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Old 2nd August 2017, 03:26 PM
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Default Purpose

A nice article in the New York Times, making philosophy digestible to people like me with a short attention span, and also avoiding the flawed thinking that often puts me off.

The Universe Doesn’t Care About Your ‘Purpose’

Quote:
What about human beings? In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle tells us that our purpose is happiness or eudaemonia, “well-spiritedness.” Happiness is an ordered and prudent life. Good habits, a sound mind and a virtuous disposition are some of the steps that lead us there. For Aristotle, nothing is more fundamental for us.
In many ways, we still think like Aristotle. Most everyone strives for happiness. Today, the standing dogma is that purposelessness and disorder are nihilistic. Whether you’re mulling a major life change or healing from trauma, being told that there’s no purpose in life might be particularly devastating. The chances are better that you’re looking for an ultimate explanation. Or you could simply be searching for that something or someone meant for you — God, a soul mate or a calling of sorts.
I’m certainly no Aristotelian. Not because I reject happiness. Rather, as a materialist, I think there’s nothing intrinsic about the goals and purposes we seek to achieve it. Modern science explicitly jettisons this sort of teleological thinking from our knowledge of the universe. From particle physics to cosmology, we see that the universe operates well without purpose.
My understanding is that Epicurean thought also says happiness is a goal, but doesn't insist on all this law and obligation and hierarchy. Also Epicurus is a keystone of enlightened atheism, so he's a philosophical rock star to me.

On the popular culture end of the spectrum, I liked the lyrics of the song "Blue Spotted Tail" by the group Fleet Foxes, inspired by a Carl Sagan. It's a sweet gentle tune, reflecting the joy and beauty you can derive from a purposeless universe:

Why in the night sky are the lights hung?
Why is the earth moving round the sun?
Floating in a vacuum with no purpose, not a one.
Why in the night sky are the lights hung?

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Old 2nd August 2017, 03:47 PM
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Default Re: Purpose

@Stylo: Him and Epictetus, the two big "Epi" guys! They differ somewhat, and I personally tend to favour the stoic.
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Old 2nd August 2017, 04:16 PM
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Default Re: Purpose

So various theisms decided their god provides purpose, they know what it is, and people should be shamed for not working towards this purpose that was invented for them.

Gotta love it.

Recent exposition on the topic

Quote:
Christian leaders have for decades been teaching their flocks (and loudly braying to society at large) that the only way that someone can find meaning in life is through being Christian. In fact, these same leaders insist that everyone must have some kind of deep meaningfulness in their lives as well as some cosmic purpose–also only available through obedience to Christianity’s demands.
By tying these ideas to adherence to Christian leaders’ demands and belief in Christianity’s various supernatural claims, Christian leaders very intentionally put people into a serious bind to create more demand for their product. I’ve run into any number of Christians who are downright terrified of deconverting because they’re really that afraid of losing all sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. They think that if they start doubting, or kitties forbid flat-out deconvert, that they will instantly and forever lose even the capacity to possess those qualities.
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Old 2nd August 2017, 04:24 PM
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Default Re: Purpose

That quote is from part 11. Part 1 is also topical.

Quote:
We’ve been talking lately about what it means to have meaningful lives and how to find one’s purpose in life. Last time, I mentioned that Christianity’s dominated that discussion for centuries. Indeed, this monopolization has progressed to the point where quite a few of them think that it’s downright impossible for a person to have either meaning or purpose in life without also believing whatever the Christians judging the matter believe about the supernatural. They’ve evolved an entire mythology around the topic of meaning and purpose in life–a very little of it official High Christianity theology type stuff, but most of it Low Christianity folk-belief type stuff. And all of it is dead wrong.

ETA: as I was writing a part 111 went up. Haven't read it yet.
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Last edited by Loki; 2nd August 2017 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 2nd August 2017, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Christian leaders have for decades been teaching their flocks (and loudly braying to society at large) that the only way that someone can find meaning in life is through being Christian. In fact, these same leaders insist that everyone must have some kind of deep meaningfulness in their lives as well as some cosmic purpose–also only available through obedience to Christianity’s demands.
By tying these ideas to adherence to Christian leaders’ demands and belief in Christianity’s various supernatural claims, Christian leaders very intentionally put people into a serious bind to create more demand for their product. I’ve run into any number of Christians who are downright terrified of deconverting because they’re really that afraid of losing all sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. They think that if they start doubting, or kitties forbid flat-out deconvert, that they will instantly and forever lose even the capacity to possess those qualities.
From Loki's post above and my bold.

Seeing as though this is a philosophically leaning thread that bit in bold made me think of Sartre and his idea of anguish in the consciousness of freedom. The one example that will never leave me is the story of a dude walking on a path and suddenly arriving at a cliff face, hundreds of meters straight down. The vertigo that is felt, the anguish, is not based on the fear of falling it is based on the fear of jumping. What is stopping you from throwing yourself off? Nothing!

The fact is that abandoning religion is a big step. In many ways, you have to set up camp next to Sartre's cliff and live with anguish and that's that. But for me, that's a far more authentic human condition than blindly believing in an eternal heaven and a sky daddy that will either stop you from jumping or catch you at the bottom.
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Old 2nd August 2017, 06:53 PM
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@Loki: Added to RSS subs. Thanks.
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Old 2nd August 2017, 08:30 PM
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Default Re: Purpose

It's funny, i feel I have much more 'purpose' now than when I was a believer. Like being altruistic toward the Earth, people and animals.
Fuck, there's no one up there doin' anything, so we gotta do it for ourselves.
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Old 3rd August 2017, 10:50 AM
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Default Re: Purpose

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knowledge is power said View Post
It's funny, i feel I have much more 'purpose' now than when I was a believer. Like being altruistic toward the Earth, people and animals.
Fuck, there's no one up there doin' anything, so we gotta do it for ourselves.
Indeed, although I don't think I was ever a god-robot or god-puppet. I felt elated when I lost my faith, and my IQ jumped from 2 to 3!

I think in a very real sense, the loss of faith, and working out the implications of that, is part of being an adult. The buck stops with us. We are responsible for the mess we cause, and have the obligation to clean it up.
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