In a previous lecture I said that naturalist theories state that human life emerged as the result of some blind and random physical process.
We just are, we exist. We may for certain goals use ourselves and each other, but these goals can not be deduced from what we are in essence.
There are at least two ways in which we can face this apparently bleak picture. One is simply to accept that life has no meaning.
The other is to question the assumption underlying the pessimistic conclusion: life can have only meaning, if we are here with a purpose.
Of course the easiest way out is to claim that an external being has offered us this purpose, that we are created with a purpose.
Yesterday I paid a visit to the Museum of Anthropology in Leiden. They have a collection of (historical) artwork from all over the world.
Beautiful, but almost 95% of the objects were used in religious rituals or created with a religious purpose in mind.
And then you realise how eager homo sapiens all over the world has been and still is in believing in this purpose of live and believing in gods for the purpose.
Not one god, the one that for instance blesses America, but literally hundreds, if not thousands of gods, which have come and go as history progresses.
In Western Europe, but also in Islamic countries people change their mind these days and leave their original religious ideas behind and become do-it-yourself people.
For the existentialist the crucial truth is that we must face the fact that we ourselves are responsible for making our goals as meaning and purpose are not built into life.
It is not that life has no purpose, it just does not have a predetermined goal. This requires that we must confront ourselves
with our own responsibility to give our goals a sense for ourselves and exactly that is something we are not too willing to do.
As Sartre says, we’d rather exist like a stone than as a being that constantly is responsible for his own situation and thence has to make choices all the time.
Yet the idea that our fate is to some extend in our own hands can give us a feeling of power and have a liberating effect on us.
In my previous lecture I added to this the idea, that you should not interpret human existence only in this abstract existentialist way as just BEING with responsibility,
but that you also have to understand homo sapiens within his natural context as being part of a biological world of primates, of social animals.
However, a lot of people are reluctant or plainly unwilling to accept such an interpretation of our existence.
It is like, they might argue, that we are facing the reality of a meaningless universe and thence decide that we’ll invent its meaning ourselves.
The underlying thought is that the meaning we think of ourselves is fake, is inferior to a meaning of life which is predetermined for us.
If we can give life a purpose and a meaning, then there is no objective reason, however, why this should be considered as an inferior kind of meaning in comparison with one that could be given by a creator or the like.
Thank you for your attention…. ^_^
[13:20] herman Bergson: Nice you all agree :-)
[13:20] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ㋡
[13:20] Roger Amdahl: do we ??
[13:21] herman Bergson: Well...could be I was too unclear...:-)
[13:21] herman Bergson: But then you would ask..plz clarify this or that
[13:22] herman Bergson: Main question of today is....
[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Does life have a meaning or not and if so what
[13:22] Roger Amdahl: If the message is, life itself has no meaning, only our brain functions in a way we feel life more comfortable as we can add some meaning, then I agree
[13:23] herman Bergson: We can define our own meaning of life in al sorts of way....
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i guess so
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and that is what is going on if you dont have a belief in a creator
[13:24] herman Bergson: and why would that purpose and meaning be inferior to a meaining of which it is believed that it was defined by someone/thing outside us
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): each define life they way they want it
[13:25] herman Bergson: Besides...
[13:25] CB Axel: Well, if we give ourselves purpose and meaning we can't blame anyone else for our messed up lives.
[13:25] herman Bergson: when the meaning of life is defined by some being independent of use and we have to follow that.....are we better of then...or poorer actually
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it becomes sort of chaotic tho doesnt it?
[13:26] CB Axel: If we believe our purpose was given to us by a creator, we can say, "It's God's plan," and put the blame on him. °͜°
[13:26] herman Bergson: Yes CB :-)
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ㋡
[13:26] Ciska Riverstone: well the main reason why we kind of are reluctant to happily define our own reason is the avoiding responsibility thing isn't it ?
[13:26] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): that is an easy thought
[13:26] CB Axel: I'm beginning to see a good reason for having a religion.
[13:26] herman Bergson: That is what Sartre meant.....that we rather like to be like a stone
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i don’t think so ciska
[13:27] herman Bergson: I would say so Ciska :-)
[13:27] Roger Amdahl: Yes, and how does "god's word" reach us ?? Some people .. complete strangers to the world keep telling they, and only them, know Gods word, and how to live
[13:27] herman Bergson: Gemma thinks diferently, it seems
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): not differently just looking at it from the other side
[13:28] herman Bergson: which side is that?
[13:28] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): lots of people don't take responsibility for their actions, it's Allah or gods wil they say
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): the side of those who made all those religious objects
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): you saw
[13:28] herman Bergson: @Roger...The eternal question...^_^
[13:29] CB Axel: I would say that Gemma is being the devil's advocate if I believed in devils. °͜°
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i am
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): haha
[13:29] herman Bergson: they were believers....had their predetermined purpos eof life
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is correct
[13:30] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it is not as simple as it sounds
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: well - having someone to give responsibility too may set free creativity ;)
[13:30] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): or we would not be having this topic
[13:30] herman Bergson: a meaning filled in by someone else
[13:30] herman Bergson: Indeed Ciska...
[13:30] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): oh dear have to poof
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: aww
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[13:31] CB Axel: Bye, Gemma
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well CU Gemma
[13:31] herman Bergson: Be well Gemma :-)
[13:31] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): bye Gemma
[13:32] herman Bergson: We might spend some effort in attempting to understand creationists...they are not exactly a minority in this world...
[13:32] herman Bergson: Are they right yet one way or the other?
[13:33] CB Axel: I don't think they're right about anything.
[13:33] herman Bergson: Nice subject for a next lecture ^_^
[13:33] herman Bergson smiles
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ㋡
[13:34] herman Bergson: I must admit, we are somewhat biased here ^_^
[13:34] CB Axel: It seems that creationists purpose in life is to annoy me.
[13:34] Roger Amdahl: They can be right. You just need to dispose of all scientific evidence, and be very narrow sighted to keep on with the creationists. And they probably say this about me too :)
[13:34] herman Bergson: To be honest.....
[13:34] herman Bergson: Oh...Roger....
[13:35] herman Bergson: Here we then first have to discuss the meaning of "BEING RIGHT..."
[13:35] herman Bergson: but what I wanted to say is....
[13:35] CB Axel: OK. I'll just turn off my brain and blindly follow the bits of a book of fairy tales that I want to believe.
[13:35] herman Bergson: all those artworks in that museum....the one even more beautiful than the other
[13:36] herman Bergson: Yet is annoyed me a little....because af these religious origins of these objects
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: why is this annoying?
[13:37] herman Bergson: The observation of such view at reality....but that is just my personal thing
[13:37] herman Bergson: So much energy and creativity...kind of wasted in my opinion
[13:38] Ciska Riverstone: mh - how would it have been better spend?
[13:38] herman Bergson: in those contexts it couldn't Ciska...
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: that is an interesting question
[13:39] herman Bergson: there might not even have existed secular art
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I guess you mean Cant you make this kind of art without mixing in religion
[13:39] CB Axel: There are some beautiful secular paintings. Those who painted sacred subjects could have painted landscapes and portraits as beautiful as what they did paint.
[13:40] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): If i get it right
[13:40] herman Bergson: Yes Bejiita :-)
[13:40] Roger Amdahl: minimalisme would be the art form too small for any God :))
[13:40] CB Axel: There is some beautiful secular music, too. No need to write hymns.
[13:40] herman Bergson: But I must admit that religion has inspired people to great works of art :-)
[13:41] CB Axel: Unless it is hymns to the natural world.
[13:41] herman Bergson: Fact is....we can't deny or ignore religious behavior....is aprt of our nature it seems
[13:42] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): maybe it was not allowed to paint anything else in those days?
[13:42] Ciska Riverstone: well they tried to paint something beyond the reality of objects or even living persons somehow - . in many ways secular art is trying to catch "story-teling" which is a try to express exeriences in general
[13:42] Ciska Riverstone: experiences and of course ideals and wishes
[13:42] Ciska Riverstone: difficult to put those on paper
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: hence the symbolism
[13:43] herman Bergson: yes...there is that longing for the transcendenttal....
[13:43] herman Bergson: the mysticism...
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: or the longing to express concepts like love and emotion - justice?
[13:44] herman Bergson: The belief that there is more than just our consciousness
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: (in a way they cannot be denied kind of ;) )
[13:44] herman Bergson: No ...but here you see the same mechanism.....
[13:44] herman Bergson: take justice .....
[13:45] herman Bergson: the longing for some absolute....some independent answer
[13:45] herman Bergson: We want certainty.....
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: yes - so the try to describe it
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: with kids you do that in stories too
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: fairytales even
[13:45] herman Bergson: which might be invain then, of course
[13:46] herman Bergson: Because we just exist and have to define our own meaning of life
[13:46] Roger Amdahl: Why does life need a meaning ?
[13:46] herman Bergson: There is no outside helper :-)
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: mh - if that is so and a lot of people want to create a belief system and define that as their own meaning of life- what then?
[13:47] herman Bergson: You define it every day in the choices you make Roger
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I know at least what my meaning of life is this weekend
[13:47] herman Bergson: Then you have an ideology or religion, Ciska
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Streetdance/Hip hop party for 11 hours total
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: ehehhe great beejita
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): YAY! (yay!)
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): will be amazing
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats one goal for now
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): then more goals will come
[13:48] Roger Amdahl: I work to pay for food and fun, that is not a meaning of life.
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i guess that is one way to think about the meaning of life
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: yes - herman - thats what I wanted to point out
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its individual
[13:48] herman Bergson: what is it then, Roger?
[13:48] Roger Amdahl: Life has no meaning
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but the general real menaing is very much more difficult to find though
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Im just me
[13:49] Roger Amdahl: Life is a coincidence of circumstances in the universe
[13:49] herman Bergson: That's what we already discussed, Roger:-)
[13:50] Roger Amdahl: If life had a meaning, that meaning would be valid for all life forms ?
[13:50] herman Bergson: So if you want to give it a reason to be here, create one :-)
[13:50] herman Bergson: No...
[13:51] herman Bergson: I think it is a typical human thing to ask for the WHY
[13:51] herman Bergson: But in the ecological chain all elements can have a purpose in relation to each other
[13:51] herman Bergson: But a bee never will ask why he is flying from flower to flower
[13:52] herman Bergson: we do and see the purpose of this behavior
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: here comes another thesis ;) (psychological one;) : a human being well connected to her or his emotions won't ask the question because it will constantly try to fulfil social needs and physical needs.
[13:54] herman Bergson: you mean that fullfilling these needs is a constant purpose of such a person?
[13:54] Ciska Riverstone: thats a thesis yes
[13:54] Ciska Riverstone: the problem is
[13:54] Ciska Riverstone: when the emotional system is blocked
[13:55] Ciska Riverstone: it does not work
[13:55] herman Bergson: I'd say that this is obvious if you put it in relation to our pain - pleasure balance
[13:55] herman Bergson: if the emotional system is blocked the person lost control ove rhis dealing with pain and pleasure
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: and then starts the process in trying to correct that yes
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: by "rational" means
[13:56] herman Bergson: and this would cause problems in his social contexts...
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: totally
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: isn't that where we are right now in the western world?
[13:57] herman Bergson: Looks like it indeed
[13:58] Ciska Riverstone: the consciousness process - in psychology - often starts with crises
[13:58] Ciska Riverstone: no crises - less consciousness development as it seems
[13:59] herman Bergson: maybe....
[13:59] Ciska Riverstone: might just be a notion though - difficult to prove that
[13:59] herman Bergson: you could turn it around....
[13:59] herman Bergson: crises often stimulate a growing consciousness
[14:00] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[14:00] herman Bergson: Guess we have reached a crisis here now too :-))
[14:00] Ciska Riverstone: heheheh
[14:00] Ciska Riverstone: ok
[14:01] herman Bergson: So I'd better thank you all again for your participation :-)
[14:01] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[14:01] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ㋡
[14:01] CB Axel: Thank you again, Herman.
[14:01] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman - thanx all
[14:01] Roger Amdahl: Thank you herman
[14:01] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): nice again ㋡