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