Why do some believe in a purpose?
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08-05-2013, 09:04 AM
RE: Why do some believe in a purpose?
Hey, Henn.

Meaning does not exist in any absolute sense. Meaning is created by humans.

Humans are meaning making machines.

So when we talk about having purpose, having no purpose, we're not talking about some absolute notion. We're talking about meaning that we ourselves have created.

So if it's meaningful for you to think that you have no purpose so that you are freed to create your own purpose (which seems contradictory to me, but whatevs) then cool. If it's meaningful for people to think that they have a purpose, more power to them.

The reason that we make meaning is so that we can understand. Understand ourselves, others, the living community, the planet, the universe, the Gods and our relationship to all of them. That's not something we're born with. It's something we learn and something that evolves over time. But we can't ACT unless we have some kind of understanding. We can REACT (fight/flight for instance), but we can't act (I'm going to build a structure in this place in this manner using these materials for this purpose).

Believing we have no purpose frees you for action. Believing we have purpose frees others for action.

From a strictly psychological point of view, Martin Seligman has done a lot of work with positive psychology over the years. The thrust of it is that he realised that the techniques of taking an anxious, depressed or otherwise mentally ill person and getting them out of the negative numbers and back to zero are not at all effective in getting someone at zero into the positive numbers. Positive psychology addresses this directly.

Seligman determined that there are three things that make people happier. Positive experience (fucking, good food, being rich, being beautiful, being adored, the more superficial things), mastery (being good at something, experiencing flow, using your best talents in life) and having a higher purpose (worshiping a God, serving the community, serving the growth of scientific knowledge, essentially using your talents in the service of something greater than yourself).

So from a psychological point of view, believing that one has a purpose leads to greater happiness.

That's not Theist propaganda, that's hard science.





Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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08-05-2013, 10:19 AM
RE: Why do some believe in a purpose?
(08-05-2013 09:04 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Henn.

Meaning does not exist in any absolute sense. Meaning is created by humans.

Humans are meaning making machines.

So when we talk about having purpose, having no purpose, we're not talking about some absolute notion. We're talking about meaning that we ourselves have created.

So if it's meaningful for you to think that you have no purpose so that you are freed to create your own purpose (which seems contradictory to me, but whatevs) then cool. If it's meaningful for people to think that they have a purpose, more power to them.

The reason that we make meaning is so that we can understand. Understand ourselves, others, the living community, the planet, the universe, the Gods and our relationship to all of them. That's not something we're born with. It's something we learn and something that evolves over time. But we can't ACT unless we have some kind of understanding. We can REACT (fight/flight for instance), but we can't act (I'm going to build a structure in this place in this manner using these materials for this purpose).

Believing we have no purpose frees you for action. Believing we have purpose frees others for action.

From a strictly psychological point of view, Martin Seligman has done a lot of work with positive psychology over the years. The thrust of it is that he realised that the techniques of taking an anxious, depressed or otherwise mentally ill person and getting them out of the negative numbers and back to zero are not at all effective in getting someone at zero into the positive numbers. Positive psychology addresses this directly.

Seligman determined that there are three things that make people happier. Positive experience (fucking, good food, being rich, being beautiful, being adored, the more superficial things), mastery (being good at something, experiencing flow, using your best talents in life) and having a higher purpose (worshiping a God, serving the community, serving the growth of scientific knowledge, essentially using your talents in the service of something greater than yourself).

So from a psychological point of view, believing that one has a purpose leads to greater happiness.

That's not Theist propaganda, that's hard science.





Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

Good post, Matt.

Meaning is derived from patterns. All creatures search for patterns. Searching for patterns is the base of intelligence.

Humans seem to be the most evolved intelligence (we think so far) and we tend to search for patterns to a fault.

Patterns provide explanations and we want explanations for everything. Hence the god of the gaps.

Patterns are a great tool, and we are not the only creatures who employ this. If patterns prove to be true over and over they end up being hard coded and in our genes.

But patterns are also a great fallacy, because they exclude randomness. Randomness is something we have difficulty wrapping our heads around. It goes against our very fiber.

When something appears to be random, we scramble to find patterns. People spend tons of money on the elusive roulette system (there is none that works), invent all kinds of woo and gods to explain random events, and what have you.

It is the avoidance of the concept of randomness that keeps us asking for the purpose of life. Heck, I was wondering about that when I was 10 or 11. I long decided there wasn't any, just whatever I choose to make my personal mission. Our existence is random.

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08-05-2013, 10:25 AM
RE: Why do some believe in a purpose?
(08-05-2013 09:04 AM)Ghost Wrote:  So from a psychological point of view, believing that one has a purpose leads to greater happiness.

That's not Theist propaganda, that's hard science.

Anybody else see a conflict there? Big Grin

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08-05-2013, 10:27 AM
RE: Why do some believe in a purpose?
(08-05-2013 10:19 AM)Dom Wrote:  But patterns are also a great fallacy, because they exclude randomness. Randomness is something we have difficulty wrapping our heads around. It goes against our very fiber.

When something appears to be random, we scramble to find patterns. People spend tons of money on the elusive roulette system (there is none that works), invent all kinds of woo and gods to explain random events, and what have you.

It is the avoidance of the concept of randomness that keeps us asking for the purpose of life. Heck, I was wondering about that when I was 10 or 11. I long decided there wasn't any, just whatever I choose to make my personal mission. Our existence is random.

"The human mind abhors a vacuum of sense. When faced with an absurdity it strains its interpretative faculty to the utmost, to make the meaningless meaningful."

And there you have it - religion in a nutshell (though it applies to many other things as well). Not that making up an explanation actually does make the meaningless meaningful, we're just very good at fooling ourselves, as a species.

And I love it that our existence is random. In its own way it makes the most perfect of senses. If I've said it once, I've said it dozens of times here - nothing can compare to the peace of mind that comes from accepting the randomness of our existence.

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderĂ²."
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08-05-2013, 10:44 AM
RE: Why do some believe in a purpose?
Hey, Dom.

Quote:Patterns are a great tool, and we are not the only creatures who employ this. If patterns prove to be true over and over they end up being hard coded and in our genes.

Can't say I agree with that.

Also, what you're speaking about with patterns is markedly different from what I'm talking about. Just for the record.

Hey, Vera.

What's the source of that quote?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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08-05-2013, 10:49 AM
RE: Why do some believe in a purpose?
(08-05-2013 07:49 AM)Dom Wrote:  ...
Our propagation is leading towards extinction, it is not evolving towards a better or more dominant species.
...

The end of the world is nigh!

Doom! Doom! Dom the voice of Doom!

I'm going to have to change my sig now Sad


Just kinding, Dom, and thanks for the rep points. Smile

(08-05-2013 09:04 AM)Ghost Wrote:  ...
three things that make people happier:
Positive experience (fucking, good food, being rich, being beautiful, being adored, the more superficial things), mastery (being good at something, experiencing flow, using your best talents in life) and having a higher purpose (worshiping a God, serving the community, serving the growth of scientific knowledge, essentially using your talents in the service of something greater than yourself).
...

I'll change my sig to:
The PURPOSE of life is positive experience particularly fucking
The MEANING of life is mastery
The VALUE of life is having a higher purpose



Nah, the original was more poetic.

and I'm only quoting my own sig 'cause I know it irritates HoC Angel

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08-05-2013, 11:07 AM
RE: Why do some believe in a purpose?
(08-05-2013 10:49 AM)DLJ Wrote:  and I'm only quoting my own sig 'cause I know it irritates HoC Angel

Not so much anymore, now that I got one. But mine updates regularly. Tongue

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08-05-2013, 11:11 AM
RE: Why do some believe in a purpose?
(08-05-2013 10:44 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Vera.

What's the source of that quote?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

As far as I can remember, a book on semantics by Geoffrey Leech (I think). The original quote may have been a slightly differently phrased, I'm not too sure he didn't use this variant during a lecture or something. And he might have been paraphrasing someone else (other than it being a play on the saying that nature abhors a vacuum, that is).

It's just stuck with me ever since uni.

(The most hilarious thing is that if you google it with my exact wording... it comes back to this place. The circle is now complete Shocking )

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderĂ²."
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08-05-2013, 11:40 AM
RE: Why do some believe in a purpose?
I always just took it as another "It makes me feel good to believe it, therefore it is true" things.
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08-05-2013, 02:28 PM
RE: Why do some believe in a purpose?
(08-05-2013 10:44 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Dom.

Quote:Patterns are a great tool, and we are not the only creatures who employ this. If patterns prove to be true over and over they end up being hard coded and in our genes.

Can't say I agree with that.

Please explain.

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