What's the meaning of life?

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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1141  Postby Ranvier » September 13th, 2017, 7:49 pm

Steve3007

Can you define consciousness, adequately?

How in the world would "meaningless", "nothingness", of "purposeless" energy of random chaos "produce" meaning as human consciousness?

I don't think the idea that something can make sense for practical purposes but be nonsense in something else called "reality" makes sense.


Yeah, it's rough. This takes a little effort to extrude the mind to infinity. Once we "cut" something out of context, it may make sense when applied to a short sentence but may be nonsense in the context of a paragraph. Take for instance the calculation of 0 time, what does it mean? What is zero time? It only makes sense from subjective point of view relative to the observer but it's an absolute nonsense in terms of infinity of time.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?



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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1142  Postby Tamminen » September 14th, 2017, 3:35 am

Steve3007 wrote:Ranvier:

So, out of interest, would you be able to suggest the form of answer that one might give to a question like: "Why is there something rather than nothing?"

Sometimes it could be as simple as: "non-being is not", which is a tautology and not necessarily mere play of words. Then we could start studying the concept of being, its logic or dialectic, for instance making the obvious insight that being must be being of something. Hegel made a huge project on these "logical" questions, not necessarily succeeding, but a good try, at least.

-- Updated September 14th, 2017, 3:54 am to add the following --

I don't think we have to exclude teleology. We could answer the question "why does anything exist?" by saying something like "because it suits God's purpose for it to exist". But if the thing which is in possession of purpose in this case (God) is in any way analogous to other things that we can observe and which we believe to possess purpose (e.g. humans) then we're still asking the same kinds of "how?" like questions. Because we can then ask "why did it suit God's purpose?" or "why does He have that purpose?".

A question that would be a genuine "why" question could be something like: "Why did the Big Bang happen?" where the answer could be, for instance: "Because we are here." If the Big Bang did not happen, we would not be here, and we are here necessarily because the ontological precondition of being, the Cartesian 'I am' is self-evident. So "why" questions arise when we make metaphysical interpretations of empirical evidence.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1143  Postby Steve3007 » September 14th, 2017, 5:08 am

Can you define consciousness, adequately?


"Consciousness" is one of those terms that covers a variety of different ideas (like "philosophy"!) so it is difficult to pin it down with a simple sentence which begins "consciousness is...". In that case, I think the best way to define what we mean by it is by example. Point to examples of various things that we are almost certain are conscious (e.g. people) and see what they have in common.

How in the world would "meaningless", "nothingness", of "purposeless" energy of random chaos "produce" meaning as human consciousness?


Your implied answer to this rhetorical question is "they couldn't", yes?

In which case you're expressing something analagous to what Atreyu says when he asserts that life cannot emerge from non-living matter. To rephrase your question a bit:

How can human beings feel that they have a sense of purpose in their lives if that sense of purpose does not pre-exist them in the universe?

One obvious thing to point out is that there is no known universal law called "conservation of purpose" or "conservation of feelings". Why shouldn't the various ideas, emotions and feelings that we have in our brains emerge as a result of the structure of those brains? We've all heard the expression "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts". It's perfectly possible for a complex physical object to have properties that do not exist anywhere in its individual parts. The obvious example is computer software.

But if you just have a gut feeling that human purpose could not emerge from a purposeless universe, what are you going to do about that? the usual solution seems to be to propose that purpose has always existed, usually in the form of a deity who has existed forever and who created the universe and imbued it with purpose. Is this your approach?
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1144  Postby Belindi » September 14th, 2017, 5:36 am

Steve wrote;

So you're saying that "why?" questions involve the actions - the free will - of a conscious agent, like a human being or a deity? Yes, possibly. But not always. Human languages like English are frustratingly vague and different people use words in different ways without always explaining how they're using those words.

Some people (perhaps most people) might think that an acceptable answer to the question "why did that apple fall from that tree?" might be "because it had grown heavy and its stalk was weak". No obvious intention there. Just the growth patterns of apple trees. Unless we think there is intention on the part of the tree. In which case we could probably think of a similar example that does not involve any living things.


The vagueness of English language is one of its strengths and one of its weaknesses. Philosophy in the English language aims to improve its explicitness of the philosophical lexicon. So we might ask "What do you mean by 'Why?' ? Aristotle's list of causes would help, together with a discussion of final cause plus a balanced commentary on the various ideas people intend by "free will".

Maybe Tamminem could comment on whether or not his native language also is vague as to the usage of 'why'.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1145  Postby Steve3007 » September 14th, 2017, 6:37 am

Yes, I think the shades of meaning that exist in other languages are interesting. It's particularly interesting if another language has a shade of meaning that doesn't exist at all in our own. It seems like a good test of the idea that our thoughts are, to some extent, constrained by our language.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1146  Postby Tamminen » September 14th, 2017, 9:21 am

Steve:
If it's not a question, it's not a question.

Some questions may look like non-questions because we lack the horizon for asking them. The horizon is our general view of reality. For a materialist questions like "Why did the Big Bang happen?" or "Why is there anything?" may seem nonsense, but if we see consciousness as fundamental, the same questions can be seen as the most concrete and most important of all questions.

-- Updated September 14th, 2017, 9:27 am to add the following --

This is my reply to Belindi's PM:

In short, "why", or "miksi" is just as ambiguous in Finnish as it is in English. It can mean "what is the cause", "what is the reason", "what is the meaning" etc. All the same, we have the same debate over "why" vs."how" among our scientists and philosophers.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1147  Postby Ranvier » September 14th, 2017, 10:54 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
Ranvier
How in the world would "meaningless", "nothingness", of "purposeless" energy of random chaos "produce" meaning as human consciousness?


Steve3007
Your implied answer to this rhetorical question is "they couldn't", yes?

In which case you're expressing something analagous to what Atreyu says when he asserts that life cannot emerge from non-living matter. To rephrase your question a bit:

How can human beings feel that they have a sense of purpose in their lives if that sense of purpose does not pre-exist them in the universe?

One obvious thing to point out is that there is no known universal law called "conservation of purpose" or "conservation of feelings". Why shouldn't the various ideas, emotions and feelings that we have in our brains emerge as a result of the structure of those brains? We've all heard the expression "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts". It's perfectly possible for a complex physical object to have properties that do not exist anywhere in its individual parts. The obvious example is computer software.

But if you just have a gut feeling that human purpose could not emerge from a purposeless universe, what are you going to do about that? the usual solution seems to be to propose that purpose has always existed, usually in the form of a deity who has existed forever and who created the universe and imbued it with purpose. Is this your approach?


Yes, and yes I agree with many things that Atreyu says.

I reflected my views in many different posts, which is much more than a "gut feeling". At the present moment, my interpretation of the "Natural Law Theory", at least in my mind, seems to be the most logical approach to view our "reality".
The Universe has a "reason" in both aspects of the word, in that it's conscious and it has a direction that "gives life its purpose". In other words, I postulate that the Universe is changing in a specific pattern (physical laws) that "made" life with "purpose", which is evident by human consciousness. It's similar to a "morula" that forms a "blastocyst" in embriogenesis, which comprises of cells that each hold "identical" DNA. How do these cells "know" what they should become in all three "germ layers"? How does one cell become a liver cell and another cell becomes a skin cell, since all of them have the same DNA? The answer lies in the fact, that we "become" something because of something else next to us. The "choices" of quantum particles "influence" how atoms will form and atoms "decide" which molecules they will become to give rise to organic compounds that gave birth to life as we know it. We can learn and infer that "purpose" from observation of such patterns in the Universe.

I offered five "Absolute Principles" as the observable "purpose" in the "reasoning" of the universe, where there is a "reason" for everything but it's not "deterministic" at the same time. Perhaps it would be wise to start a new thread that "lays out" a comprehensive theory for ease of referencing and for the future citation, before such thoughts are "condemned" to abyss of the "never-land" within an unread myriad of pages...

I'll work on that.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1148  Postby Belindi » September 15th, 2017, 4:26 am

Tamminem wrote:

In short, "why", or "miksi" is just as ambiguous in Finnish as it is in English. It can mean "what is the cause", "what is the reason", "what is the meaning" etc. All the same, we have the same debate over "why" vs."how" among our scientists and philosophers.


A comparison of only one lexical item in English and in Finnish is far from conclusive. However it's a reasonable hypothesis based upon what Tamminem wrote that knowledge of causes and effects are a major strategy for navigating one's life. Final cause is by many people , even in these days of modern science, still attributed to the inanimate.

Matter: a change or movement's material "cause", is the aspect of the change or movement which is determined by the material that composes the moving or changing things. For a table, that might be wood; for a statue, that might be bronze or marble.
Form: a change or movement's formal "cause", is a change or movement caused by the arrangement, shape or appearance of the thing changing or moving. Aristotle says for example that the ratio 2:1, and number in general, is the cause of the octave.
Agent: a change or movement's efficient or moving "cause", consists of things apart from the thing being changed or moved, which interact so as to be an agency of the change or movement. For example, the efficient cause of a table is a carpenter, or a person working as one, and according to Aristotle the efficient cause of a boy is a father.
End or purpose: a change or movement's final "cause", is that for the sake of which a thing is what it is. For a seed, it might be an adult plant. For a sailboat, it might be sailing. For a ball at the top of a ramp, it might be coming to rest at the bottom.

-- Updated September 15th, 2017, 4:27 am to add the following --

Aristotle: sorts of causes' Quoted text.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1149  Postby Ranvier » September 15th, 2017, 5:46 am

General

The "present" (complex concept) is the "cause" for the future, the "effect".

Without the "cause", there would be no "future", where the "cause" becomes a "purpose". Therefore, there must be a "purpose" in the "cause" for the "effect". If human consciousness is the "effect" of the "cause", there must be a "purpose".
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1150  Postby SimpleGuy » September 15th, 2017, 9:39 am

A purpose could mean some kind of game or strategy if one had to define something like a purpose. This should either include a utility function for some kind of important variables in order to define some kind of game strategy. Purpose itself is otherwise not well defined. But what utility in a metaphysical way would one
give , happiness is difficult to describe in mathematical terms.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1151  Postby SimpleGuy » September 15th, 2017, 9:51 am

On the other hand if such an utilty would exist it would be possible for a certain utility to gain happyness by goofing others happiness , this could prevent a general definition of reason for life and existece. This should have been mentioned according to the previous made remarks about a game strategy in discussion for reason or strategy for life.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1152  Postby SimpleGuy » September 15th, 2017, 10:03 am

I want to refer again to the previously posted remark. If somebody can destroy somebodys reason for life in order to obtain his own goals for his own life, many persons but not me would be tempted to do this. Why should there be a general reason for life ? If this alternative has to be excluded as a definition, otherwise it's a useless discussion.

-- Updated September 15th, 2017, 11:12 am to add the following --

It's important to know if one doesn't assume a gaming or utility function background and imposes the laws of physics or biology the question becomes useless. According to third law of thermodynamics, entropy always increases and due to relativity masses can't be faster than light. So life will for some time later on be extinguished and this is the fundamental ansatz for doing a utitility function ansatz for the question.

-- Updated September 15th, 2017, 11:39 am to add the following --

In other words, if one just uses a nonparasitic utility function and just happiness would be included. Then how about legislation of drugs. The reason of life would be your average drug intake.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1153  Postby Belindi » September 15th, 2017, 5:56 pm

Simple Guy, unless you are addicted and cannot do anything but crave you would want to be free even if your freedom entailed less pleasure and perhaps also more pain.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1154  Postby Atreyu » September 18th, 2017, 2:38 pm

Steve3007 wrote:Atreyu:
The "meaning" or "purpose" in the most broad sense of the term is "to evolve". Life exists to go beyond its current boundaries. To grow and expand beyond its current limitations.

And if life is not doing that then indeed there is no meaning or purpose. It might as well not exist at all, if it is not going to "evolve"....


If you believe that to be the purpose of your life then there's nothing wrong with that. I also regard growth (in many senses, including emotional and intellectual) as part of the self-declared purpose of my own life.

But these are our own self-declared life-goals, are they not? If there is another person in the world who is happy simply to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and not to have any sense that they have "grown", but just to take each day's pleasures as they come, do we have the right to declare, as if it is an objective fact, that they might as well not have lived at all?

I'm sure they'd disagree. And I think they'd be right to do so.


No. Life exists to progress, whether we agree or not. I was speaking in very general terms, as in life in general. The purpose of life in general is to evolve. As in taking "Life" as a sort of Whole.

If an individual organism cannot evolve itself, then it exists for the purpose of helping other entities evolve. It is food for them, or it aids them in their own evolution just by virtue of their existence, whether they wish to or not. So you might not be able to evolve, nor want to, but you can certainly be "food" for some other organism which can evolve, i.e. another organism can use your existence/life for its own progress. A bird cannot progress to know calculus, but if you eat a bird you can use its energy in order to think about and understand calculus.

So you might say that the "highest" purpose of an individual organism is to evolve (for itself). A "lower" purpose would be to at least exist so that other organisms can evolve. The "general" purpose of life is to just evolve in general.

Belindi wrote:It's a necessary attribute of a living thing that it goes beyond its "current boundaries". Change is intrinsic to living things. Indeed no thing, alive or not, would exist unless it was involved in change.

Change happens willy nilly. Every living thing's purpose is not to change.


Change is not progress. Change is not necessarily going beyond its boundaries. Change can be death, degeneration, decay. No, merely "change" is not the meaning of life. That would be like saying "to reproduce itself" or to "maintain itself" is the meaning of life. Again, we have a vicious circle from which their is no escape.

No, the meaning is not merely "change", it's progressive change, i.e. "evolution". The purpose is not to degenerate, decay, or die. And the only reason things like degeneration, decay, and death exist (what is the meaning of death?) is because they are a part of another entity's evolution....
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1155  Postby Belindi » September 18th, 2017, 2:59 pm

Change is ubiquitous and necessary for existence. Nothing not the ancient mountain ranges nor the ancient continent of Gondwanaland are unchanging.

Living organisms have purpose; they purpose. Purpose does not always involve forward planning , or memory, or learning. Purpose is relative to nervous complexity. Some organisms remember, learn, predict, and plan. Others scarcely learn at all and cannot predict. Yet other organisms are nothing chemical reactions.
Human organisms typically remember, learn, predict, and plan. To plan is usually what people mean when they say to "purpose". And purpose is what people usually mean when they say " meaning".

-- Updated September 18th, 2017, 3:00 pm to add the following --

I should have said "Some living organisms have purposes."

-- Updated September 18th, 2017, 3:07 pm to add the following --

I should have said "Some living organisms have purposes."

If the question refers to why living creatures exist, especially why humans exist, My preference is that the human individual's reason for existing is as much as possible to free themself from compulsion. This involves the individual in acquiring knowledge , freedom from oppression by others and by natural accidents, and self control.
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