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Re: certainty of meaning

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  • Jim Aiden
    I know I said it would be a month to my return to the group but I ve been browsing and what you say James is very enlightened. I couldn t resist. Many people
    Message 1 of 58 , Aug 1 10:23 AM
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      I know I said it would be a month to my return to the group but
      I've been browsing and what you say James is very enlightened. I
      couldn't resist. Many people are aware of the things that you are
      saying but refuse to emotionally accept because of conditioning and
      fears of what that may lead to.

      "The pursuit of happiness" is an illusion. Somehow our brains
      translate 'good' and 'bad' events into chemical reactions that make us
      feel content. There is a famous experiment in which a rat was given
      the choice of two levers to press. One lever provided it food. the
      other injected it with the chemical seratonin. Which one do you think
      the rat consistently pushed?

      The function for this in nature seems obvious. Our ancestors would
      have died smiling (but motionless) without this instinct to perform
      activities that provided them that happiness. Survival in the West,
      contrary to what people suggest, is mostly a given today. You don't
      need anything but the basics to survive. There is not the major crises
      of starvation and disease that can be found in other parts of the
      world.

      But many people are still using this mental "appendix" to make
      their choices. Like the rat, they are trapped into making decisions
      that they believe will make them "happy". For instance, materialism
      can act as a fix. It doesn't matter how temporary it is, since you
      require to buy something else again to be "happy" again. There is
      nothing I can see innately wrong with wealth and in fact it helps
      improve our lives. However if one's happiness is dependent on it (or
      anything else except the basics of food, water, warmth, health and
      companionship), then I would probably equate it with some
      form of psychosis.

      If modern philosophical ideals of the "pursuit of happiness" were
      so accurate and rational, then more power to the people that live with
      a hedonistic approach to life. However, for all our power and
      knowledge, the WHO (World Health Organization) predicts massive
      increases in depression around the world over the next twenty years.
      Hollywood for all their fame, beauty and wealth, don't seem a
      particularly happy lot. I have a great pity for the people caught up
      in this modern mysticism, because they live tortured lives for naught.

      This nicely moves me on to your last point James... "we all stand
      alone".

      The existentialist idea that both you and your society define the
      self appear to hold some emotional value to us while we are alive. In
      the grand scheme of things though, individuals do not stand alone. You
      are not independent of the universe. Everything in the universe is
      built up on inter-relationships of events (including humans). Many
      religions have been saying this for a long time and I think this is
      what brings so much credibility and followers to them. Your existence
      is noted...you are important.

      The second someone begins to read this letter, no matter how
      insignificant I may be, I have begun a chain reaction of events that
      changes the course of humanity. It's referred to as the "butterfly
      effect" in some circles and appears to be an undisputable scientically
      approved axiom. I have no sound way of determining the long term
      implications (lets talk millions of years) of my acts, or someone that
      society deemed as "important", only a guess at the short term. You can
      kill me and appear to be dominate, but in the act of killing me you
      acknowledged my existence, which gave me power over you for the rest
      of your life. Even if you blow up the planet and all life ceases, you
      still don't know what effect that will have in a billion years or a
      trillion. Too many uncertainties and variables involved.

      Contrary to elitist arguments of "survival of the fittest"
      (something people argue to justify their actions) the extinction of
      the dinosaurs (after tens of millions of years of domination) seems to
      prove something to me. Diversity is the best course of action for
      life. Being a politician, a homosexual, a drug addict, a geneticist, a
      minority, a farmer, a white-male, a pedophile, a monk, a homeless
      person, a lawyer, a model, a massmurder, a billionaire, a computer
      geek, a housewife, a saint, a car salesman, or a philosopher are all
      natural states to the universe. I know this because they are not
      theoretical, they all happen and new desires and concepts appear every
      day.

      We need to respect a person's right to have a belief and/or
      lifestyle, although one need not be followers of the contents of that
      belief nor endorse it. Education will weed out the 'bad' ones over
      time. Why do you think the media is so "important" and "powerful"
      these days? They are shaping our minds.(a discussion for another day)

      Direct negative acts against us or that which we love, should be
      the only reason to act in self-defense and without malice call the
      machinery of politics or justice into motion. Do not discount or judge
      any existance though, because there are truths and understanding to be
      found in each of them. You only limit yourself by doing that. One can
      fight back with ideas, because ideas are what make us different then
      the rest of the animal kingdom and ideas are the architects of
      everything noteworthy human. Not money, fame, political power, or
      aesthetics..... IDEAS.

      I've gone off on a bit of a tangent here, but ultimately what I'm
      trying to say... we are not alone, we are all in this together and as
      far as I can see, we are all equals to nature.

      J. Aiden







      --- In existlist@y..., "james tan" <tyjfk@h...> wrote:
      >
      > hi eduard,
      >
      > u brought out a curious question. and my opinioniated reply to your
      > questions. i believe we can make choices independent of a
      transcendental
      > god. as to whether we create god in our need for meaning, it is also
      highly
      > plausible. in other words, it is not so much god creating man in his
      image,
      > but we creating god in our own images. if u read the religious texts
      of most
      > religions, their mythologies, u might feel the same way as i do,
      that these
      > so called gods are quite human in personality and character
      structures. some
      > of them seems to suffer the same neurosis and psychosis of humans.
      it
      > appears that they are the direct imitation of humans. but then, it
      is hard
      > to say whether the way they are similar to humans is a result of god
      > creating us in their image of vice versa. i tend to think the
      latter.
      >
      > that said, it is still hard to determine whether god exist
      independently of
      > us. u seems to think that they don't if we humans don't exist, and u
      gave a
      > plausible scenario (or thought experiment, as u would prefer to call
      it).
      > personally i'd think it's entirely possible that god dies the moment
      > humanity is wiped out, so that what used to be worshipped was merely
      a
      > figment of man's imagination, a fossil that testify to man's need
      for
      > meaning, and nothing more.
      >
      > but i have heard testimonies of people whose integrity i can trust,
      when
      > they mentioned they feel a 'peace beyond human understanding' as
      they
      > worship god. they said they 'know' that god exist. now, given my
      > orientation, i'd prefer if they use the word 'believe' rather than
      'know',
      > but they insist they 'know'. at this pt, i'd say either they are
      muddled
      > about the semantics of words, or they truly have an experiential
      basis of
      > god's presence in their lives, just as you'd say u know the computer
      screen
      > in right before your eyes.
      >
      > this then bring us to the phenomenology of what we mean by 'know'.
      without
      > going into elaboration, i'd just say that u know something if u have
      an
      > immanent intuition of something as being there. nothing can go more
      basic
      > than that. i'm not going into the arguments of descartes, hume, kant
      into
      > their theories of knowledge, it'd be too troublesome and lengthy.
      so, it is
      > also highly plausible that these peoples know what they're talking
      about
      > when they say they know god exist, independently of them. now, if
      they have
      > truly heard, felt or seen god, we can argue they may be suffering
      from some
      > psychosis or schizophrenia. but i have met also people who are
      themselves
      > professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors,
      lecturers who
      > make such claims (u see, being curious, i do a little bit of
      interviewing
      > and surveying whenever opportunities present); i.e. except for the
      part
      > about feeling/hearing/seeing god in their lives, they are totally
      functional
      > person, their speech are not disorganised, they do not manifest
      catatonic
      > behaviours, they don't suffer from affective flattening, alogia, or
      > avolition, socially and occupationally they're functional, they
      don't have
      > any mood disorders. by all accounts, they are not delusional. so,
      what of
      > it?
      >
      > now, when i happened to observe them in the church singing and
      worshipping,
      > i could 'see' that some of them feel god's presence and
      loving-kindness.
      > with their eyes closed, some with tears flowing as they
      'worshipped'. i
      > myself, though an atheist, felt an uplifting and somewhat awesome
      feeling as
      > if in the presence of someone majestic, awesome, loving. it is
      weird, i
      > know. i wondered, was it the lyrics? was it the melodies with the
      lyrics?
      > was there truly a presence? was it my own secret, unconscious
      yearning and
      > (spiritual) needs?? was it neurological, in the sense that man is
      > biologically gene-d or wired to appropriate such transcendental?
      neither do
      > i believe nor know if god exist, but there is a certain restive
      peace
      > settling in as i sat there listening and appreciating the meaning of
      the
      > words sang, and the whole experience is inexplicable, it was as if
      i've been
      > a traveller and have come home. and i could well imagine how much
      more
      > intense is the experience for them who believe and worship
      'wholeheartedly'.
      >
      > but i doubt in such experience as a indicator of the transcendental.
      i have
      > similar experience when i was invited to watch a football match in a
      huge
      > stadium and when everybody (tens of thousands of them) roared and
      cheered as
      > one; that feeling is also majestic (though not restful). i suspect
      that such
      > experience is neurological, as is all experiences. many
      physiological
      > experiments have been conducted that showed conclusively our sense
      of well
      > being, happiness, sadness, depression, meaningfulness or
      meaninglessnes,
      > personality, etc correlate to the working and mechanism of our
      neurons, the
      > activities of the synapes and neuro-transmitters, their
      interconnections.
      > perception of reality is totally dependent on our 'chemicals'; and
      there is
      > no reality per se, there is only perceptions of reality; reality is
      only
      > reality as humans see or experience it. or, as human construct it,
      based on
      > his unique biological configurations and 'the interaction of
      chemicals'.
      > what is supposedly spiritual is really chemical in nature. i could
      create a
      > spiritual experience just by 'poking' at the right part of the
      brain/brain
      > circuits, so to speak. the 'spirit' is really a imputed concept; or
      is it
      > not? the fact that religious experiences is so common through time
      and
      > geography and culture does not so much attesh to his reality as that
      all
      > experiences are neurological in nature (since we all have a brain; i
      hope i
      > can assume that).
      >
      > even the buddhist's meditation, which lead them to conclude that
      there is no
      > self, or that the self and the universe is one (another example of
      > transcendent experience), is pretty neurological in nature. as they
      focus
      > and concentrate in meditation, a group of neurons in the superior
      parietal
      > lobe, cease in activities. this lobe of the brain is responsible for
      > processing information about time and space and the body's
      orientation in
      > space. this orentation area need sensory inputs, and as one
      meditate, by
      > definition it is to shut out all input but to focus on one thing (if
      one is
      > successful in that), they prevent the brain from forming the
      difference
      > between self and not-self. this give rise to the experience that we
      are one
      > with one another and the universe. for someone whose temporal lobe
      is
      > destroyed, it becomes impossible for them to experience any
      religious
      > emotions of joy and awe. the occipital lobe is responsible for
      conjuring up
      > religious images, such as the cross or buddha meditating.
      >
      > has this effectively ruled out that god exist independently of
      humans to
      > answer part of your question? not really. there could still be a god
      out
      > there. we can never know whether it is our brain wiring that creates
      the
      > idea of god or whether god created our brain wiring so that we may
      recognise
      > him for who he is. if there is no god, then one believes because one
      already
      > has the 'hardware' for it, or he will TO WILL to believe; if there
      is a god,
      > then it could be said that he is knocking at the door of our heart
      all
      > along, so to speak.
      >
      > couldn't help but agreeing with maddona in one of her songs that
      'life is a
      > mystery, everyone stands alone'.
      >
      > as for those who are 'forced' to believe by their parents or
      culture, it is
      > quite a different story altogether.
      >
      > james.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > From: "Eduard Alf" <yeoman@v...>
      > Reply-To: existlist@y...
      > To: <existlist@y...>
      > Subject: RE: [existlist] certainty of meaning
      > Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 18:14:56 -0400
      >
      > hi Tony,
      >
      > hmmmm, interesting.
      >
      > Lets try a thought experiment.
      >
      > Start with a world which is populated by humans.
      > These humans have developed a religion. And since
      > this is a sort of utopic world, lets also say that
      > they have been fortunate in avoiding religious
      > strife, such that they have only one religion and
      > everyone on the planet believes in it fully. In
      > other words, you are constrained in your counter
      > arguement in that there is no people who believe
      > something different, and since there is no strife,
      > the entire plant sees no reason to even consider
      > alternative religions or philosophies. Let us
      > assume that the religion which is believed by
      > everyone, is Christianity. Everyone believes that
      > there is a god, and that there is an afterlife.
      > In short, the Christianity as it is today without
      > any sects. It is totally uniform. In affect, you
      > can talk any Christian believer today and consider
      > that to be the same everywhere without variation.
      >
      > OK? Is that clear?
      >
      > Now, let us introduce a virus onto this planet.
      > Everyone gets the disease and it is 100% fatal.
      > The entire planet dies. No one is left.
      >
      > the question is then: does the god die with the
      > people? And here "dying" means what we commonly
      > think it is: the end the object, entity, whatever.
      >
      > The reason why i pose this thought experiment and
      > question, is to find the view of members regarding
      > our ability to make a choice without a concern for
      > a transcendental god. that we create or gods and
      > that is the only way they can exist. it relates
      > to whether there is any certainty from which to
      > say that we have meaning.
      >
      > eduard
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > _________________________________________________________________
      > Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at
      http://explorer.msn.com/intl.asp
    • C. S. Wyatt
      No one knows anything beyond what he or she experiences. All else is faith and / or bias. As far as I can tell, everything is a matter of meaning and intent.
      Message 58 of 58 , Aug 2 7:32 PM
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        No one "knows" anything beyond what he or she experiences. All else is faith
        and / or bias.

        As far as I can tell, everything is a matter of meaning and intent. I have a
        great deal of faith that there are things greater and more important than
        mankind, though I dare not try to name that which is above man. (My Judaic
        bias, with some pagan "universe" worship.)

        From my web site:

        Logic has too many definitions to use the term without referencing the
        logical model being utilized in analysis. I tend to favor phenomenological,
        mathematical, or scientific logic. These conflict with other models due to
        their reliance upon individual proofs -- the proofs human beings can
        understand. In other words, what I cannot prove to myself, I cannot accept
        on a logical basis -- but I can accept on faith.

        Faith is important to me and most other humans. Faith and logic are, at
        least using the definitions utilized in modern philosophy, at odds but not
        exclusive: eventually I might prove those concepts in which I have faith.
        Faith is "accepting as fact that which cannot be mathematically or
        scientifically proven beyond all doubt." Notice the phrase "all doubt" and
        its importance.

        Ethics: (1) The study and philosophy of human conduct with emphasis on the
        determination of right and wrong. (2) A system of morals.

        Moral: (1) Based on probability; generalized human behavior. (2) Conforming
        to group standards of conduct.

        Justice: (1) The rendering of what is due or merited. (2) Being impartial.
        (3) Honest or equitable.

        Truth: (1) Conformity to requirements. (2) Faith in a statement's logic. (3)
        Conforming to a system of rules.

        - C. S.
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