The Meaning of Life - What's Yours?
Sustainablity - Our Environment
Personal Happiness and Contentment - Is that the ultimate goal?
OK I have something that I'd like to get off my chest. I don't have a lot of real meaning in person adult friends at the moment - I've moved cities and haven't been out much - although that is changing - so being able to write on here - in a dear diary way - but get some feed back would be really great - as I don't get time to research my theories as much as I would like - and so some grounding from others always helps me not to get too far off reality.
I suppose it relates to meaning of life. What is your meaning of life?
I've worked a lot of getting rid of mythology and have been left with not much really - although I am quite liking the humanist perspective - or what I know of it - in terms of it's natural and science base.
I figure due to the heat death of the universe there isn't much point to life. Only that we are here and that is amazing in itself. But we aren't perfect - we only find ourselves here because in our current form we are well adapted to reproduce - but it isn't without flaws.
Death is something that many fear and I think it is a main driving forse of religious belief - behind the cultural and social benefits people gain from involvement. I think a good death is quite an amazing experience according to people who've come back from death to tell the tale - so now a days I'm not so scard of death - although who knows how I'll be at the time. I feel sad thinking about it - but then again I'm only 34 and hope to live until I'm at least 80 - so perhaps by the time I've had another 46 years I'll be in a very different head space about it all. Here's hoping anyhow. In fact I think a good way of dealing with death in general is to accept it's going to happen and know that it is quite amazing for a few minutes once you've died technically, until you're brain fades out. Of course there is nothing after that, so I'm not worried about that bit - it's the leaving that is really sad - leaving all your family and friends behind - my husband put it quite well when he said it's a bit like leaving a really great party before it's finished.
So once we've dealt with death - and meaning - ultimately there isn't any - what are we left with? We're left with what to do with our time?
Morals have come up quite a bit. I didn't used to like them much - but Sam Harris book changed that - and now I can see the value in morals in terms of it's wrong to cause children harm through sexually abuse or physical mutalation - through cutting off their clitorises. So on an extreme end of things I can see the value of moral values of right and wrong. I can see also that we have these values because we have empathy and don't like to see others hurt.
But can we stop all pain? Would it be good to stop all pain?
Pain is part of life - it is helpful in some ways - it would be nice if we didn't need to have it, but it has a value by way of keeping us alive.
I like nonviolent communication - not because I think we ought to be nonviolent in our communication, but because I think it is a useful tool in communicating with others about our feelings and needs, so as to get our needs met in a way that isn't harmful to others. I think this is a useful way of being.
We are lucky in our society generally that we don't have to make decisions about harming others. I'm not convised that total nonviolence would work. When thinking about the major religions in the world the ones that are most nonviolent are quite contained and small - although Hinduism has a lot of members. It's the violent ones that are prospering - christianity and islam. In fact Islam seems to have picked wars with all of them - Pakistain and India - Palastine and Israel - Islam and the West - I don't think they've attacked the Buddhists yet - perhaps there is something in that!
Christians seem good at fighting Islam currently and historically - I'm thinking of the crusaides.
Buddhists aren't agressive, but they don't seem to be growing either - in fact China has put quite a stop to their leadership also.
The other main issue I think is our sustainablity on planet earth. I don't think that waiting for technology to get us safely to another planet is the key to this. I think we'll be waiting a long time and in fact I think the human race will die out and take out most other species with it, before we work out how to get a group of humans safely to another habitable planet using science.
I think that the evolution of dealing with climate change will be gradual and we will slowly adapt to less food and less material things. Although I also think that much pain will come too and I think that we will have more people starving or getting sick due to malnurishment - the food quality is already going down - due to our farming practices - we relay on synthetic vitamins - which I'm skeptical about - and also fossil fuel based fertilisers - I'm not sure how sustainable they are either - and I believe that crops are reducing due to poor quality of soils. Although Israel and Australia are leading the way with using poor soils to grow food - due to their need based on poor soils. American on the other hand seems to have rich deep soils. India is running out of water in parts to successfully irrigate food.
Is it OK that humans clear the land to make food for themselves at the expense of so many other species? I heard that at least 5 species are lost every day mainly due to human food production. We haven't even found all the species in the world - there are just so many. Does it even matter, when the universe will die a heat death in the end any way? What's it all worth?
Perhaps it matters to our quality of life and our survival as a species. But you wouldn't know, when most people are more concerned about entertainment - once they've done their day's work to get their basic needs met. Switching their brains off in favour of someone elses imagined theatre on TV or you tube.
It seems perhaps that I missed the point here. Isn't life about enjoying yourself? Does it really matter about the planet and long term sustainability and saving other species or our own for that matter?
Perhaps it doesn't really matter what we do at all. Perhaps everyone should just life the life that makes them the most happy - and that is the best thing we can all do.
What are your thoughts?
For me, my values are facts about myself. They're not things I can change about myself. I am created to value life, therefore I do so. These are biological urges that we use to frame our values. My knowledge of these things enriches my life. It does not destroy it.
I know human beings don't always value their lives (suicide, depression) or the lives of others (psychopaths) but most do, and living within those parameters gives my life meaning. I know that I am able to love my girlfriend and life better because of these things.
I am tremendously lucky in my life, having not experienced death in any great degree, so this may be a naive view. I know I am made to fear death, and to miss the bonds that tie us to one another after they are gone. It drives me to better care for myself, keep the weight off, exercise. But I know I will die at some point. I believe there is no life after death, because that's where the evidence points. But my values are who I am. (Hope that isn't a deepity).
That was a nice read Alice. Cheers.
You pretty much echo my thoughts exactly, and I think it's something we more or less all have to wrestle with. For me to explain my "meaning of life" I would just go full circle like you did in your post.
If we can call it a meaning, it is (like you say) to enjoy yourself. The point is that how can we enjoy ourselves if we're destroying our planet and causing harm to entire species. **I say this, being in the Canadian Military... which I guess can be seen as hypocritical :p -- this really ties into your thoughts on pain though. I would love to live in a world that didn't need a military, but currently this is not the world we live in. Like you pointed out, religion has a lot to do with this. If we all thought critically and cared about each others' well being, we'd all be able to enjoy ourselves! Imagine a world with no political borders! Unfortunately, with some of the religious extremist groups and corrupt nations out there, it can be pretty difficult to enjoy life for most people.
Man, this subject is tough to talk about without jumping to a million other subjects :p
Park - OK I"m seeing this guy again next Tuesday - so any information you can give me I would be grateful- it would expand my own knowledge also - as well as his potentially - it concerns me because he was at least in his late 40's and seemed quite confident about his claims - and I like to think that people of intelligence are promoting truths and not myths or other...
It sounds as though you simply want to live a full and valuable life - in terms of personal fulfillment and ethical relationship to others also.
Yep. Just want to live, learn, and do good.
In regards to your colleague, I'd have to know exactly what he is talking about when he says "uncaused." Truth of the matter is, uncaused, regardless of its context, isn't technically true. Even if his evidence is a function of quantum mechanics, he is conflating "that which has no cause" to "that which cannot be predicted." You'll see quantum mechanics brought into new-agey bullshit about thinking your way to success, or the universe being in-determinent~ but this isn't a proper application of the information that this relatively new field of physics is bringing to light. I'll give you the most common response to a claim of "non-causality," such as Ruth's 'quantum' pendulum. Putting aside that being unpredictable is not the same as uncaused (since the weather is technically unpredictable as well, but not a quantum event), a lot of people who pull out the quantum mechanics card in conversation don't understand that it operates on such a small, individual level, that applying it to the reality at our scale (the 'macro') strips virtually all of the 'in-determinence' from it~ for an analogy, consider those murals or pictures that are made up of many smaller pictures. if you scaled down and look at individual pictures, they can all appear random; different colors, subjects, textures, lighting~ there doesn't need, nor is there, a conformity or set pattern~ but as you step back, the pictures involved start to create a framework, start to fit a patternicity [not sure if real word, spell check doesn't like it], until you have stepped back fully for the overall image of the mural appears. Thats kinda how it works~ it is nearly impossible to predict the movements at the smallest level with any accuracy, but once you put them in the context of more and more matter their individuality disappears, until you reach a point where Newtonian physics reigns again and we have what we call reality. This difference in scale (and overly simplistic explanation) is whats referred to as Quantum Decoherence, or the point in which quantum mechanics gives way to our 'normal' laws of physics. This explanation really is over-simplistic, and doesn't give you any insight into why these things happen (you might want to look into "wave-function collapse") but its an ok way to clear it up in casual conversation. Just because things happen that are 'random' at the smallest level doesn't mean it impacts reality on ours, just the way a single blue grain of sand doesn't make the beach change color. I can get more in depth on the subject, if you like, but its difficult to know where to start without knowing how much you already understand about the principles involved in..
Hi ,Park! Please refer to the Scientific American June 2011 cover story.
Weather is unpredictable because air turbulence exhibits extreme sensitivity to initial conditions, similar to the complex pendulum. While not "a quantum event" itself, weather is influenced by quantum events.
There seems to be, from several posts, a mechanistic conception of science, along the lines of Newtonian physics. Science is not threatened by complex phenomena, complexity science is science too. We are not expected to give up "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Nor is the study of chaotic phenomena any sort of god of the gaps justification.
We grew up with a shared social reality that presupposed the classical macroscopic world as real and normal. Science has shown us that reality is far more weird and interesting than what we sense directly. In fact, reality has (quantum) fuzzy edges, not just at the subatomic level. "Random" things at the smallest level can, under certain circumstances, impact our everyday reality, Park. Processes that cross scale transmit these influences.
It's a kind of Twilight Zone experience to get your head around how such scale-crossing processes have been part of everyday life all along, just not understood as such. Such shifts in consciousness are just as profound as life experience insights. And, for people who grew up on sci-fi, it's fun. *laugh echos, reverberating down a tunnel*.
I'll post links to the papers that I was reading up on, that go about formulating (there's a lot of math that I just don't comprehend, but they write up a synopsis) ways to predict the paths of such objects, specifically Hamiltonians and Langragorians (I'll need to double check that last one) and ways to predict the 'random' nature of the interactions. I'd be interested in hearing about your ideas in reference to 'non' decoherence, because the only way I could think about getting around that would be to have a fully "quantum" object; a situation in which the ratio between the particles is high enough to defeat the wave-function collapse for the majority of the material.
You're right about the weather~ it was a metaphor to explain that while we understand things, we don't always have all the information to fully predict them~ that, however, doesn't mean they are truly 'random' or in-determinate.
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