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Where does meaning come from?

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:01 pm
by encode_decode
    La Première

    Please . . . you are welcome to join me for a walk on this mental pathway for a few moments - the question in the subject may seem vague if not impossible to answer for some people, but we all derive our meaning differently and the question has been left intentionally vague for that reason.

    I will offer up some some writing to prime the conversation. You may leave now if you wish . . .

    . . . Synergy is the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. The term synergy comes from the Attic Greek word συνεργία synergia from synergos, συνεργός, meaning "working together". I hope that by working together along with the original question that we find synergy with meaning - with a bit of luck I may set a theme. As we stop by my Zen Garden and take our seats, I say to you; by considering that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts - I wonder whether is it wise enough to speculate that meaning is derived somehow in the first instance of the first time meaning came to be - in other words - can meaning come about by lack of contrast?

    The total sum of experience from birth to the present does not always provide enough meaning to some peoples lives and hence they go soul-searching or seek enlightenment or participate in any number of other potential activities that might bring meaning to their own lives. By asking something abstract and only using the accumulated information in ones memory is it possible to derive meaning from anything? How is it that somehow we are able to gain meaning from the unrelated? For example metaphors, analogy, parables or what ever you want to call your chosen device - poetry has proven to be such a device - as has art.

    We get up and continue walking . . .

    I once heard a saying that went something like "The fish uses its tail to swim forward. The fish uses its head to swim backwards." and in my quest to find meaning I started to wonder whether meaning may be propagated in more than one direction. We use devices like metaphors to convey meaning and so it is that I am mixing concepts to make an attempt to get to the bottom of a more abstract mental impression of meaning. At what point in our mental process does meaning start?

    An acquaintance of mine once responded to me by stating, lets try again to add some meaning to it - the question - Where does meaning come from? Lurking in the background is the question of whether it is even meaningful to ask the question on meaning. For example if it might have to do with some kind of fundamental open-ended mess or ambiguity of things. The question itself then would relate to a potential answer or direction, starting off in the mental realm. Meaning then as an expression of direction, from the known to the unknown, from the past to the future.

    He went on further to state that until now I "simplified" meaning to be some form of expression of connection, of relating. This is based on the experience of when or how some activity, or even "life", feels meaningful or not. And it always showed itself to be a function of the amount of connections something or someone has to other activities, people and events. It also explains the well known experience of a complete loss of meaning, which seems to be a result of engaging in activities for too long all having little relation to anything, or anyone, else beyond its own confines.

    Philosophy then is deeply connected to meaning giving, since all the philosophical questioning, all the philosophical exploring is aimed to connect to everything: all the finer points of existing, of language, of dealing with experiencing and deriving sense from all of it. And yet it can also lead to meaninglessness, probably when one would stop applying this thought to all sense and all times. When all thought on life would become a bubble of life, becoming isolated. Such perhaps unavoidable form of alienation could then be part and parcel of having a mind in the first place; creating limited representations as a way to reason.

    But back to the question, which was not as much about what meaning was but also where it would come from. Perhaps it would simply flow out of a more useful definition. If meaning indeed flows out of complex connection making, being it physical, interactions between senses and events, or pure mentally -- words connecting with words -- then it would connect deep down to the fundamental, driving forces of life itself. From these connections, all importance and value can be derived, arriving back again at the usual dictionary definitions of meaning.

    This mental pathway shows how it can be said that truth, the alchemy of philosophy, is the greatest treasure as it leads to the giving of value itself, to self-knowledge, to value-knowledge. Everything else of value would be derivative.

    Two questions that come to mind:

      ► How do you derive meaning in your life?

      ► What gives your life meaning?

    And something like the original question: where do you think meaning comes from?

    We leave the path here to hopefully answer any question we want and ask any question we want with the intention of adding meaning to our existence . . .

      Re: Where does meaning come from?

      PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:50 pm
      by Urwrongx1000
      Meaning is inherent within the nature of things.

      The meaning of a rock is defined by its hardness and solid structure, difficult to break. The meaning of water is defined by its malleability, flow, liquidity, and ability to take form of its containers. The meaning of air is defined by its invisibility, its cool, hot, dry, or moist temperatures, and by the storms which cause lightning and electricity. The meaning of fire is defined by its extreme hotness, burning, chaotic flames, shapelessness, and ability to shine light into darkness.

      The meaning of people and lifeforms is much more complex and extensive. The nature of this or that person exposes his or her meaning. Some people find meaning in life through different tasks, goals, and accomplishments. What is difficult for one person, may not be so for another. What is meaningful to one person, may not be so for another. Difference of meaning in humanity represents differences of values, which again, define and identify the nature of particular people, apart from others.

      Philosophy uncovers, discovers, and recalls the meaning of existence in the smallest possible ways. So the philosopher, arguably, has the best relationship and understanding about 'meaning' in life. The average person and human passes by life rather oblivious, or even ignorant to his or her own meaning. The average human is simply unaware, blissfully, innocently, or ignorantly, of the meaning that he or she chases around in life. People are ignorant of their own values and beliefs, are not necessarily self-conscious of them.

      Philosophy is very much focused on all meanings, all possibilities, and all values of life. So while something may not seem meaningful to the average person, will be meaningful to the philosopher.

      There is meaning in everything, as everything has a nature. It is within every forgotten and unseen crack within existence. It permeates everything, even the pitch blackness in dead space.

      Re: Where does meaning come from?

      PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:06 pm
      by iambiguous
      Meaning would seem to revolve around the unimaginably complex interaction between genes and memes.

      There are the biological imperatives applicable to all of us. In other words, we can't be around to discuss the meaning of meaning if we are not around at all. So meaning is clearly embedded in subsisting.

      On the other hand, once subsistence [and reproduction and defense] is achieved [and then sustained] meaning comes to revolve around any number of additional human interactions. Relating to, among other things, social, political and economic relationships. Moral and aesthetic values. Sexual memes. Memes relating to God and religion.

      Then the question [for folks like me] comes to revolve around this: the extent to which we are able to demonstrate to others that our meaning reflects that which all reasonable men and women are obligated to share.

      Also, in bringing particular arguments and analysis "down to earth"; examining how "for all practical purposes" our own meaning may or may not be applicable to others.

      Re: Where does meaning come from?

      PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:01 am
      by James S Saint
      Discover the objective truth of what you are and from there the meaning of your life will spring.

      Re: Where does meaning come from?

      PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:35 am
      by surreptitious57
      The desire to find meaning in our lives is made possible by our ability as a species to think in abstract terms
      As it is a concept that transcends the purely physical and extends beyond to the philosophical or ideological

      Re: Where does meaning come from?

      PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:41 pm
      by iambiguous
      James S Saint wrote:Discover the objective truth of what you are and from there the meaning of your life will spring.


      What are you, James?

      Objectively.

      And note some specific examples of how this is manifested in your day to day interactions with others. As this [in turn] becomes embodied in "I". As this [in the final analysis] reflects [philosophically] the conjunction between RM/AO and the Real God.

      Meaning what exactly?

      In the context of "all there is".

      Re: Where does meaning come from?

      PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:51 pm
      by iambiguous
      surreptitious57 wrote:The desire to find meaning in our lives is made possible by our ability as a species to think in abstract terms
      As it is a concept that transcends the purely physical and extends beyond to the philosophical or ideological


      It is true of course that while all other species of animals share with us the need to subsist, we are the one species that above all others have the capacity to create historical and cultural memes. Memes that configure [and than reconfigure in a world of contingency, chance and change] the genetic components of our behaviors in ways that would never even occur to the overwhelming preponderance of other species.

      For them meaning is ever and always on automatic pilot. It revolves almost entirely around biological imperatives.

      But: What does that mean?

      How might we grapple with it in terms of the meaning that we ascribe to our own behaviors? In particular the meaning that we assign to behaviors that come into conflict?

      Re: Where does meaning come from?

      PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:52 pm
      by surreptitious57
      The ability to think in abstract terms will guarantee paradoxes given enough time simply because of the sheer scale of possibilities. As the only limitation will
      be one of imagination. And this is why there will be conflicts within ourselves as we explore specific options and also conflicts between possibilities in general
      This arises because human beings are not conditioned to think of themselves as part of a single collective but of smaller ones within it all the way down to the
      individual. We may be a social species but we are no where near as organised with common goals as other social species like ants or bees or wasps for example

      Re: Where does meaning come from?

      PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:17 am
      by Gamer
      Meaning is a difficult word.

      There's the everyday definition, i.e what one thing means or denotes.
      i.e. gracias means thank you, generally.

      The idea of symbolic meaning is malleable.

      Something happens to us and we decide it means this or that.
      A guy hits you could mean to you that life is dangerous. We tell ourselves stories about the world
      based on what happens or what we perceive, which is never complete, so we have to
      create meaning, i.e. order, in the chaos. In this, meaning is a creative process, that can be conscious or unconscious on
      a continuum. A conscious meaning maker is like an artist, who constructs meaning using values as the measure.
      I.e. if I value pleasure instead of pain, generally, my effort will be or "mean" a war against pain, both my own and others'.
      If I have no war, code, or agenda, or no values that I choose or that choose me, the word "meaningless" feels apropos,
      not in that there's no meaning, but that I don't know WHAT my life means, in the absence of one of those things mentioned
      above. Surely it means something, but "meaningless" is generally used to denote a "meaning" that has a value that is unclear or
      suspect.

      Then there's universal meaning, i.e. the "meaning" of life.

      If there's a God who created us against a standard or goal, then our life "means" an effort or picture that is held
      against or contributing to that goal. If God didn't create us and there's no outside or extrinsic force interpreting what our
      actions "mean" then we are the ones figuring out what life means, which is fine. It just means our meaning will be somewhat made up,
      because unlike an omniscient God, we don't have access to all the facts that go into the complete, comprehensive meaning of what's all going on.

      I've thought long and hard about this and here's what I think life means:

      You run around and do a bunch of shit, say a bunch of shit, and literally shit a bunch of shit, and then you die having no clue what the fuck all that seeing and hearing and thinking/feeling and being a body in time and space was all about. And you fall into a deep dreamless sleep and other people (and bugs, and animals, and possibly trees, and Aliens like Galactus, and definitely dolphins) think the universe, cause the universe ain't gonna think itself, although that's exactly what it's doing, in separate little windowless nodules connected by communication, like this piece of writing.

      On many days I've thought that meaning is a form of pudding. Not chocolate pudding. More like Black Pudding, from D&D. But also banana pudding. JELL-O brand.

      Re: Where does meaning come from?

      PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:37 pm
      by Some Guy in History
      What a bullshit thread.

      Re: Where does meaning come from?

      PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 1:27 am
      by encode_decode
        Some Guy in History

        Some Guy in History wrote:What a bullshit thread.

        With two responses up to this point that contain the word bullshit.

          Re: Where does meaning come from?

          PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 2:26 am
          by encode_decode
            Some Guy in History

            Some Guy in History wrote:What a bullshit thread.

            Perhaps you would like to explain why it is a bullshit thread.

              Re: Where does meaning come from?

              PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:53 pm
              by Some Guy in History
              encode_decode wrote:
                Some Guy in History

                Some Guy in History wrote:What a bullshit thread.

                Perhaps you would like to explain why it is a bullshit thread.



                  Why bother?

                  Re: Where does meaning come from?

                  PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:19 pm
                  by encode_decode
                    Some Guy in History

                    Some Guy in History wrote:Why bother?

                    How would I know? This is a very meaningful conversation we are having here.

                    :lol:

                    Re: Where does meaning come from?

                    PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:28 pm
                    by Some Guy in History
                    encode_decode wrote:
                      Some Guy in History

                      Some Guy in History wrote:Why bother?

                      How would I know? This is a very meaningful conversation we are having here.

                      :lol:


                      I bet you're constantly amused by your own wittiness.

                      Re: Where does meaning come from?

                      PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:34 pm
                      by encode_decode
                        Some Guy in History

                        Some Guy in History wrote:I bet you're constantly amused by your own wittiness.

                        Not constantly, only occasionally.

                        8-[

                        Re: Where does meaning come from?

                        PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:35 pm
                        by Some Guy in History
                        encode_decode wrote:
                          Some Guy in History

                          Some Guy in History wrote:I bet you're constantly amused by your own wittiness.

                          Not constantly, only occasionally.

                          8-[


                          I'm your mirror.

                          Image

                          Don't get lost.

                          Re: Where does meaning come from?

                          PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:43 pm
                          by encode_decode
                            Some Guy in History

                            Some Guy in History wrote:I'm your mirror.

                            Don't get lost.

                            I do believe you are my mirror. I wont get lost.

                              Re: Where does meaning come from?

                              PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:49 pm
                              by Some Guy in History
                              Image

                              And then the mirror shatters
                              broken glass and broken dreams
                              lacerations to your skin
                              blood flowing from deep within
                              dark and crimson
                              laugh and the world laughs with you
                              cry and the world laughs at you
                              The end is here and the world has had the last laugh
                              at your expense as they blast
                              every bit of you that you could have
                              believed to be worthy of long-term existence

                              Re: Where does meaning come from?

                              PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:55 pm
                              by encode_decode
                                Some Guy in History

                                Some Guy in History wrote:And then the mirror shatters
                                broken glass and broken dreams
                                lacerations to your skin
                                blood flowing from deep within
                                dark and crimson
                                laugh and the world laughs with you
                                cry and the world laughs at you
                                The end is here and the world has had the last laugh
                                at your expense as they blast
                                every bit of you that you could have
                                believed to be worthy of long-term existence

                                Quite beautiful in an antithetical kind of way . . .

                                  Re: Where does meaning come from?

                                  PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:58 pm
                                  by Some Guy in History
                                  encode_decode wrote:
                                    Some Guy in History

                                    Some Guy in History wrote:And then the mirror shatters
                                    broken glass and broken dreams
                                    lacerations to your skin
                                    blood flowing from deep within
                                    dark and crimson
                                    laugh and the world laughs with you
                                    cry and the world laughs at you
                                    The end is here and the world has had the last laugh
                                    at your expense as they blast
                                    every bit of you that you could have
                                    believed to be worthy of long-term existence

                                    Quite beautiful in an antithetical kind of way . . .


                                      There is no such thing as antithetical. No such thing as extreme and direct opposites. No such thing as opposites.

                                      Re: Where does meaning come from?

                                      PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 9:04 pm
                                      by encode_decode
                                        Some Guy in History

                                        Some Guy in History wrote:And then the mirror shatters
                                        broken glass and broken dreams
                                        lacerations to your skin
                                        blood flowing from deep within
                                        dark and crimson
                                        laugh and the world laughs with you
                                        cry and the world laughs at you
                                        The end is here and the world has had the last laugh
                                        at your expense as they blast
                                        every bit of you that you could have
                                        believed to be worthy of long-term existence

                                        There is no such thing as antithetical. No such thing as extreme and direct opposites. No such thing as opposites.

                                        I do like the piece of writing.

                                        Now I am interested in your apparent deeper knowledge of one.

                                        :-k

                                          Re: Where does meaning come from?

                                          PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:13 pm
                                          by Some Guy in History
                                          Image

                                          For the new to be built, we must first deconstruct the old. To build directly on top would not create a very firm foundation. To deconstruct the old, this has to be done while it all still stands and leave the old still intact to some degree to prepare the building of the new, which is the rebuilding of all the new that has come while the oldest still stands and to bring the old into the new and make it new again while making new seem older than it is to jumpstart our own travels forward again as a species. In this, there is meaning. In this, there is even the personal meanings of rebuilding contact, rebuilding communities, rebuilding friendships; and the forging of new. This is the meaning of crafting for ourselves a new lease on life. Where does meaning come from? All around and often through whatever source we will listen to.

                                          Re: Where does meaning come from?

                                          PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:36 pm
                                          by iambiguous
                                          surreptitious57 wrote: The ability to think in abstract terms will guarantee paradoxes given enough time simply because of the sheer scale of possibilities.


                                          That is because the gap between words and worlds will always be either large or small.

                                          Some words describe the world around us with precision. Why? Because we invented the words to describe with precision that which our senses and conscious minds seem able to agree on.

                                          The common example is "bachelor". It is a word that denotes what it is "out in the world": "a man who is not and has never been married."

                                          Same with the word "married". You either are or you are not. But suppose the discussion shifts to a debate regarding the merits of either being or not being a bachelor.

                                          Is there an argument [a clump of words] able to resolve it such that all rational men and women "out in the world" are obligated to share it?

                                          Instead, the conflicts always revolve around our is/ought reactions to the either/or world.

                                          surreptitious57 wrote: ...human beings are not conditioned to think of themselves as part of a single collective but of smaller ones within it all the way down to the individual. We may be a social species but we are no where near as organised with common goals as other social species like ants or bees or wasps for example


                                          Human beings are conditioned [in some respects indoctrinated] to intertwine "I" and "we" and all that is deemed to be "other", out in a particular world. Historically, culturally, experientially.

                                          So the crucial part here is the extent to which what we construe words to mean in any particular context is able to be demonstrated to others as the meaning which they must share in turn. If they wish to be thought of as rational/reasonable.

                                          Re: Where does meaning come from?

                                          PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:00 am
                                          by Gamer
                                          Meaning is the golden naïveté. It is something you build with metaphor, with your feet in the clouds. Meaning's yield is emotion, which is a song a lute makes when the blind wind blows through. Meaning is a dream; a conversation you have with the universe that only you can hear, in that massless phantom zone where complete solitude and ultimate connection compete for your soul. In a Godless Universe; Meaning is God.