Re: virus: Truth and Meaning

Eric Boyd (
Thu, 03 Jul 1997 01:33:34 -0500


Before I start commenting, I'd like to say this was a very well written
post. Amazing! I think that the M-Grid is a great addition to the

DJS wrote:

> And a corollary is that a statement that is purposeful and is believed
> gives Meaning by my definition to the believer's life, regardless of
> whether it is supported or refuted by the evidence.


"Above all, [the Orient] knows that it is in itself a matter of absolute
indifference whether a thing be true, but of the highest importance /to
what extent/ it is believed to be true. Truth and the /belief/ that
something is true: two completely diverse worlds of interest, almost
/antithetical/ worlds" Friedrich Nietzsche -- The AntiChrist, #23
(emphasis as in the original)

By the way, I throughly recommend that book. A lot of it is Nietzsche's
personal attacks on other people, but quite a bit is *brief*, *concise*
and *to*the*point* critisims of Christianity. A good read. And if it
wasn't that he died almost 100 years before the term was coined, I would
say the Nietzsche was a memeticist. He certainly uses the tools.

> 1. One could find meaning in the devotion to learning and teaching and
> discovering new knowledge. Indeed I think this is very common, and because
> it is possible to find meaning in the search for truth, it is easy to
> mistake them for the same thing.

Indeed, I think that this is the position I will adopt. The struggle to
obtain "truth" is meaningful. (my normative theory: and *good*)

> 2. Since meaning is the name of the game, and meaning requires belief, and
> belief requires (or is at least a lot easier if not opposed to) evidence,
> then ....there is the potential for a conflict between head and heart if
> the evidence is not supporting the propositions that one is committed to.
> One "solution" is provided by the "Fundamentalist" meme.
> Wisdom ...... Knowledge and meaning together.
> Mysticism ... Meaning, but lack of knowledge (lack of evidence).
> Science ...... Knowledge, but lack of meaning.

I think you missed out on the Big Conclusion here. *Wisdom* is the Holy
Grail. Knowledge and Meaning together, in one meta-meme. This should be
the one we all strive after.

That's why I think the "fundamentalist" solution is "bad". Why not give
up, temporarily, on the meaning in life (and accept, at least for a
while, that *life*is*meaningless* See all of Ecclesiastes for Biblical
evidence) in order to set yourself on the path towards *wisdom*? I'd do
it. Heck, I *am* doing it.

> 2. There is no conflict between head and heart if we are careful to commit
> to meaningful things that are supported by lots of evidence. Unfortunately,
> the evidence can change very quickly.
> How many scholars can recant their entire life's work when the evidence
> mounts against their theories? And even if they do, is it not a terrible
> blow for the perceived meaning in their life?
> Thus there is an inherent potential for conflict between the head and
> heart, between meaning and truth, because our knowledge is always shifting.

This is, of course, the pitfall. That is why I fermly believe that one
should place the *meaning* not on the actual *truth* but on the
*process* of discovering truth. "To travel is better than to arrive"

> 2. Reed has stated that morality is a technology. In the context of this
> post, I interpret this as saying that we can discover /meaningful/ truths
> using "scientific" methods, just the same as discovering factual truths. It
> is when we have meaningful truths to believe in that there is no conflict
> between head and heart.

Wisdom = meaningful truths. Interesting how morality relates, though.
Maybe you did see it. I'll just point it out anyway...

> 4. Eric wondered about the morality of trying to "enlighten" his Christian
> friend. In contemplating this post, I am even more wary of the act of
> destroying meaning, especially without having something to replace it with.
> Using the sword of truth to hack at the tree of meaning.

Using the sword of truth to hack at the tree of meaning. Couldn't have
said it better myself. Thats why I was being cautious. And that's also
why I'm not just *deconstructing* Christianity, I'm building something
in it's place.
(or, at least, that's the plan!)

I've been thinking. Could we draw up a three dimensional grid?
X axis = "meaning" positive = "This provides meaning to my life"
Y axis = "belief" positive = "I beleive in it"
Z axis = "evidence" positive = "supporting evidence"

Creating such a thing lies beyond my ability with the primitive programs
I have here, but perhaps someone else could do it...

There are eight quadrants here, and each has some interesting qualities:

X+, Y+, Z+ ---> this is Wisdom, the holy grail
X+, Y+, Z- ---> this is Mysticism. "Faith"[1] is the key. Works for a
lot of people. A compromise to obtain meaning. But why compromise?[2]
X+, Y-, Z+ ---> this is Insane... no one would honestly entertain this
(although a closed, unaware mind might let it slip by...)
X+, Y-, Z- ---> This would be the case of the non-beleiver. Knows it
meaning, but becuase of lack of evidence chooses not to beleive
X-, Y+, Z+ ---> This is "Science", at it's most impersonal...
X-, Y+, Z- ---> This is "Empty"... but such positions might actually
ex: Fundamentalist who does not draw meaning from [whatever]
X-, Y-, Z+ ---> The science doubter. No damage done. Just a closed
X-, Y-, Z- ---> I'm sure there are *millions* of things like this
Cow mutalitations preformed by Aliens come to mind.

There is also a bunch of positions with a "0" instead of a positive or
negative for each axis. Probably there are many interesting things to
be learned by looking at each of them

X0, Y0, Z0 ---> is "innocence", the unexposed mind

And obviously, all of the lables on the modified T-Grid can correspond
to values when X=0

Anyway, analyzing all possible positions could yeild a really powerful
overview of all that has been talked about. But I think you can fill in
the blanks as well as I. These graphs are amazing tools...


[1] This is an example of faith *despite* the evidence. If you wish a
different term, I won't object. Perhaps "blind faith" should be used
here, and faith reserved for X+, Y+, Z0.

[2] One might compromize because, in fact, the Holy Grail is
unattainable. i.e. there simply isn't a meta-meme that is "meaningful"
*enough* and still has a body of evidence behind it. I suppose the way
to refute this is to find a Holy Grail meta-meme. Anybody?