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We Are Meaning Creating Creatures

  1. Jul 3, 2008 #1
    We Are Meaning Creating Creatures

    The great truth of human nature is that wo/man strives for meaning. S/he imposes on raw experience symbolic categories of thought, and does so with conceptual structures of thought. “All human problems are, in the last resort, problems of the soul.”—Otto Rank

    In the nineteenth century, after two hundred years of opposition paradigms, science faced the dilemma: if we make wo/man to be totally an object of science, to be as this object merely a conglomeration of atoms and wheels then where is there a place for freedom? How can such a collection of mere atoms be happy, and fashion the Good Life?

    The best thinkers of the Enlightenment followed by the best of the nineteenth century were caught in the dilemma of a materialistic psychology. Does not the inner wo/man disappear when humans are made into an object of science? On the other hand if we succumb to the mode of the middle Ages, when the Church kept man firmly under the wraps of medieval superstitions, do we not give up all hope for self-determined man?

    “Yet, we want man to be the embodiment of free, undetermined subjectivity, because this is the only thing that keeps him interesting in all of nature…It sums up the whole tragedy of the Enlightenment vision of science.” There are still those who would willingly surrender wo/man to Science because of their fear of an ever encroaching superstitious enemy.

    Kant broke open this frustrating dilemma. By showing that sapiens could not know nature in its stark reality, that sapiens had no intellectual access to the thing-in-itself, that humans could never know a nature that transcended their epistemology, Kant “defeated materialistic psychology, even while keeping its gains. He centered nature on man, and so made psychology subjective; but he also showed the limitations of human perceptions in nature, and so he could be objective about them, and about man himself. In a word man was at once, limited creature, and bottomless mystery, object and subject…Thus it kept the best of materialism, and guaranteed more than materialism ever could: the protection of man’s freedom, and the preservation of his inner mystery.”

    After Kant, Schilling illuminated the uniqueness of man’s ideas, and the limitations from any ideal within nature. Schilling gave us modern wo/man. Materialism and idealism was conjoined. Wo/man functioned under the aegis of whole ideas, just as the idealists wanted, and thus man became an object of science while maintaining freedom of self-determination.

    The great truth of the nineteenth century was that produced by William Dilthey, which was what wo/man constantly strived for. “It was “meaning” said Dilthey, meaning is the great truth about human nature. Everything that lives, lives by drawing together strands of experience as a basis for its action; to live is to act, to move forward into the world of experience…Meaning is the relationship between parts of experience.” Man does not do this drawing together on the basis of simple experience but on the basis of concepts. Man imposes symbolic categories of thought on raw experience. His conception of life determines the manner in which s/he values all of its parts.

    Concludes Dilthey, meaning “is the comprehensive category through which life becomes comprehensible…Man is the meaning-creating animal.”

    Does it make sense to you that “All human problems are, in the last resort, problems of the soul”??

    Quotes and ideas from “Beyond Alienation” Becker
     
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  3. Jul 3, 2008 #2

    DaveC426913

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    I suppose one would first have to believe there is a soul.

    Let's find out.
     
  4. Jul 4, 2008 #3

    I suspect almost everyone thinks that the human species is animal nature combined with factor X. Some people call this factor X soul, some call it mind, others choose rational, others spiritual, etc.
     
  5. Jul 4, 2008 #4

    DaveC426913

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    Agreed. That's why I left the interpretation of the word open for you.
     
  6. Jul 21, 2008 #5
    but, is it our "soul" that makes us give things meaning or significance?
     
  7. Jul 21, 2008 #6

    Evo

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    Before anyone can discuss the OP's question of "problems of the soul" The OP first needs to define "soul" for this discussion to proceed.

    Please refer to the Guidelines.

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=47294
     
  8. Jul 21, 2008 #7
    dictionary.com has this to say:

    "1. the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.
    2. the spiritual part of humans regarded in its moral aspect, or as believed to survive death and be subject to happiness or misery in a life to come: arguing the immortality of the soul.
    3. the disembodied spirit of a deceased person: He feared the soul of the deceased would haunt him.
    4. the emotional part of human nature; the seat of the feelings or sentiments.
    5. a human being; person."
     
  9. Jul 21, 2008 #8

    DaveC426913

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    I'm not sure how much that really helps, and it still presupposes that a soul exists. It's hard to discuss something when the premise is not granted.


    Me, I could comfortably substitute the word 'consciousness' for soul in this thread. I think consciousness is the thing that separates humans from animals (and I am aware that is only a distinction on a sliding scale).

    Consciousness allows us to consider ouselves as meaning-creating creatures, yet it does not get itself dirty with the whole 'soul' mess: Consciousness ceases with physical death. Nice and clean.
     
  10. Jul 21, 2008 #9
    i agree..that makes things easier..
     
  11. Jul 21, 2008 #10

    Evo

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    Consciousness, as in being self aware?
     
  12. Jul 21, 2008 #11
    yes, self awareness..
     
  13. Jul 22, 2008 #12

    I would say that "meaning" means intensity of assciation. Of course "meaning" also means definition, i.e. that which is necessary and sufficient, i.e. that which is the essence of the thing.

    Example might be when my daughter introduces me to her new boy friend that boy has little meaning to me. However, when she informs me that they are to be married that young man becomes very meaningful to me.

    I would say that to all other animals everything is meaningful, whereas to humans that is not the case. This difference is because of the X factor.
     
  14. Jul 22, 2008 #13

    DaveC426913

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    Yes. Everything that the OP describes can be attributed to simple conscious awareness: more than simply "I know." it's "I know I know".

    It remains a perfectly valid discussion without the introduction of the messiness of a "soul".
     
  15. Jul 22, 2008 #14

    Evo

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    I agree.
     
  16. Jul 23, 2008 #15
    op? whats that mean?
     
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