THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING – REDUX REDUX

Everybody blogger has a post or two that he or she considers special. This is mine. Why? Because it is a virtual summary of years of thought. Of all night discussion in college, philosophy courses and term papers, endless volumes of philosophy by obscure thinkers, theologians, philosophers, and authors from Douglas Adams to Friedrich Nietzsche.

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

We spend too much time trying to figure out what life means and too little time doing stuff we enjoy. I suppose it’s normal to wonder if the reason you are sick, broke, or miserable is the result of something you did or failed to do. Normal, but a waste of time and energy because I’m going to explain everything and you’ll never have to wonder again.

Meaning of life

Learning to accept the total randomness of stuff that happens is difficult. We want it to make sense. We want orderliness. We want the mess we call life to mean something important.

I’ve put a good bit of thought into why my life keeps falling apart. I know I’m not perfect, but whatever I’ve done wrong, it’s pretty small potatoes in the scheme of things. It’s hard for me to believe, even in my darkest hours that I’m so wicked The Big Guy has in for me.

One day, I had an epiphany. I saw The Truth.

I considered founding a church to spread my word. A church with no faith in anything. No deity to get pissed off if you disobey some arbitrary rule. Contributions would be welcome since we all need to pay the rent.

This would suit our modern lifestyle, don’t you think?

Faith is opinion in fancy clothing.

You can believe what you want, but you can’t know the answers. You take the exact same leap of faith believing in God or declaring yourself an atheist. Both positions require you to accept as absolute a thing for which you have no proof and for which you will never have proof.

Thus if believing in a loving God makes you feel good, believe it. It could be true. If it turns out you’re right, you’ll have backed a winner. If believing there is no God, and science is the only path and is therefore antithetical to God and Truth (a position with which I completely disagree), go with that. Regardless, you are  making a faith-based choice. There’s no proof God exists or doesn’t exist. Take your best guess. I hope it works out.

As for me, I don’t know. Really. I don’t know.

 I know nothing. Neither do you.

Accepting you know nothing is a big step, so take a deep breath. Your next challenge will be how you can cash in on this new knowledge. What’s the point unless you can awe people with your brilliance — and make a few bucks?

It’s all in the wording.

You need the right lingo to dazzle your audience. Big words (4 or more syllables) used in the right context can showcase your education and intelligence. People will make little cooing sounds to show their admiration.

meaning-of-life3

Big words enhance your likelihood of getting a management position. You can write important books. Have a blog like me and I know you want to be just like me. Big words can take you far if you’re skilled at deploying them.

Note: Make sure you know how to pronounce these words. Mispronouncing big words can cause unexpected laughter. That’s not good unless you want to be a stand-up comedienne.

Epistemology

Let’s start with epistemology. This is an excellent catch-all word you can drop into any conversation. Most people will have no idea what you are talking about but will be too embarrassed to admit it. On the off-chance you encounter someone who actually recognizes the word, you can use this handy-dandy definition from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the philosopher’s convenient source for everything:

Defined narrowly, epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief. As the study of knowledge, epistemology is concerned with the following questions: What are the necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge? What are its sources? What is its structure, and what are its limits? 

I still don’t know what it means. The awesome truth is that epistemology doesn’t mean anything because it means everything.

Anything that means everything means nothing. Equally, when something claims to do everything, it has no actual use. This applies to people, concepts, and kitchen appliances. In practical terms, everything and nothing are identical.

Phenomenology

On to phenomenology. When I was studying religion in college, phenomenology was a way to prove the existence of God. Phenomenologically speaking, all human experience is proof of God. You can use the same reasoning to prove there is no God.

Phenomenology can help you prove all things are one thing, all things are God. You are God. I am God. I am a warm cup of tea and you are a daffodil. If this doesn’t clarify it for you, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy offers further elucidation:

Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object.

In other words, you can use any and all human experience, yours and anyone else’s to prove whatever you want. Phenomenology is fundamental to all belief systems: religion, politics, and Fox News. Lots of people believe in religion, politics and Fox News, so maybe they will believe in you too.

Fount of Wisdom

You can now explain anything. Everything. You can prove things based on something a couple of friends said years ago while under the influence of powerful hallucinogenic drugs. Although others may fault your logic, in the world of academics, everyone disbelieves everyone else unless they are citing them as a source, so you might as well stick your oar in the water.

meanin-of-life-snoopy

There are people who will attack you using faith. Faith is based on itself which makes it hard to dispute. The only person who is ever convinced by faith is the he/she who holds it. Nor does it really matter how many people believe or disbelieve it.

Having more believers or followers doesn’t transform faith into fact.

If it did, we could achieve some really nifty things. Like, say we all believe in magic and therefore, it exists.

Cool.



Categories: Cartoons, Ethics and Philosophy, Humor, Marilyn Armstrong, Quotation, Religion

Tags: , , , , ,

24 replies

  1. This read like the shortest blog post ever. I love lengthy posts that read like short ones! (I believe that my most recent post is intrinsically related to this one, without all those fancy words.)

    Like

    • Thank you. My favorite thing about fancy (big, long) words is how they merely confuse and annoy people without clarifying anything. It’s why I pretty much never use them 🙂 This was an exception to my own rule, just to make a point.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You provided definitions, a very unpretentious gesture.

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        • This is because I see these words and I have NO clue as to what they mean. Well, I knew something about phenomenology because I studied it in college, but epistemology is one of those words academics toss around. No one wants to admit they don’t know what it means. I looked it up and read half a dozen definitions. I STILL don’t know what it means. I’m not exactly stupid and I have a pretty decent vocabulary. I figure if after looking it up again and again and still not having any idea what, if anything, it means … does anyone REALLY know what it means? Does it mean anything at all? It’s got a lot of syllables and it has a certain “je ne sais quoi,” but meaning? I think not 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this post. I needed it just now. My neighbor is a nice person. We do things for each other, but anything other than superficial talk is quite beyond her. About an hour ago, while on the phone thanking me for taking care of her cat the last 3 days, she told me about an acquaintance who recently took her life, and that she would not have done that if she was a Christian and believed in God, because then she would have known that God fixes everything. Really? Thank you for bringing me back to real life. Not that I really left it as a result, but I was ruminating on it and your post made me stop doing that. Thank You and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. How that’s for a big word?

    Like

    • You are welcome 🙂 That you can spell “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” proves that you are destined for greatness.

      As far as belief goes? It’s a choice. I’ve never been able to make the leap. What I see of this world doesn’t show me a benevolent deity at work and I’m not good at shaping what I see to what I WANT to see. A lot of people are very good at doing exactly that.

      Would that person have committed suicide if she was a believer? If she were a believer, would she have been the same person? Would she have felt abandoned by god and taken her life anyway? You don’t know, nor does your neighbor. It’s all opinion.

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      • Exactly. I get flustered (angry) when people speak their opinion or faith as fact, like my neighbor does about God and Christianity. And when they seem to judge others for their different or lack faith. Although lack is still a faith, I guess.

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        • I think a lot of people don’t know the difference between opinion and fact … and because of places like Fox News, the line is getting blurred. There should be a clear boundary between facts and belief. Opinion should NOT be presented as fact, especially not on the news. It’s a kind of brainwashing being foisted on the public and it’s dangerous. Too many people believe anything they see on “the news,” on the Internet, or in a newspaper.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. If I climb a mountain in Tibet will I find the Truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Only if the WiFi is working.

      So this couple and their friend are having relationship issues. The decide to climb the mountain to see the Dalai Lama (llama?)and get him to mediate their relationship. First, the husband tells his story.
      D.L. looks at him and says “You are right!”
      “Wait a minute,” says his wife. And she tells HER side of the story.
      D.L. nods and says, “YOU are right.”
      The friend looks at the Dalai Lama and say “They can’t BOTH be right.”
      D.L. nods again and says, “Absolutely. YOU are right.”

      Like

  4. I had not heard of Phenomenology before but now I can see where some of the ideas in “The Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy” came from.

    Like

    • I still miss Douglas Adams. I have his books (all of them) in hardcover, paperback, and in audio — some with him narrating. His ability to show the absurdity of life has yet to be equaled. I suppose he did (probably) take these same courses in college. A lot of us did. It took me a long time to realize how ridiculous the whole thing is. The better part of a lifetime to wind up right back where I started. Life is a giant circle around which we keep marching. It takes a while to notice you’ve been here (there?) before 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Like the cut of your jib, Cap’n Marilyn.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “You can believe what you want, but you can’t know any more than I do.” Great line, great post.

    Like

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