1. Hmmm . . .
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    17 Sep '07 07:082 edits
    Recently, a friend on here described my view of things (as he sees it) as being “incredibly nihilistic: all meaning gobbled up by the posited ‘ground of all being’ at the center of your [my] idea of reality.”

    All “meaning”—“gobbled up”?

    I don’t know what that—means!

    _____________________________________

    I have moved his statement here, rather than simply posing the question to him, because I have been asking for some time now—in the face of similar statements—“What do you mean by ‘meaning’?”. I have yet to get an answer that, to me, makes sense of such a statement. From anyone.

    Now, whether or not my philosophical view is one in which “meaning” is gobbled up, I don’t know. Because I don’t know what that word “meaning” means in such a context. And it gets used a lot on here, in similar fashion. (For example, “If there is nothing after death, then life has no ‘meaning’.” Again, I haven’t the slightest clue—really!—what such a statement means.)

    To those of you who use the word “meaning” in such a context, I have a request—

    Please describe to me how you are using that word. Don’t simply make further assertions about what “has meaning” and what doesn’t—explain to me the use of that word in such contexts. Then I might understand what you are talking about...(which is what I mean by "meaning" ).
  2. Joined
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    17 Sep '07 13:45
    What do I mean by "meaning".

    If I say, "life has meaning", I mean that it is the "essence" of life beyond its' "material" existence that gives life its' "meaning".

    My life has "meaning" because I am a living soul. If the material of the body in which my life (soul) resides dies, rots, decays, and turns to dust, then that which gives life its' "meaning" remains eternally.

    Did I get it here? Is there no meaning to it? I'm really not sure if I got to the heart of it or not.
  3. Cape Town
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    17 Sep '07 14:06
    Originally posted by josephw
    What do I mean by "meaning".

    If I say, "life has meaning", I mean that it is the "essence" of life beyond its' "material" existence that gives life its' "meaning".

    My life has "meaning" because I am a living soul. If the material of the body in which my life (soul) resides dies, rots, decays, and turns to dust, then that which gives life its' "meaning" ...[text shortened]... here no meaning to it? I'm really not sure if I got to the heart of it or not.
    So are you saying that all non-eternal things have no "meaning"?

    What is so special about eternal existence that you feel it is so important to you that you life must have this "meaning"?

    I would ask what a soul is but from past experience I know I will get nothing more than evasion.
  4. Standard memberKellyJay
    Walk your Faith
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    17 Sep '07 15:033 edits
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Recently, a friend on here described my view of things (as he sees it) as being “incredibly nihilistic: all meaning gobbled up by the posited ‘ground of all being’ at the center of your [my] idea of reality.”

    All “meaning”—“gobbled up”?

    I don’t know what that—means!

    _____________________________________

    I have moved his statement here, ra ...[text shortened]... n I might understand what you are talking about...(which is what I mean by "meaning" ).
    Meaning and importance imply knowledge and will don't you think?
    I own a watch, it used to be my dad's, it was his dad's before him, and
    that watch also has importance to others because of it's age and
    how it was made, but it still means more to me than others, because it
    was my grandfather's watch; he got it from the rail road company he
    used to work for when he retired. It means more to me because of
    who it was connected too, not the make up of the watch itself which is
    why others may value it. My son values it now too, all for the same
    reasons, and it will mean more to him than it will to others when I am
    gone.
    Kelly
  5. Hmmm . . .
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    17 Sep '07 15:291 edit
    I do not restrict usage of a word to dictionary definitions; nor do I deny to others (or myself, for that matter) the possibility of non-standard usages for a given domain of discourse. As long as we understand how the terms are being defined.

    Just for background, here are a quick set of dictionary usages for the word “meaning”—

    1 a : the thing one intends to convey especially by language : PURPORT b : the thing that is conveyed especially by language : IMPORT
    2 : something meant or intended : AIM
    3 : significant quality; especially : implication of a hidden or special significance
    4 a : the logical connotation of a word or phrase b : the logical denotation or extension of a word or phrase

    Now, I think that definition 3. here is closer to what is meant in such examples as I gave in the OP; and in josephw’s and KellyJay’s posts. And, I think that “significance” is intended something along the lines of 2a below—

    1 a : something that is conveyed as a meaning often obscurely or indirectly b : the quality of conveying or implying
    2 a : the quality of being important : MOMENT b : the quality of being statistically significant

    —Merriam-Webster Online.

    ______________________________________

    If that is the case, then I can legitimately substitute the word “significance”—or “importance”— for the word “meaning” in the relevant sentences and make some sense of them.

    Once I do that, twhitehead’s question becomes: “So are you saying that all non-eternal things have no importance?”

    And the discussion can continue from there, once I have cleared away the other usages (1, 2 and 4 for example).

    ______________________________________

    If one wants to use the word “meaning” in a special, non-standard sense of “having eternal essence”, I can make a similar substitution. In which case, a claim that non-eternal things have no “meaning” becomes true tautologically—viz, “Non-eternal things have no eternal essence.”

    Now, I cannot argue that. I might ask what “eternal essence” means, or challenge the existence of such, or ask what other “meanings” non-eternal things might have. And then the discussion can continue from there.

    _____________________________________

    Since I generally use the word “meaning” more along the lines of definitions 1, 2 and 4, I will try myself to be more clear as to my usage—and if I mean “significance”, I will say “significance”. When others use the word “meaning”, I will continue to ask what they mean—and perhaps suggest “significance” or “importance”.

    This has been helpful. Thank you all for indulging my confusion...
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    17 Sep '07 22:15
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    So are you saying that all non-eternal things have no "meaning"?

    What is so special about eternal existence that you feel it is so important to you that you life must have this "meaning"?

    I would ask what a soul is but from past experience I know I will get nothing more than evasion.
    I'm not saying that at all. I am only trying to be context specific. And not doing it very well.

    It is only the meaning of "meaning" that I was trying to define. And not doing that very well either.

    A soul? I would not try to evade that question. I'm quite sure I know what a soul is. A soul is "who" we are. Every individual is a living soul. But the soul is only a part of who we are.
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    17 Sep '07 22:18
    Originally posted by vistesd
    I do not restrict usage of a word to dictionary definitions; nor do I deny to others (or myself, for that matter) the possibility of non-standard usages for a given domain of discourse. As long as we understand how the terms are being defined.

    Just for background, here are a quick set of dictionary usages for the word “meaning”—

    1 a : the thing one ...[text shortened]... ficance” or “importance”.

    This has been helpful. Thank you all for indulging my confusion...
    You're welcome.
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    05 Oct '07 10:21
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Recently, a friend on here described my view of things (as he sees it) as being “incredibly nihilistic: all meaning gobbled up by the posited ‘ground of all being’ at the center of your [my] idea of reality.”

    All “meaning”—“gobbled up”?

    I don’t know what that—means!

    _____________________________________

    I have moved his statement here, ra ...[text shortened]... n I might understand what you are talking about...(which is what I mean by "meaning" ).
    You've been accused of failing to provide for 'meaning' too? I guess I'm in good company then. I don't think I can help you here. I still haven't found a formulation of 'meaning' that I particularly like, except to say that I think it is an inherently normative concept. I can say I disagree strongly with whatever josephw is going on about here. I think views along those lines -- basically that things either have eternal/essential significance or none at all -- are terribly confused. I've never understood the notion that transience somehow precludes "real" meaning. Maybe best to speak in parables and the like. You're familiar with the following one?

    A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!
  9. Hmmm . . .
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    05 Oct '07 10:31
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    You've been accused of failing to provide for 'meaning' too? I guess I'm in good company then. I don't think I can help you here. I still haven't found a formulation of 'meaning' that I particularly like, except to say that I think it is an inherently normative concept. I can say I disagree strongly with whatever josephw is going on about here. I thi ...[text shortened]... ne with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted![/i]
    I've never understood the notion that transience somehow precludes "real" meaning.

    Me either.

    Maybe best to speak in parables and the like.

    Well, I’ve made a run recently at trying to get at it in fairly standard language, without either Buddhist, etc. jargon or parables, koans and the like. Pretty much failed; so I think you are right.

    I’m sitting a bit easier with it though, since “the bottom of the bucket fell out.”

    Yes, I’ve seen that Zen parable; Hafiz could’ve written that one as well.
  10. Joined
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    05 Oct '07 10:44
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b]I've never understood the notion that transience somehow precludes "real" meaning.

    Me either.

    Maybe best to speak in parables and the like.

    Well, I’ve made a run recently at trying to get at it in fairly standard language, without either Buddhist, etc. jargon or parables, koans and the like. Pretty much failed; so I think you are rig ...[text shortened]... cket fell out.”

    Yes, I’ve seen that Zen parable; Hafiz could’ve written that one as well.[/b]
    I’m sitting a bit easier with it though, since “the bottom of the bucket fell out.”

    🙂 Me too. No more water, no more moon.

    I'm glad you brought up Hafiz 'cause he is solidly my very favorite, and his words continually scold me for laying the music aside and tackling such questions in the first place!
  11. Subscriberduecer
    anybody seen my
    underpants??
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    05 Oct '07 10:57
    😴
  12. Hmmm . . .
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    05 Oct '07 11:022 edits
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    [b]I’m sitting a bit easier with it though, since “the bottom of the bucket fell out.”

    🙂 Me too. No more water, no more moon.

    I'm glad you brought up Hafiz 'cause he is solidly my very favorite, and his words continually scold me for laying the music aside and tackling such questions in the first place![/b]
    Yes, Hafiz might now say: “Don’t start to go off wondering what to do about that ‘no-moon’!”

    (We’ll have to talk quietly, so as not to wake the duecer...)

    EDIT:

    Not as good as Chyono, but you'll get it anyway:

    KENSHO

    Long time walking
    through thin-misty rain,

    slow-
    ly

    real-
    izing

    allofasudden
    I’m soaking wet!

    What to do now
    but keep on walking,
    wetter and wetter
    along the long way...
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