Tag Archives: society

Where is the Meaning of Life Located?

What Is The Meaning of Life

As far as I can tell, things like rights, beauty, love, money, and all our notions of gods, good, evil and so on, are the various subjects (stories) we derive from the common object of (nature). We make maps as symbolic descriptions of nature as a territory, then use the maps as a means to perceive the meaning of the relationships between objects. In other words; nature is objects in relationship with each other, but these relationship processes also convey meaning – the same way the relationship between letters and words or sounds convey meaning.

Nature is the base line grammatical engine on which all meaning (language) is built. It is also a language in and of itself. The same way many verbal languages can emerge from a grammatical foundation like a limited set of syllabic sounds, we form our various maps of nature based on the context of the heritage of our experience communicated through our various local environments over time. Objects in relationship with each other over time is the essence of story as far as I can tell. We can not have one (subject) without the other (object). The need for a relationship between two or more entities in order for the birth of meaning to take place is perhaps the archetype of what we frame as male-female – yin-yang mother-child and so on. This meaningful aspect of nature we map out in our myths and also describe as process through our scientific lens is built on this universal grammar.

As meaning generators ourselves, we reflect the nature of nature, despite our occasional delusion that we are independent of the whole. This should perhaps come as no surprise even though it appears to for many of us. Specific order conveys coherent meanings, and to the degree we are ordered, we also convey coherent meaning. Nature conveys story through objects in relationship with each other over time and we interpret this objective dynamic process as subject.

The null hypothesis is a statistical test that suggests there’s no significant difference between specified populations or sets of things; that any observed differences are due to sampling or experimental error. It says we see things as an artifact of how we categorize them. Any truth that can be derived from any “object” in nature depends on that object’s relationship to other objects, even if that other object is the whole of nature. We examine facets – pieces- subsets of nature – that we classify by category, and out of that perception of object in relationship to other object we find meaning. The fact that we must divide nature in order for any facets of meaningful difference to emerge points to the fact that a relationship between two or more objects is necessary for meaning to exist at all. Without the relationship between two or more objects there is no “word” no meaning.

The fact that our organs operate as a community of objects that act to nourish and defend each other’s coherency is more than a process, it is a meaningful story of how coherent structures sustain themselves; whether we decode that message plainly by way of our abstract maps or not does not dismiss the fact it conveys meaning. The fact that we are not fulfilled as mature beings unless we find a way to contribute meaningfully in the context of the community we live in and depend on for life is rooted in the fact that we are unable to act against our nature as mature adults – with excessive selfish intent, taking from our community without giving back something that generates greater value in return – and also be satisfied. The fact that we become depressed when we’re not participating in something larger than ourselves is a statement by nature through our native drives that we hunger for meaning – for a larger coherency. We are simply not wired to be satisfied this without meaningful connections to a greater whole. These aspects of a satisfied life and unsatisfied life is clearly mapped in our biology, but also through the mythic story of Cain and Abel; where one was satisfied by giving his best, and the other was not due to doing the minimal. Are these people literally true? Maybe, maybe not, but they are metaphorically sound with the message conveyed through objective nature about who we are and what constitutes a pathway to a satisfied life. To deny this seems to me as incoherent as to deny gravity.

Our cultural myths (stories) throughout time and place are symbolic maps of the world and the cosmos. We use them to craft an image of our place in the context of this larger environmental womb of nature – as a way to reflect our understanding of this “almighty” womb of nature we’re in – that forms us of the dust of the Earth – that gave birth to all things – that nourishes and feeds us and will yield its strength if we cultivate fruitful outcomes, which are rendered through specific nourishing and protective actions along with a certain level of sacrifice and so on over time. This nature, to which we must sacrifice to in order to cultivate a more abundant life speaks of itself in and through the way objects relate to each other. These cultural myths we have formed over the years have embedded within them things like our objective need for a relationship with each other and our world because of how we have been defined (created) by this thing – this greater being; nature.

The fact that we need to tend this garden of living fire with enough intentional cultivation to sustain our collective body, our species, or there will be consequences is conveyed through the process. Our origins, and a projection of our destiny based on how we negotiate in the context of this relationship economy is also conveyed through the process. These subjective words we stitch together as symbolic maps of the territory are not mere descriptions of process alone, they also convey meaningful concepts. We make symbolic tokens that can stand for the territory we are in – this economy of “being”. These maps are how we negotiate our relationship with self other and the world whether we couch it in terms of governments and constitutions and laws, or in the form of mythic stories.

Along with being defined by nature, our maps can also define how we experience “being”. The same way nature creates by way of object within certain boundaries, we can create by way of subject. While I would agree the map is not the territory, and that the claims of literal truth made by certain religions could be argued as objectively untrue or unprovable, we simply cannot know from our perspective, which is why these things are the domain of faith, at the same time, money is not money unless we agree it is money. We shape our experience in objectively true ways through concepts – through meaning. Meanings themselves can take on the form of objects in relation to one another and create a nested architecture of meaning. The same way each language has it’s own word for stone, yet there is only one objective stone to which all these various concepts point, each mythos subject attempts to encapsulate the properties of nature in abstract terms. Each has a a unique map that conceptualized the same source – nature, which is both object and subject.

To suggest that anything not tied to a description of process, which is the domain of science, is valueless and incoherent misses the point as much as claiming subjective truths are objectively true. We can get lost in our maps by mistaking them for objects, but we can also get lost in process by mistaking that for subject, when it is the inseparable relationship between the two that defines what we experience as “being”. We can be the authors of our own poverty, or cultivators of our grandest success depending on how we relate to each other – how we participate in subject making process.

We generate meaning by the way we relate to each other. We also have the opportunity to generate more abundant meaning by how coherently we relate – how much we nourish and protect each other and the common body of life we depend on to sustain us as a single meaningful coherent whole in service of a greater whole. This nested architecture of meaning conveyed through the process of nature is a meaningful guide to a meaningful life if we have the ears to hear the message. Whether we understand it or not, the meaning is clearly conveyed: that objects in relationship with each other over time is the essence of how we experience every story, including our own.

I could be missing something(s)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Null_hypothesis

From Existence To Significance

Life A limited Time Offer

My guess would be most of us either get swallowed by the circumstances we’re bathed in through the collective effects of our developmental environment, finding some reactive equilibrium with that happenstantial field of influences that define our initial form, or we wake up from that opaque mist to recognize that we also have a voice in the field of influences that defines our experience. We may discover that if we work intentionally, effectively and proportionally, that our voice might cultivate something significant rather than merely reflective – something that does more than reflect the defining qualities of the environment, but also plays a role in defining.

Cultivating something significant often requires disciplined effort and patience to shepherd nascent forms to fruition where they produce emergent properties, but the cost of doing so can render an effective player in the field of relationships that defines what we experience, and perhaps emergent properties that will pay continual constructive dividends. Nature clearly communicates that we can count the seeds in an apple, but not the apples in a seed if that seed is cultivated – nourished and protected through development to its mature state of fruition. This cultivation aspect of being might be the “why” we are here, but it is more certainly the big “if” in terms of whether or not we realize the opportunities that are presented out of the cauldron of relationships that define us.

We can make the transition from that which has been defined by circumstance, to that which also plays a role in defining circumstances, but only if we first recognize, then take the proportional actions to overcome the things that would otherwise turn our presence into a neutral mush carried on the currents of environmental whim, or worse, to become an agent of reflected destruction. Some of the common stories that emerge from the field of defining relationships that we’re both baptized in and have some measure of ability to participate in include environments that falsely convey we have no significance – that our voice is of no effect and that we are solely the victims of an authoritarian fate, or perhaps an environment that has so shocked us with a series of capricious horrors and injustices that it causes us to see reality through a distorted lens which renders an image of tragedy and misfortune that is inevitable and that total occupation with self defense and protection are of paramount importance, or perhaps our social environment coupled with our innate capacity for vision has revealed to us the tragic and arguably insane failure of the collective social economy that powerfully defines our experience to sufficiently recognize, value and express the behaviors that nourish our mature potential – a maturity which is only possible in a climate of sustained mutually nourishing and protective developmental behaviors aimed at serving each other’s common interest. The fields of opportunity that we leave fallow can make us the authors of our poverty, and in that poverty we can get stuck in a vortex of self reinforcing destruction making our circumstance worse by filtering the world through a lens of dominance. One where it appears to make sense to force compliance from each other with the aim of getting the most we can get, rather than searching for and cultivating commitment between each other to gain what is rendered by the emergent fruit of community. We can either be caught spinning in a turbulent eddy of malignant selfishness that takes us in vicious circles that go nowhere, or we can tend to the fruits that are produced through committed cooperation with and cultivation of each other, and the extended body of life we depend on.

In the light of the necessities to effectively steer with intention through the currents that define us – to participate in where the currents carry us – we would do well to search for what it takes to cultivate that which is most significant to that end – that which has the most effect to tame and intentionally direct the environmental waters that define our experience. We can only realize the strength of that steering activity by both finding and actively participating in the relationships that forge meaningful significance while also mitigating the antagonistic forces that could interfere of interrupt that process. Because we so often start with a lens that was forged in a blend of complacency and trauma, we may not be equipped to see clearly what our best way forward is. Once our lens is refined to see with enough depth to understand where our opportunities are sourced, we can then see our progress is built on a complex and nuanced vision where consequences are not immediately connected in time through a linear process, but are displaced in time, and that development to maturity requires sacrifice in order to bear the eventual fruit.

Our best way forward is not visible using a simplistic, linear and narrowly temporal lens. Although simplistic lenses that do not consider, much less prioritize, the necessities of development over time are what we begin with in our ignorance and also what we gravitate to in times of perceived stress, they are not what serves as an accurate map to our most mature state of being. The effects of past traumas etched in our collective psyche can become a self perpetuating eddy that results in why we sometimes operate on a cultural level with a simplistic lens that seems to infer that serving the self to the exclusion of the community is the obvious choice; and it is in the short run, even though it is ultimately self defeating when the more complex tapestry of relationships that develop over time and space is considered. Our traumas and the resulting myopia may also explain why many of the superficial rituals of social recognition we currently chase and build our dedicated behavioral monuments to are also less connected to significance than they are to a self referential service of themselves – to the status quo – of serving our more immediate gratifications in a bonfire of vanities, or, as William Shakespeare’s character Macbeth so eloquently put about the net result of certain lives:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

As a result of recognizing that the road we currently travel most is a recipe for complacency at best and at worst one peppered with self indulgent distractions that lead us in directionless circles, we might be compelled by that dour vision to take the road less traveled. The unbeaten path does require that we brave the dangers of the unknown and or dedicate ourselves to the disciplines that are valuable yet may be unappreciated, or even detested and actively resisted. But this is what we must undertake for the opportunities that are only harvested by way of that path to be rendered. It is only by way of this more difficult organized effort that we can have a chance to realize and get the chance to embody significance – to make our lives meaningfully matter in a sea of what would otherwise be mere existence.

As a result of seeing the stagnating effect of what is rendered by actions taken on the heels of a shallow vision that looks no deeper than serving the brief periods of satisfaction of our baser drives, we might be inclined to focus instead on the things that do not necessarily tilt toward service of these superficial passions alone, but dig deeper to see something more difficult, more significant. With a full spectrum vision we can become like the parent that is compelled by that deeper vision to act with determination on behalf of a child’s development, sometimes in the context of the myopic protests of that same child. This deeper commitment is forged by a deeper vision. A vision that sees our common child as the extended community of relationships we live in and depend on for nourishment and protection, that defines our being and our experience, and that we also derive our significance from by serving something of nourishing and or protective value in the context of that community.

I may be missing something(s)

The Art of Communication Has A Long Tradition

Collections of cells working together as a unified body, producing specialized behaviors that lend adaptive advantage on a group scale which include some sacrificial acts that benefit that larger community is not unique to complex multicellular organisms like ourselves. It is more of a relationship theme that that has been threaded into biology long before multicellularity as we know it emerged. It involves perceiving necessities, and communicating these necessities across a biological domain so that effective behavioral responses can take place. This community principle, complete with communication across a wide biological landscape has been present, and conserved throughout our biological history – a unified purpose among different biological entities that arose out of necessity long before multicellular (metazoic) creatures emerged. Here is an example of how this takes place among microbes:

How Microbes Communicate Over Long Distances

“…Percolation is familiar to anyone who brews coffee, and it helped researchers at the University of California San Diego understand how bacteria communicate with one another over long distances. Communities of bacteria, sometimes called biofilms, aren’t just a clump of bacterial cells. It seems they can send signals to one another with ion channels, promoting the survival of the community and protecting it from attacks. New findings on that communication have been reported in Cell Systems.”

 

Link to full article:

https://www.labroots.com/trending/microbiology/12216/microbes-communicate-distance

Thoughts on the Current Nature of the Media and Culture

As far as I can tell, the same way Vince McMahon’s “professional wrestling” machine produces heroes and villains to keep his various audiences engaged in the “fight”, this video is not as representative as how Fox News acts as it is of how the news media machine acts in general. It is in the business of crafting heroes and villains to keep the cultural divide going, because that’s where it’s power rests. None of the commercial media outlets, nor those outlets owned and operated as news news media petting zoos by billionaires, are delivering news and information to inform a public to make better decisions. They make money and gain influence by creating cultural divides, by delivering narratives to serve their own agendas, and not that betterment of the people they would so desperately claim to be serving in order to keep the charade going.

Devious acts like this; of crafting the persona of a defender while actually being a predator is the benchmark of a corrupt culture. A culture by the way that requires people to believe in and act on the polarized narratives being stitched together for us, at the expense of our collective progress. It is an age old trick; to invite people to dinner with a smile never mentioning that they are part of the meal. Farming people like cattle to service the agenda of the few. My guess is to de-power this engine of corruption and self induced poverty we need to wake up to the fact that just because we’re being sold a drama to our own detriment, doesn’t mean we have to buy it.

Our common ground is Earth. Our best interest is served by a focus on serving where our opportunity is, and that is not served by infighting. Our common enemies are things like cancer and poverty, not each other, unless we decide that being the authors of our own poverty is the goal. Rebellion in a society with this particular brand of sickness that exploits and feeds on the populace comes in the form of beginning to come together as a people, to ignore the lies of division and to begin to behave in ways where we have each other’s backs – to stop believing the hyperbolic lie of division we’re being sold. We can hold the door for each other, let each other in when there’s heavy traffic, and celebrate every act that supports our collective strength. A society that nourishes and protects each other is a society that will progress, and there is not one of us that does not have something we can contribute to that common goal.

Being nice to someone and rooting for their success, without so much emphasis on political indoctrination is one way we can all get stronger. The same way our biological body has different organs with different priorities, that still work together under a unified purpose of nourishing and protecting each other, is the same principle at the foundation of the strength and the prosperity of a pluralistic society. This is where our bread is buttered, and where our opportunity comes from and if we choose to embrace this instead of the divisive lie we’re being sold by people who profit from that battle, then our progress will take root. We can increasingly live in a world where the fruits of having each other’s backs are realized and where the perpetual poverty that comes from being on each other’s backs diminishes if we embrace this notion, that we all swim in the same pond – that what we do to and for each other shapes what we all experience as life. As far as I know, it has never been any different.

I could be missing something(s).

Here is a link to an example of bias from one of the outlets, but again, it is representative of the industry at large.

https://nowthisnews.com/videos/politics/fox-news-different-reactions-regarding-negotiations-with-north-korea

The Backfire Effect: Plain Truth Sometimes Increases Ignorance

 

The backfire effect is a name for the human social phenomena that exists where when we are given evidence counter to our already established belief, even if that belief is a hope, desire or the like in disguise, we tend to not only reject the conflicting evidence, but believe even more strongly in our original proposition as a result of the encounter.

This makes the many self appointed “rational warriors” in our culture agents of increasing cultural ignorance when tactics of persuasion that include things like ridicule, and loudly speaking what is perceived to be “important science” to what is is perceived as “the unwashed masses” are employed. Rather than agents of increasing rationality, ridicule and brutal honesty are not effective, regardless of whether or not they may be true.

We see this cultural phenomena in the anti vaccine movement, and other beliefs that require a vigorous denial of plain evidence to maintain. My guess is the reasons for this are at least partially rooted in the fact that, generally speaking, we are social-emotional creatures with a small capacity for rational thought. We are not rational creatures who are also social and emotional. When sincere efforts to combat ignorance simply use fact, and do not also accommodate those emotional-social realities, they tend to backfire fortifying ignorance among those of us who perceive we’re under attack.

Our personal identities have their own ideological immune response system and like our biological one, we become more able to fend off “attacks” over time as we’re exposed to them. Additionally, we can develop what amounts to an ideological autoimmune disease in our perception faculties, where we retreat to a belief matrix that is increasingly divorced from pragmatic realities.

The methods by which we communicate, including the social-emotional subtext of those communications, become part of the means by which things are accepted or rejected. This is the reality of the social economy. Genuine persuasion appears to be built on trust, and that trust sometimes must be established over time, especially when in the context of a prior relational strain stemming from perceived disrespect, or a history of prior emotional strain related to the topic on the part of the person(s) being communicated with. The capacity to communicate in the context of ideological differences requires more than an economy of facts. It must also include a baseline of respect at the very least as a starter for any real communication to have a chance to take place.

*France’s fact-based approach to teaching the public about Lyme disease has backfired*

From the article: “Rather than quieting the concerns of Lyme advocates, France’s national plan is further entrenching two extremes.”

https://undark.org/article/france-chronic-lyme-disease/

 

More information on the backfire effect: https://medium.com/homeland-security/the-social-psychology-of-the-backfire-effect-locking-up-the-gears-of-your-mind-a79d4e6e8061

 

There are some who think the backfire effect is not real, or at least exxagerated. Here is an article about this.

http://mashable.com/2017/05/06/oatmeal-backfire-effect-comic/#Py0CmJZf3iqr

In-Groups and Out-Groups: A Biological Perspective

There is a certain fungus that is able to control certain ants to serve as a vehicle to further its own reproductive ends. The ant, in this case, dies in service of reproducing the fungus. There is also the case of the bacterial parasite T. Gondii which edits rodent brains to be attracted to felines so they get eaten, which helps the bacteria to enter its spawning grounds, which is in a feline gut. (it also edits other mammal brains in different ways) There are numerous cases of parasites and viruses that have the capacity to influence other organisms in service of their specific ends. It could be said that this is the norm in nature – competing influences that ultimately result in emergent behaviors that we typically identify as belonging to “an organism” but are in fact based on the collective property of many organisms.

When we consider that we are also a collection of various organisms that are influenced by each other, each with various agendas and various means of carrying that agenda out, we can begin to see that what we call our choices, and what we think of as our identity, may in fact be a byproduct of the parliamentary constellation of influences that rises from the pool of biological organisms that define us. We may be a reflection of the relationship field from which we are composed which extends beyond human genetics.

A recognition of this, at least from the parasitic sense, there is a now “theory” on the block called ; “The parasite-stress theory” which sees our personal and cultural identities through the lens of the parasitic creatures that influence us to service their various needs. In some real respects, it posits that our cultures in large part are an emergent property of the parasitic microbes that influence our behaviors.

The evidence for this idea is the strong correlation between the strength of parasites in the relationship field of the people in a given culture and their relative state of peace or conflict in addition to whether or not the culture is conformist or individualistic etc. In other words, what we see as culture may be a mirror effect of the relationship field between organisms.

According to this video; the parasite-stress theory may be a general theory of culture and sociality. In a nutshell it acknowledges the fact that the various strategies organisms have to influence other organisms to serve its purposes do have a role in defining this thing we call us. My thought is that it would be a more accurate lens if it looked at the full spectrum of organisms, some of which are on the mutually beneficial range of influence – commensal organisms having a stake in the success of the community it depends on – and doing what they can to offer benefits such as stability, defense, long life and so on. In other words, I think this theory is on to something, but is not yet complete. If we factored in the full spectrum of influences, (rather than just the parasitic segment) we would be able to understand that our opportunity for cultivating an intentional experience of life, rather than riding ignorantly on the winds of biological chance, is rooted in whether or not we intentionally tend the biological relationship field of which we are, on which we depend and that defines this thing we call “us” to be inclined toward the commensal, mutually beneficial segment of the spectrum of relationships.

The Biological Community Defines Our Experience of Life

If we unpack the implications of the fact that a single celled parasite like Toxoplasma gondii can develop a strategy to modify mammalian neurophysiology and behaviors to suit its own biological ends, we can begin to appreciate the fact that the community of friends and foes in our local biological relationship field set the tone for what we experience as life.

There is a full spectrum of relationships that is possible in any given biological community that can span the spectrum from obligate (necessary) mutualism to parasitic and predatory relationship dynamics where seizing the fruit produced by other organisms is the core behavioral property of the organism.

Depending on the biological community’s bias toward cooperation involving mutual nourishment and common defense, or toward parasitic and predatory relational dynamics, the organism based community will tend toward homeostasis (balance), or instability. This makes whether or not we learn about, and act to appropriately tend the many organisms from which our local biology is composed is a key factor in whether balance or imbalance (health or disease) will happen. It also plays a key role in defining our identity and shaping experience of life. This makes understanding and cultivating the biological relational system we are part of a critical factor in effectively steering our experience of life.

Here is an article outlining how a number of parasitic and predatory organisms press their agenda within the larger biological community. It is important to remember that there is a full spectrum of relationship possibilities, some of which bring nourishment, strength and health or defense of the integrity of the system against disruptive agents.

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/31536/title/Animal-Mind-Control/

Powerful Influence from Small Changes

While this article is on *Brain Inflammation and Obesity* specifically, there seems to be a number of deeper implications if we apply a wide angle lens to the fact that certain infections, or microbiome populations, or traumas, etc. in the context of our complex biological system can shift behavioral expressions on more than physical scales. This influence on our relational landscape has a powerful influence on our experience of life. Extrapolated further we might begin to get a glimpse of how our evolution, history, culture and sense of identity might all be far more nebulous and arbitrary than we are used to believing.

https://www.labroots.com/trending/neuroscience/6586/brain-inflammation-obesity

The Social Life of Plants

Plants have any number of methods to communicate both internally and externally in order to keep themselves informed and respond to their environment and developmental needs. They use this vast array of capacities to negotiate their way toward maturity and reproduction among other things. As it turns out, plants have a rich social life. They are for instance able to forge relationships with various benefactors in the plant and animal kingdoms and coordinate their effort, including the recruitment of other creatures, to ward off antagonists. They sense, and think without the means of a brain as we understand brains, yet they have the capacity to perceive and respond on remarkable levels which we are only beginning to understand. Here is a documentary on some of the recently discovered attributes of plants.

The Seeds of Human Culture are in the Cell

The notion that DNA is a static information repository is fading, as is the notion that RNA and protein are passive outcomes of DNA. Together all the structures in the cell form a dynamic community that includes a social life (cellular communication), institutional structures (golgi apparatus, ribosomes, etc.), a police force (phagocytes), roads (microtubules), transport vehicles (Kinesin, Dynein), local culture (see article link below), and so on. In other words; there is nothing that we express on a macro scale that is not also echoed on micro scales. We reflect of the nature of the cosmos. It could not be otherwise.

https://phys.org/news/2017-07-reveals-genes-constantly-rearranged-cells.html