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We are driving a juggernaut along a road which leads directly to a cliff edge. If we go straight, we will topple into an abyss. Obviously we cannot continue the way we are going. To avoid annihilation, we have one of two choices: we can either turn left toward a Utopia, or right into a Dystopia. It seems obvious which decision needs to be made. And yet … most of those on board are screaming to the driver to turn right. Why? Why would we choose a Dystopia before a Utopia?

 

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MEANINGFULNESS: Transcending Nihilism and Determinism.

Quantum Energy - Universe

THE MEANING

The Universe is meaningful, or it is not. We cannot be absolutely certain one way or the other. Intuition can argue both cases and empirical investigation merely stumbles into an empty hole.

The question of meaning is a uniquely human, or, more accurately, sapiens issue: the concern over meaning is only pertinent to organisms that can understand what meaning is. The meaning is in the capacity to understand meaning. For the natural world to be meaningful, therefore, it has to create meaning for itself, firstly by creating conditions for life that can evolve into sapiens forms capable of understanding meaning.

This process of creating meaning is itself sufficient as a teleological reason. In this way, meaning is discovered through the creation of meaning. Much like Columbus had no original intention of going to America. He intended to cross the sea to India, but once America was found, the intention of all Trans-Atlantic voyages from Europe since then have been to reach the Americas. So, just as America becomes real through the discovery of America; meaning becomes real through the discovery of meaning. An event which was brought about by the evolution of organisms with an intelligence capable of formulating the concept of meaning and the capacity to invent and reinvent what meaning is.

This realisation that meaning is the meaning of meaning, contains a powerful positivism, transcending both determinism and nihilism: The Universe is either meaningful or it is not, but the fact that we can make that distinction or ask that question is meaningful. In other words, the very fact that we can conceive the Universe to be possibly meaningless makes it meaningful. That there exists a point, any point, in the vast stretches of the Universe where that question can be formulated, gives credence to the circumstance that, during the time that the intelligence exists to formulate such a question, the Universe itself, as it is conceived by that entity, is imbued with meaning.

Yes, meaning lies in the existence of the concept of meaning. If there is a meaning to evolution it is in the creation of a capacity to understand meaning, meaningfulness and even meaninglessness. Meaning proves the meaningfulness of all things.

Nihilism is therefore unimportant, because once we have understood the concept of meaning, life is meaningful. Likewise, determinism is a non-issue. Whether this was willed or accidental, it does not matter at all. The fact is that meaning exists as a concept and will only exist while the concept continues to exist. The meaningful course is, therefore, the way that will perpetuate the concept of meaning. Real nihilism would only arise when the concept itself is lost – which is impossible whilst a living creature with a functional language exists. Meaning is embedded in all language. The nature of language is to give a meaning to existence by naming existence. I think; therefore, I am meaningful.

But this is also misleading, because we are limiting our definition of language to the words we say, when in fact language can become a far more ubiquitous phenomenon. If we define language through its function, which is communication, we see that it is the very fabric of the Universe itself because communication is an integral part of the sub-atomic structure of everything. Language communicates information and cosmologists and physicists like Vlatko Vedral and Rafael Bousso argue that information is the bedrock of the Universe. [1] We can think of no better link between what we perceive to be the material and spiritual fabrics of the Universe, and no better explanation of the dual-reality of mind and body than the fact that the Universe is structured on information.  But we want to take this concept one step further than the physicists: if meaning is embedded in language and communication, and communication is entrenched in the Universe; then the Universe must also be imbued with meaning.

This brings us again to the importance of the sapiens. It is through a self-conscious understanding of meaning, which is knowing, that the language embedded in the Universe is imbued with meaning. Sapiens give meaning to meaning. Knowing what meaning is, makes meaning meaningful.

THE ANTI-MEANING

Yet, if the meaning is there, embedded in the fabric of everything, doesn’t this also leave us in the limbo of nihilism: if everything is meaningful, then nothing is more meaningful than anything else, and, subsequently, nothing is more important than anything else. Given this kind of metaphysical scenario; how can we decide what needs to be done? Nevertheless, this is an unfair question: the essence can never be a moral pointer in itself, beyond the essential question itself – which is: Is the essence of the Universe meaningful or not? If the answer is yes; the essence is meaningful and therefore good, and this is a moral conclusion that has moral consequences, but only while we know it. Remember, only while it is known what meaning is, can meaning be meaningful. The good is something worth preserving, or as Heidegger said, something worth caring-for. And, in order to preserve what is meaningful we must protect that which knows what is meaningful: we have to protect the sapiens; we have to protect humanity and its capacity for knowing, understanding and creating meaning through the arts and sciences.

This may sound like stating the obvious, but it is not obvious at all. For the last seventy years, at least, we have been living under a shadow of the threat of self-destruction: first, through the nuclear arms proliferation of the Cold War; and afterwards by our rapacious destruction of the biosphere. Humanity is now revealed to be following an anti-meaning, a meaningless jeopardising of meaning itself by turning our backs on the preservation of meaning, which is the preservation of humanity itself.

We do well to ask ourselves how such an absurd situation could ever come about? If the essence of the Universe is meaning, how could that essence be undermined by they who possess and understand meaning better than any other entity in the Universe? Without knowing what meaning is, there is no meaning. This is the existential role of all sapiens entities in the Universe, and every time your brain clicks into conscious-thinking mode you are participating in this existential experience. Our existence makes the Universe meaningful, and that puts humanity at the very centre of things.

To live in a way that threatens our survival is, therefore, fundamentally evil; it is life in the bubble of anti-meaning. This absurdity is possible due to the structure of human thought itself. Its logical form and its dependency on measurement in order to define and give meaning to things, not only understands meaningfulness, it also defines the meaningless. The same consciousness that allows us to comprehend an idea like the One, or absolutes of Good, or Truth, immediately creates an anti-version. Against Good is Evil; against Truth is the Lie; against the One is the Void … and against Meaning is Non-meaning; against Meaningfulness is Nihilism.

The logical creation of opposites in order to understand has a lethal effect on any idea of singularity. The One just cannot be grasped for any length of time by a mind that functions within a logic of constant comparison. If there is a meaning, there must also be an anti-meaning; if there is 1, there must also be -1. Traditionally, it has only been through the anti-logic of faith that thinking has been able to overcome the logical result of that equation: 1-1=0; equals nihilism.

Post-modernism was correct in associating truth with relativity and pluralism – we give the meaning we want to reality – but to save that pluralism from the anarchy of everything is permitted, it has to be anchored in the metaphysical ubiquity of meaning itself. As everything is allowed, then nothing is meaningful is a wrong assumption, because not everything is allowed. Everything is permitted except the assumption that the ubiquitous meaning is meaningless. We can’t think meaning away, it can only go away when we stop thinking. Nihilism, therefore, is not something that is thought out or thought away. Nihilism as non-meaning, is non-thought; it is the absence of thought. And if thought is a celebration of the meaning constituting the Universe, nihilism (non-thought/non-meaning) is nothing more than a threat, albeit a very serious threat.

OUR POSITIVISM

Our positivism centres meaning where it has to be – in our minds. The meaningful is linked to thinking and awareness. The more aware we are, the more meaningful life is. All ignorance diminishes meaning and propagates meaninglessness via a lack of awareness. Knowledge nurtures meaning itself. Likewise, art and technology, when developed through an erudite process with a thirst for knowledge, expand the meaningful.

By being centred in meaning we are situating ourselves in the centre of the meaningful Universe, and that is a spiritually uplifting experience. The deeper the sapiens species delves into its own sapiens nature, the nobler it becomes and the closer it gets to the purposeful existence of the good, because meaningful, life.

[1] For more information about the information Universe watch Robert Lawrence Kuhn’s video https://youtu.be/-ATWa2AEvIY or read Vlatko Vedral, Decoding Reality https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decoding_Reality

 

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