Man's final end

For intuitive and critical discussions, from spirituality to theological doctrines. Fair warning: because the subject matter is personal, moderation is strict.

Moderator: Dan~

Man's final end

Postby Qzxtvbzr » Wed Jan 01, 2003 6:04 pm

First, I'd like to thank magius for the inspiration for this post. I was writting a reply to you're religious revolution post when the idea hit me. I'll get back to replying to your post, but first I'd like to ask:

What is man's final end?


Does man have an end? Basically the greatest question to face man's greatest thinkers: What is the purpose of our human existance? Does life have a meaning?
*And slartibarfast... I will slap you if you say '42'. Lol :D *
No paragraph breaks in your post? tl;dr.
Qzxtvbzr
 
Posts: 142
Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2002 11:54 pm
Location: Galactic Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha

Postby blauboad » Wed Jan 01, 2003 9:38 pm

Well, purpose and end--rather than, say, "meaning"--imply a teleology, in other words, that the value of our lives is dependent on some later moment. In that case, they would be meaningless in and of themselves. For example, a religious person who spends his life preparing for the afterlife and then "finds out" there is none. His life, insofar as it was directed toward that purpose, was meaningless.

Now, individuals and societies make all kinds of goals for themselves, some which are fulfilled, some not. But even efforts toward unfulfilled goals can be redeemed at a later time. In people's private histories, they often point to the failures as ultimately proving the most fruitful experiences. As a society, national failures and defeats (e.g. the Vietnam war, communism, imperialism depending on where you live) are often redeemed in a way very different way. Failures are painful, so people go back and pull something valuable out of it, find a "purpose" that mostly didn't exist in the minds of the people who were actually involved.

In some cases, it is necessary to refer to a "higher purpose," a purpose that not only wasn't in the minds of the original participants, but are also not the same as the purposes of the people trying to redeem that event. It is God's will; that's the common one. If you're a Nietzschean, you'd say that the very idea of God acting in history is an invention of humans too weak to face their failures. Instead of acknowledging it as failure, it becomes the successful means to an end we don't understand. Exactly the opposite of what it was originall: an unsuccessful means towards a goal that was understood.

Now, the value of life does not have to be understood in terms of time, effect, etc. By understanding each moment itself as "the goal" you no longer have to redeem anything, you are no longer so disturbed by failure or by success (Nietzsche once wrote that the most dangerous thing that can happen to a nation at war is victory). One of the goals of Buddhist practice is to give up teleological thinking, which generates karma--I do this so that will happen--and locks us in our minds insofar as our intentions and desires only exist in there.
User avatar
blauboad
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2002 6:39 pm
Location: san diego, california

Postby Magius » Thu Jan 02, 2003 3:59 am

Qzx,
I only hope that one out of ten of my posts can have the same effect, that being, to inspire thought in others. I get great pleasure from learning from others and finding that others have learned something from me. I sense that there is more to your inspiration then the proposition of a question to the rest of us, I was wondering if you would be so kind to elaborate on your inspiration and give credence to your new found idea...

In my opinion there is no final end for any one of us, as far as I can see. I'm not saying there isn't one, just that I don't think there is one. If there were then there would be something more after death, some more that the living could witness. And there is, the dispersal of our atoms - our aggregates that created us (yet another aggregate). It can be said that there are many ends, it all depends on the context. It could be argued that it is our (individually) final end to procreate, which carries with it some rationale argument about passing on your genes, the whole point of having the tools for such a task and so forth. In yet another context it could be seen that our final end is God. I don't believe in religions so don't ask me to explain that one or I'll go into a five page response. Personally, I am not convinced that we make an end in the end, if that makes sense. It's as though we were saying that humans goal was '2', without saying '1+1='. But it isn't until 1+1= that you find '2' to be the end. So who knows, maybe our end isn't an end until we are at the end. I will give it some more thought and try to get back to you on this...

What's your take?
User avatar
Magius
Magnanimous
 
Posts: 1489
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2002 7:08 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Postby Qzxtvbzr » Thu Jan 02, 2003 4:38 am

I sense that there is more to your inspiration then the proposition of a question to the rest of us, I was wondering if you would be so kind to elaborate on your inspiration and give credence to your new found idea...

I'm only putting two down since they are the most formed and foremost in my head.

I see several options. The most prominent that I have followed for most of my life so far is that "your purpose in life is what you make it". While this is sufficient I want to know if there is more.

It belongs to man to act for an end, thusly it also belongs to a man to act for a final end. The question is then: What is man's final end? I'm still kinda vauge and fuzzy on this so don't blame me if I'm a little incoherrant; I will crystalize this later, hopefully.

It seems that there should be a greater meaning to life than what you do with it. There should bean end which belongs to all men to act towards: instead of a first cause, think of a final effect if you will. Now for an end to be worthy of all men to act towards it should be greater than any one man, or men collectively. Since no effect can be greater than the cause this end cannot have been created by man or men, or emerged from the minds of men. This implies a greater being. Now ask any (good) priest and he'll tell you in more or less words that men are meant to go to heaven. HEaven being our final end to act towards.

This is only one idea I ahve several more, but it is an option to be examined.

EDIT 1/2/2003

Just to let u guys know I'm not trying to bait for another God discussion. I jsut wanted to know that whether or not the attainment of heaven or the equivilent thereof in other religions should be man's goal and final end.
Last edited by Qzxtvbzr on Thu Jan 02, 2003 9:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
No paragraph breaks in your post? tl;dr.
Qzxtvbzr
 
Posts: 142
Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2002 11:54 pm
Location: Galactic Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha

Postby blauboad » Thu Jan 02, 2003 7:43 am

It seems that there should be a greater meaning to life than what you do with it. There should bean end which belongs to all men to act towards: instead of a first cause, think of a final effect if you will. Now for an end to be worthy of all men to act towards it should be greater than any one man, or men collectively. Since no effect can be greater than the cause this end cannot have been created by man or men, or emerged from the minds of men. This implies a greater being. Now ask any (good) priest and he'll tell you in more or less words that men are meant to go to heaven. HEaven being our final end to act towards.


Just to get this clear, if the heaven is not achieved by man's efforts, then how is man's life a means to that end? Hmm.. It seems the work man does in life is not really needed, except as an arbitrary admissions requirement that God establishes. God could just as easily let everyone in or change the requirements to something else. The work of man in this case isn't even really productive in its own right, and isn't necessary, strictly speaking. This completely subordinates and devalues earthly life. It is an unpleasant bureacratic requirement to get into heaven, a crappy job you work only because you need the money.

I don't like this idea, as you probably guessed. I would rather find a way to live life for its own sake, in real joy, not a burden grudgingly borne to get what I *really* want.

I guess another way of saying it is that life either has either a purpose or a value but not both. If it has value, it needs no purpose. And if it has a purpose, then it has no intrinsic value. On the other thread I quoted the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, and it's appropriate here.
113 His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?"
"It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, 'Look, here!' or 'Look, there!' Rather, the Father's kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people don't see it."
http://www.misericordia.edu/users/davie ... /Trans.htm


Now, Thomas is not part of the New Testament, but many of its sayings have counterparts in the canonical Gospels. And even in those, you'd be very hard pressed to get the orthodox notions of heaven and hell from Christ's words. My opinion is that this represents the real teaching of Christ, and it's a message much closer to Buddhism or even to Nietzsche's writing--the "purpose" of life is to live it in absolute fullness, to confront everything it presents us with, to discard everything that separates us from it. Among those distracting things, I think, are daydreams of heaven or final triumph at the end of time. Whether life after death is real or not, in my view, it does us harm if we live in anticipation of it. These are ways of avoiding the present moment, which is the only time that really exists for us finite beings. Another appropriate quotation:

80 Jesus said, "Whoever has come to know the world has discovered the body, and whoever has discovered the body, of that one the world is not worthy."


If you live your life saving up good deeds to buy the exstasy of heaven, you are not really that different from a greedy atheist who amasses a great fortune on earth. In Buddhist meditation the practitioner is told to let go of expectations, even that of salvation, Nirvana, because that desire is a kind of greed which will keep you from attaining it. You have to surrender to the meditation for its own sake, without wanting to get something out of it.

Thanks, Magius, for getting me interested in looking at this stuff again.

I realize I might be flogging my own horse here and missing your point completely. Anyways, it helps to get this stuff out of my head. Let me know if I'm getting you right.
User avatar
blauboad
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2002 6:39 pm
Location: san diego, california

Postby Magius » Thu Jan 02, 2003 11:26 pm

I think this discussion is going to lead to free will and determinism, and an additional third option hopefully articulated coherently by me by the end of this post.

If wo/man has an end to which he strives, then his/her actions are <b>determined</b> in a manner of speaking. For s/he cannot choose to not strive for this end, since the only way someone can not strive for one end is to strive for another, which is still an end. Hence this is the problem with human's supposed teleology. But we know that we don't act or think like that in real life, meaning that there isn't an all inspiring final end that drives us. Instead, it's more like a whole bunch of short term ends. Ie. I want water because I am thirsty. End=quench thirst. Ie. I want to be a millionaire so I can buy my own island where i will be happy. End=attainment of happiness.

But the flip side of the coin would have us believe that humans create their own ends which would presuppose free will. But this is also not how reality works. For we trick, persuade, coerce others to do things we want and that we know others wouldn't want otherwise. And they do it, they think they chose to do it but we know that we persuaded them against their better judgement. Same as <i>impulse shopping strategy</i>, stores put out their most attractive (eye candy) products a the front of the store for display in order to increase sales of that product and because they know it is something that quickly appeals to people. People will buy these products without having intended to buy them prior to arriving at the store, they think they chose to buy the product, but really it is years of marketing strategy, statistics, and trial and error that has allowed stores to ascertain with a good deal of probability how many people will buy their product when presented in the right place of the store, in the right presentation, etc.

There is a third option which isn't as popular as the other two. A well known physicist by the name of Heisenberg came up with an interesting theory called the <i>uncertainty principle</i>, briefly explained it's just saying that the location of an electron spinning around the nucleus of the atom can never be known. Many people used Heisenberg's uncertainty principle to argue for the existence of free will. Which is an erroneous notion since they are not licensed (logic term used to say what the rules and facts allow you to do) to argue for free will, at most they can argue for 'randomness'. The uncertainty of an electron spinning around an atom's nucleus doesn't suggest that the electron is purposefully choosing to deviate from any pattern or possible location attributes, but instead it is saying that the electron is completely randomly moving. Hmmm...randomness, does any see it as a convincing argument to explicate the occurences we experience on a daily basis? I don't think so.

So what are we left with? More confusion than understanding huh?
Well there is a popular view that states: "Our mental constructio determines that we interpret all experience in the light of the principleof causality", which if true, means that we will never know what reality is really like but will continue to interpret and believe that everything has a cause of which came about because of yet another effect which has yet another cause, ad infinitum.

What do I think? I've been working on it for a long time, and I must say that as much as I don't like it, my logic leads me to believe that determinism is true. I have found a few ideas which make little whole into the fabric of determinism. But each whole I poke just gets covered up again by a few more minutes of thinking. I have one idea, which I will not share just yet, but I think I may have found a theoretical way out of determinism. By the way, if determinism is true, then there is not end. Every moment of existence is an end in itself, nothing acts or gets acted upon for an end in the future, for the future is already determined and nothing can be changed.

One of the most convicing arguments I have come across, although I am not completely convinced by it, is that the external world is determined. But we have choice in what our mental state will be through each determined act. Ie. I will become a millionaire whether I like it or not, but I have choice to either be in the state of mind of greed once a millionaire, or a state of mind of happiness, or...etc.

What's your take?
User avatar
Magius
Magnanimous
 
Posts: 1489
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2002 7:08 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Postby Pax Vitae » Tue Jan 07, 2003 3:42 am

Goethe once wrote, “If you want to get pleasure out of life you must attach value to the world.”

Schopenhauer replied, “No wealth can equal the possession of greatness in oneself.”

I believe both are true to an extent, it really depends on how much you believe life is lived for pleasure. If a person’s life is filled with nothing but constant suffering, I wonder how much meaning is really there for them?

At one time I was a great believer in God and heaven, but now I don’t see any hope for such. God shows very little interest in his earth leaving it to follow whatever course we choose to take it on. Some would say he has given us his commandments, but I would argue that most moral philosophers today would have been able to come up with better ones, an all-knowing God that didn’t know about the future morality of his people! That’s an interesting concept. I also don’t hold much faith in the transcendental ideas of Buddhism. To give up ourselves is to give up what makes us unique, from my understanding of Buddhism, wanting uniqueness is bad. We should want to be all and nothing, but not only that, it is what we really are.

So you might not be surprised to find out that I think the only way to find meaning in life is to create one. Even if there is a higher power, he is very vague about what it is he wants us to do. (Please don’t start quoting the bible, as I’ll have to dig up all my old quotes on God wanting people murdered, and that slavery is actually okay.) I will never deny that there is a good possibility that a God could exist, but unless he personally tells us what we should live for, we might as well live for what we believe is Fair and Just.

For me life is about expanding my abilities, setting goals and trying to achieve them. I don’t always succeed, but when I do I can take pride and pleasure, in conquering a foe of my own making. I’m a believer in the “seize the day” attitude. I feel in the river of life you need to fight the current from time to time, as it’s only in those times that you find out who you really are.

This is just my way of experiencing life, and the great thing about life is, that there are many ways to live. No one way is greater than another, unless you can find a reason why in your own heart.


Here is one of my favourite cut’n’paste pieces of text on freewill.


> Why does a certain unique DNA chain make me or
> why is H2O water or 12 electrons make carbon? The fact that certain
> arrangements of matter make things. The rules of the universe are
> consistent and there is seemingly endless variety

Or why do we live in a Universe that follows rules, which would seem to require more effort to create, then a random universe? This is one of the five proofs for the existence of God give by Aquinas. (i.e. the world as its created follows order not chaos).

I’ve thought about this problem for a long time and I keep coming back to the fact I just don’t have enough information to make a fair and rational decision. What it comes down to is I either believe that the Universe begot itself and always existed in some form. Or I can believe that some intelligence (most would call God) created the Universe so I can live in it for purpose that is still unknown to me. (I don’t believe a single world religion is right, but I still believe the existence of God is a valid choice).


This is a repost of an old post I made, which was talking about a Chemical Deity.

The basic idea behind what I said was: What physics is, is the simulation of the “real world” in a “perfect world” (maths being that perfect world). But does our “real world” work to the same level of accuracy that is possible in the perfect mathematical world? Because, if there is margin for error in the “real world” this error might be utilised in away to create freewill. (Some how?)
---

Getting back to freewill; I think there is a small randomness to the universe. Maths as we use it is still quite simple. 1 + 1 = 2, are whole numbers. 1.3 + 4.3 = 5.6, are decimal numbers (or fractions). As you know there are an infinite number or numbers. Between 1.0 and 2.0 there are also an infinites number of decimal numbers (or fractions). To recreate the universe with maths would require infinite number accuracy. Something we are not capable of yet, maybe never? But maths is also unlike anything else in the world, it is pure and incorruptible; meaning 1 + 1 will always from this day to the end of everything even beyond that, 1 + 1 will always equal 2. I don’t believe the universe lives up to this perfect accuracy. In chemical reactions (and the expending of energy) in the universe I think there is margin for error, and this error over time can create randomness. This randomness could create something along the lines of freewill. (I’m still thinking about how this works as the last step is a bit of a jump). But it would be like this: some how the human brain has found away to harness this error to allow freewill. (As a side note, this might be why computers have problems in imitation of human thought.)

Pax Vitae
User avatar
Pax Vitae
(Jonathan Wilson)
 
Posts: 1012
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2002 12:44 pm

Postby Magius » Sat Jan 11, 2003 9:21 pm

Pax_Vitae stated:
Getting back to freewill; I think there is a small randomness to the universe.


Randomness doesn't equal free will.
User avatar
Magius
Magnanimous
 
Posts: 1489
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2002 7:08 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Postby Pax Vitae » Sun Jan 12, 2003 12:59 am

Magius wrote:Pax_Vitae stated:
Getting back to freewill; I think there is a small randomness to the universe.


Randomness doesn't equal free will.


True, this is speculation. I was only wondering how much is actually predetermined, or just random. You could say random numbers have a will of their own, as they don’t follow any patterns or set order.

PV
User avatar
Pax Vitae
(Jonathan Wilson)
 
Posts: 1012
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2002 12:44 pm

Postby Matt » Sun Jan 12, 2003 2:20 am

Ahhh, but how do you create a truly random number? A computer is run by electrons, which would be governed by determinism, as is flipping a coin, or any other suggestion you make. The only escape is the uncertainty principle, as magius says.

I also think I've said something here (probably in the science section) about Heisenberg's uncertainty principle before, about it only being a theory to try and account for the fact we can't understand physics properly, but if we did understand it, the principle may not exist. Schrodingers thought experiment with the cat was trying to show that even though the cat is neither dead or alive to us before we open the box, it is in fact dead or alive, we just don't know it. The trouble with quantum physics is that it's so difficult to comprehend that we had people saying that observation changes the state of an electron, as if we were some sort of god, which are quite rediculous conclusions to draw from the theories. But my quantum physics is only rudimentary and I'm relying on scientists here who I have no reason to trust 100%, there's plenty of people on both sides of the Heisenberg debate.

This discussion is rather like the one going in the thread about Do we pick who we love.
Matt
"The irony of the Information Age is that it has given new respectability to uninformed opinion." -John Lawton
User avatar
Matt
Thinker
 
Posts: 954
Joined: Tue May 21, 2002 2:37 pm
Location: Nottingham, England

Postby Pax Vitae » Sun Jan 12, 2003 8:39 pm

The only escape is the uncertainty principle, as magius says.


Okay, I’ll rephrase what I said, “You could say uncertainty has a will of its own, as it doesn’t follow any patterns or set order.” The point I was making was: How closely does the real world match our simulation of it in Maths; just because we can simulate part of it quite well, doesn’t mean we can simulate all of it perfectly.

Maybe in the future we could find some sub-sub-atomic particle that doesn’t seem to follow any rules or laws? Of course this is only speculation.

Also as we look at smaller and smaller sub-atomic particles we will inevitably reach a point where what we use to look at this sub-atomic item will modify it. It only makes sense, as all things are related through “chemical interaction” (while at this level this is not the right words, but it expresses the same idea). An example would be if you look at a very bright light how it affects your eyesight, it becomes damaged. Maybe we’ll be examining things that are so small, that what we use to view them will have the same affect as looking at a bright light for to long.

Pax Vitae
User avatar
Pax Vitae
(Jonathan Wilson)
 
Posts: 1012
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2002 12:44 pm

Postby Clementine » Mon Jan 13, 2003 5:34 pm

Meaning in the sense of ‘what is it for’… then… none. We have no meaning at all. No easy to accept, but well, why should everything have a meaning?
Cle

"Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of conscience. But nothing is a greater cause of suffering." Dostoyevsky
User avatar
Clementine
 
Posts: 161
Joined: Thu Nov 28, 2002 6:37 pm
Location: UK

Postby icecreme98 » Sat Feb 01, 2003 8:36 pm

Granted, I didn't read every word everyone wrote, but skimming through it, I think it's funny how no one ever really uses any scriptures from the bible to prove things or answer peoples' questions.

Why are we here? What is the purpose to life? etc.

Oh well, carry on.
User avatar
icecreme98
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2003 8:02 pm
Location: Fresno, CA

Postby Skeptic » Sun Feb 02, 2003 7:46 am

icecreme,
The reason that you don't find a lot of scripture being quoted is because most of us hold no real validity to the scriptures. Feel free to throw in a scripture or two but be prepared to back them with a philosophical perspective as well.
User avatar
Skeptic
(Jason Hill)
 
Posts: 660
Joined: Sat Oct 26, 2002 7:02 am
Location: Atlanta, Georgia USA


Return to Religion and Spirituality



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users