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Posted: 12 December 2007 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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[ Edited: 07 March 2011 04:30 PM by J.C.]
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Posted: 12 December 2007 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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In my mind there are three ways in which things can have a meaning.

The first one is purpose, this is generally all the religious person means with meaning. Purpose is the meaning of something created in general, a goal set by the creator. A car has a purpose or a computer. We do not have this per say although you could argue that our purpose from the point of natural selection is to safeguard our species, to ensure that we do not only procreate but protect our species from outside threats, and above all from inside threats. Our purpose is to continue to flourish, and to make sure that humanity continues to exist.

The second is subjective meaning, this is what each and every person sets for themselves, although I think this can have a universal sense. I think the subjective meaning of us as human beings should be as simple as striving to better ourselves and to treasure the time we have in existence. Which basically boils down to enjoying life, while constantly striving to be the best people we can be, improve our morality, increase our understanding of the world.

The third is metaphorical meaning, this is more of a poetic sense of meaning although it can have very material consequences. This is basically looking at humanity as a whole, and as a part of the cosmos. As we are one with the universe, we can strive to see ourselves as a part of the machinery and what a metaphorical purpose would be in the scheme of things.
This to me is first and foremost science, to really strive to understand the universe. Because if there is no other intelligent life, there is nothing out there to understand it. If we are the only conscious life in the cosmos we become the consciousness of the universe in a philosophical sense. The vast machinery of the universe would spin on like a mindless automaton in complete oblivion if not for us, which in my mind would be a tremendous waste. So we owe it to everything to try to understand it.
Furthermore if there is other life out there, and other intelligent life we ought to find it. As its beautifully expressed in Carl Sagan’s contact, said by an alien entity to the human explorer “We find that the only thing that makes the vastness and the emptiness bearable, is each other”.
If there are others out there, we ought to find them and make the loneliness easier to bear.
Last but not least, maybe advanced civilizations are a common evolution, but we are the first. In which case our purpose is also to set the example for those who will come after us, for those species who will haul themselves out into space to find the remnants of our civilization, millions of years after we are gone.

Well, I will leave it there although there is more to be said on each one, but a wall of text is never fun. I love it though when religious people tell me that there can be no meaning without god. Because as far as I can tell, if you are religious, you trade all the three meanings I just listed for one very simple, which is not at all very beautiful.

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Posted: 12 December 2007 06:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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[ Edited: 07 March 2011 04:31 PM by J.C.]
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Posted: 12 December 2007 09:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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“We do not begin to understand the meaning of duty until we realize that everything we have, even the language we speak, is the result of the blood, sweat, and tears of others before us who did not personally benefit from their sacrifices.”  G.I. Gurdjieff

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Posted: 13 December 2007 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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What is the meaning of life? Uh…try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations, and, finally, here are some completely gratuitous pictures of penises to annoy the censors and to hopefully spark some sort of controversy, which, it seems, is the only way, these days, to get the jaded, video-sated public off their fucking arses and back in the sodding cinema. Family entertainment bollocks. What they want is filth: people doing things to each other with chainsaws during Tupperware parties, babysitters being stabbed with knitting needles by gay presidential candidates, vigilante groups strangling chickens, armed bands of theatre critics exterminating mutant goats… Where’s the fun in pictures? Oh, well, there we are. Here’s the theme music. Goodnight.

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Posted: 13 December 2007 10:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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And now for a serious reply - one creates the meaning for one’s life.

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Posted: 13 December 2007 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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What’s the meaning of life? You guys don’t know?

The Lord made Adam.

The Lord made Eve.

He made them both,

A little bit naive


They lived as free

As the summer breeze,

Without pajamas and without chemise.

Until they stumbled

on the apple trees.

 

Then she looked at him,

(hum, hum)

And he looked at her,

(hum, hum)

And they knew immediately

What the world was for…

 

He said give me my cane

He said give me my hat.

The time has come,

To begin the begat.

The begat!

The begat!

 


So they begat Caine.

And they begat Abel,

Who begat the rabble

At the Tow’r of Babel.

They begat the Cohens,

They begat O’Rourkes.

And they begat the people

Who believed in storks

 

Lordy Lordy, how they did begat!

How they did begat!

Even more than that

 

And when the begat got

to gettin’ under par

They begat the daughters

of the DAR

They begat the babbits

of the bourgeoisie,

Who begat the misbegotten G.O.P.

 

It was pleasin’ to Jezebel

Pleasin’ to Ruth.

It pleased the League of Women Shoppers

in Deluth.

 

Though the movie censors

tried the facts to hide

The movie goers up and multiplied.

Lordy Lordy, how they multiplied!

How they multiplied!

How they multiplied!

 


Soon it swept the world

Ev’ry land and lingo.

It became the rage.

It was bigger than bingo!

 


The white begat, the red begat,

The folks who should have stayed in bed begat.

The Greeks begat, the Swedes begat

Why, even Britishers in tweeds, begat.

And lordy, lordy

What their seeds begat.

 


The Lats and Lithuanians, begat.

Scranton, Pennsylvanians, begat .

Strict vegetarians, begat.

Honorary Aryans begat

Startin’ from Genesis, they begat

Heroes and nemesis, begat

Fat Phila-busterers, begat.

Income tax adjusterers begat

Twas naturaler and naturaler to begat

And sometimes a bachelor,

HE BEGAT??

It didn’t matter which-a-ways they begat,

Sons of a bitch a-ways, begat.

 

So, bless them all

Who go to bat

And heed the call

of the begat!

We are here to beget. (See Theory of Evolution) What did you think? I’ve begat. Have you begat?

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Posted: 13 December 2007 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Carstonio - 13 December 2007 03:08 PM

And now for a serious reply - one creates the meaning for one’s life.

Carstonio,

I am rather troubled by the implied relativism here.  Do you think that a person can create any meaning he so chooses through any set of actions he chooses?  Can a homicidal maniac create meaning by accumulating the most victims in history?

There must be constraints on what sort of life can be considered meaningful, don’t you think?

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 13 December 2007 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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“The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

Nelson Henderson 1860

Sorry, but where do you get sacrifice from this?  The definition of sacrifice would be an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something regarded as more important. 

There is no act of sacrifice mentioned in this quote. 

This is a quote about generosity and thoughtfulness.  A bit different than sacrifice.

Anyway, I love the quote.  It’s beautiful.

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Posted: 13 December 2007 01:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Waltercat,

I’m not necessarily talking about creating a meaning through actions, but through intentions and aspirations. I’m refuting of the “God has a purpose for you” nonsense. You’re absolutely right about actions that harm others. I’ve been saying all along that the standard for any human endeavor should be how it affects others’ happiness and suffering. I would certainly apply that standard to one’s intentions and aspirations.

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Posted: 14 December 2007 10:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Hello Waltercat. I’d like to butt in briefly.

I am rather troubled by the implied relativism here.

If implied relativism troubles you, the real thing must be quite a bother.

Do you think that a person can create any meaning he so chooses through any set of actions he chooses?

Yes. What else but something like a person could create meaning? Who else, or what else, would?

Can a homicidal maniac create meaning by accumulating the most victims in history?

Yes. Detectives can create meaning by accumulating the most serial killers in history. Viewers can create meaning by watching endless TV shows about it.

There must be constraints on what sort of life can be considered meaningful, don’t you think?

You mean, to other people, right? Being around other people who create similar meanings is great but how do you get there without making everyone lead a uniform life that gives a uniform meaning? How else do we trust anyone?
Restraints on actions are cool. Restraints on created meanings could be construed as dogma if one were really a relativist.

If you’re looking to create meaning, this is the place.

If you’re looking for what all this might mean to God, I would suggest a less exhausting hobby like hunting serial killers.

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Posted: 21 December 2007 05:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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[ Edited: 07 March 2011 04:32 PM by J.C.]
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Posted: 21 December 2007 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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mcalpine - 13 December 2007 04:02 PM

What’s the meaning of life? You guys don’t know?

...So, bless them all

Who go to bat

And heed the call

of the begat!

We are here to beget. (See Theory of Evolution) What did you think? I’ve begat. Have you begat?

mcalpine, assuming your response was legitimate, and not simply humorous, I feel somewhat obligated to question your thinking.

If the purpose of life is to aimlessly reproduce, as you seem to imply, where does that lead us as a species?

What about the negative results of over-population and resource depletion, ever think about those more long-term issues?

To answer your question, no, I have not begat.  What does that tell you about me?  According to the logic you have presented, maybe it means I have no meaning or purpose in life?  If the meaning of life is to simply beget(reproduce), what happens when there is no longer enough resources on the planet left to feed those we have begat?  Is that the point at which your Messiah miraculously comes down from the clouds to save us from all of the problems we have created from ourselves?  Another reason not to trust religious thinking.

The simplistic, religious-type thinking you espouse here is one of the primary reason I do not think religious thinking should be tolerated. It should be confronted and exposed for its lack of a sincere focus on real issues and lack of long-term perspective, when you consider the repercussions it has for our future as a species.

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Posted: 21 December 2007 05:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Under New Management - 13 December 2007 06:39 PM

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

Nelson Henderson 1860

Sorry, but where do you get sacrifice from this?  The definition of sacrifice would be an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something regarded as more important. 

There is no act of sacrifice mentioned in this quote. 

This is a quote about generosity and thoughtfulness.  A bit different than sacrifice.

Anyway, I love the quote.  It’s beautiful.

Looking at it terms of the world we live in today, and the implications of the path we are on for future generations, I do think that the idea of sacrifice is very relevant.  I agree with your definition of sacrifice, here is how it applies to the quote:  The “something valued” is our current unsustainable easy, comfortable lifestyles.  The “something regarded as more important” are the generations of human beings that will inherit this planet from us.

It is a quote about generosity and thoughtfulness.  Other words to describe it could be nurturing, caring, compassion, or even idealism.  Having a desire to create a better world for those who come after seems to be an inherent trait of our species, though our actions do not always seem to suggest this.

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Posted: 21 December 2007 06:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Nhoj Morley - 14 December 2007 03:02 PM

Yes. What else but something like a person could create meaning? Who else, or what else, would?

If you’re looking to create meaning, this is the place.

I liked both of these thoughts, especially the second one.  This is the place to search for and create meaning.  However, I am not 100% convinced that we are the only things in the universe that have a sense of meaning.  I think there could be other life forms who perhaps have some sort of consciousness, and therefore perhaps a sense of meaning.  It could be quite unlikely, but it could also be possible.  Maybe finding them will help us find meaning.  Maybe not?

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Posted: 21 December 2007 06:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Hey you, what do you interpret the meaning of your life to be?

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