Sunday School January 20th 2019
January 23, 2019 at 4:49 pm #25225
why ‘meaning’ has any significance to survival and species proliferation
“Meaning” is relative to goals, and goals can be anything.
?? goals can be external or internal.January 23, 2019 at 8:09 pm #25230
People often say that they find satisfying meaning in something greater than themselves. Often, this means “the team” or “the group” – at least, other people.January 23, 2019 at 9:39 pm #25233
Discussions of meaning matter.
–Pope Beanie, poking fun at humans.
Now about free will, short and concise. Let’s simply cut to the chase, with a definition I just made up:
Free will is the human ability to do as one pleases, in spite of limitations imposed by an inconvenient, deterministic reality.
Now, is causality 100% deterministic, or can we will it not to be?
We want to believe we have free agency, so we find ways to claim that we have it, and some of us (humans at large) even decide that free will exists because God made it so.
I’m personally able to ignore how anyone defines free will, because after all, the whole question is just a nonsensical question to start with, in it’s absolute, either/or sense. So I’ll define free will for you. (You’re welcome!)
Think of free will as a percentage of agency, not all or nothing. That is, you have a limited ranges of choices, “choices” being defined here as known choices. I can choose vanilla or chocolate chip, and by the way, the vast majority of the time, I do not consider the complexities of neuronal ion channels, synapses, neural networks, taste sensors, past memories, and so on wrt any future decision I make regarding vanilla vs chocolate chip.
I think what really concerns most of us the most is whether or not we can behave in new or novel ways in spite of our history of behavior… or in spite of what God may have planned, albeit even God-fearing minions admit they don’t always know what their mysterious-ways-God really wants.
(Then there’s the huge question of when and how we as a society should hold one responsible for one’s behavior, which is in fact only relevant to this topic of free will when society claims to intimately know a perpetrator’s mental state, abilities, and motive.)
Simply for me, free will is a question of quantity or percentage: How likely am I able to accomplish something I really want to accomplish? By definition del Pope Beanie, free will is merely the ability to guesstimate those quantities and percentages, and behave accordingly.
And I will stubbornly hold on to my definition of free will, until certain brain cells die and it no longer matters.January 23, 2019 at 10:14 pm #25234
Reg the Fronkey FarmerModerator
.….you have a limited ranges of choices, “choices” being defined here as known choices. I can choose vanilla or chocolate chip…..
Most people would consider this a “freewill choice” and we all understand that sensation of freedom to make our own independent choice. But what most people don’t get is that their choice of ice cream is entirely determined beforehand. That is, someone has put two flavors of ice cream in front of them that they had no say about. They are only “free” to choose between two per-determined options. Of course their selection is also made by their sub-conscious brain a few milliseconds before they “make their decision”.January 23, 2019 at 11:05 pm #25236
A state of physical and psychological health and strength.
That is not thriving, that is living another day, probably a lot more. If you canvass history, how many healthy people of sound mind did unspeakable things. Your definition here is so BROAD it would apply both to those who achieve constructive goals, and those who waste their lives away and those who destroy things and people. If we are ever to take this “thriving” concept seriously, we need a far more qualified definition. Also, what strega said about the “blank card” that is an excellent summary of how I also see this “thriving” meme.
One definition of the meaning of X is the way that X is relevant to one’s goals.
So basically meaning is created when it will help people realize their goals? That makes a little sense. However, how is there meaning in the creation of the universe. It helps you realise your goals because the universe actually exists, as opposed to never happening. However we seem to have gone well outside the varied boundry of “meaning”. I don’t know anyone who says “the universe has a meaning to me and that meaning is that it exists”. Or hey, oxygen has meaning for me cause without it my body would rot away until there is nothing left, which would mean I couldn’t achieve my goals because I’m buried under ground. The magnetic field of Earth has meaning for me cause I generally am able to achieve my flourish goals when the sun isn’t bombarding me with intense radiation. I can’t remember anyone saying the Earths magnetic field has meaning for me because without it everything would fry on Earth. As an extension, I cannot comprehend how nature drives us to find meaning in every thing and concept that helps us achieve our goal…or that we “thrive” by achieving any goal you want regardless of the consequences to you and your kin and neighbors. I don’t know at what point in evolution our DNA started activating which called out “go forth and achieve your goals, whatever goal that may be”.
So, if one’s goal is not to thrive, meaning is relevant to this goal.
So to not thrive (achieving your goal of not wanting to thrive) is a form of thriving? Remember, thriving involves achieving your goals. Right? I believe when someone chooses not to do something, like for example “not take my friend up on an offer to have a pint at O’Malleys, that one goal I want to achieve is not going to a Pub tonight, and therefore I am thriving because I’ve realised my goal of not taking up the offer and that has meaning, there is meaning in me saying “hey…another time”. Perhaps it’s fun to think of these mystical paradoxes like from Taoism. However just because it’s conceptual doesn’t make it free of logical comparisons. To not grow up and take responsibility is in itself being responsible because you don’t want to grow up and take responsibility therefore you’ve actually taken responsibility for your goals. I’m responsible by not being responsible. Eeeek. Or how about by not teaching I become a teacher because my goal as a teacher is to not teach. Therefore I am teaching by not teaching. Yikes. Or my goal to not love anyone helps me achieve my goal of not loving anyone, therefore I achieve love by not loving. Sounds like a Zen koan, unfortunately it might make you think of things in a different light, but I cannot imagine how we could make any of these falsifiable claims.
January 23, 2019 at 11:31 pm #25238
- This reply was modified 3 months ago by Davis.
Natural selection is relative.
What does that even mean? How does that somehow resolve the big conflict of your “thriving” meme between the various definitions of “thriving”? If by thriving all you mean is achieving your goals, you have really warped the meaning of this term far from how most people would consider thriving. If thriving means achieving your goals and being healthy (also very relative with humans) then why don’t you just say “achieving your goal” without dragging in the term “thriving” along with its pretty heavy baggage and historical meanings? I mean, if I decided to say things are “delicious” if they make your mouth water, I’ve limited my meaning of being delicious to a subset of what most people consider “delicious”. And along the way I’ve managed to discard subjective taste experience and numerous other heavy meaning that has usually been used with “delicious”. In doing so I’ve created confusion and I don’t even know how I’d justify co-opting a term and limiting it to a narrow band of what that term means. If I want to say “something that makes your mouth water” then I will say “something that makes your mouth water” and not redefine delicious through some idiosyncratic shaving off of meaning. In the end, its a lot easier to address your idea by saying what it is “life is achieving goals and being healthy and nature compels us towards doing so and this generates meaning”. I honestly find this a thousand times easier to address than the “thriving” business…though I think it’s still heavily flawed.January 23, 2019 at 11:46 pm #25239
People often say that they find satisfying meaning in something greater than themselves.
And yet other people find meaning in a tiny snail shell or they find meaning in never thinking about meaning. Meaning is whatever a human being considers meaningful (a lovely tautology) and there is nothing to stop me applying meaning to anything with the meaning I so choose and no one can tell me that isn’t meaning…and I don’t understand what is to be gained by saying otherwise. Meaning is whatever you want, and it is not limited to “achieving goals”, “flourishing”, making decisions. It is what I say it is for whatever reason I want it to be.January 24, 2019 at 1:16 am #25240
Freedom is knowing you are not a person – Deepak ChopraJanuary 24, 2019 at 7:49 am #25241
Natural selection is relative.
What does that even mean?
We live in a competitive environment. In a way, “your loss is my gain”. This is why human social life has two dimensions: competitive and cooperative.
This cooperative environment is responsible for the evolution of the pressure to thrive in the first place.January 24, 2019 at 7:57 am #25242
Freedom is knowing you are not a person – Deepak Chopra
*sigh* I think he means, don’t be egotistical. “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.” Something like that.
The ego puts demands on us of self-preservation (another manifestation of the pressure to thrive). If the ego gets in the way, we can be concerned with our own limited needs over what needs to be done, and we are not free.January 24, 2019 at 8:00 am #25243
other people find meaning in a tiny snail shell
Another meaning of “meaning” is “signifying”. So, a tiny snail shell can signify the grandeur of nature, for example.January 24, 2019 at 8:57 am #25245
So basically meaning is created when it will help people realize their goals?
The meaning of something (in one sense) is the way in which it affects our goals.
Our emotions detect the way something relates to our goals, we think about what is relevant to our goals, we attend to what is relevant to our goals.January 24, 2019 at 6:16 pm #25247
UnseenParticipantJanuary 24, 2019 at 8:37 pm #25250
lolJanuary 29, 2019 at 11:53 pm #25284
The good question is, why do we need meaning? Not just have it, but need it.
Meaning (in one definition) is the way something is relevant to our goals, and we have goals because of the pressure to thrive, and this keeps us wanting to move forward all the time. So, we have meaning because we need goals, and we need goals because we need to thrive.
I claim that any goal is a means towards thriving. A serial killer’s goal is to capture random innocent people and carve them up; while (say) he is doing this, he is thriving; until he gets caught, but perhaps then he has his happy memories. Presumably, he doesn’t have a conscience and doesn’t mind being on death row.
If someone wants to commit suicide, it’s because they’re not thriving, so the pressure to thrive is still in full operation.
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