Author Topic: Meaning  (Read 1805 times)

Cramulus

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Meaning
« on: March 20, 2018, 02:28:10 pm »
Is Meaning something that we create with our minds?

Or does it exist in the universe--external to our minds?





For years, I took the first position -- likely influenced by Camus et al. After all, a book or film can have many different "readings" and none of them may be "correct". The 'meaning' is subjective! So likely the universe is like that too, no?

Now I am experimenting with the second position.




Hofstadter, author of Godel Escher Bach, thinks that meaning is something we decode.  He'd point out that the 'meaning' of 1+1 isn't a human construct.

Hosfstadter asserts that meaning emerges from these isomorphic relationships between concepts. The notion that meaning is generated only by humans--something that exists only in brains--he called biological chauvinism. He thinks 'formal systems' generate meaning, and humans don't create it, they decode it.



what do you cats think?

Vanadium Gryllz

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Re: Meaning
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2018, 02:50:49 pm »
Well first of all I haven't read any Hofstadter so I feel fully qualified to posit an answer.

Is Meaning something that we create with our minds?

Or does it exist in the universe--external to our minds?





Hofstadter, author of Godel Escher Bach, thinks that meaning is something we decode.  He'd point out that the 'meaning' of 1+1 isn't a human construct.


I could get behind the idea that there's one 'really real' universe where 1+1 always is.

But whether we are decoding the meaning or creating it subjectively I am not sure I see the difference in these two viewpoints?

Who is to say we have decoded the meaning correctly?
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LMNO

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Re: Meaning
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2018, 03:20:03 pm »
Term definition error: default to MAIN
Back to front:
Quote from: JHMIII, Constructing Reality
If we agree that life is more than a dream, that our consciousness dwells in a universe that includes things other than itself, then what is the nature of those things?
Is what I think Hofstadter was getting at.

Quote from: some spag
Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted.
Is what I think Camus was getting at.

There is some Venn overlapping, but not a whole lot.

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Re: Meaning
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2018, 03:48:53 pm »
I'm not sure 2 really exists, because it requires someone to observe a bunch quantum-porridge and conclude that one bunch is sufficiently similar to the next one so that you can meaningfully count them together.
Truth is an abstraction, so is meaning, so are you, me, and everything else.
How does it differ if meaning comes from people or the universe, if people come from the universe?

*ducks just in case*
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Faust

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Re: Meaning
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2018, 04:02:40 pm »
"Light in the absence of eyes illuminates nothing. Visible forms are not inherent in the world, but are granted by the act of seeing. Though the world and events do exist independent of mind, they obtain of no meaning in themselves- none that the mind is not guilty of imposing on them"
-Trevor Goodchild

1+1 = 2 the interpretation of what is observed, mathematical systems emerge in the same form in different cultures as what they represent because they are constant.

Ricky Gervais touched on universal facts when he was talking about religion, I find him glib a lot of the time but this rang true with me:
If you were to destroy all the physical scientific text books, and every copy of a religious text say the bible, and wait say a few hundred years. The bible wouldn't reemerge, at least not unchanged.
The physical laws would reemerge, mostly unchanged because they are based on measurement, they are reproducible based on unchanging laws.

These I would consider the decoded meanings, and are observable to anything capable of doing so and comprehending them, they are not meanings we have created but are inherent to the context of our existence.
May you find your worth in the waking world

Cramulus

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Re: Meaning
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2018, 04:32:15 pm »
Oh, just remembered, there's a good video on this topic - earmarking to re-watch later:  Is Math a Feature of the Universe or a Feature of Human Creation?


Back to front:
Quote from: JHMIII, Constructing Reality
If we agree that life is more than a dream, that our consciousness dwells in a universe that includes things other than itself, then what is the nature of those things?
Is what I think Hofstadter was getting at.

Can you elaborate? I get a little murky around GEB. And I don't quite follow the quote - is it saying that the "nature" of those things is the 'meaning'? Then you're saying meaning exists independently of consciousness, yeah?



If you were to destroy all the physical scientific text books, and every copy of a religious text say the bible, and wait say a few hundred years. The bible wouldn't reemerge, at least not unchanged.
The physical laws would reemerge, mostly unchanged because they are based on measurement, they are reproducible based on unchanging laws.

I think, by the way,
that the bible would reemerge, but in a different form, from a different perspective.

There are a few 'things' at the core of all religions. Margaret Anderson writes about the origin of Gurdjieff's thoughts: "In Gurdjieff's own words, this traces back to 'initiate people'. Or, in another's words, 'the Gnostics were not the inventors of this ancient knowledge, any more than Gurdjieff was'. All "cults", religions, teachers, go to this common "initiate source" or pool or storage-place and take from it whatever they are able. Then of course they falsify, until nothing is left of the original truths and their vitality (I mean by "common source", available to all who are able to take from it.)"

There a few varieites of mystical experiences, but they actually have a lot in common. If you go off into the desert and starve yourself and eventually have a VISION, and it CHANGES YOU... you will be in good company. There are a few 'truths' which people seem to arrive at independently, despite being in vastly different times and places.

Gurdjieff thought that a truth was "objective" if it could be seen clearly despite being described in different terms by 10 different blind men who all have their hand on only one part of it. Which is handy, because any single verbal description of these truths is woefully inadequate. ("the tao that can be spoken is not the eternal tao")




PS: I guess that should be taken with a grain of salt, becuase there have been multiple Mansons in history and that doesn't make their observations a 'truth'.


« Last Edit: March 20, 2018, 05:02:47 pm by Cramulus »

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Re: Meaning
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2018, 06:15:35 pm »
Our common genetic material dictates how our brains are structured and how our brains are structured dictate the thoughts we come up with. Which parts of the Truth are universal, and which ones just human? We'd need a non-human to tell them apart. How a rock reacts to being thrown can tell a lot about the world. All the thoughts are still (to my knowing) human, so their universality is hard to verify.
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rong

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Re: Meaning
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2018, 02:04:59 am »
meaning is only that which is meant
there is no meant without intent
the more you vent the better you feel
so let's be mean at every meal
"he was a smart feller who felt smart"

Doktor Howl

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Re: Meaning
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2018, 03:58:35 am »
Meaning is entirely subjective.

You present any idea - any idea at all - to ten people.  1 person is going to become a crusader for that idea, another person is going to pretend to be a crusader for that idea to be edgy or whatnot, 6 people are gonna be meh about it, 2 people crusade against it, and the last person thinks it's the most depressing shit ever and kills him/herself.

You may notice there's an extra person in there.  Siri hates your fucking idea, too.
Well, that's hardly my fault.  I was just doing what I do, doing my little dance, singing my little song, you know?  And then Hirley0 got on the dance floor and said

SHAKE THAT
First ^  Then V

And I did.  I didn't feel like I had any choice.  Between P-Funk and Hirley0, I became the man reptillian menace I am today.

Bootsy Collins did this to me.

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Re: Meaning
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2018, 12:08:02 pm »


Back to front:
Quote from: JHMIII, Constructing Reality
If we agree that life is more than a dream, that our consciousness dwells in a universe that includes things other than itself, then what is the nature of those things?
Is what I think Hofstadter was getting at.

Can you elaborate? I get a little murky around GEB. And I don't quite follow the quote - is it saying that the "nature" of those things is the 'meaning'? Then you're saying meaning exists independently of consciousness, yeah?

I was just being fancy and rephrasing the "Objective vs Subjective" riff.  If we agree that there's stuff out there that exist independently of ourselves (please, don't @quantum me on this), then we can figure out the rules and laws which govern how the stuff exists.  That, in one sense, is "meaning" -- an objective understanding of the universe.  It's like the NdT quote, "science doesn't care if you believe in it."

On the other hand, if you're looking to create a narrative about why you exist in this universe, or about your observations of other stuff through time, then you're editing out the majority of stuff happening in the universe in order to form something coherent.  This, in another sense, is "meaning" -- a subjective experience of the universe.  I think it was RAW who said, "reality is what you can get away with."

Cramulus

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Re: Meaning
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2018, 01:31:13 pm »
Meaning is entirely subjective.

You present any idea - any idea at all - to ten people.  1 person is going to become a crusader for that idea, another person is going to pretend to be a crusader for that idea to be edgy or whatnot, 6 people are gonna be meh about it, 2 people crusade against it, and the last person thinks it's the most depressing shit ever and kills him/herself.

You may notice there's an extra person in there.  Siri hates your fucking idea, too.

 :lol: is siri the one that kills themself?




I was just being fancy and rephrasing the "Objective vs Subjective" riff.  If we agree that there's stuff out there that exist independently of ourselves (please, don't @quantum me on this), then we can figure out the rules and laws which govern how the stuff exists.  That, in one sense, is "meaning" -- an objective understanding of the universe.  It's like the NdT quote, "science doesn't care if you believe in it."

On the other hand, if you're looking to create a narrative about why you exist in this universe, or about your observations of other stuff through time, then you're editing out the majority of stuff happening in the universe in order to form something coherent.  This, in another sense, is "meaning" -- a subjective experience of the universe.  I think it was RAW who said, "reality is what you can get away with."

You & Faust both mention the "natural laws" of the universe as the "objective" description of it - and I can get down with that.

Tied into the idea that something could have a 'meaning' is the idea that something could have a 'purpose'. And this is a little hard for me to wrap my head around too, I mean, 'purpose' seems very subjective, tied to intention, which is hardly universal - the purpose of a fork could be to comb my hair, you know?

But then - my legs and feet are for moving around, right? Yeah I can also use them to kick, and also to get off sailors, but they evolved for a specific purpose, no?

Or is that too much baggage? Is it better to just say that feet have no inherent purpose, creatures that have feetlike things were just better at breeding etc etc and that explains feet better than naming their general goal?




Cramulus

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Re: Meaning
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2018, 01:46:07 pm »
I'm going to crawl out on a limb
and postulate (to test the strength of this branch):

that there are "natural laws" of the universe which describe general trends

and that because these trends are visible in the larger cosmos
and also isomorphically,
within the microcosmos of self,

they could be part of this 'meaning'.



What I'm talking about is a little more abstract than F=ma.
To give an example-----

As Above
So Below

Which is saying

Structural similarities exist in all parts of nature. There is an isomorphic correspondence between big and small.
The individual exists within the collective, and the collective exists within the individual.

As I said, it's abstract, it's not testable by STEM sciences like F=ma, and it's easily conflated with aphorisms like "early to bed, early to rise". It requires a subjective call about what's above and what's below.

But look---
the way veins and arteries branch into capillaries
the way leaves have similar patterns on them
the way roads branch
the way rivers branch

there seems to be an underlying structure for certain kinds of distribution
and I don't think that's just a function of my pattern-finding mind



Maybe I could call these things "Fractal Truths". Because every time they are expressed, they come out slightly differently, they are colored by circumstance.

Faust

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Re: Meaning
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2018, 02:10:48 pm »
There is something to that, certain observed patterns repeat because of the way the forces interact.

Certain patterns appear again and again because the interactions that form them go through similar methods on a micro and macro scale.
The conch shell, spirals of the galaxy to vortexes, hexagonal basalt pillars to honeycomb, even zebra  patterns to lines of a Diffraction grating.

The conch and Spiral of the galaxies is the way energies normally stratify, some through angular momentum, or because they grew from a point outwards. The hexagons form because of volcanic material because it is the optimal shape for energy distribution of things pressing around it (flies eyes, bubbles etc).

They do reveal similarities via their interactions, and there is something majestic in that, (in so far as math can be majestic). Mathematical principles that govern the interactions of our forces can have similar looking effects on the micro to macro scale.
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LMNO

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Re: Meaning
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2018, 02:16:04 pm »
So, it sounds like you're drifting into semantics, which is fine, so long as all your eyes are open.

Quote
Tied into the idea that something could have a 'meaning' is the idea that something could have a 'purpose'.

See, here's a good example... Who is doing the 'tying' here? 

ATTENTION: THE FOLLOWING IS NOT PEDANTIC.

Since we're going down the definition route, I hope we can start at a common place of agreement, Merriam Webster.  The first definition is conveying a 'thing' using language.  This appears to be the Objective definition, in that it is conveying the physical rules in which a thing exists in this universe.  The second definition is something that is intended; this can be taken to mean the Subjective definition, as it implies the thing has a purpose.

(I'm not going to go down the path of defining "purpose" in the same manner, save that its definition is subject to the same dichotomy, and so on)

So Objectively, the feet behave in this physical manner; they evolved to behave in this manner because of these biological principles; those principles exist because of these macro physical laws; those exist because of quantum laws (I skipped a few steps there - you get the picture).  Subjectively, you can speak about the feet needing a destination, or that since shoes have a purpose to fit feet, is there a similar purpose for feet?  We're going to need to specifically announce which definition of purpose we're going to use, or things get confused.

As far as structural similarities, one would predict this if the Universe had a set of physical constant laws, especially after decoherence (that is, when we leave the realm of probability matrices).  If they didn't behave similarly when scaling up/down, it would be similar to gravity only working some of the time.


Cramulus

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Re: Meaning
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2018, 03:48:32 pm »
Since we're going down the definition route, I hope we can start at a common place of agreement, Merriam Webster.  The first definition is conveying a 'thing' using language.  This appears to be the Objective definition, in that it is conveying the physical rules in which a thing exists in this universe.  The second definition is something that is intended; this can be taken to mean the Subjective definition, as it implies the thing has a purpose.

(I'm not going to go down the path of defining "purpose" in the same manner, save that its definition is subject to the same dichotomy, and so on)

So Objectively, the feet behave in this physical manner; they evolved to behave in this manner because of these biological principles; those principles exist because of these macro physical laws; those exist because of quantum laws (I skipped a few steps there - you get the picture).  Subjectively, you can speak about the feet needing a destination, or that since shoes have a purpose to fit feet, is there a similar purpose for feet?  We're going to need to specifically announce which definition of purpose we're going to use, or things get confused.

That's a good slice of the analytical knife (cleaving 'purpose' into two parts, the physical laws surrounding the object and its its utility in service to intention)
 
I wonder if that cleft still works when we're talking about things with no human agency anywhere near them?

like, the 'purpose of shoes' is clearly bound to subjective motivations in the human world, but does it make sense to talk about the purpose of Saturn's rings? The purpose of the sun's radiation? The spine has a purpose, no? is it the same kind of 'subjective intention' as 'what shoes are for'?

Is it a big leap to view these cosmic principles and forces in the same light as 'intention'?

This is leaping from
"when you drop an object, it falls"
to
"the universe intends dropped objects to fall"


When we say "it falls", it's a passive-voice occlusion (ie "mistakes were made) -- something's making it fall, right?


Maybe I'm anthropomorphizing too much--but in an incorrect way?



If an asteroid collides with a lifeless planet in deep space, does that event have any purpose or meaning?




(thank you for indulging my semantic experiments today)