Friday, April 23, 2010

Notes on Meaning (part four)

Since meaning is contextual, happiness is also contextual. A burqa-clad woman can be as happy seeing her kids as a Manhattan socialite is when she sees an oil tycoon.

What then is humanity working towards? What is considered progress, today? Why try and ban the burqa?

Progress of humanity is, factually, the divestment of meaning from anything which is dictated by others. "Nobody tells me what the meaning of my life is, I create it." This is the implicit goal of civilization. The various metrics in the UN HDR have this underlying theme.

There are indirect forms of control, but they are seen as progressive developments from an overt, violent form of control.

People who are relatively more astute reject not only the aggressive forces of traditional culture and morality, but also the modern, passive-aggressive forces of context (and hence goal, and meaning) creation: mass media, advertising, internet. They reject the goal not only of following the ten commandments, but of having a bigger car, the latest Gucci bag, and so on.

Progress is the movement from morality, to an understanding of morality, to amorality.

In Goenka Vipassana, you sometimes focus on a body region feeling pain, till the pain "dissolves". Similarly, an intellectual dissects a taboo which brings an emotional reaction till its emotional underpinning is understood and hence dissipated.

Actualism can be considered intellectual Vipassana.

‘Put simplistically (for maximum effect): the actualism method is about using thought to examine feelings’ (Richard, Actual Freedom, circa 2005).

(to be continued)


ElDuderno said...

Is it really that important to have a goal to live? If life is pleasant then that is sufficient meaning, even if not it is still something different than death which anyways is what is omnipresent what is the great hurry to fall once again in its embrace.

By rejecting the social mores and goals one may live a more pleasing life, by taking interest in small things such as nature animals etc. It is unclear why elimination of all goals leads only to despair. It could also lead to a meaningless but pleasent life

tazmic said...

Whilst meaning can be intellectually pursued contextually in terms of means and ends, what we know as 'meaningful' is surely affective, with 'satisfying' and 'fullfilling' as possible synonyms. How can the intellect provide 'meaningful' on its own? An emotional attachment must surely be necessary. But, there are non intellectual contexts in which we meaningfully opperate. Combating hunger is one example, combating oxygen starvation is a better one. Of course these processes can be reflected upon, and contextualized in terms of biological means and ends, but they do not require the intellects understanding or permission to express their nature. To question their ultimate purpose must be indentical to questioning the growth of a tree.

Another, perhaps unexpected, non intellectual context in which we meaningfully opperate is generating effective maps for navigating (understanding) the world and our experience of life. This requires an increasing amount of intellectual effort as our culture becomes more sophisticated. Evidence of this is easily found. The mental emphasis appears to favour (self)consistency rather than correctness*, and the more sophisticated a culture is the greater this discrepancy can become without breaking upon the shores of reality. Nevertheless, we are driven, by non intellectual forces, to pursue this endeavour to the extent that our awareness requires. But to question its ultimate purpose must be indentical to questioning the growth of a tree.

Harman, as a doubter of trees, when will your authenticity reach the point of undermining your intellect?

*This explains so much it must be true... ;)