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Poll
Do you know what the 'meaning of life" is?
Yes 9
No 1
I’m not sure... kind of... 0
I don’t know and i don’t care... 1
Total Votes: 11
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What is the meaning of life? How can we find happiness?
Posted: 18 May 2010 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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mckenzievmd - 18 May 2010 10:05 AM

George, you suggest we can damage people by telling them they can be happy if they follow one method or another because we will set up unrealistic expectations and a sense of failure when they don’t achieve happiness. But this can only be true if attitudes and expectations meaningfully affect happiness, which you seem to largely discount, so you’re undermining your own posiiton. On top of that, if giving people unrealistic aspirations for happiness damages them, doesn’t telling them they are largely helpless to influence any aspect of their behavior, including their happiness, seems as or more likely to be damaging?

As for the glib dismissal of responsibility for other people’s happiness, you don’t seem nearly enough of an jerk to really mean that. I bet you routinely act as if your behavior influences the happiness of your wife and children and friends despite your intellectual convictions that it probably doesn’t and it’s not your problem anyway.

What can I say, Brennen? You won’t make your kids smarter by playing the Baby Einstein videos to them, but you can make them dumber if you lock them up in a basement for ten years. It’s much easier to destroy something than to turn it into something else. Of course, you can make people happier for a moment just like you can put them on a diet and make them lose some weight for a year or two. But it won’t last. And when they fail at staying happy or physically fit for a longer period of time (and they almost always do) you’ll depress the hell out of them.

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Posted: 18 May 2010 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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To paraphrase Darwin, there is bleakness in this view of life. Oh well, we’ve been on this train before, and we get off at different stations.

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Posted: 18 May 2010 11:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Great, a war of the quotes:

“A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections, – a mere heart of stone.”
—Charles Darwin

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Posted: 18 May 2010 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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I voted “I don’t know and I don’t care.”  When you think about it, what does it matter?  Does knowing the ‘meaning of life’ really do anything for anyone?  Does it help us accomplish our goals or make the world a better place?  Will it keep different nations and religions from slaughtering each other?  Different ethnicities from being prejudiced against each other?  Will it motivate people to get up in the morning and help each other or work harder?  No.  No, it will not.  At least no more so than any other philosophical musing, religion, New Age wonderment, self-help claptrap, or other bit of fluff.

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“In the end nature is horrific and teaches us nothing.” -Mutual of Omicron

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Posted: 18 May 2010 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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GdB - 18 May 2010 08:31 AM
George - 18 May 2010 07:15 AM

Hmm, I usually get very suspicious of people who think they can teach others how to be happy

As I see it Bernie does not do that. He gives some ideas that can help to think about what happiness and meaning of life could be. I think reflecting about such things can be useful. A question must not have a scientific answer to be useful, and must not necessary be ideological when it has no objective answer, as long as you do not force an answer on such a question.

GdB

This leads me to my only criticism of the presentation.

I think that the things to consider as listed are too far up on the chain to begin with.  The most important things to happiness are fairly well understood as a baseline: sustenance, shelter, love, health.  After that, I think that the needs begin branching depending on whether a person has empathy.  If so, then all of the rest of those values may apply depending on individual preferences; if not, then insert sociopathic values which lead to personal happiness.

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Posted: 18 May 2010 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Oh goody! grin

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”

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Posted: 18 May 2010 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Dead Monky - 18 May 2010 11:19 AM

I voted “I don’t know and I don’t care.”  When you think about it, what does it matter?  Does knowing the ‘meaning of life’ really do anything for anyone?  Does it help us accomplish our goals or make the world a better place?  Will it keep different nations and religions from slaughtering each other?  Different ethnicities from being prejudiced against each other?  Will it motivate people to get up in the morning and help each other or work harder?  No.  No, it will not.  At least no more so than any other philosophical musing, religion, New Age wonderment, self-help claptrap, or other bit of fluff.

In the big picture of things, after the universe dies in heat death, and everything is erased, yes, nothing matters. 

As it is for the foreseeable future, yes things matter, and they matter BIG TIME.  What I do greatly affects myself, spouse, kids, relatives, and friends (with impact lessening the farther they are away from me, relationally speaking).

I would challenge you to read “Happiness for Dummies” and see if it changes your mind.  The author is an expert on the subject.  Even people with chronic pain can get relief by means other than drugs, by utilizing ‘flow.’

Your post is very negative and strongly indicates to me that you need to get exposure to this stuff.

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Posted: 18 May 2010 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 18 May 2010 11:20 AM
GdB - 18 May 2010 08:31 AM
George - 18 May 2010 07:15 AM

Hmm, I usually get very suspicious of people who think they can teach others how to be happy

As I see it Bernie does not do that. He gives some ideas that can help to think about what happiness and meaning of life could be. I think reflecting about such things can be useful. A question must not have a scientific answer to be useful, and must not necessary be ideological when it has no objective answer, as long as you do not force an answer on such a question.

GdB

This leads me to my only criticism of the presentation.

I think that the things to consider as listed are too far up on the chain to begin with.  The most important things to happiness are fairly well understood as a baseline: sustenance, shelter, love, health.  After that, I think that the needs begin branching depending on whether a person has empathy.  If so, then all of the rest of those values may apply depending on individual preferences; if not, then insert sociopathic values which lead to personal happiness.

Yes- you are referring to Maslow’s pyramid and it is part of the course material.  Everyone in our group had the basic needs covered (food, shelter, and security).  It is time to move up to Maslow’s stage 3, and that’s what the course is all about.  The course has a link to an AHA essay that also talks about this topic regarding Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and how it relates… check it out.  I think it is a profound essay.

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Posted: 18 May 2010 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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mckenzievmd - 18 May 2010 11:32 AM

Oh goody! grin

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”

Auto goal.  cheese

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Posted: 18 May 2010 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Your post is very negative and strongly indicates to me that you need to get exposure to this stuff.

What can I say?  I’ve struggled with severe depression and self-worth issues my entire life.  But that’s not the point.  I wasn’t trying to say that life itself doesn’t matter (although that is debatable wink ).  My point is that answering the question itself (i.e. “What is the meaning of life?”) doesn’t matter.  It won’t change anything.  Even if, through some absurdly improbable means, someone comes up the know-all, end-all meaning of life, the single answer that everyone accepts, it will change nothing.  There will still be misery, hatred, exploitation, and misfortune.  Hell, people may actually start fighting over it.  Feuding over whose interpretation of The Answer is the correct one.  To steal a quote from a movie, “As a species, we are fundamentally insane.”

In case you’re curious, my views on life can best be summed up thusly (I’d be the existentialist):

nihilism.png

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Posted: 18 May 2010 11:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Bernie_Dehler - 18 May 2010 11:39 AM
TromboneAndrew - 18 May 2010 11:20 AM
GdB - 18 May 2010 08:31 AM
George - 18 May 2010 07:15 AM

Hmm, I usually get very suspicious of people who think they can teach others how to be happy

As I see it Bernie does not do that. He gives some ideas that can help to think about what happiness and meaning of life could be. I think reflecting about such things can be useful. A question must not have a scientific answer to be useful, and must not necessary be ideological when it has no objective answer, as long as you do not force an answer on such a question.

GdB

This leads me to my only criticism of the presentation.

I think that the things to consider as listed are too far up on the chain to begin with.  The most important things to happiness are fairly well understood as a baseline: sustenance, shelter, love, health.  After that, I think that the needs begin branching depending on whether a person has empathy.  If so, then all of the rest of those values may apply depending on individual preferences; if not, then insert sociopathic values which lead to personal happiness.

Yes- you are referring to Maslow’s pyramid and it is part of the course material.  Everyone in our group had the basic needs covered (food, shelter, and security).  It is time to move up to Maslow’s stage 3, and that’s what the course is all about.  The course has a link to an AHA essay that also talks about this topic regarding Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and how it relates… check it out.  I think it is a profound essay.

Cool.  I’m trackin’

smile

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Posted: 18 May 2010 11:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Well, I voted “I know what the meaning of life is.” You know it too: it’s nothing.

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Posted: 18 May 2010 11:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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“My point is that answering the question itself (i.e. “What is the meaning of life?”) doesn’t matter.  It won’t change anything. “

Just the opposite for my life.  For me, it has tremendous impact.

If you look at the course link for the AHA document, I think it shows we are approaching it from two different personalities.  I’m mostly an ‘idealist’ and maybe you are mostly a ‘rationalist.’  Rationalists are the ones who tend to focus on the journey, while idealists focus more on the end-goal and big-picture.  And yes, a personality has many mixtures of these elements (no pure rationalists, for example).

Again, I practice the material in the course, and I can say it dramatically impacts my life.  It changes a lot (for me)!

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Posted: 18 May 2010 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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As is often the case, I won’t be voting because the choices are incomplete.  I believe there is no external meaning to life, but rather that we all build the meanings of our own lives by our actions. 

Occam

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Posted: 18 May 2010 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Occam - 18 May 2010 11:56 AM

As is often the case, I won’t be voting because the choices are incomplete.  I believe there is no external meaning to life, but rather that we all build the meanings of our own lives by our actions. 

Occam

Yes, the meaning of life of a dung-beetle, for example, is feces.  cheese

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