Meaninglessness

BofNK 25:5
"Life, self, and the universe are all absolutely meaningless.  And the fact that it doesn't mean anything doesn't mean anything! Notice that, despite the word within the word, "meaninglessness" does not denote less meaning. It refers instead to no meaning. Meaninglessness is not a negative or bad thing, since that connotation would itself be meaningful.  It is simply what it is, as it is.  So "meaningless" simply indicates a condition of being without meaning. We ourselves are meaningless.  If we believe our purpose in life is to pursue meaning--to discern and exist within life's inherent meaning--even an honest and intelligent effort to fulfill this purpose will lead to disappointment." - Peter Ralston
BofNK 6:22 - a prerequisite of the above
"6:22 There are two major conceptual contributors that dominate all our experience: "interpretation" and "meaning." Since perception as itself is meaningless, what we perceive is useless without interpretation.  The mere fact of seeing an object, hearing a sound, or feeling a sensation means nothing unless we know what it is and how it relates to us.  To make sense of what we perceive, we automatically associate, classify, and interpret the meaningless data that is available.  First, everything perceived is quickly interpreted so as to determine what it is - a flower, a squeak, a dog, a chair, soft, fast, a person.  Having conceptually identified what something is, we then immediately relate it to ourselves."

"6:23 No matter what we perceive, once we interpret it in some basic way, we will go on to assess its value or threat to us by associating it with an array of past experiences and beliefs, and so supply it with meaning.  This meaning renders the thing ugly, mine, hers, sacred, too big, useful, ridiculous, friendly, dangerous, or what have you.  Once meaning is attached, our minds will immediately infuse the thing with some "emotional" charge, subtle or gross, to indicate in a feeling-sense how we should relate to it.  This charge is based on the value or threat that a thing or notion has relative to us, and so this feeling-reaction contains information suggesting particular behavior - should we run or feed it a biscuit? Such feeling-charge manifests as attraction, fear, disinterest, annoyance, desire, boredom, importance, repulsion, and so on, as well as many such feelings far too subtle to warrant a name. The application of interpretation, meaning, and emotional-charge occurs so fast and automatically that we do not distinguish any of these as separate activities within our whole experience. "

"(6:24 last part) What we react to is not the object itself but rather the interpretation and meaning that we ourselves apply to the object."

Tags

  1. pr
  2. bofnk
  3. meaninglessness
  4. peter ralston

Comments


Mark de LA says
I posted this one mainly as an anchor point to 25:33-35 which is more fun to contemplate.

Seth says
M 2013-04-14 08:57:42 16480
seth 2013-04-14 04:56:30 16480
I like how Peter Ralston put your above paragraph in context at the end of that section:
 ... "When contemplating, however, go for the truth and keep none of this chatter in mind."  -- Peter Ralston BofNK 25:37

The thing for me is that the word "meaning" is, in fact, meaningless when used alone dangling unattached to its "to phrase".  I would rather have heard Peter address the question: "What does my life mean to me".  I don't think there is anything that should be called "meaning" just floating around.  More tangibly, however, i find there are lots of relationships of the form: "X has Y meaning to Z" floating around in my mind and in the culture that surrounds me.

So for me, the question "What does my life mean to me?" is in no way meaningless .... also quite meaningful for me is the question "What does my life mean to my culture?".  And the answer that i would give to anyone who asks would be "That is entirely up to me ... it is for me to determine it ... it is for me to make it up myself".  Said another way, "My life is what i make it". 

Now, talking about that ... about the beauty of this predicament where each of us are here in this now making up ourselves, our families, our community, and our culture and what they will become ... talking about that is not just chatter.  Er ... that is, unless you actually want *that* to be meaningless to the people you are talking to.

But, of course, *that* is not where Peter is going with his book.
& then too for millennia people have been asking the exact question "What is the meaning of life?" which is what Peter is writing about in chapter 25; your missing the point of that question notwithstanding.  If you want to know about your self go back to Part II & IV - that meaning is all about survival shit. As a matter of fact if you read carefully you will find that meaning is just the charge on some event or grok that answers the question "flight or fight?". You also made meaninglessness mean something.  The attempt by people who are not so wrapped up in themselves still is to know such stuff as: why in this vast universe we showed up in is there life itself at all & what is its purpose?


Yes i know that is what Peter was doing ... i didn't miss his point at all.  In fact, I agree with him ... that particular question is without meaning.   

... or, in other words, it is the wrong question ... and for me quite a serious diversion from what I should be thinking about when it comes to thinking about what my purposes and intentions should be in my life.

Mark de LA says
seth 2013-04-14 04:56:30 16480
I like how Peter Ralston put your above paragraph in context at the end of that section:
 ... "When contemplating, however, go for the truth and keep none of this chatter in mind."  -- Peter Ralston BofNK 25:37

The thing for me is that the word "meaning" is, in fact, meaningless when used alone dangling unattached to its "to phrase".  I would rather have heard Peter address the question: "What does my life mean to me".  I don't think there is anything that should be called "meaning" just floating around.  More tangibly, however, i find there are lots of relationships of the form: "X has Y meaning to Z" floating around in my mind and in the culture that surrounds me.

So for me, the question "What does my life mean to me?" is in no way meaningless .... also quite meaningful for me is the question "What does my life mean to my culture?".  And the answer that i would give to anyone who asks would be "That is entirely up to me ... it is for me to determine it ... it is for me to make it up myself".  Said another way, "My life is what i make it". 

Now, talking about that ... about the beauty of this predicament where each of us are here in this now making up ourselves, our families, our community, and our culture and what they will become ... talking about that is not just chatter.  Er ... that is, unless you actually want *that* to be meaningless to the people you are talking to.

But, of course, *that* is not where Peter is going with his book.
& then too for millennia people have been asking the exact question "What is the meaning of life?" which is what Peter is writing about in chapter 25; your missing the point of that question notwithstanding.  If you want to know about your self go back to Part II & IV - that meaning is all about survival shit. As a matter of fact if you read carefully you will find that meaning is just the charge on some event or grok that answers the question "flight or fight?". You also made meaninglessness mean something.  The attempt by people who are not so wrapped up in themselves still is to know such stuff as: why in this vast universe we showed up in is there life itself at all & what is its purpose?




Mark de LA says
seth 2013-04-14 09:07:14 16480

... This story is an excellent example of how life means something to someone.   It is not meaningless.
Yep, with stupidity about the question you can shove anything into your RWG about the answers until you come out all puffed up with your "right" answer. Enjoy your self!
(but put it somewhere else!)

Mark de LA says
Like all politicians & opinionators you answer a different question or even invalidate the querent when you don't like where the discussion will take you. Therefore I deem it meaningless to continue the discussion with this particular audience.


Seth says
Well i'm glad that you put Peter's paragraph in more context.  I agree with everything he has said. I've said it a bit differently ... marks in the sand, vibrations in the air, whatever happens are meaningless until interpreted by a person.  That actually is a common theme in most of the philosophy of mind.

I place less emphasis on people subsequently relating their interpretation to themselves.  Sure it happens, and sure it happens a lot, but it is not always of primary importance.  Different people and at different times are all over the place when it comes to that priority.

For me, life is just such a mark in the sand ... a vibration in the world ... a meaningless happening until interpreted by a person.  Peter doesn't say that ... but he does suggest that in the next chapter he will be getting to his story about all of that.

Mark de LA says
His thingy is about having a direct experience of what is there without your interpretation.  Next chapters develop that.


Seth says
... so continuing our reading of BofNK ... what is direct experience?  What kinds of processes (or things) can be experienced directly?

Mark de LA says
seth 2013-04-22 07:54:35 16480
... so continuing our reading of BofNK ... what is direct experience?  What kinds of processes (or things) can be experienced directly?
Never put limits or inclusions into the contemplation process. BofNK (21-35 et ssq) describes the process. I suggest trying a topic of your own choosing which you normally have access to like consciousness & not something like the Higgs Boson (a conceptual imagination).  You could of course could choose the meaning of life, but don't be surprised if you find that one meaningless.


Mark de LA says
i.e. have a direct experience of contemplation by doing it.

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