Language, Meaning, Existence & Authentic Purpose

Language allows us to give meaning to our existence, and meaning is a bridge between existence and purpose.

Because of this, only sapiens organisms that possess a language can be creatures of purpose.

This does not mean, however, that the meaningful construct created by language necessarily has to produce purposiveness. Even with a deep understanding of the meaningfulness of human activity in the world the purpose of the word itself alludes us.

This is because the reasons for things are as numerous as the things themselves and all their parts, but not any of those reasons on their own give us any indication of real purposiveness.

But, how can this be? If existence and purpose are bridged by meaning, why isn’t that bridge a clear enough path to understand what lies on either side of it? What is the difference between meaning and purpose in this case?

If meaning comes through language, we are talking about the understanding of things provided by language, primarily through the naming of stuff (physical objects and mental concepts) and secondly through our linguistic capacity to formulate questions about things and find answers to those questions.

Once we have a language structure capable of providing an inquisitive mechanism we can search for an understanding of all things through the formulation of questions about them.

Authentic purposiveness is concerned with questions aimed at the totality of things as a singularity, or of the experience of the total, human singularity within the greater singularity of the Universe. Authentic purposiveness is related to metaphysics and the questions concerning the potential scope of human beings in the Universe.

We can discover what something is, and, by naming it we can preserve it and make it easy to recognise when we find it again or remember it. Likewise, by observing things or by using them or experimenting with them, or by learning about them from others with experience of them, we can know what they are for, where they have come from, or where to find them. Even things that no longer exist can be rediscovered through documents written about them or by talking to witnesses, or communicating with others who have talked to witnesses, or through photos or drawings. Some things seem easy to understand, like doors and tables; so easy that we do not even need to think about them. Their purpose is self-explanatory. Some other things of which we know beforehand what they are used for and which we take for granted, like televisions and phones, have complex technological motors that need instruction manuals in order for us to decipher how they operate. Cars need a driving course to learn how to manipulate them and musical instruments require hours of practice, study, and accumulative experience in order to make them sound harmoniously and be able to create musical forms with them. However, when we examine everything as a singularity in order to ask the big question, what is it all for?, certainty seems to crumble within our very minds.

Traditionally this is the area of gods and God; of myths and faiths, as if any answer can be good enough if you believe in it because the important thing, traditionally, is to have an answer, and really any answer will do as long as it is convincing. To make it more convincing, metaphysics turned to logic, which complicated things because logic can be complicating. Then, when any answer was now no longer good enough, we preferred no answer at all. God was pronounced dead and metaphysics died with It. If we really cannot know, then why try to know?

But let us return to the idea of meaning as a bridge metaphor. Through it we see that (i) meaning is a natural end result of existence and thinking itself, and (ii) the meaning that language invests our lives with drives us in singular direction that terminates in purpose. Meaning is dependent on a concept, object or an act making sense, but the sense of any concept, object or act can only be determined by considering its purpose.

When we stop looking for it our Sapiens qualities, of knowing, thinking, and questioning, lose their driving energy. Nihilism threatens all progress because it negates the drive that produces progress, which is purpose. As living creatures, we struggle to survive, and as Sapiens we need to know what that survival is meant for; but also, as Sapiens we struggle to give a purpose to our lives that transcends mere survival. It is because we need purpose to vindicate our evolution and progress that we need to make purposiveness a central feature of our culture and our societies.

Authentic purpose gives us a reason for language; a reason for meaning; a reason for thinking; a reason for being.

Purpose is also a measure of meaning. That which is imbued with more purpose is more meaningful and that which lacks purpose is meaningless. But, if this is the case, the difference between meaning and purpose has become muddied again, hasn’t it?

Meaning can define a phenomena and tell us what it is and even what it is for in the immediate sense of that term, but purposiveness points in the direction of an end result to the phenomena, to what it is ultimately here for, to its true vocation or destiny, if you like.

Meaning is discovered through scientific enquiry, whereas purposiveness is found through philosophical questioning via the results of the original scientific enquiry.

Meaning reveals how the world is; purpose shows us how it can progress and develop.

Meaning is factual; purpose is creative.

For this reason, purposiveness is tied to aesthetics, and through aesthetics to judgement, freedom and the eternal.    

THE NEW METAPHYSICAL-VALUATION (the Post-Thanatos age)

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Metaphysically speaking, we are living in cultures dominated by the Second Valuation of reality. Our Western Civilisation has been in this Second Valuation so long that is hard for us to imagine what the First Metaphysical-Valuation was like, but it would have been based on two misconceptions: a) That we were existing in and moving over a horizontal plane that extends infinitely into space; and b) That we would never die if we were not killed or made to wither away by someone’s magic, and subsequently there are people who have lived for a very long time.

The Second Metaphysical-Valuation is, basically, a complete refutation of the original fundamental ideas, and any culture or society now professing a belief in the vision of the First Valuation would be labelled ‘primitive’. In refuting this First Valuation, the Second Valuation advocates that: A) We are trapped on the surface of a sphere and that everything is cyclical; and B) We all die. Both A and B are intertwined: we all die because everything is cyclical, and everything is cyclical because we all die.

The Second Metaphysical-Valuation of reality is irrefutable, but also misleading because it hides the basis of the new, Third Metaphysical-Valuation: I) Although everything is revolving around each other, the general movement in the Universe is expansion. In fact, the underlying truth is that we are moving forward rather than circling aimlessly around; and from this II) Death is merely one of the characteristics of progress – a point of change and renewal which is necessary in the overall process of continuity and expansion.

Death is not an end, but a part of continuation, and therefore death is not death itself. The idea of continuation kills death.

This is the dawning of the Post-Thanatos age.

THE FOUR-CORNERED TRUTH

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“What is truth?” said Pilate, and washed his hands.

What the Roman Prefect understood was the enormous relativity of the concept. Even if Christ says “I am Truth” it still remains ambiguous. What does this Truth actually mean? Well, it can mean whatever you want, and that is what Christ became… whatever his promoters wanted him to be. Nevertheless the concept of Truth itself does have a meaning and a function. It is the anti-lie. If truth is relative then Truth is that which discerns the lies embedded in all relativity. For relativity can be used for honest and dishonest purposes. We have uncovered “truths” embedded in paradoxes, but we’ve also seen how the paradox is a powerful tool for covering lies[i].

Yet despite its ambiguity and elusiveness, Truth has to concern us. It is a synonym of reality and authenticity and will believe that an understanding of the triptych Truth-Reality-Authenticity is necessary for any real progress on a human level to take place. It is what really is, and this makes it the prime subject valid for humanity in the world. Truth is in the Subject and the Subject is that which encloses us. We can call it the Universe or the World. But Truth seen as the subject-world becomes a duality in which Truth has to be shared between the world and that which perceives it and brings it into true Being, and this is Intelligence. In this way we get a four-cornered truth of the World-Intelligence as Subject-Object. The world is the Subject to Intelligence because it only becomes Being if Intelligence perceives it. Likewise Intelligence is Subject to the World by perceiving and knowing and reflecting it in its brain before projecting it forward. In the same way it is also the Object of the World as it is equally dependent on the world for its own being.

Real Truth is therefore not just the Subject but the Subject-Object Uroboros. The reality of existence is that its Being depends on a Uroboric vicious circle – a paradox.  This idea, that the truth is a nasty paradox, may seem like a terrible nightmare or a liberation, but in any case it is a necessity.

The idea is not new: quite possibly, if depth-psychology theory is correct, it is the oldest idea. But though we still know it from the alchemical Uroboros and the oriental Yin-Yang, its profound relevance is not relevant to or even consciously realised by most people or their cultures.

 

That which is  not perceived does not exist. Perception illuminates that which is not and makes it that which is. Perceiving intelligence exalts that being with its knowledge. The Big Bang did not exist until intelligence made it real.  The ultimate purpose of the Big Bang, the desire behind the movement, was to create an intelligence that would evolve into something that could discover itself. Is this such a wild notion? How can a non-intelligence have desires? How could it conceive something without consciousness? Must we talk about Will or Spirit? Can we talk about these things?

Science is divided, but there are cosmologists who would have to say yes. In cosmology they now talk of the Cosmological  Constant and the Fine Tuning of the Universe. The Universe seems constructed in a deliberate way to allow life to form, and evolution on our planet would indicate that the culmination of the life forming process is “intelligence”. The intelligence that knows that it knows. If this is the truth then immediate ethical consequences can be drawn from it, the first being that our historical process of the segregation of humanity has been a totally equivocal one. From the simple idea that the Universe has a purpose rooted in the creation of and the subsequent existential partnership with Intelligence allows us to find new authenticities: a new purposefulness, a new meaning.

Our relevant beginning, our Genesis, is the beginning of the creation of the life-support system of our planet Earth. The concept of Truth as Subject-Object is a World-Humanity concept. Quality of Being depends on being perceived and “understood”. The key to our purpose is our responsibility as cognitive entities to the World-Universe that needs us for its own quality of Being.

The Big-Other narrative that we currently live in is a non-authentic one: it is a lie. The Truth is still to be discovered, but it is necessary for us to start looking for it “truthfully”, via our greatest tool for truth – science.


[i] See our article “Lacan, Poe, and the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories” published in the Australian journal Going Down Swinging, #33 http://goingdownswinging.org.au/site/showcase/going-down-swinging-33/

THE ULTIMATE REASON

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There is an anecdote, told by Peter Sloterdijk in Neither Sun nor Death, that a rabbi taught that the Creation was attempted twenty-seven times before finally getting it right on the twenty-eighth experiment.

Let us imagine twenty-seven Big Bangs, creating twenty-seven kinds of universes that were all incapable of spawning a life form possessing self-awareness and intellectual perception of the universe that enveloped it. Without such a life form these universes themselves did not really exist and the rabbi would have to trust the Creator’s word that he had actually made these things that were never perceived by anything except Itself. Only the twenty-eighth Creation, this one that we perceive, has been successful, because the primary definition of a successful existence depends quite simply on the existence being perceived.

We are not the end-result of Creation, but the end result may have to come through us, or through us and through other Sapiens species with a similar capacity for sensing, learning, understanding and teaching what is known. The reason behind Creation has to be in its self-discovery – discovered by what Itself has created. This is not a question of intuition of God or of a faith and belief in the dogma of religion, but of a complete and unambiguous understanding of the Universe in which we are.

BETWEEN BIRTH AND DEATH

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Where is the freedom

Between birth and death

In the illumination between birth and death

Where is the freedom?

 

Open your eyes into the light

Close them and blackness fills

 

Our prisons are walls, or bars, or desert island insulations

Cells can be cages, or boxes, or bags, or homes

We are trapped in tunnels, or caves, on roads or rivers

Prisons can be of flesh

Or they can be of families

The tyrant gaoler father mother sister brother teacher boss

Ruler or friend, lover or foe

Prison is an isolation or a multitude

Retard movement in a restricting suit

With rope or chains or behind a steel locked door

Prisons impede

Impede your progress

Your ability to leave

Only mentally can you escape

 

Homo Sapiens: I think therefore I know

I know therefore I’m free

 

But the multitude is a different prison

A lobotomising gaol that dresses you

In the way it wants you to be dressed

That nourishes you

With the junk it wants you to have

 

The multitude is a prison of thinkers that do not know

Ostrich-head minds that do not want to see

Anti-sensory sapiens that refuse wisdom

 

Our boots are heavy with the mud of life

As we wade through the stress filled swamp of an imaginary illumination

There is no freedom there

 

Prisoners to the techno monsters that master us

We struggle so hard to buy our way in to the gaol

 

There is no freedom there

Unless you find the door

 

Everyone has a door to open

Hidden from them by the multitude

Under its thick curtain of economy

And the culture of money

But the exit is there if you are capable of uncovering it

 

You are Homo Sapiens: You think therefore you know

You know therefore you’re free

 

Imagine Rodin’s statuesque Thinker

Sitting on a backdoor key

That will unlock the exit and free him from the trap that

Is this ridiculous anti-human space

Between birth and death