This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Comment

← What does "meaning" mean?

seals's Avatar Jump to comment 49 by seals

To me, meaning is a sometimes involuntary attempt to find something ultimate and final as opposed to what just is, what's just indefinite, nebulous and unsatisfactory to our goal and purpose-seeking minds as we feel our way around in this world we find ourselves in. However if personal meanings should occur to me, different elements of a construct strike me as the definitive characteristic at different times. Eg. the meaning of a song where at first the sound is the defining characteristic which draws me in, but is later overtaken by the meaning of the lyrics or of a particular line from the lyrics; or a dream in which the events seem to refer to something from childhood, then something currently happening in real life, and later on could just as easily be referring to something else that happened sometime afterwards, and maybe eventually some distillation of all three, simultaneously. So although some meanings are blindingly obvious from the start, often meaning is something which becomes more apparent with hindsight. The meaning of life, the universe and everything being the exception to this, as there will, as far as we know, be no hindsight - but then again, maybe no ultimate meaning either.

If an ultimate meaning should be established, it's restrictive. It's never going to be profound enough, and brings shutters down on the horizon. Religion is a way of imposing restrictive meaning. I think that's why some religionists of whatever stripe say atheism is just another religion; as they have to bring it down to their level.

Sat, 03 Dec 2011 02:49:40 UTC | #895194