11 April 2014

Meaning of Life - Part 2

When pondering over the meaning of something we are clearly searching for evidences that lead us to conclude that that something is meaningful or holds meaning. If so, then we are actually asking if life is meaningful. Which means that for life to be meaningful there has to be a certain criteria but once again like all things that are of a philosophical nature, there are no set rules, no set criteria. What determines the meaningfulness of life? Go to school, study well, get a job, be successful, have lots of money. Does that mean your life is meaningful? or would you rather be free, own a farm out in the countryside and live off the land? Being human beings we tend to think of only ourselves. We have to realize that life is in every single living being. It isn't just us who live is it?

The animals that live their lives, they hunt, they mate, reproduce, fight for their territory. What would make their life meaningful? Of course there is the fact that they do not comprehend philosophy and would not think as much as we humans do. But truth of the matter is that they also have lives and when talking about the meaning of life, then we should also be considering the meaning of life as a whole; not just meaning of life pertaining to human beings. They live because they are alive, not for any other reason. Only humans try to lead a life that means anything or try to find meaning in living. In many ways that becomes our hubris.
Many a times, we tend to confuse the meaning of life with the purpose of life. Meaning is the value that we associate with life while purpose is what we do unto others or ourselves that in turn makes our life hold a value. So then, let us take that approach; let's try and find the meaning of life through the purpose of life.

 If you have read some of my previous posts, there is one named "Happiness". The purpose of every man in life is to attain a state of happiness, there could be different ways of obtaining it but the crux of all that we do boils down to happiness. We help others because that makes us happy, we buy an item of luxury that makes us happy and so on. So if the purpose of life for all of us is to be happy; then can that mean that the value of somebody's life be measured in the amount of happiness that they possess. But that again raises some problems does it not? Firstly, there is no measurement of happiness as such. We can't really gauge how happy a person is. Secondly, there is the problem of when exactly are we measuring the happiness of an individual. There are so many stages in life and if the only thing that is common to us in life is being born and dying, then that means that the only time that we could ever measure the meaningfulness of life of an individual is when he is dead because obviously a new born does not yet understand life or for that matter anything that is happening around him.

That which unites us all becomes the factor that determines the meaning of life. When we are all staring at the face of death, we are united and we look back to think whether we have fulfilled the purpose of life; whether we are truly happy. And when in my mind, if I think I am happy and have fulfilled the purpose of life; then I alone for that moment am the man with the most meaningful life in the world and would gladly accept death.

4 April 2014

Meaning of Life - Part 1

What is the meaning of life? When asking a question of such complexity, problems start to arise right at the first instance. The framing of the question in itself is hard to explain. Meaning is a matter of language; we usually search for the meaning of a word or maybe something pertaining to art - the meaning behind the metaphor etc. Life when considered by its noun form alone can be defined by biological terms such as the difference between a living and dead organism manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, response to stimuli, reproduction etc. But life isn't just that is it? it is much more complex. Life is also the physical, mental and spiritual experiences that constitute existence. So in that sense, the question of "What is the meaning of life" is in fact meaningless.

Secondly, the questions seems to assume the fact that life is objective. Is life objective or subjective? The answer to that question is both and neither. It is objective when it is seen as the interval of time between birth and death. Everybody goes through childhood, puberty, adulthood, old age etc. We all grow, metabolize, respond to changes in our environment, reproduce and all that we do showing that we are indeed alive and living. But the similarity ends there. Diversity can be seen everywhere; men and women, young and old, rich and poor. In all aspects of society diversification is existent. This combined with the fact that our minds and the way we think are unique to us. An intricate web emerges for each single individual that inhabits this Earth. 

Nature and nurture construct the psychology of our minds. Considering all this, each experience - physical, mental, spiritual - is unique to an individual. Therefore, we can conclude that life is also subjective. Thus, life is both subjective and objective but neither. So is life meaningful? We will explore this in part 2

30 March 2014

Superficial

We spoke about perception in many of our published articles, for various reasons pertaining to the topic of the article. Most of who are gifted with the ability to see would probably agree that visual perception is by far the most important and for good reasons too. Our sight helps us observe our environment, perceive colours and shapes. Furthermore, sight allows us to pass initial judgement about people. Whether you would like to admit it or not, it is true.

Place yourself at a social gathering, you intend to meet some new people, assuming that no one you know is around. Who would you approach? The person who is dressed in dark clothes and does not look too presentable, or the person who is dressed in a more colourful manner and seems to know exactly the type of look that would suit them. This answer would vary from person to person, but statistically, a greater number of people would approach the relatively more 'good looking' person. Human nature causes people to think that those who look good are more confident and trustworthy.

So in a way, keeping up appearances is important whether you care about it or not. Your future job might just depend on it. Moreover, if someone looks good their confidence would increase knowing that people appreciate the effort that they put in. There are methods to positively enhance how someone looks, from self grooming to make-up and even augmentation.  However, if we think about it, could enhancement be a method to just cover up insecurities? (I do not wish to offend anyone by saying this).
If it was not made obvious enough by the world around you, how you dress and carry yourself reflects your personality and sometimes amplifies it. Except those who use their physical appearance to mask their actual character, even though they are uncomfortable with it. Then it makes you wonder, why is it that people are so insecure why are people so fake? Yet again, whether you like it or not, to many people make-up, clothes and behaviour is just a cover. One should not blame them nor should they blame anybody else for it. They are afraid of that which society or their culture would think of them.

In a way we are all afraid aren't we? The way you behave and present yourself in any way, will lead to comments and judgements from others, others who may have their own insecurities and problems. That is just how they are. Our perception of being beautiful has led to so many problems among males and females alike, just like many other things, beauty is also very very subjective and this makes people uncomfortable to be themselves around others. Though, this may not always be the case, there are also those who are a little more flashy by nature, and this makes people either love them or hate them. Social networking provides an outlet to flaunt. This gathers attention, if that person is lucky enough, positive attention, otherwise more hate and definitely some type of jealousy. To some people, this may make them feel worse about themselves and they would start to wonder as to why they are not appreciated as much.
Here's the clich├ęd part, we are all different, you don't have to change your appearances to seem acceptable, someone or the other will accept you but firstly, you have to learn to accept who you are and prepare yourself to show that character to the world. Be fearless when it comes to yourself, it takes time, but it is worth it.


15 March 2014

Morality - Two Train Tracks

Being able to differentiate the good and evil behind the intentions or decisions made is what we have come to define as morality. Morality however as we have seen throughout the course of history is in fact subjective and varies from person to person. So what is morality? Can we choose what's right and what's wrong? Then would that not lead to chaos due to the difference in the opinions of individuals - each fighting for what he/she believes is right? The classic question based on a hypothetical story comes to mind; you are in control of a mechanism that allows you to switch the tracks on the railroad. You look up to see a train that clearly shows signs that it has lost its breaks. Down the line you see the tracks diverge into two; one where a few kids are playing and the other with workers trying to fix the track. Which track are you going to choose for the train to run into?

You're probably thinking 'use the damn horn on the train to warn them' but consider the fact that you do not know whether somebody is in control of the train or whether the horn still works. Now think about it again. 
There is really no right answer to the question so whichever track you have chosen is a clear indication of your morality. Who deserves to live? Killing either group would be immoral but your mind has chosen its moral ground. Now your choice is unique to you meaning your morality is subjective despite the fact that there are only two choices and so some of you will have the same choices. We also note that there are many factors that influence our stand on what is right and wrong.

This is why laws exist; to sort of bring about a unanimity among individuals - not necessarily in opinion but in actions and behaviour. Laws and rules reduce the difference in opinion and thus lessen the chaos that would otherwise exist if each were given the freedom to choose their own morality. Religion also goes a long way as to where we draw the line. We are told and shown what is right and wrong during our childhood and thus it sticks with us throughout life. So if drugs are illegal because they are bad, we will choose to believe so. But what about countries like the Netherlands where it is legal? Where do we draw the line? It is really up to the people to decide. Now what that means is not that individuals are allowed to decide, no. It is a collective group of individuals who share the same interests that decide what is right and wrong. Thus, governments come about and authorities are elected to run the country etc. The term majority wins fits perfectly well in recognizing what morality really is. Morality is a principle that distinguishes the good and bad based on the opinion of a collection of individuals who share the same thoughts and ideals. 

26 February 2014

The Apple of Eden Part 2

Earlier, I spoke about knowledge and how we acquire it.  We are surrounded by new ideas, and some of them are thrown right at us. Are these ideas actually what we want to see, or are they what we are made to see though?

Some of us if not most of us are aware that facts are usually manipulated a little before it is shown to the public eye. Or, they're just not shown. Movies, video games, books and all kinds of media and information sources are restricted from being let out into society. Some restrictions or bans maybe implemented due to offensive material, but what about the rest? Society controls what we read and watch and along with it, gives us a (what we seem to see as a) very good reason to do so. Most of us blindly accept things as they come to us ( me being one of them). Why? That's because we are either scared or just lazy to bother finding out more. See the contradiction, we are know for being eager beings, we want to find out more and yet we hold back, we only explore more into areas that we are allowed to explore into.

Along with this society even uses techniques that influence our decisions. One very common technique that is used in the Black and White choice. In this method, you are offered two extreme choices, and one of them would be a choice that favours what the person wants and the other will be one that you will not choose. To better explain this here is an example, "Are you going to fight me, or run away like a coward?"  The choice that is made by most people would be to obviously fight the aggressor, mainly because the other choice is sort of derogatory. This is a more microscopic example but apply this to the type of messages that you may or may not see around you.

I got these ideas from an article that I read (http://www.cracked.com/article_16656_6-brainwashing-techniques-theyre-using-you-right-now.html), rather eye opening. What I mean to say from all this is that, just because some words are thrown in that may antagonize us or make it seem like the wrong thing to do (this doesn't apply to anti-drug campaigns, drugs are bad and always will be), the choice is entirely up to you to go out and explore the world around you. Understand the situation completely before blindly following what is shown. We are humans, not sheep.