How can life have meaning in a mechanical universe?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Fact is meaninglessness is just as subjectively created as meaning is. It is based on a certain interpretation of the universe you claim to be scientific (scientistic more like.) You claim there IS no objective meaning. That everything is a result of chance and that there are no underlying reasons behind anything. THAT is a belief. Whether it is justified is another question. So once again you are only defending a set of beliefs you have about reality based on your interpretation of reality. There is no objective evidence for meaninglessness. So calm down before you cut your meaningless life short and have a coronary ok?



    Real is whatever can be interacted with. So if the universe can be interacted with in a meaningful way, related to as an entity that creates order and harmony out of chaos, it is in this sense objectively meaningful. Humans can find in nature and in the story of their lives ample justification for their belief that meaning exists beyond them. That some things, but certainly not all things, are destined to be. That reality is filled with metaphors immediately applicable to their personal ambitions and ideals. THAT is a meaning that is both real and objective and exists in some absolute sense beyond us.
     
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  3. Rita Registered Member

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    I am not sure it makes sense to say
    I don't think things can be the result of chance, because I believe things are the result of laws. If nothing followed laws, there would be no universe. The underlying reasons behind anything, are the laws.
     
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  5. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    It's a circular road, so all the way just gets you back where you started.
     
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  7. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member

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    Rita

    The randomness occurs within the confines of the laws, the laws only establish the limits of what is possible, they do not dictate the outcome.

    Magical Realist

    Meaninglessness is the default, you must provide positive evidence of the existence of UNIVERSAL meaning to change that. Same thing goes for Unicorns, gods, the supernatural, purpose, UFOs, etc.

    No, that is what the Universe has shown to be true. Without evidence that there is Universal truth there is no logic in claiming there is(Occam's Razor). The only place meaning is to be found in this Universe is in the mind of the person experiencing that real feeling of meaning. But such feelings, while real, are not even proof that a subjective meaning exists(it is an opinion on the subject), much less a universal one being imposed from outside the psyche. Meaning is a mental construct, it has no existence outside the mental realm. Like beauty, it is in the mind of the beholder, and is an opinion about the subject. My opinion is that we should not posit that which cannot be demonstrated by evidence, and my opinion is the same one shared by science, we call it Parsimony.

    Grumpy

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  8. Trooper Secular Sanity Valued Senior Member

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    So, you believe in determinism, and if all the information were known, we could predict the future, right? I agree with Grumpy, and there is always the possibility that a certain amount of information, as with a fundamental law, may be an irrecoverable loss, which would give way to indeterminism. Have you read "Fooled By Randomness"? I’m not sure how they treat determinism in SR, it’s probably easier than GR, but it seems to me that it, too, would ultimately fail, especially since the theory of relativity does not allow the existence of absolute time. As far as free will is concerned, I prefer Steven Pinker's view.
     
  9. Rita Registered Member

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    I didn't know I believed in determinism. Please, explain what it is that I believe. Do I question this or am I absolutely sure about it?
     
  10. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member

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    Rita

    Determinism is the belief that the Universe is a predetermined, mechanical, clockwork thing that, if you could determine the position and vector of everything, could be predicted into the future. I'm not that rigid, but there are aspects of the Universe that are like clockwork, but there is always randomness, even if only at the Quantum level. And like a butterfly flapping it's wings in Africa can affect storms in the Caribbean(an exaggeration, but the effect is real). In the Universe's case, a very small difference in density 13.7 billion years ago led to the "lumpiness" we see today. The BB was smooth to very fine scales, the differences were minute but they led to the structure we see today...

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    The main picture is about one billion years on a side, 2-7 billion years deep and is generated in a computer from actual observational data(Umass)to show the large scale structure of the local Universe, the inset is an actual x-ray image of one of the bigger galaxy super clusters with Dark matter position highlighted. The smallest dots on this image are galaxies like ours, the largest blobs are superclusters of thousands of times the mass of our galaxy.

    The Universe has rules within which it must remain, but that leaves a lot of room for randomness. The laws of the Universe do not determine the outcome, it only sets the boundaries of possibility

    Grumpy

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  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    It's circular only in the sense that it keeps returning one to the beginning until one actually begins.
     
  12. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Inasmuch is this "I'm happy with deciding my own purpose" of yours actually an internalization of what you've been told, handed down from above, long ago?
     
  13. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member

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    wynn

    From what possible source? His parents? Where did they get it, their parents? Where... It's an infinite regression to some unknown person who got it where? Ultimately the "purpose" we are handed down STILL came from the mind of a person or persons who knew no more(in fact much less)than we do about reality. Such meaning or purpose is just as self generated as any other(at some point). There was no more a reliable connection with a source of purpose or meaning in the past than that we DO NOT SEE today. And there was much more ignorance about the true conditions in the Universe the further back you say the source was found. A very shaky foundation for a world view.

    Grumpy

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  14. Rita Registered Member

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    I am really curious. How did you determine I think something different from you have explained? If there were no laws, would there be observable manifestation? Exactly what is outside the laws of manifestation?

    I have reread the question, and realize we might be confusing science with philosophy? I look at Grumpy's picture and think, there was a time when we were much comfortable with what we do not know. Compared to that picture, just how important can we be? However, on earth, many aboriginals believed the earth is one living organism and our purpose is to care for it. Now what is the meaning of our lives and how important are we? What do can effect our planet for thousands of years, and unlike all other creatures, we can think about that, and we choose to do this or that. Maybe we should humble ourselves and let it be okay that there is much we do not know, and given what we do know, there are some important things for us to do., like for our planet and each other. Philosophically speaking.
     
  15. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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  16. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Nature lends itself to teleological descriptions. In an intelligible sense for example we can say at least one of the purposes of a human being is ensure the passage of their genes on to future generations. And this is a purpose that evolved out of nature itself without being purposed by any conscious being. Adding into the mix the additional telic tropisms of culture, society, and family, we can even get more specific with this sense of being purposed by the universe itself. The values you were raised to hold, the aptitudes you were born with, and the skills you learned, all destined you towards some careers over others. It also set the course for your life's meaning in general. Not that you can't ever change that. But there is definitely a telic or at least proto-telic directionality based on the conditions of one's development that steers one's life toward a certain path. For we of the more spiritual bent, this pre-ordained pattern behind your life never quits guiding it even on a daily basis. As Jung once profoundly observed: "What happens to you is typical of you" There is a harmonizing power in one's unconscious psyche that gently exerts itself over every life imo.
     
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Gmilam was focusing on juxtaposing deciding one's own purpose and needing to be told what one is supposed to be doing.

    I pointed out that what may be a sense of self-determination might actually be merely an internalized determination received from others.

    In The Lonely Crowd, which is considered as one of the main studies of American character, this type of person is called "inner directed":

    "The inner-directed type dominates in industrial economies. This type is guided by an inner set of goals and principles. These values are planted within the individual by his parents during his childhood, and act as an inner gyroscope – spinning throughout his life and keeping him on course. The inner-directed type is focused on producing more than consuming. He enjoys going it alone, and while he conforms his outward behavior to match societal norms, the opinions of others have little sway on his inner life. He would rather be esteemed than loved." (source)

    This, however, is not autonomy, even if the person who fits this type feels autonomous.
     

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