What's the meaning of life?

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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1126  Postby Tamminen » September 13th, 2017, 1:09 pm

Steve3007 wrote:This is why I think some of the many people who say they are looking for some sort of objectively existing meaning/understanding/purpose as something wholly different from the search for descriptions/predictions of the patterns in empirical observations are really quite confused as to what they're actually asking for.

How about questions like "Why did the Big Bang take place?" or "Why is there anything?" Do you think science can answer those questions? Are they pseudo-questions, as many cosmologists say?
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Re: What's the meaning of life?



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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1127  Postby Steve3007 » September 13th, 2017, 4:04 pm

Tamminen:
How about questions like "Why did the Big Bang take place?" or "Why is there anything?" Do you think science can answer those questions? Are they pseudo-questions, as many cosmologists say?


I guess it depends on the type of answer the questioner is expecting. If they're expecting to hear about some proposed deeper underlying mechanism for the Big Bang taking place or for there being anything, then we could say that what they're really asking is not a "why" question but a "how" question (in the sense that those two words have been used in this discussion.)

But if they're expecting something else then they need to specify what kind of information they're after. Otherwise the person they're talking to simply won't know what they're asking and might indeed accuse them of uttering a "pseudo-question" - i.e. a form of words that sounds superficially like a question but which on closer examination turns out not to be. In that case, it's not just science that can't answer. Nobody can. If it's not a question, it's not a question.

-- Updated Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:29 pm to add the following --

I suppose one technique that people sometimes use to answer these things that seem to be pseudo-questions is to simply answer a different question. So if I ask somebody "why are we here?" they might answer with: "to love each other" or "to develop to our full potential as human beings" or perhaps "to praise God and His glorious creation!".

In that case, the question they appear to be really answering is: "what activities do you attach most importance to in your life?"
"Even men with steel hearts love to see a dog on the pitch."
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1128  Postby Ranvier » September 13th, 2017, 5:05 pm

Steve3007

I wrote a relevant reply to your premises about "pseud-questions" and different point of view, in Greta's thread…

viewtopic.php?p=294986#p294986

All questions: When, Where, Why, How, What, With Whom... are asking different "things" and all are relevant to our existence. "How" seems to "stand out" not because it's the only one that starts with "H" but seems to be the only "true" question that provides answers about the "mechanisms" that explain our reality. However, I purposefully "placed" the "How" question in the middle of the "set" of questions, to provide a "visible" relationship with other questions that provide the "context" for the mechanisms of "how" questions. Without such context, BB or the rest of science that produced knowledge that lead to technological advances... is "meaningless".
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1129  Postby Steve3007 » September 13th, 2017, 5:18 pm

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?"
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1130  Postby Belindi » September 13th, 2017, 5:22 pm

Why? questions seek intention whereas How? questions are not concerned with intention.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1131  Postby Tamminen » September 13th, 2017, 5:24 pm

Steve3007 wrote:I guess it depends on the type of answer the questioner is expecting. If they're expecting to hear about some proposed deeper underlying mechanism for the Big Bang taking place or for there being anything, then we could say that what they're really asking is not a "why" question but a "how" question (in the sense that those two words have been used in this discussion.)

This excludes the possibility of any kind of cosmic teleology. The question of teleology is a "why" question and can be ignored only if we are sure there is no such thing.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1132  Postby Steve3007 » September 13th, 2017, 5:40 pm

Belindi:
Why? questions seek intention whereas How? questions are not concerned with intention.


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.

Tamminen:
This excludes the possibility of any kind of cosmic teleology. The question of teleology is a "why" question and can be ignored only if we are sure there is no such thing.


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?".

If not, then it's a dead end. And as such it doesn't really seem like an answer. It's really no different from saying "why does anything exist?", "it just does".
"Even men with steel hearts love to see a dog on the pitch."
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1133  Postby Ranvier » September 13th, 2017, 6:39 pm

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?"


Because there is no such thing as nothing


"why did that apple fall from that tree?"


So that the universe can exist... but now, you'll ask me "how" do I know that?

Because without gravity, our universe would not exist. Then you'll say perhaps... "since there can't be nothing, without gravity, some other universe would exist".
Until there was gravity and light that allowed for our existence.

Why?

Because the universe has a "meaning".

... so now perhaps the question becomes: "What is the meaning?"
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1134  Postby Steve3007 » September 13th, 2017, 7:05 pm

Because there is no such thing as nothing


I'm not certain what this sentence means. It might possibly mean "nothing is nothing". In that case, it doesn't seem to answer the question. It just defines one of the terms in the question as itself.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1135  Postby Ranvier » September 13th, 2017, 7:08 pm

Steve3007

Can you produce an empirical evidence of "nothing"?
Until you can, the question doesn't make sense.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1136  Postby Steve3007 » September 13th, 2017, 7:10 pm

So that the universe can exist... but now, you'll ask me "how" do I know that?


Yes. Fair enough. You're saying that the laws of physics (and by extension the laws of biology) which result in an apple falling from a tree are consistent throughout the universe. It's kind of a holistic, deterministic, clockwork universe sort of an answer. From the moment that the universe was created, that apple was destined to fall from that tree. Or so it seems.

-- Updated Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:11 am to add the following --

I agree that the question doesn't make sense.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1137  Postby Ranvier » September 13th, 2017, 7:16 pm

Exactly! Take conservation of energy... you can't create nor destroy energy. Since energy exists ---> there can't be a concept of "nothing". It's a nonsense term.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1138  Postby Steve3007 » September 13th, 2017, 7:18 pm

Why?

Because the universe has a "meaning".

... so now perhaps the question becomes: "What is the meaning?"


No, not quite. I'd say the first question in response to the assertion "the universe has a meaning" would be: "what do you mean by the word 'meaning' in this context?"

-- Updated Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:20 am to add the following --

Exactly! Take conservation of energy... you can't create nor destroy energy. Since energy exists ---> there can't be a concept of "nothing". It's a nonsense term.


I wouldn't go so far as to call the word "nothing" a nonsense term. I find it useful. Just as the number zero is useful.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1139  Postby Ranvier » September 13th, 2017, 7:26 pm

Meaning --> a direction, a path, a purpose in the cause and effect

Sure, 0 is useful in relative terms and for practical reasons in mathematics but a nonsense expression in "reality".

-- Updated September 13th, 2017, 7:31 pm to add the following --

It may be difficult to come in terms with such revelation, which is counter intuitive in everything that we know in finite concepts of the beginning and the end.
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Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1140  Postby Steve3007 » September 13th, 2017, 7:31 pm

Meaning --> a direction, a path, a purpose in the cause and effect


You've defined the word "meaning" by using the word "purpose". The only sense in which I've heard that word is in relation to conscious agents, like human beings. Are you saying that the universe was created by something analogous to a human being?

Sure, 0 is useful in relative terms and for practical reasons in mathematics but a nonsense expression in "reality".


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