That’s no way to start your morning
This is a great one. I liked how you put in there “objectively and intrinsically” as a dead giveaway that you’re making a false equivalency. When atheists say you can find meaning, they’re talking specifically about subjective meaning. In fact, all meaning is subjective. Something cannot have meaning/value without a subject to value it. If a tree falls in the woods and no one knows about it, does anyone care? There has to be a second party to place meaning/value on it. The correct statement would be, “It is not logically impossible to find SUBJECTIVE meaning in what is real when what is real is OBJECTIVELY and intrinsically meaningless.” It’s funny because Atheist Logic 104 was about straw man arguments, and here you are making one yourself in 105.
Inserting “subjective meaning” doesn’t make it less cooky. Sure, the chap in an objectively and intrinsically light-less (read, there is no light in the room) room can say he sees light as his subjective opinion, that does not make it any less crazy. Both are similarly delusional, but hey, at least they are delusionally happy right?
That would be correct, but again, you’re arguing something different. The question is of meaning, not of an objective value (ie. light vs dark). Does a dark room have any meaning on it’s own (objectively)? I would argue that it does not. It simply exists. It is what it is and nothing more. However, it can have meaning if a second party is involved to place a meaning on it. One person might think a dark room means something bad is about to happen to them. Someone else might think it’s very relaxing and calming. A third person might think it’s very beautiful in it’s simplicity and perfection. “Objectively and intrinsically”, it means none of those things. It simply exists in a meaningless state. It only becomes meaningful when meaning is given to it by a subject. You can replace the dark room in this example with anything that exists up to and including the universe itself. That is what atheists are talking about when they find meaning in an objectively meaningless universe.
Josh, you keep missing the point.
In the example, the room has no light. There is nothing, you can’t make light, there just is no light. The room is in a state of being lightless and it has been like that and it will always be like that as an objective and intrinsic fact about the room.
The same goes for those who believe the universe is simply objectively and intrinsically meaningless. The universe has no meaning. There is nothing, you can’t make make meaning, there just is no meaning. The universe is in a state of being meaningless and it has been like that and it will always be like that as an objective and intrinsic fact about the universe.
Now sure, some silly sod can subjectively feel some light or find some light in this room, but he would be delusional since it is a matter of objective fact that the room is without light. Similarly, some silly sod can subjectively feel some meaning or find some meaning in the universe, but he will actually be delusional since is a matter of objective fact that the universe is meaningless.
The biggest difference here is that a room can be objectively dark. There is no light is an objectively verifiable fact. However, there is no such thing as objective meaning. It is an oxymoron like “square circle” or “married bachelor”. ALL meaning is subjective. Meaning is the end, purpose, or significance of something (the object) as perceived by something else (the subject). Without a subject to perceive it, there can be no meaning. The universe is objectively meaningless because objective meaning does not exist, and cannot exist. Saying you can’t find subjective meaning in things because you don’t believe in objective meaning, is like saying you can’t make round circles because you don’t believe in square circles.
Also, I think I should type the word meaning a few more times and go for the world record in a single post…. meaning meaning meaning meaning meaning. Am I there yet?
Objective meaning is not an oxymoron and it is not logically impossible. Your statement that “there is no such thing as objective meaning” is not even objectively verifiable and can’t be an objective fact. The fact that you are trying to sell it as fact makes it all the more clear that you are just trying and failing to try and rationalize the view that the universe is objectively meaningless. That too is not even objectively verifiable and not a fact.
It’s as objectively verifiable as a square circle. If you argue that objective meaning can exist, then you are using a different definition of the word meaning that is entirely incomprehensible. What meaning can something have without a subject to perceive it? Give me an example of objective meaning. Give me an example of meaning that is not subjectively interpreted by you or an imaginary second party. Draw me a square circle.
Again, there is not anything logically impossible about the concept of objective meaning. Objective meaning is perfectly compatible with Aristotelian and Platonic realism.
There is not anything contradictory about something being objectively meaningful by the mere, brute fact that it is just meaningful, and then that meaning being subjectively interpreted.
Meaning is a relationship between two sorts of things: signs and the kinds of things they mean (intend, express or signify).
A sign is defined as an entity that indicates another entity to some agent for some purpose.
Anything can be objectively meaningful and simultaneously be subjectively interpreted.
Your argument from ignorance (“oh, I can’t think of an example”) really is not convincing and seems to be in fact be derived from ignorance.
You just said it yourself. “A sign is defined as an entity that indicates another entity to some agent for some purpose.” What is this if the agent is removed? It becomes incomprehensible. There must be agent to interpret the relationship (AKA find meaning). The agent’s interpretation is always subjective. Ergo, meaning is always subjective.
At this point in the discussion, you have to at least see where I’m coming from here. You may disagree with my point, but you understand what it is, correct? Coming back to the beginning, this is how atheists find meaning in a universe without objective meaning. You can say they are wrong about the universe and objective meaning, but you must admit that within the framework I’ve outlined it is not “logically impossible” to do so as you stated in your original comic that started this very healthy intellectual discussion.
I am afraid language and different view points causes us to talk past each other. I see where you are coming from.
Agent, however, in this case does not imply an intellectual or even conscious, though they are agents as well. Agent in this context (and this is from an Aristotelian view) is anything that is just a composite of matter and form. Again, matter in this context is completely different from a mechanistic view.
So the question “what if the agent is removed” is only relevant when you remove ALL agents. This of course just means that the universe is completely EMPTY, there is NOTHING and hence there would be NO MEANING (not even subjective meaning) anyway.
So I would agree with you that without agents, there is no objective meaning, but as pointed out, there would be no subjective meaning either.
Coming back to your assertion that meaning can be found in a place that is objectively and intrinsically meaningless. The way I see it, such a person will have to conjure meaning from nothingness into existence and it will only be subjective anyway. You have to believe in subjective magic.
Another argument can be said that evolution creates an illusion of purpose or meaning in us. If that is true, then we’re all deluded into thinking our existence or things we do are meaningful in some way. Of course evolution and A-T are compatible, but evolution in the atheist sense is the only process which explains us.
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