Re: meaning of life (was Re: virus: RE: Why have children?)

Martin Traynor (
Thu, 7 Nov 1996 14:21:03 +0000


On 6 Nov 96 at 11:47, David McFadzean wrote:

> I define 'meaning' to be identical to effect (which makes my statement
> above true by definition).

How convenient ;). I would take meaning to be importance or
significance. This would imply that a life can have meaning without
reference to anything external to itself.

> Yes, I can't imagine someone living without having some effect.

I agree completely, but that effect can be coincidental. It needn't
be the root from which meaning is drawn.

> I didn't mean that one has to become a historical figure to have
> a meaningful life, though real historical figures certainly did
> have meaningful lives. For illustrative purposes, imagine the kind
> of life that has virtually no effect on the world or history. You
> would have to never interact with anyone or do anything. Some poor
> sods in the history of humankind probably approached having a
> virtually meaningless life by becoming hermits at a young age.
> Even if they were happy and composed symphonies in their head
> and solved the ancient problems of metaphysics, if they didn't
> touch other lives, if they didn't change the world, in the end
> they had relatively meaningless lives.

By your definition of meaning, yes. By mine, no.

> "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - M. Gandhi

Implicit in this is a desire to change the world. I agree with it in
and of itself but it says nothing about meaning, only effect.

> I don't know how this might relate to Richard's mind-levels but I
> fear that bringing them into this discussion will only derail it.

A valid fear methinks. Pretend I never mentioned it.

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A ripple in a shithole may also be a welcome sign of change. Dejan Vucinic