Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Late night existentialism

If existence has no meaning except that which you put upon it, isn't that a contradiction? You're supposed to establish what's important for you in life and try to implement it, but if life is inherently meaningless doesn't that mean that any standard of value that you decide on is going to be essentially arbitrary, and that even if you do manage to change the world to conform to these values that the change itself will be just as arbitrary, therefore leaving you in the same place that you started out at? There doesn't seem to be any sort of "Get of jail free" cards here. Values that are established would have to be established on a rational basis, which means that you'd have to have reasons for establishing these things as the values you'd like to follow instead of some other things. But that takes some criteria about what makes something valuable or a decent outlook on life versus a non-valuable or a not up to snuff viewpoint on life. If we admit that there are some criteria the question becomes which criteria is better or worse than another one, and why, which leads into the notion of whether or not these standards of judgment are finite, controlled, ideas or are ideas representative of a greater whole which we're only dimly aware of. The latter would bring us back to Plato, where the Socratic dialogue process is used to get further out there someplace, who knows where, but closer to whatever larger concepts things like right and wrong are contained in. And if we get back to Plato then the idea of existence being meaningless is invalidated, because a level of uncertainty about the meaningfulness/meaninglessness of the world has been introduced that kills the whole scheme.

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