Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Meaning of Life?

Related articles: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2010/10/in-burning-darkness.html
And: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2008/01/bhutan-happiest-country-in-world.html
And: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2008/04/god-delusion-by-richard-dawkins.html

Philosophy is an absolutely huge subject. Those who study it at university have to spend literally years reading. There are many prominent philosophers and almost as many not-so-prominent ones that a dedicated student would have to study. And philosophers love to write! They are some of the most prolific authors you’ll find. My own personal favourite, Ken Wilber (See links), has produced over a dozen book, including some huge doorsteps that I couldn’t cope with like Sex, Ecology and Spirituality (Luckily he went on to produce a condensed edition of S,E and S called A Brief History of Everything! which is slightly more digestible.) Philosophers are a strange bunch, in fact Julian Baggini describes them as “adults who don’t stop asking the questions that small children usually ask". Actually Baggini’s own book What’s it All About? is in fact an excellent introduction to the entire subject of philosophy. Here’s Julian’s blog: http://julianbaggini.blogspot.com/ . Philosophy and philosophers are essentially very comic subjects and I love Douglas Adams’ Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy because it lampoons philosophy with such wit and brilliance.

Living in Oxford I’ve managed to meet a few philosophers and I’ve come to find them interesting people although there is an element that I’ve noticed in their culture that I’ve christened EPM, “Everything’s Pointless and Meaningless”. Many philosophers are very pessimistic; people like Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer etc. They’ve come to the conclusion that the universe is a bleak, cruel and dispassionate creation in which human beings are the helpless playthings of random chance; good and bad fortune striking without intent, forethought or consequence. This outlook may or may not be true; I’ll come to that later, but whether it is or not there seems to be a bulwark of prestige associated with thinking this viewpoint that is very similar to what I have termed MBA, See here for a background to MBA, although if you’re familiar with my work you’ll know what I mean by now!: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.com/2010/05/butt-wins-mba.html and: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.com/2009/09/prof-chris-french-mba-gold.html . The prestige that’s awarded to you for embracing a very pessimistic philosophy is very like the accolades of MBA and some philosophers really love to wallow in it! Schopenhauer, for instance, advised his readers to swallow a live toad every morning when you get out of bed because that was the only way to ensure nothing worse would happen! This is very similar to the self-indulgent superiority of MBA, although there are slight differences. There are those who are EPM-believers who are not necessarily MBA-ers; however mostly the two overlap. Conversely there are MBA-ers who are not EPM-ers; or those who don’t believe in Life-After-Death, but do think there is a point and meaning to life. To be a true MBA-er it is essential that you think that there is no form of Life-After-Death. There are EPM-ers who actually do believe in a Life-After-Death… and this is a kind of confession time for me, because I think I might be one of them!

I’ve been studying spiritual, mystical and philosophical cosmologies of all kinds for many years now. I’ve heard it said many times that human life on Earth is a purposive experience, that we incarnate here to fulfill some kind of divine plan, to achieve goals and meet targets (sorry if that sounds like a government auditing office!) that we agree to engage in before our incarnation. This is the core notion behind Michael Newton’s hypnotherapy studies, see: http://www.spiritualregression.org/ . In the last couple of years I’ve come to doubt this. How I came to this viewpoint or what reason I have is not something I can put into words right now; nor has it been a “Eureka!” moment. It’s a thought that has been building up slowly over some time. What if the universe we perceive as reality actually has no purpose? What if it’s just here because, to quote a philosophical joke, “where else would it be?” Why did I incarnate here? For a plan or lesson? Or maybe I just incarnated here by random chance; maybe I did it as a whim. What if I did it for a bet!?

A few years ago I read a book called The Lucifer Code (It was originally just called Lucifer, but in the slipstream of Dan Brown every publisher was adding the suffix “Code” to their titles!) by Michael Cordy, see: http://michaelcordy.com/MIchael_Cordy_-_Welcome.html . It’s a fascinating read because it follows a religious sect that uses psychic powers, enhanced by high-tech computers, to contact spirits on the dead. One of these spirits, a leader of their sect, comes back on international television to explain that there is no Heaven or Hell or God or Devil and that life is just a chaotic and uncontrolled cycle of birth, death, reincarnation and further reincarnation for eternity. The results are electrifying and people riot on the streets in fear and outrage, driven to madness by this sudden revelation of indisputable EPM. I actually think that the EPM view might well be true. The universe is beginning to look increasingly bitty and nonsensical to me. But I’d like to emphasize two provisos: Firstly just because the universe is fundamentally meaningless in itself doesn’t mean that we have to live meaningless lives. We have active minds with Free Will and can give meaning to things that have none in themselves. This is the basis of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism and I rather endorse that! I’d also like to make it clear that I have no intention of becoming an EPM-poser! I don’t feel in any way superior for thinking what I do; I don’t look down on others who do not uphold EPM-Theory. I actually dislike the rather childish back-slapping self-congratulation of the EPM-posers as much as I dislike that of the MBA-laureates. I don’t feel my life is in any way diminished in quality or value because I’m an EPM-er. It changes nothing about my life’s ambitions and goals as far as I’m concerned. I’m still determined that we must stop the New World Order and create a better and happier world for everyone. The Earth and this Universe and glorious and beautiful objects; I love and revere them and I will do anything to defend and nurture them. So here’s to Pointlessness and Meaniglessness! May they have a great point and meaning!

Latest HPANWO Voice articles: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.com/2010/11/prince-william-gets-engaged.html
And: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.com/2010/11/slavefare.html
And: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.com/2010/11/printer-cartridge-bomber.html


merovee said...

Ben - good post . Like you I ave thought long and hard hard about the meaning of Life and have distilled it down to two answers.

Firstly, the meaning of Life is Life ie it doesn't need a reason - it just is and secondly Life is good .

Why we are here is down to our own personal choice .

I'm probably wrong but it works for me .



13 Muluc said...

Hi Ben. I consider myself a philosopher according to Baggini's definition. I can't understand how anyone can just walk away from those sorts of questions without an answer. For me, asking questions like:
Who are we?
Why are we here?
What is reality?
is prerequisite for any kind of meaningful existence. I consider myself very, very lucky NOT to have studied philosophy in university. I've checked out "philosophy" forums on occasion, and the discussions I've seen are typical of the university trained version. They are almost entirely consumed with thinking about thinking, and it is comical. If you've got that far and no farther, I don't think you can call yourself a philosopher, any more that someone who only knows anatomy can call themselves a physician. Knowing how to think should be a stepping stone to actual thinking, in my opinion. Ken Wilber is really brilliant. I suspect it was his Buddhist training that allowed him to resist the usual tendency to disappear up his own ass that overcame so many of his peers. Nowadays you seem to find the best philosophers in other fields, like sociology, psychology, linguistics, biology, cosmology and quantum physics.
I don't find any of this surprising because the academic mainstream has a built-in materialist bias. Given that, any questions about meaning become, well, meaningless. Meaning is something that can only be experienced by consciousness, and materialism considers consciousness to be epiphenomenal and mechanistic.
Here's my take on MBA, for what it's worth. The core proponents of this group are psychopathic. For them, there is no "bravery" involved, only justification for their pathological worldview. The ones who do consider themselves brave, feel that way because they're aware that it hurts them and would rather be right than happy. Fair enough, but I don't think they've acurately identified the source of the hurt. Materialism discounts the intelligence of the heart. The heart is a thinking organ.
"While neural counting is often controversial, estimates are that half or more of the cells of the heart are neural cells like those making up our brain. Some reports claim 60 to 65 percent of heart cells are neurons, all of which cluster in ganglia, small neural groupings connected through the same type of axon-dendrites forming the neural fields of our brain." (from: "The Biology of Transcendence" by Joseph Chilton Pearce)
Heart-based intelligence interacts directly with the limbic system in the brain. Psychopaths lack the capacity to access either of these systems. For them, they don't exist. Materialism is painful for non-psychopaths because it discounts the heart's knowledge. They can call it bravery, but I think self-cruelty is more accurate. The heart-mind is where real meaningfulness and purpose arise and reside. If the heart-mind is silenced, both are lost.

13 Muluc said...
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13 Muluc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
13 Muluc said...

That was weird. My first comment reprinted itself twice. I've never seen that happen before. I just deleted the copies.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Thanks, Frank. You may be wrong or right, but I think probably right and I tend to agree with you.

I don't think we'll ever work out the Meaning of Life it it is there. If Douglas Adams knew then it's a secret he took to hisd grave.

There's an amusinhg story by Sidney Sheldon about a person who finds out the anser to that question and everybody he tells goes mad!

All the best,


Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Hi Mulluc. I'm glad you're a Ken Wilber fan too. "Grace and Grit" is his best book because he mixes his usual philosophy with the tale of his wife's illness and death. Wilber's training in Oriental mysticism has helped him grasp the idea of "knowing without knowing" which is alien to Western thought, based as it is on material certainty. Like you, Wilber is an amateur and has never studied phioosphy at university. I agree that this has probably been to his credit!

The phenomenon of the psychopath is didtrubing, but it's interesting too and essential to study because we're living in a world ruled by psychopaths! Our political system's selection proces is designed to filter out normal humans and fill its ranks with pure and ditilled examples of the 6% of humnity who are psychopaths. See my article "The Eyes of the Centaur" for my own analysis of that.

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Anonymous said...


Don't give up your search now!

Only if you are true and sincere in your search will my words be of any use to you.

Today mankind has every resource at his disposal like never before in the history of the earth. Yet we have lost our purpose, life is to live but for nothing else?

All religions are in decline, all are succumbing to the tide of agnosticm, save one and you may know which I talk about.

This religion is spreading in every continent, in every country and not for no reason!

Read the Quran, study it. There are those who would claim that it is radical and backward but look for yourself!

The Quran is UNIQUE, for 1400 years it has remained unchanged yet all its word are true! And these concern the creation of the world, the geography of the oceans and mountains, the biology of plants, animals and of the unborn foetus!

Science has yet to contradict even one verse of the Quran...

It is up to you- One last search. Open your heart and mind. The Answers to all your questions lie waiting


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