The Weiler Psi

Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics

The Not Quite Unsolvable Riddle of the Meaning of Meaning


I’m going to go all philosophical on you, and we all know that the only philosophy worth a damned is also hard to grasp.  It involves stretching our minds and thinking deeply about things.  Fortunately, I’m also a practical guy and I certainly wouldn’t be bothering with this subject if I couldn’t relate to it in some way.  And what makes this subject interesting is that it has everything to do with Life, The Universe and Everything.  Sadly, the answer is not the number 42.  That would be too easy and therefore, not very philosophical at all.

The basis for thinking about the meaning of meaning is realizing that meaning begins and ends with consciousness.  In other words, the very idea of meaning requires thinking.  While this might seem to have all the profundity of a grocery list, in actuality I am still congratulating myself on stating this important concept so eloquently.  Is this my runaway ego?  Am I right?  Or is it both?  You decide.

Every single thing in the whole entire universe can be broken down to wave patterns and electromagnetic fields and all that super tiny energy stuff.  Our buddy, The Quantum Materialist Mechanic, doesn’t recognize anything beyond that because it’s all just more of the same.  Where and how all these little parts might have been stitched together and what larger forms they might take is completely unimportant.  It’s all just energy moving to the groove.  The matter of matter matters not at all.  There is no spoon because the energy that creates it is exactly the same as the energy that creates everything else.   Spoon, Star, petunia or whale, it makes no difference.  It’s all energy.

Now take that same soup of energy and put a conscious living entity in the middle of it.  What happens?  All of a sudden, all those shapes and patterns are important.  A star is now different from a spoon because one keeps your planet warm and the other holds your food.  Petunias look nice and whales are really really big and besides that, they’re totally cool.  All of a sudden, the patterns make all the difference in the world.  Why?  Because this conscious living entity has given them meaning.  Without a living, conscious mind, all of the forms that energy takes in our  universe are literally meaningless.

There is even more to it.  The placement of energy and it’s movement are are also completely irrelevant without a conscious mind to care about it.  In other words, not only are all forms of matter meaningless, but space and time are as well.

When we think of say, a chair, we think of this thing as having an objective existence.  All forms of life could die and be gone in the entire universe and this would not change the chair one bit.  It’s still a chair.  But is it?  What defined this as  a chair in the first place?  A mind.  What is it after no mind can acknowledge its existence?  Energy.  I’m not saying that it disappears, but rather that the order of those subatomic particles has no objective definition, and therefore its just empty space with some energy swirling around, indistinguishable from the rest of the universe.  As Marco Biagini Ph.D, Solid State Physics, points out:

The laws of physics establish that the possible properties of every particle or molecule are the same, that is the property of exchange energy with other particles or photons, and the property of movement; these are the properties of every quantum particle, and no aggregate of quantum particles can have new properties. Therefore, no real macroscopic properties exist.  The macroscopic properties quoted by materialists, are not objective properties of the physical reality, but they are only abstractions or concepts used to describe our sensorial experiences; in other words, they are ideas conceived to describe or classify, according to arbitrary criteria, a given succession of microscopic processes, and these ideas exist only in a conscious and intelligent mind.

John Cleese (Monty Python’s Flying Circus) would appreciate the irony of this.  Materialism, which rejects the conscious mind as a merely emergent property of physical processes, falls apart completely without consciousness.  I wish he would do a comedy sketch about this . . . oh wait.  He did.

 

This is what is so important about the idea of meaning.  When we give things meaning, we are not describing the universe, we are describing our experiences, which are purely derived from consciousness.  (Our minds interpret input from our senses.)  Our ability to experience the world relies on giving meaning to macroscopic properties of quantum particles (which are subjective properties assigned by consciousness)  It follows then, that if macroscopic properties only exist through acts of consciousness, then consciousness itself cannot be a macroscopic property.  Consciousness cannot be an emergent property of the brain because all emergent properties are only interpretations created by consciousness.

By understanding meaning, it can be shown that consciousness is something important and therefore meaning is important. I f all these macroscopic properties of everything are only constructs of consciousness, then the only meaning they have is what we have given to them.  We are the creators of meaning for ourselves and this includes everything we have ever interacted with.  So when I talk about the meaning of meaning, there it is.  Meaning is not some abstract academic concept, it is everything in our lives.  It does not matter whether we consciously give meaning to a ball by grabbing and throwing it, or unconsciously give meaning to air by breathing it, the merest interaction we partake in is a way of giving something meaning.  If something truly had no meaning to us, we would surely fail to interact with it at all.  It would be like sound waves we knew were there, but that we couldn’t hear.

It can be argued that our senses only provide us with stimuli that has the maximum potential to provide meaning to us.  We can eat an apple, but not a ghost, so we are far more likely to see an apple as real.  In looking at the idea of meaning I am struck with this question:  Is there anything besides meaning?  Because it seems to me that our whole lives revolve around it.

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4 comments on “The Not Quite Unsolvable Riddle of the Meaning of Meaning

  1. Michael Bourne
    April 24, 2012

    Over the past few months you may have noticed that I have shown an interest in some of the articles you have written. I have used Scoop.it to allow my audience the opportunity to be aware of them and enjoy the quality of your work. I have recently taken over as Editor for Mindscape Magazine and it is my intention to make the new quarterly edition full of great articles, very much like the ones I have scooped of yours

    Mindscape will be the leading light in bringing information to the public that is often suppressed, or not widely known. In addition to this, it’s aim is also to bring together people who are tired of the misinformation out there and set the record straight.

    Mindscape will now be an e publication and available on all major platforms, Ipad, Android and more. I would like to offer you an invite you to submit any articles you may wish to have published.

    Although you would not be paid it would give you the opportunity to reach a wider audience and become part of the team at Mindscape and a fantastic way for you to build a following of your own.

    If you’ve a book, or a DVD, or are a public speaker, you can mention your work in the bio section of the article.

    Articles ideally should be between 2-4000 words in length, be your own work and any images used must have copyright clearance, or belong to you. Please also include a two paragraph section about yourself, and your a link to your website, or other details. Please make sure all articles are spell checked and your own work.

    Please use the following link to submit your work:

    http://mindscapemagazine.com/contribute-to-mindscape/

    If you’re not a writer, but know of others who would write for us, please forward this to them.

    “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Michael – Editor of Mindscape Magazine

  2. psifiwireless
    March 21, 2012

    I love your Riddle of Meaning post, Craig. To me, meaning IS the point of everything in the Universe. If my physical form was a rock on a riverbank, perhaps the experience of “no-form” would be most appropriate. But since I am a human being, am conscious and have a conscience, I believe I can affect the world by the interpretations of meaning I impose on it. My interpretations are not static. They mutate, and my perception alters, according to my level of experience, knowledge, empathy and capacity for change. Marci

  3. Peter Beacham
    March 21, 2012

    “…meaning begins and ends with consciousness. In other words, the very idea of meaning requires thinking. “

    Interesting topic, Craig. You seem to be equating consciousness and thinking but there is a big difference between consciousness and thinking. Yes, thinking requires consciousness but it is not identical to consciousness. Thinking is consciousness used in certain way.

    Similarly, while meaning does indeed require consciousness, meaning does not require thinking.The idea of meaning or thinking about meaning does certainly require, well, thinking. But isn’t thinking only what happens when one tries to objectify or label the content of meaning? One could intuitively be aware of or know that something is significant without going through a “thinking” process. It is the difference between non-dual wisdom and dualistic thought/belief.

    Even to say, “Every single thing in the whole entire universe can be broken down to wave patterns and electromagnetic fields and all that super tiny energy stuff.” is to put a dualistic spin on consciousness and make a distinction between consciousness and the content of consciousnes as viewed from a self-interested viewpoint. But the content of consciousness is dualistic whereas the consciousness of the cosmos is nondual.

    I agree with you that everything, including time and space are due to patterens of energy. They are also due to the desire of the viewer to manipulate those patterns of energy for personal gain. That viewer will impose an order that is not necessarily present. However, at least a couple of billion people on earth recognize that type of consciousness used by such a viewer is limited and of a dense vibration rate. These billions of people know that changing the quality of one’s consciousness so that it accords with the finer and higher vibration consciousness of the cosmos, leads to a very different notion of reality.

    In the view you suggest, the consciousness of the cosmos is “literally meaningless” until someone organizes it to suit their abilities, likes and dislikes. It is the type of egocentric consciousness that led some to consider that the earth was the center of the universe, and others to consider that they were the center of the universe and deserved to rule over the entire world as they knew it. We all know what happened (and continues to happen) when those types of self-absorbed people attempt to impose their will on the world – death of millions, famine, families dislocated, survivors traumatized, ecosystems poisoned or destroyed all together, species wiped out.

    However, in the view of those 2 billions + mentioned above, the aspiration to change consciousness to higher vibration forms eliminates all of the self-absorbed delusions of grandeur of those of a lower vibration consciousness and, of course, the dire consequences of these people acting on their limited consciousness.

    That energy that you and quantum physicists postulate is mistakenly assumed to be homogeneous and immutable. It is not. Change the rate of vibration and different stuff happens and different wisdoms are gained.

    You state, and I agree, that, “We are the creators of meaning for ourselves and this includes everything we have ever interacted with. “

    Where we seem to disagree (perhaps you have not even considered the possibility) is that one can change the quality of one’s consciousness so that spoons, stars, whales, petunias and even viewpoints become irrelevent as one takes on the consciousness of the cosose and discovers what is beyond those spoons, stars, whales, petunias and viewpoints.

    In addition, as a person achieves higher vibration rates of consciousness, they discover that they can “manufacture” spoons, stars, whales and petunias at will while eschewing the need to adopt any viewpoint.

    Rather than a “literally meaningless” universe where “no real macroscopic properties exist”, one is able to discover that the conscious mind beyond all names and forms is what is variously referred to by those two billions + as God, G-d, Allah, Great Spirit, Parabrahman, etc. We also discover that we, each of us, is also God, G-d, Allah, Great Spirit, Parabrahman.

    It is figure-ground relationship puzzle. One can see the vase or the two people facing each other, both of which are dualistic mindsets. Or, one can become the puzzle maker.

    • craigweiler
      March 21, 2012

      Thanks for your comments Peter. I’m not going to start a discussion on the points that you’ve made, but I do want thank you for adding your point of view to the discussion.

      Sincerely,
      Craig

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