The Meaning of Life - What's Yours?

 

Ultimate Meaning

Death

Religion

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Replies to This Discussion

If a perfect sphere were balanced on a very sharp point in the absence of vibration or air, would you say that the point "caused" the sphere to fall one direction rather than another?

Many physical systems exhibit extreme sensitivity to initial conditions.  It's the fact that sensitivity to initial position is multiplied each time the pendulum reaches apogee and changes direction, again and again, that makes the complex pendulum inherently unpredictable. True the earliest bounces are more predictable than the later, as the uncertainty is multiplied on each bounce. The entire path is essentially entangled with the quantum uncertainty of the initial position. How do you attribute a cause to that path?

Again, I'd like to make reference to quantum decoherence (which I'm sure you are familiar with) when discussing the effects of the 'micro' upon the 'macro'~ and let us make sure that 'unpredictable' is not being confused with 'uncaused.'  Merely the observation of such a hypothetical sphere can have effects that might be nearly impossible to measure~ for the measurement of those effects may yield a different result.  I'd like to reference your statement

"Many physical systems exhibit extreme sensitivity to initial conditions.  It's the fact that sensitivity to initial position is multiplied each time the pendulum reaches apogee and changes direction, again and again, that makes the complex pendulum inherently unpredictable."

Unpredictable, yes~ but predictability is relative in this situation.  Are we to assume that it can never be predicted?  The development of a quantum computer could one day change that~ Regardless, we do live in a deterministic universe, at least in the sense that as humans we reside in the macro, not the micro; decoherence describes the process (or appearance) of wave-function collapse when making the transition from the microscopic to the macroscopic, giving yield to the supremacy of Newtonian Physics.  Its the 'dilution' of in-determinence due to the massive interaction between particles (thus 'collapsing' wave-functions) when making this "scale" shift that allows us to understand the universe the way that we do; our lack of knowledge shouldn't be construed as an impossibility of understanding.  I have no way to predict the actions that my 3 year old son will make; but he still resides within a deterministic system that would allow one to know~ the mere fact that I don't doesn't change that.

Mind you, Ruth, given the hypothetical that you present, it would seem fallacious to assume that a sphere balanced on the point would fall at all~ that would entail some outside force acting on it.

also I would like to make reference to the notion of Quantum decoherence in relation to the "magnets, how do they work?!"

 

Its a Miracle

Chris - I'm a supporter of volentary euthanasia - (spelling!)  - we can humanly allow animals to die peacefull why discriminate against humans?  I would much rather be able to decide when I can go in a peaceful way than have to carry on a suffer some more -

 

Morals are social things I think - like moral feelings - guilt, shame etc they guide us to how to behave towards others.  They can also be used to control others though emotional manipulation - which I think should be watched and is immoral in itself - but if we can make sense of what's happened and use our emotions wisely - in that we can discriminate between following our feelings and knowing when someone is taking advantage of our natural drive to have moral behaviour and fit in socially and do the right thing by our fellow humans - then we can be in a better place.

Alysn - I like it!  When nothing you do matters, the only thing that matters is what you do... perfect.  I've come to that too - it came from the heat death of the universe for me - if ultimately nothing matters, then I'll have to make every moment I'm alive matter to me.

~PLEASE IGNORE THIS POST~

I know people like their sayings and whatnot, and its not really my thing to rain on parades; sayings, so much, don't really matter as long as the point intended is conveyed... 

So, following on that note,

When nothing you do matters, the only thing that matters is what you do...

technically, if nothing that you do matters~ that is, everything you do does not matter, it wouldn't logically follow that the only thing that matters is what you do, since it is something that you do, and therefore doesn't matter.  I know its overly logical and pointless to post this (which makes me question why I continue to type) but I've got a thing against these catchy phrases and maxims that people like to throw out there to justify something when they don't actually make sense.  The reason I dislike them so is because I see them used to justify many things, and because they sound clever, people never actually think about it.

Regardless, I hope you didn't read this post, because it is entirely over-analytical, and doesn't justify anything but my compulsion to constantly apply logic to everything that I've been seeing (it actually is becoming a problem for me)

I like the discussion so far (and even in a paradoxical way, I like that saying)

~PLEASE IGNORE THIS POST~

I'm pretty sure that replication could be considered a purpose in that respect, if purpose  has some sort of objective definition.  If purpose is open to interpretation (or lacks a specific meaning), then yes, I'd agree~ but I think when that typically comes up its within a certain context...  Although I scarcely see it expressed.  From what I can tell, the processes of most organisms build up to the act of reproduction, and then merely sustain life~ the act of reproduction is the pinnacle of biology, for without it life itself ceases within a generation, and then the question of purpose is no longer valid (for there is no life for which purpose can be attached.)

I'm not arguing your point if, like you said above, purpose is defined in such a way that it necessitates intent.  I don't think I would, personally, say that purpose must have intent~ the word itself has several usages, as a noun its more flexible, as a verb its more intent driven.  Thats what this comes down to, semantics and definition.

 

Yes, sloppy indeed~ like the majority of thinking humans do (I'm not including myself in that category at the moment; I'm respectfully declining the invitation)

Work hard for Sloth get Baby Ruth!

 

There are aspects to buddhism that can be beneficial to understanding the constructs of the human mind and how it operates, especially in relation to "thought traffic" where one tries to observe their conscious thought.  Its interesting, but as far as I know hasn't really been delved into empirically with any seriousness.

  I would agree also that the majority of the discussions that play out are asinine in the sense that they are throwbacks to outdated forms of thought.  These dichotomies are often falsely constructed, or constructed under false pretenses~ and I can't think of many things that have ever been one way or another, but never a mixture of the two.  There is a fundamental lack of understanding (that, aside from knowledge; the two are quite different) that seems to, at least in the states, permeate popular thought to the point that it makes me lose my hair (just kidding.)

 

That being said, I would generally agree with Harris' definition of morality (this is if I remember it correctly) that is : "that action which will produce the greatest good for the most people, while harming the fewest [paraphrase]"

It could be refined some more, but I won't get into that until tonight, maybe.

 

[edited for content]

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