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Meaning
Posted: 16 October 2007 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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PaineMan - 16 October 2007 08:22 AM

morgantj says:

This quote scares me. Majority Rules. The religious seem to have great numbers and may claim to be quite happy. Therefore, they may argue that religion is the key to the greatest Happiness. Thus, by the quote, the best action would be to take religious action.

Interesting.  The quote has nothing to do with “Majority Rules” OR anything “religious”.  I sense a preconceived notion that anything not following Atheist thought must therefore be “religious”. 

I agree, “Majority rules” may have been an err. However, I was not preconcieving that the quote was religious. I was just applying it to our present society in which it seems that the religious seem to be greater in numbers then the nonreligious, and if the religious claim they are happy due to their religion then according to the quote,  the best actions would be religious actions as it would procure the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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George - 16 October 2007 08:51 AM

I think the meaning of life, or rather the aim of life, is life’s continuation. Now, this doesn’t have to be done only through having children. People like Einstein, for example, who was not a good father or a husband, contributed enormously to our society.

Ok, but why do you think so? It seems rather pointless to me for the “aim of life” to simply be to continue life.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Why do I think so? Because that’s what I see when I look around me. And is it pointless? Probably. But hey! It gave you and me a chance to exist for a while.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 09:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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George - 16 October 2007 09:20 AM

Why do I think so? Because that’s what I see when I look around me. And is it pointless? Probably. But hey! It gave you and me a chance to exist for a while.

Doesn’t “meaningless” = “pointless” in this context?

Sorry to talk like a philosopher, but what do we mean when we ask whether life has any meaning?

When we ask about the meanings of words or phrases, we’re asking basically what they represent. Now, life doesn’t represent anything. It’s not a symbol or a sign of any sort.

So I think the question people are asking is something like, “What is the point of life?” or, “Why be alive?”

I think also by looking for meaning in life people are also looking for some sort of emotional connection to the rest of the world. They’re asking something like, “What is my connection to the universe?” (And then Sagan’s approach can work well).

And last, people are looking for what the Greeks considered the point of ethics: “What is the good life?” “What is the best way to live one’s life?” “How can we live our lives in emotional tranquility?”

So there are many different topics under discussion here.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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... our present society in which it seems that the religious seem to be greater in numbers then the nonreligious, and if the religious claim they are happy…

I see.

But the reason I don’t see it from that perspective is because I have a hard time lumping all “religious” people into one big happy mass.  I see religious people as fractured sects, all claiming that their little group is the only group that can be “saved” and everyone else has no hope.

I suppose I have that perspective in part because I was raised “in the Roman Catholic faith”.  While it was (and I think still is) the largest of the “Christian” denominations, it’s a minority compared to “Protestantism”.  I was a young and impressionable child when JFK ran for president and heard Protestant parents quake with fear at the thought of a Roman Catholic President!  Why then, the Pope would be living in the White House!!! shock

Historically, “religious” people have always had a number one priority of killing each other.  They only went after non-religious people when they ran out of religious ones.  So, I have a hard time considering “religious” people as a single entity.

Having said all that, the definition of “Meaning” is only what one arrives at in ones own head.  And as far as I’m concerned, everyone can apply their own definition.  Whatever makes you comfortable.  We ALL could be wrong, and what difference does that make?

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Posted: 16 October 2007 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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dougsmith - 16 October 2007 09:43 AM
George - 16 October 2007 09:20 AM

Why do I think so? Because that’s what I see when I look around me. And is it pointless? Probably. But hey! It gave you and me a chance to exist for a while.

Doesn’t “meaningless” = “pointless” in this context?

Sorry to talk like a philosopher, but what do we mean when we ask whether life has any meaning?

When we ask about the meanings of words or phrases, we’re asking basically what they represent. Now, life doesn’t represent anything. It’s not a symbol or a sign of any sort.

So I think the question people are asking is something like, “What is the point of life?” or, “Why be alive?”

I think also by looking for meaning in life people are also looking for some sort of emotional connection to the rest of the world. They’re asking something like, “What is my connection to the universe?” (And then Sagan’s approach can work well).

And last, people are looking for what the Greeks considered the point of ethics: “What is the good life?” “What is the best way to live one’s life?” “How can we live our lives in emotional tranquility?”

So there are many different topics under discussion here.

We might find a meaning in Sagan’s connection to the universe. Most of us will want to know “what the good life is.” The reason, though, why I believe we try to find these answers is, again, only to be able to make the continuation of life possible. I don’t believe there are many different topics here. We all strive for the same thing.

Take the “moral rules” Brennen mentioned in his opening post. You can wonder about them like Kant did. And you can explain why we actually have them – which is what evolutionary psychology has given us. They might seem like different topics, but in the end there is only one right answer. Which is interestingly the same as when we question the meaning of life: we have moral rules, so that life can continue.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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dougsmith - 15 October 2007 10:13 PM

...we will be no more than a tiny blip on the world’s stage.  This is the sort of awesome feeling I’m given by looking at the night sky, or by watching Cosmos or the like. It’s a feeling of awe towards the hugeness of space and time, and the smallness of our petty interests.  One can look at that “smallness” and despair, but that seems to me entirely the wrong attitude.

This epitomizes meaning for me.  I manifest my meaning from my experiences.  For 99.9% of my life this has to do with focused details.  Whenever I take a step back and look at the larger picture, these details become more enjoyable and less stressful.  The greatest moments are when I look at the biggest picture possible, the one Doug describes.  Religion appears, to me, to be providing the same bigger picture meaning to people who lack creativity or a willingness to think in complex terms.  Even this discussion provides me with plenty of meaning and breaks up the focused detail of my work environment.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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I came across this and thought I would toss it into the mix:

in 1954 Einstein wrote:

“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty… “.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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PaineMan - 16 October 2007 11:32 AM

I came across this and thought I would toss it into the mix:

in 1954 Einstein wrote:

“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty… “.

Beautiful and somehow naïve at the same time. Typical Einstein.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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PaineMan - 16 October 2007 11:32 AM

I came across this and thought I would toss it into the mix:

in 1954 Einstein wrote:

“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty… “.

Seems quite Zen like. Understanding our oneness with the absolute. I’ve always been able to come in terms with Zen.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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PaineMan - 16 October 2007 09:53 AM

Having said all that, the definition of “Meaning” is only what one arrives at in ones own head.  And as far as I’m concerned, everyone can apply their own definition. Whatever makes you comfortable. We ALL could be wrong, and what difference does that make?

“Whatever makes you comfortable” Oh ew. The promise of life everlasting makes Christians feel comfortable. It makes people feel comfortable to believe they have control, that they have free will, ect…

I thought we were here discussing such topics to uncover the truth. Not to believe in whatever makes us feel comfortable.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 12:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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dougsmith - 16 October 2007 09:43 AM
George - 16 October 2007 09:20 AM

Why do I think so? Because that’s what I see when I look around me. And is it pointless? Probably. But hey! It gave you and me a chance to exist for a while.

Doesn’t “meaningless” = “pointless” in this context?

Sorry to talk like a philosopher, but what do we mean when we ask whether life has any meaning?

When we ask about the meanings of words or phrases, we’re asking basically what they represent. Now, life doesn’t represent anything. It’s not a symbol or a sign of any sort.

So I think the question people are asking is something like, “What is the point of life?” or, “Why be alive?”

I think also by looking for meaning in life people are also looking for some sort of emotional connection to the rest of the world. They’re asking something like, “What is my connection to the universe?” (And then Sagan’s approach can work well).

And last, people are looking for what the Greeks considered the point of ethics: “What is the good life?” “What is the best way to live one’s life?” “How can we live our lives in emotional tranquility?”

So there are many different topics under discussion here.

I agree, I think we need some clarification to the question. Was “What is the purpose of life?” intended. Or Is that still the same as asking, “what is the meaning of life?”

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Posted: 16 October 2007 12:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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I thought we were here discussing such topics to uncover the truth.

While the discussion of such topics is certainly intellectually stimulating, I have to rank that actual uncovering “the truth” to be right up there with a quest for “The Holy Grail”.

Was “What is the purpose of life?” intended. Or Is that still the same as asking, “what is the meaning of life?”

I think what was intended was:

What gives human actions and lives meaning?

And from the further description, it seemed directed toward answering it from an Atheist point of view.  My answers were intended only to give some other (“outsider”) points of view.  And I’m done.  So now I’ll get out of the way and just sit back and enjoy the discussion.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 01:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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PaineMan - 16 October 2007 12:46 PM

I think what was intended was:

What gives human actions and lives meaning?

Hmmm, if that is the intended question, it is a problem for me for the reason that Doug pointed out, “When we ask about the meanings of words or phrases, we’re asking basically what they represent. Now, life doesn’t represent anything. It’s not a symbol or a sign of any sort.”

I think mckenzievmd should clarify rather then us having to guess.

PaineMan - 16 October 2007 12:46 PM

And from the further description, it seemed directed toward answering it from an Atheist point of view.  My answers were intended only to give some other (“outsider”) points of view.  And I’m done.  So now I’ll get out of the way and just sit back and enjoy the discussion.

You’re not in the way. I always can appreciate different perspectives. You participation is very valuable.

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Posted: 16 October 2007 01:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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morgantj - 16 October 2007 01:05 PM

I think mckenzievmd should clarify rather then us having to guess.

Well, I don’t want to just put this over on Brennen’s shoulders. It’s a good general question, put in the vernacular, and one that is CONSTANTLY asked when discussions turn to philosophy, atheism, religion ...

“Don’t atheists think life has no meaning?”

... etc.

My point in raising these clarificatory questions is simply to note that there are many different ways one can be asking these questions. Sometimes people won’t be satisfied by the particular answer you give, simply because they intended to be asking a different sort of question. E.g., I could say “It helps me to understand the meaning of my life on an emotional level to contemplate the universe.”

Someone else could respond, “But when I ask for meaning in my life I want to know what the point of it is, and contemplating the universe doesn’t help me see that.”

Then you have to use a different approach.

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