Re: The Meaning of Life

From: Tom Caylor <>
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2007 12:05:07 -0800

On Feb 24, 6:10 pm, "Stathis Papaioannou" <> wrote:
> On 2/24/07, Tom Caylor <> wrote:
> > > The universe is not under any obligation to reveal itself to us. All we
> > can
> > > do is stumble around blindly gathering what data we can and make a best
> > > guess as to what's going on.
> > This is a metaphysical judgment. There are those who strongly
> > disagree on rational grounds.
> One of the problems with the verification principle of logical positivism
> was that it, itself, cannot be verified by the verification principle, and
> hence is subject to the charge of being part of the hated metaphysics (and,
> I suppose, if it could be verified it would be subject to the charge that it
> was a circular argument). But I would get around the problem by stating the
> principles by which science works thus: IF you want to predict the weather,
> build planes that fly, make sick people better THEN you should do such and
> such. By putting it in this conditional form there is no metaphysical
> component.

I think you and/or Bruno talked about this internal conditional
definition of "morality" before. But this is just logical inference
inside a "closed" system of facts. IF this is true THEN this is
true. There are no real normative statements here, and thus no real
moral meaning. IF you want to torture babies, THEN you "should" do
such and such. This definition of morality does not explain why we
should want certain things and not others. This definition does not
suppport the real noble things of morality such as compassion. Some
examples are:

IF you want to follow the Creator's path when your enemy strikes you
on the cheek, THEN you should turn the other cheek and pray for him/
IF you want to follow the Creator's path when it comes to a choice
between your benefit and your neighbor's benefit, THEN you act for
your neighbor's benefit.
IF you want to follow the Creator's path when it comes to a choice
between your life and your friend's life, THEN you should give your

The thing that is different in this realm of true morality is that the
Creator is a person that we can get to know (not totally, but in a
process of growth just like any relationship), so that we aren't just
cranking out IF/THEN inferences like a machine, but the Holy Spirit
(analogous to All Soul in Bruno/Plotinus term) affirms with our spirit
that a certain response or initiative in the current situation is in
accord with the Creator's personal character. Thus, there is only so
much convincing that one can do in a forum like this. The rest
requires actually being shown God's love in a tangible way by another
person. Then it is still up to each of us to decide how we respond.

> > Science is just a systematisation of this
> > > process, with guesses taking the form of models and theories.
> > So science is a just systematisation of a metaphysical judgment. I
> > agree.
> > > However, it's
> > > all tentative, and the scientific method itself is tentative: tomorrow
> > pigs
> > > might sprout wings and fly, even though this has never happened before.
> > I
> > > would bet that pigs will still be land-bound tomorrow, because there is
> > no
> > > reason to think otherwise, but I have to stop short of absolute
> > certainty. A
> > > metaphysical position would be that flying pigs are an absurdity or an
> > > anathema and therefore pigs absolutely *cannot* fly. But it is arrogant
> > as
> > > well as wrong to create absolute certainty, absolute meaning, or
> > absolute
> > > anything else by fiat, just because that's what you fancy. If there are
> > some
> > > things we can't know with certainty or can't know at all, that may be
> > > unfortunate, but it's the way the world is.
> > > Stathis Papaioannou
> > Looking over my previous post, I cannot see why you are bringing up
> > absolute certainty. Also I don't know what "absolute meaning" means,
> > unless it means knowing meaning with absolute certainty in which case
> > I don't hold that view.
> Sorry if I have misunderstood, and if I have been unclear or tangential.
> Several posts back you spoke of positivism being deficient because "a closed
> system which is supposedly totally explainable will always have at least one
> fixed point that is unexplainable". I read into this an implication that God
> would solve the problem because he could be outside the system, indeed
> outside all possible systems. But this runs into two problems. The first is
> that positivists are in fact very modest and make no claim to explain
> everything; the very opposite, in fact. The second is that the concept of an
> entity outside all possible systems, and therefore requiring no cause,
> design, meaning or any of the other things allegedly necessary for the
> universe and its components constitutes a restatement of the ontological
> argument for the existence of God, an argument that is 900 years old and has
> been rejected as invalid even by most theists.
> Stathis Papaioannou

I insist that I am not going down the ontological argument path. If
you want to categorize my argument from meaning, perhaps it is closest
to Kant's argument from morality. In a scientific system, perhaps
this is branded as "wishful thinking", but I am also insisting that
science's basis (anything's basis actually), such as fundamentality,
generality, beauty, "introspection" is also mystical wishful thinking,
and naturality is circular, and reproducibility is circular in that
its pragmatism begs the question of meaning (IF you want to do this,
THEN reproducible experiments have shown that you "should" do such and


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Received on Mon Feb 26 2007 - 15:05:12 PST

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