Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Butterflies and Karasses

I watched a Nova special last night called "The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies". In short it tells about how four generations of butterlies make their way across 2,000  miles in a migration between Mexico and Canada. (and back again).

A couple of things struck me about this. First off, yes, it is quite an accomplishment but the fact that is a repeating multi-generational cycle really got me thinking.

Here is a rough sketch of how this multi-generational task happens:
The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies
Generation 1 leaves mexico and adventures into the US and dies along the journey
Generation 2 continues the northward quest
Generation 3 continues northward into Canada and finds the final destination
Generation 4 makes the trek all the way back from Canada to Mexico

Each generation does it's thing and lives it's life as it was "supposed to". And each generation is a critical component of a successful whole, yet totally unaware of the grand plan of the whole thing. ( I can't really speak to the philosphy, wisdom, or Omniscience of butterflies but it's a good guess that they are unaware of the plan)

You can probably see the simile coming but doesn't this seem like it could be plausible when it comes to us human beings? 

Is there a grand plan that we are only a part of?  A plan that spans more than the 80 or so years of one life?

If that is the case then it begs the question of whether or not I will be able to appreciate this "Grand Plan". Will I still be around as it continues it's unfolding? Or will I have just been food in a spider web somewhere between Mexico and Canada.

It brings to mind Vonnegut's concept of the Karass.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

yes, no, maybe so, and I dunno

I have talked about the importance of asking the right question when it comes to the meaning of life.  and in this post I want to shed a little light on that theme.

The point I want to get at is the difference between a person finding and having meaning in their life and something that has been called "Transcendant or Cosmic Meaning".

This branching sheds light onto exactly what I am driving at here.

Everybody finds meaning and meanings in their life. I don't have anything to add to that. That is something defined by the individual. What I am searching for is the possibility that there is a "transcendant" meaning to all of this.

So far I have been able to boil it down to a question that can be asked several ways. Here are two examples:

 "Is there a transcendant meaning to all of existence? "or "Why do we and the universe exist?"

Nice, Now we have two options:

1. No
2. Yes

And of course there is always the fine art of  dodging  the question which gives us some possibilities:

3. Yes... but
4. dunno

This transcendant meaning is something that people have wrestled with for a long time. Here are some proposed answers to the question:
  • Nietzsche (NO): He believed that life had no transcendant meaning but humans can create their own meanings.  This is very much in line with existentialism.
  • Frankl (YES): Believed that transcendant meaning was something that humans could not create. But they could discover it.
  • Many Religions (YES, But...): Believe that there is a transcendant meaning but it is not possible for humans to understand it.
  • Albert Camus: (dunno):"I don’t know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I cannot know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it."
Let me leave you with a Stephen Hawking quote

 "If we find the answer to that, (why it is that we and the universe exist), it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we would know the mind of God."

hmmm... the search continues..
Am I still at square one?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I get the distinct feeling...

I get the distinct feeling that there is something we are not understanding; that there is a secret we are not perceiving. An angle we are not viewing....

Part of the riddle and the question we have to ask is whether or not this lack is by design, happenstance, chance, inability or something else.

You know I might possibly be ok with it if it's design, happenstance, chance, or inability. It's the possibility of it being something else that really gets me.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Asking the right question

The phrase "The Meaning of Life" has become such an over used term. It's almost as if it has become diluted or even a charicature of itself. It's also become a good source of humor. I got to thinking about this phrase and this search for the meaning of life. And I think, as in all other things, the answers you get are very dependant upon the questions you ask. How and what you ask is a factor in your answer.

And one of the big pitfalls of this particular phrase is the often assumed meaning of "meaning in life" Many people hear the question and automatically jump to " Everyone must find their own meaning in life" or "Everyone is an individual so the meaning will be different".  Some more common answers are: "I find deep meaning in caring for my children" or "Giving to others", "Helping mankind" .
These things are all wonderful and I believe in them. They do add meaning to life, but, this isn't what I am getting at with my search.  The search for meaning in life has been well thought out by brighter minds than mine   (Man's Search for Meaning) .

So, I have been thinking that maybe the words and rthe question "The Search for the meaning of life". needs to be refined, tweaked or even changed.  Maybe something akin to "What is the purpose of life? or What is the reason for life? maybe What is the mystery of life?
What is the secret that we don't understand about life?
What is this thing I really don't understand?
What am I and what is life all about?

Anyway, I have a feeling that when I find the right question I might find the answer.