘Am I lying to myself saying/doing this?’ ‘Is that bastard over there who just accused me of being partial, or prejudiced, really TOTALLY mistaken?’ and so on, is not living an ‘examined’ life, and is thereby not living up to what we might fairly call a ‘high’ standard. You might say to me, ‘I don’t CARE to live UP to any such standard!’ To which I would say, ‘Out of your own mouth you stand condemned: not mine!’ So, Socrates’ words are perfectly consistent with someone being a doctor, lawyer, or Indian Chief–or candlestick maker for that matter–and examining her, or his life, or NOT.”

My reply: “Garry, I admit Socrates irks me. To me he comes across as an arrogant jerk, bragging about how wise he is compared to poets, politicians and everyone else. (He’s wise because he knows how little he knows! The irony.) You try to soft-peddle the implications of his ‘unexamined life’ remark, suggesting that he’s asking only for a little ethical introspection now and then. I don’t buy it. Socrates demands much more of us. His allegory of the cave describes ordinary people as hopelessly benighted, living in a world of illusion. If you’re not trying to escape the cave, you’re not really alive, hence your life is worthless. This is exactly the sort of extremism that I’m deploring, and that I see in both religious and secular zealots today.”

Lee Vinsel, who teaches science and technology studies at Stevens, writes: “Isn’t your philosophy just a tepid form of liberalism? The problem with this kind of philosophy, which also fits some forms of Existentialism, is that it squishes all of the interesting tensions in life by pretending they don’t exist. The ‘Whatever, man; you do your thing; and I’ll do my thing; and as long as our two things don’t interfere with each other’s things, dude, then everything is copacetic, dig?’ answer isn’t very interesting a) because it describes what, like, dormant kids who sit around in their pajamas and play World of Warcraft all day think anyway, b) because this variety of liberalism has been around for a long time to not much effect, and c) because it experienced a major uptick in the 60s and look how that turned out. Finally, isn’t the fact that the U.S. liberal, ‘whatever, man’ consensus is leading our world right off the cliff environmentally and otherwise proof that philosophically this isn’t the way to go?”

My reply: “Lee, liberalism hasn’t had much effect? Really? Looking just at the 60s, that was an era of enormous advances in rights for women, gays, blacks and other oppressed groups, and major grass-roots challenges to U.S. militarism and imperialism. Young people questioned the values of their elders and experimented with alternative forms of spirituality and social organization. Many of those experiments failed, but they were well worth trying, to my mind. I also reject your suggestion that liberalism is somehow to blame for our global problems. Ideological self-righteousness–whether religious or economic or nationalistic–is what threatens to lead us ‘off the cliff,’ as you put it.”

A friend who’s into meditation writes: “You portray us as born-again Buddhists trying to browbeat you into trying Buddhist meditation because WE liked it. Not fair. In fact, we only argued that if you were going to keep CRITIQUING meditation, you should really try it. (Not by reading about it, interviewing people about it, or taking a class here and there over the years – but by doing sustained meditation.)”

My reply: “I’ve never been psychoanalyzed or taken an antidepressant. Does that mean I shouldn’t criticize SSRI’s or psychoanalysis? I’m often faulted for not knowing enough about things I criticize, but no one ever accuses me of ignorance when I praise their pet belief. Now, you could argue that my criticism of others’ beliefs is inconsistent with the live and let live philosophy I spell out in my post. I worry about that now and then. But when I look at the world today, I don’t see it suffering from an excess of skepticism. Quite the contrary. Anyway, that’s my convenient self-justification.”

Dr. Strangelove comments on my blog: “We like to believe there is no universal meaning of life. What about democracy, human rights, right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? Don’t we all agree to that?”

I reply: “As I said, I’m not a total relativist. There are certain meta-beliefs, or meta-values, that are good for us to share, collectively, so we can create a society in which we can pursue our individual meanings as freely as possible. These are the meta-values embodied in liberal democracy. Now some people will devote their lives to promoting the spread of democracy, tolerance, open-mindedness, and so on, and that’s fine. But if you insist that others join you in your social activism–and that your life is more meaningful than the lives of others who are not social activists–that’s not fine.”

Prazeologue comments on Twitter: “Logically your observation is self refuting. If it is true then it refutes itself. Bit like saying ‘I’m always lying.’”

I reply: “Yeah, as I once said about Thomas Kuhn, all skeptics are self-refuting. When I say no meaning-of-life system is true, I’m offering up another meaning-of-life system, which must also be false. I get it. But that, I like to think, is a paradox and not a contradiction.”

Andy Russell, an historian of technology at Stevens: “I’m glad fishing is part of this discussion. At the moment one of my favorite philosophers is Billy Currington, who wrote ‘A bad day of fishin’ beats a good day of anything else [http://youtu.be/Pptj7_GXMks].’”

I reply: “Now THAT is a wise man. I bet Socrates never went fishing.”

Image courtesy Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty_Python’s_The_Meaning_of_Life.

John Horgan About the Author: Every week, hockey-playing science writer John Horgan takes a puckish, provocative look at breaking science. A teacher at Stevens Institute of Technology, Horgan is the author of four books, including The End of Science (Addison Wesley, 1996) and The End of War (McSweeney's, 2012). Follow on Twitter @Horganism.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. gesimsek 6:05 pm 10/26/2013

    I think that 60ies have nothing to do with liberalism, on the contrary that period signifies the end of modernist thinking (thanks to writings of Kuhn and Popper) that the fundamental questions were answerable only by science and market forces. The so-called postmodern period after that is not liberal but nihilistic, ie., everything goes culture.

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  2. 2. Andrei Kirilyuk 6:50 pm 10/26/2013

    “If we could all adopt a live-and-let-live perspective toward each others’ meanings, we’d be a lot better off.”

    Isn’t it what is basically going on, at least in Western countries? Discussions of respective attitudes do not usually imply any real oppression. On the contrary, people ever more “let live” others so much that THIS “total liberalism” gives rise to unpleasant social splitting and personal isolation…

    After all, the main point is not theoretical, but practical: do you think your modern developed societies and their members are in a process of degradation or progress? If it’s degradation (evident to me), then it means that something “general” is missing and probably it’s something like the “meaning of life” (even if we can’t specify it for the moment). (Unless, of course, one accepts a sad possibility that this degradation itself is the true current meaning of life, “this species must die” etc.) And if it looks more like (human) progress, then of course this progress is the meaning of life (in a variety of detailed formulations).

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  3. 3. tetrahedral 7:57 pm 10/26/2013

    Parts of our culture claim that life has meaning (1) to God because he created life, or (2) because life is precious and should be preserved and protected. Neither claim can be proven, and there is much evidence to the contrary.
    In an absolute sense, “life” has no meaning except to the entity that is living it. There may be other persons, or animals who have importance to you, to me or many others, but there are many more who have little if any importance to us. Life has meaning in terms of its “potential,” for benefit or harm. What many liberals seem to mean when they say all life has meaning is that all life should be protected — or at least not intentionally harmed. For some humans, even their own life may cease to have meaning for them.
    The potential that we perceive or expect from the lives we interact with should be the basis for the meaning their life has for us for the foreseeable future. It is important that we try to understand those lives; and in the case of other humans, have the ability to communicate with them in order to eliminate misunderstandings, or to coordinate our actions.
    We need shared concepts, ideas and the ability to communicate about them. There is limited benefit to be had by refusing to question your own beliefs and assumptions; and there is much potential benefit to be had in keeping an open mind and discussing ideas with others.
    But we live in a complex, fast changing social world where absolute values are potentially harmful. Religious values based on faith are the source of much conflict and psychological suffering; but even absolute secular values (freedom of economic enterprise) can be dangerous in some circumstances. The key is having functional concepts that help us understand our world, make beneficial choices, and being able to communicate with others about them.

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  4. 4. metamorphmuses 1:08 am 10/27/2013

    John Horgan, I find myself amenable to a lot of what you’re saying, but from my point of view, some aspects are incomplete and others conflate metaphysics with ethics.
    If the discussion is about the metaphysical question, “Is there a meaning to life” then the answer is simply no. There are many interpretations of the metaphysical approach to the meaning of life, but none of them are true. The concept of meaning is just not applicable to life – meaning can only be ascribed to symbolic systems like language (which are in turn strictly the province of sentient beings), not to things in themselves like the universe or the state of being an organism. Things in themselves simply are, and we humans apply our semantic models onto them in the attempt to comprehend them.
    On the other hand, if the discussion is about the ethical question, “should we, as sentient beings, attach value to life in general and other living things in particular?” then the answer is: It is a choice you make, either to assent or dissent to that question. But if your answer is “Yes, I choose to attach value to life” (as I do), then you must accept that you are not a moral relativist. I have flirted with moral relativism (and I confess sometimes I still do), but the cold hard reality is that moral relativism obliges you not to take part in any ethical system, only to observe and describe them. Relativism is neutrality, and means you really cannot partake, ever – not even to advocate relativism or neutrality. If you do, you are no longer a relativist, because you’ve taken a position, and the game is up: you might as well then adopt some moral code and own up to that fact. So, when you say, “When I say no meaning-of-life system is true, I’m offering up another meaning-of-life system, which must also be false. I get it. But that, I like to think, is a paradox and not a contradiction,” it *is* a contradiction and not a paradox. In short, I say you have to come clean and stand by “live and let live” as a statement with force behind it – anyone who doesn’t live and let live is, in your view, immoral.

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  5. 5. metamorphmuses 2:45 am 10/27/2013

    Just to clarify, I recognize that you’ve already asserted, “I’m not a total relativist.” I only speak to relativism in opposition to the “live and let live” statement, which I would say cannot be construed as a type of relativism, if one is to follow it through to its logical conclusion. After all, the “live and let live” maxim does not forbid you from advocating it to others in a respectful manner, only from forcing it on others. Nevertheless, I reaffirm the conclusion that it does commit you to viewing those who do not follow the maxim as immoral.

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  6. 6. Gerard 7:21 am 10/27/2013

    “Live and let live” can be seen as a lazy way to interact with others, out of lack of interest, egoism, asocial behavior.

    It can also be seen as strong and difficult stance. Admitting that no matter how good you rank yourself for wisdom, personal integrity, knowledge etc.., it’s still a self evaluation, and should not result in the assumption that what you think right / wrong / wise /stupid / moral /immoral is necessarily ‘better’, even if it feel that way.

    I think John is less about ‘leaving others believe what they want’ than about asking his own views to be respected and offering back the courtesy.

    It’s not about refusing exchanges, and changes, it’s about politely declining the assumption that dad knows best, teacher knows best, priest knows best, philosopher knows best etc…

    The quality of any knowledge is unrelated to the conviction of the man professing it.

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  7. 7. Andrei Kirilyuk 12:15 pm 10/27/2013

    tetrahedral: “The key is having functional concepts that help us understand our world, make beneficial choices, and being able to communicate with others about them.”

    Precisely, this is not the case any more, and that is the problem. Before it was, or could easier seem it was, the case. But now, for the first time in history, humans are beyond the invisible threshold of that “usual understanding” of their own, already existing reality (let alone its guaranteed, “sustainable” progress). These miserable fraudulent calculations that dominate modern world can hardly qualify as a reasonable “functional concept”…

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  8. 8. brodix 7:17 pm 10/27/2013

    The meaning of life is desire.
    Think for a moment how you would live your life without it.

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  9. 9. brodix 7:42 pm 10/27/2013

    The absolute is basis, not apex, so a spiritual absolute would be the essence from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell. This essence of being is constantly pushing against the definition of its limitations, as life is constantly creating and consuming its forms.
    Good and bad are relative. What is good for the fox is bad for the chicken and there is no clear line where the chicken ends and the fox begins.
    But this relativity is subjective, not objective. Any knowledge requires a particular perspective. Whether up close, or at a distance, one’s knowledge is a function of one’s perspective.
    So we hold dearly to our ideals, because they give us meaning, focus, direction and our sense of identity, but there is no universal ideal.

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  10. 10. RSchmidt 11:11 am 10/28/2013

    “Thus, no matter how meaningful we find some belief system or activity or set of values, we shouldn’t insist that others embrace it.” I am going to assume that this is the central thesis of your article. While I would agree that we should view your position as an axiom of liberal societies I don’t believe it is without caveat. First off, I would say that I prefer this position over positions such as separation of church and state and freedom of religion. I believe that even mentioning religion in the law endows them with status above other beliefs. There is no need to provide special legal protection for religion, in fact doing so violates the whole notion of religious freedom. I would replace any reference to “freedom of religion” with “freedom of belief” which is far more encompassing. Freedom of religion is like giving people the right to have any hairstyle they like. But what that means is, if the governments outlaws baldness the law is not violated.

    That being said, society is by its nature a cooperative. That means we need to work together to find solutions to common problems, and that means that not all beliefs are equal. Beliefs that are objective, that can be supported by evidence, that result in the least harm, that preserve liberty, that preserve equal rights, have a much higher value to society as they are in agreement with other axioms of liberal democracies. And while we speak enthusiastically about liberty we seem to forget responsibility. In a democratic society it is the individual’s responsibility to be informed and make the “right” choices. But what is the “right” choice? Certainly there is no one “right” choice but regardless of the values that inform individuals’ political decisions one would hope that they are still guided by evidence and reason.

    So while I agree that everyone has the right to believe what they want, I don’t believe that all beliefs have equal standing in society. And because of this, I believe that the state should play a role in advocating, but not insisting, for some beliefs over others. Keep in mind that the state does retain the right to insist on certain behaviors regardless of belief.

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  11. 11. rkipling 11:28 am 10/28/2013

    Why is it assumed there must be meaning to life?

    There are no recorded single celled philosophers for the first few billion years of life on this planet. The same holds true for trilobites, et al. Which of our progenitors first pondered the meaning of life? Did the universe patiently go about its business for 13.7 billion years waiting on us to come along and find a meaning for it all?

    Maybe many of us just wish there were meaning?

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  12. 12. tuned 11:45 am 10/28/2013

    The author writes “there is no single, “true” meaning of life”.
    Then proceeds to lay out several without calling it that, “liberalism hasn’t had much effect? Really? Looking just at the 60s, that was an era of enormous advances in rights for women, gays, blacks and other oppressed groups, and major grass-roots challenges to U.S. militarism and imperialism. Young people questioned the values of their elders and experimented with alternative forms of spirituality and social organization. Many of those experiments failed, but they were well worth trying, to my mind. I also reject your suggestion that liberalism is somehow to blame for our global problems.”
    Indeed I often notice that Johns’ pieces smack of liberal lobbying. That is his right, but why act like someone scalded his puppy when it is noticed?

    Liberalism has good and bad like most philosophies. The worst of it is the failure to curb disease spreading and unwanted pregnancy. Abstain protects the world against both.
    Utopians simply say the best way is to repent and be good.
    Be as harmless as you can to everything, but also not allowing harm to self. Life is recognized as adversarial (satanic)in the first place, so there is no hypocrisy. Only the effort to be better and better. It is less a meaning than a practice and a goal.

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  13. 13. RSchmidt 12:31 pm 10/28/2013

    “Liberalism has good and bad like most philosophies. The worst of it is the failure to curb disease spreading and unwanted pregnancy.” I don’t see a connection between liberalism and disease or unwanted pregnancy. It is possible to be sexually active and safe from disease and unwanted pregnancy. Don’t confuse liberalism with a lack of caution or responsibility. Abstinence is a failed concept and there is absolutely no reason for it other than religious fanaticism. You might as well deprive people of enjoyable food to cure obesity. Abstinence is an example of the fallacy of the perfect solution and it is no surprise to me that it is championed by those that use every fallacy in the book to enforce their will on society.

    Also, there is a big difference between saying life has no meaning and life has no inherent meaning. I think life has meaning to those living it. There is no need for an outside agent to imposing meaning on life to give it value. Just because life has no inherent meaning doesn’t mean it is meaningless or valueless. Just like there is no inherent value in money. We assign value to it as we do with everything.

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  14. 14. tuned 1:42 pm 10/28/2013

    @RSchmidt:
    Your reply is a non sequitur.
    Abstain is perfectly successful for preventing disease spread and unwanted pregnancy.
    You project the real failure of liberalism (to curb those) back upon abstinence in a transparent and foolish untruth. Liberalism has promoted the “hook-up” lifestyle for generations. The “hook-up” lifestlye (free love” was the previous term as I remember)is medically proven to be high risk. It is scientifically undeniable.
    Contraceptive manufacturers admit a 15% failure rate brand new. Multiplied by millions and billions gets you the horrible state of disease transmission in the modern era.
    The saddest is the innocent fetus being infected. It not only is a failure to abstain from unsafe sex, but also drug abuse.

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  15. 15. RSchmidt 2:52 pm 10/28/2013

    @tuned, “Abstain is perfectly successful for preventing disease spread and unwanted pregnancy.” you can’t make that claim as there is no example of it working. In fact those of faith show the highest population growth. You could claim that avoiding high caloric food is successful in preventing heart disease but the US has increasing incidence of heart disease and diabetes so clearly that strategy is no working. You can’t call a strategy successful if it only works on paper. You are doing exactly what most in the west consider to be antithetical to western society. You are imposing your own personal ideology on everyone. You are a religious zealot who has latched on to some social problem to give himself the authority to force his religion down everyone’s throat. In the end, I don’t know what is the best compromise between freedom and responsibility, nor do I know if there is one, but what I do know for certain is that those that believe without reason will act without reason. Religion has no place in public society.

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  16. 16. chernavsky 3:11 pm 10/28/2013

    Part of my philosophy of life involves the principle that it’s wrong to inflict unnecessary harm on sentient creatures. Now, we could have an interesting philosophical discussion about the meaning of “necessary”, but I hope we could agree that it precludes killing or torturing animals for the sake of our own pleasure, amusement, or convenience. (This argument is drawn from the work of animal-rights philosopher Gary Francione.)

    I’m dismayed that Horgan again approvingly cites the practice of fishing. Apparently, Horgan’s personal ideals don’t preclude puncturing the lips of animals that feel pain, pulling those animals out of their environment, dismembering them (often while they’re still alive & conscious), and then consuming their flesh.

    But, whatever man. I don’t want to harsh on his mellow.

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  17. 17. badnursie 3:43 pm 10/28/2013

    When Socrates was around, there were damn few men sitting around chewing their cud and speculating on the freakin’ ‘meaning of life’. And look what that got him.

    The simple fact is that humans used to be too busy making a living to wonder about all this above bull…uh…philosophy. You knew the ‘meaning of life’ which was to stay alive, keep your family and fellow community alive, possibly accumulate a bit for the future and not get eaten by something else. All your modern ‘problems’ stem from too much: too much time, too much food, too much sex, too much sitting on our fat butts, too much people…sorry…too many people.

    Get over yourselves and take a walk in the woods. Speculate on this: there is no damned meaning to life. It just is. You think the rest of the animals on this dirt ball are contemplating their navels and getting food for it? Get up off your butt and do something!

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  18. 18. tuned 3:50 pm 10/28/2013

    @RSchmidt:
    Again RSchmidt uses projection and non sequitur to try and disprove what is perfect fact.
    Those that abstain succeed 100% each time they abstain.
    Those that fail to are NOT ABSTAINING ! Duh.
    It is the liberal agenda (for centuries longer than the name “Liberal” has even been applied per se) to promote the opposite of abstain, as RSchmidts’ posts do.
    It is that failure/weakness of character which puts millions in the throes of agonizing fatal diseases, most horrifically including children.
    This is medical fact, not religion.

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  19. 19. rkipling 4:15 pm 10/28/2013

    badnursie,

    The stroll in the woods is a good idea. Especially now that most woods don’t harbour creatures who view us as lunch.

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  20. 20. rkipling 4:35 pm 10/28/2013

    chernavsky,

    What will you do when it is determined that plants feel pain as well?

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  21. 21. ThatsJustDandy 4:11 pm 10/31/2013

    If I could learn to be silent, I’d be ahead of the game… Yet, I’m compelled.

    There is NO meaning of life. None, nada, rein, zippo. Period. That’s it.

    1 – We are about as intelligent and aware as a grain of sand. Egotistical, yes. Indulgent, yes. Arrogant, yes. Self interested, yes. But to have meaning? No. We are actually quite pitiful in that regard.

    2 – We do nothing of import. We offer nothing to the universe. Everything we do is a narrow scope of instinct with the sole function of reproduction of the species (not necessarily self) and self-interest. Everything. Save the world?! Ha, we save our asses when we can, but will ultimately contribute to our own demise.

    3 – You are nothing, I am nothing. Everybody is a lump of flesh built by particles that follow the laws of physics.

    4 – There is no ‘universal’ meaning of life (I’m being redundant here), because that brings the infinite universe down to our microcosmic level. Again, we are NOTHING!

    So what to do with your life? Any friggin’ thing you want! Just be aware of the limitations that our own physical structure, environment, and instinct presents. Don’t forget social psychology in the formula. Our goals must try and maintain a balance with those -IF we want a somewhat ‘peaceful’ life.

    So who cares if you are politician, doctor, movie star, or Budha himself. It simply DOES NOT MATTER to anyone or anything by YOU!

    Whew, got that off my chest. I sure like your articles Mr John Horgan. Sometimes you just stir the pot, don’t you!

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  22. 22. ThatsJustDandy 4:32 pm 10/31/2013

    btw, I failed in Philosophy! Why? Because I thought they were asking us to seek truth! Instead, they were asking us to accept the philosophical mechanism behind social conformity. That’s all philosophers were. Conformists, believe it or not. To imply there is a proper path in life, or as Socrates said -an improper one, is preaching conformity. Conformity is a social psychological mechanism that dictates hierarchy within a tribe, and that hierarchy contributes to the survival of the tribe.

    Do I believe that a certain amount (not absolute) of conformity makes a better world for the masses? Yes! Do I believe there is a moral and ethical standard that is required to make the world better for the masses? Yes! Do I believe we should help each other? Yes!

    But the reason why is where I part ways. I believe it because it is PRACTICAL to do so. It is impractical to do otherwise. Just makes everybody, including ourselves, miserable.

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  23. 23. ThatsJustDandy 1:55 pm 11/2/2013

    After jumping into my thoughts on ‘meaning of life’ in my previous comments, I realize that it was over reactive.

    We must add context to the question before venturing an answer:

    What is the meaning of life to ‘what’ or ‘whom’?
    What is the meaning of ‘whose’ life?

    In terms of the meaning of our human life to the physical universe (my general interpretation of the question), it’s obvious to me that the answer remains ‘nothing’. And I don’t believe there is anything ‘but’ the physical universe.

    In context of ‘our’ human life to the human system, yes, then we can have meaning.

    In terms of the meaning of our human life to life itself, be it here or elsewhere, we may be detrimental actually.

    So when we are discussing ‘the meaning of life’ we must define the context. I’m sure there are many more examples than the ones I mentioned.

    Those that think in terms of human life having a greater meaning seem to be overly focused on the role of humanity in the universe. As though we are the center of it.

    Furthermore, to have ‘meaning’ at all is a human centric concept. Everything doesn’t have to have meaning. Nothing has meaning beyond the scope of the interests of those involved.

    Digging the hole deeper? Probably.

    Thank you, John, you’ve found an insightful and interesting way to juggle on one foot at the precipice without even breaking a sweat!

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  24. 24. ThatsJustDandy 2:06 pm 11/2/2013

    And I forgot one: The meaning of life (in general, not ours) to the universe as a whole. That is where our imaginations can grow wild. That is where the most inspiration of hope comes from.

    What mechanism is ‘life’ in the universe? Does life transform matter somehow? What is the function of living matter within the universe? Perhaps life itself is the contradiction to the apparent cold physics of the universe. Maybe life is the proof that physics is not absolute.

    maybe this, maybe that, but that is where the mystery lies for me.

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