The meaning of life



CatullusV

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I would argue that the mechanical nature of the operation of our brains is not in contradiction to free will - to the idea that we genuinely decide and make choices about our actions.


The key to resolving the dilemma is, again, evolution. It is the evolution of our minds that causes the particular pattern of firing of the neurons - and that pattern has evolved to enable us to decide and make choices. So the mechanical, causal chain does not stop with the firing of the neurons, but has to spiral back all the way to hundreds of millions of years ago when our brains started evolving. And in that huge spiral, the logic of decision making appears long before ourselves and our current neurons.
Purpose implies a form of teleology whereby incorrect decisions in the arena of free will become either irrelevant or redundant or both.
 

GDPR

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More brutality.........................:cool:

[video=youtube;W3TbDM3mGVc]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3TbDM3mGVc[/video]
I dont often come across something new and never on Pie, but just yesterday I found out that the original lyrics to "Waterloo" were "Boogaloo".

Straight up. Abba being Swedes and Norwegians, just thought "Well that sounds good."
 

DavidCaldwell

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Purpose implies a form of teleology whereby incorrect decisions in the arena of free will become either irrelevant or redundant or both.
Indeed - evolution, in a very natural way, causes a form of teleology to arise.
 

making waves

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Looks like the Field Marshall isn't the only one smoking the wacky tabacky tonight
 

gerhard dengler

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I guess the meaning of life, or the meaningless of life, applies differently to different people

The meaning of life is difficult to discern.

On one level meaning can be discerned from our behaviour toward other people, and other peoples behaviour toward us as individuals. These interactions can provide a person with meaning and purpose for their lives. These interactions can be positive or negative to a lesser or greater degree. The hope would be that these experiences are positive.

But on another level, the discernment is more difficult because the meaning, or meaningless, is less tangible to be able to grasp and to understand.
 

Zapslaststand

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I dont often come across something new and never on Pie, but just yesterday I found out that the original lyrics to "Waterloo" were "Boogaloo".

Straight up. Abba being Swedes and Norwegians, just thought "Well that sounds good."
:cool:
Here we go back to their impact down under, which I kind of knew about but not to the extent....:shock:

[video=youtube;MxF-QXetBgI]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxF-QXetBgI[/video] :cool:
 

Nemesiscorporation

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To me, life has clear meaning and value.

I would like to share my thoughts in the hope that they may prove useful to someone out there burdened by the thought that life is meaningless. I will state what I think, but I realise that it is just one person’s opinion and that your differing opinions may be closer to reality.

The simple answer of the catechism – “"God made me to know him, to love him, and to serve him in this world and to be happy with him forever in the next." – is close to the truth, but makes the over-simplification that God is a person and that each of us is just a person, an individual.

My understanding is that God, the First Cause, the Creator is the order and structure that exists and cannot not exist – the properties of the number 1, the structures described by mathematics and all the similar structure that are beyond mathematics (whose existence is proven by Godel’s theorem).

The origin of the physical universe – from nothing or, rather, nothing physical - then seems (I am told) to follow from quantum effects. See Centre for Theoretical Cosmology: The Origins of the Universe: Quantum gravity

Life then arose from the workings of evolution on self-replicating molecules. The principles underlying evolution are an example of the structures that make up “God”. So you could say that evolution is an aspect of “God” and rephrase and simplify the catechism answer as

“Evolution made me to serve evolution” or “Life made me to serve life”.

At this point, many people react by saying that this would show life to be meaningless.

However, to me, there is a final step in the reasoning that leads to the conclusion that there is meaning. This step is to recognise that meaning (like time or matter) is not a fundamental property of reality, but a property of a particular life-form (or indeed computational structure). So we should talk not about “meaning” but “human meaning” – the meaning to humans - or “dolphin meaning” etc etc.

We should recognise that we are not looking for a meaning for reality as a whole. (It would be rather grandiose if our existence and lives were significant to the universe as a whole, but this is unrealistic – we are a single species on a small planet in a obscure solar system in a middling galaxy). Instead, we are looking for meaning for us, for our minds. But what created our minds? Obviously, evolution and it is clear that evolution has shaped our minds to see value in human life and its continuation.

You might respond that this results in a shallow, counterfeit meaning of life. But I would argue that this meaning of life exists at the level of any meaning – i.e. at the level of the computations of mind. Deeper reality is independent of meaning, just as it is independent of time. Deeper reality is “1 + 1 = 2”.

Recognising that human meaning and value are determined by the good functioning of human minds (as laid down by the process of evolution) has a secondary advantage. We can continue to value human life as we do without being species-centric in our reasoning – humans value human life above all (though we can give value to other life), dolphins value dolphin life about all, etc, as is right and proper.

So, in summary, science and reason tells us that our instinctive feelings of the value and sacredness of human life are correct to us as humans.
42
 

GDPR

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Heres some teleology for you kids, listen to this.

"Trying to make it real. Compared to what?"

[video=youtube;WMInz_7JdJA]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMInz_7JdJA[/video]
 

DavidCaldwell

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I guess the meaning of life, or the meaningless of life, applies differently to different people

The meaning of life is difficult to discern.

On one level meaning can be discerned from our behaviour toward other people, and other peoples behaviour to us as individuals. These interactions can provide a person with meaning and purpose for their lives.

But on another level, the discernment is more difficult because the meaning, or meaningless, is less tangible to be able to grasp and to understand.
Traditional religion saw a clear meaning. I am trying to argue that a rather similar meaning to life is implied by what science tells us about our origins and our nature.

If my argument is correct, then our minds (much of it in our sub-conscious) will tend to see similar meaning and value in life in general. The differences between individuals would be in the value seen for our own life. The classic argument in evolution is that a male individual (not necessarily human) who is not succeeding in mating should be prepared to take big risks (i.e. put a low value on their own life) to get an opportunity to mate.
 

Dearghoul

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Change your timescale. Think of one hundred generations, ten thousand generations. During that time, we evolve, we become better humans (and dolphins become better dolphins etc). This achievement is "beyond our wildest dreams" and it rests on our ordinary lives and loves and the successive generations (whether or not they are your direct descendants, they share your genes).
Don't Dolphins only become better dolphins with reference to their environment? Better swimmers, food gatherers etc.

In what way are we 'adapting to our environment'?
 

DavidCaldwell

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Don't Dolphins only become better dolphins with reference to their environment? Better swimmers, food gatherers etc.

In what way are we 'adapting to our environment'?
Recent changes include humans in areas of low sunlight becoming pale skinned. Current changes may include the reversal of this.

Yes, such changes are not very exciting in themselves. But if you add the changes up over hundreds of millions of years, you end up with the modern species, which are impressively capable.
 
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Traditional religion saw a clear meaning. I am trying to argue that a rather similar meaning to life is implied by what science tells us about our origins and our nature.

If my argument is correct, then our minds (much of it in our sub-conscious) will tend to see similar meaning and value in life in general. The differences between individuals would be in the value seen for our own life. The classic argument in evolution is that a male individual (not necessarily human) who is not succeeding in mating should be prepared to take big risks (i.e. put a low value on their own life) to get an opportunity to mate.
We need to move beyond the idea that there exists a fixed meaning, whether it's at the level of the individual organism, or the universe as a whole.

We also need to move beyond the idea that rejecting a fixed, prescribed notion of meaning -- such as that propounded by some religions and philosophies -- equates to nihilism.
 

Dearghoul

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Recent changes include humans in areas of low sunlight becoming pale skinned. Current changes may include the reversal of this.

Yes, such changes are not very exciting in themselves. But if you add the changes up over hundreds of millions of years, you end up with the modern species, which are impressively capable.
I don't need exciting David.

Evolution is mighty impressive as it is, but I've got a problem with the mechanism being purposive rather than adaptive, as you seem to be suggesting.

Further questions arise from our unique position of not having to adapt physically to just about any form of envvironment in order to survive, and what that means for us as a species still bound by the dictates of natural selection.
 
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I don't need exciting David.

Evolution is mighty impressive as it is, but I've got a problem with the mechanism being purposive rather than adaptive, as you seem to be suggesting.

Further questions arise from our unique position of not having to adapt physically to just about any form of envvironment in order to survive, and what that means for us as a species still bound by the dictates of natural selection.
Is there a law of nature that says the two aren't compatible?
 

GDPR

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To me, life has clear meaning and value.
The meaning of life is accompaniment. That is it in essence- accompanying each other through it all for no reason other than we love each other and were made to do so. This is why consumerism and urban anonymity make people feel so empty. If people want to add a God to that, then so be it. Functionally it is almost the exact same thing- realization of the self through connection to others.
That's pretty much it I would have thought.

What's not amazing is the number and type of people who don't get it.
 

Dearghoul

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Is there a law of nature that says the two aren't compatible?
Not that I'm aware of, but you would have to start out with the blueprint of a modern Dolphin (or at least some future, and perfected dolphin) if it were purposive.

Which is clearly not the way the mechanism works.
 

DavidCaldwell

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We need to move beyond the idea that there exists a fixed meaning, whether it's at the level of the individual organism, or the universe as a whole.

We also need to move beyond the idea that rejecting a fixed, prescribed notion of meaning -- such as that propounded by some religions and philosophies -- equates to nihilism.
I am suggesting that we have evolved to find meaning in a relatively fixed set of areas - to see value in the lives of ourselves, our kin, our fellow humans (if they are not from a hostile tribe) and the continuation of such life, to see value in certain areas of human activity (including art, philosophy, dance, acts of kindness etc)


If I am correct, then, while we each make our individual choice of how to construct a meaningful life for ourselves, there is a lot of commonality. It would be similar to the question of what constitutes a healthy diet - there are lots of healthy diets, but they have certain factors in common, and many diets are not healthy. Similar, certain viewpoints and courses of action tend not to result in lives that are meaningful - e.g. chasing pleasure.
 
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Not that I'm aware of, but you would have to start out with the blueprint of a modern Dolphin (or at least some future, and perfected dolphin) if it were purposive.

Which is clearly not the way the mechanism works.
But must purposiveness entail a relentless progression towards some "perfect" end state?

Does such a "perfected" state even exist, other than as a subjective, constantly fluctuating concept at a particular time and location?
 


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