View Poll Results: Can science and/or reason give us a satisfying meaning of life?

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Thread: Enlightenment now and meaning of life

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    Contributor DrZoidberg's Avatar
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    Enlightenment now and meaning of life

    I just finished Pinker's new Enelightment Now. In it he argues for that Enlightenment principals and especially science is awesome and the reason why the modern world is so great, and has been the greatest engine for progress. He thinks religions are more window dressing than delivering anything important.

    In the first page he talks about meaning of life and explains how health, beauty, art, happiness, love and so on can give us all the meaning of life we need. That religions... or any other method is redundant. He also has a go at Nietzshe (who I think he completely misunderstands). I'd argue that science and reason can explain or give us a satisfying meaning of life. Since it's unknown (and I think unknowable) we can spend a lifetime reasoning about it and we'll still never get an intellectually satisfying answer. That only leaves arguments from emotion. Which is why I think is the main reason religion hasn't died out yet.

    I became curious what the members of this forum think? I'll create a poll. But I'd very much like an explanation from you in the comments.

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    Mass advertising prompting consumption as happiness has shaped the world. Nothing short of global collapse will change that.The old norms of moderation and self restraint are gone. Instant gratification is the mom.

    Science could become a ritual and religion or philosophy, but science does not provide meaning. That is religion and philosophy. Some people follow science as a religion, it becomes a reason for living.

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    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    My view is.....that science and reason alone cannot give us a satisfying meaning of life, even taking into account science's amazing progress such as getting us phones that let us watch box sets of tv series while walking down the street.

    Or maybe science and reason can. I dunno. I'm not sure it does for me. But then I'm not sure if my life has a satisfying meaning.

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    In my 20s I was pretty disorganized and aimless. Sex and getting high. Getting work as an electronics tech which I oiked followed ny emgineering gave a purpose. Without that I have no idea where I would have ended up.

    But purpose is not meaning. I suppose I derived meaning by creating things that had some use to people.

    Purpose and meaning have no specific thing, it I up to the individual to find meaning whatever it may be. For some it is religion. The ]journey of discovery'.

    There are leftover hippies who still thing hanglng out in a minimal existence taking drugs is meaningful.

    Old Timothy Leary found meaning in LSD as some kind of mysticism. Ken Keasey and the Merry Pranksters on the west coast took LSD as a party drug. Go gigue. The Beasties found inspiration in drugs.

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    Contributor DrZoidberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    In my 20s I was pretty disorganized and aimless. Sex and getting high. Getting work as an electronics tech which I oiked followed ny emgineering gave a purpose. Without that I have no idea where I would have ended up.

    But purpose is not meaning. I suppose I derived meaning by creating things that had some use to people.

    Purpose and meaning have no specific thing, it I up to the individual to find meaning whatever it may be. For some it is religion. The ]journey of discovery'.

    There are leftover hippies who still thing hanglng out in a minimal existence taking drugs is meaningful.

    Old Timothy Leary found meaning in LSD as some kind of mysticism. Ken Keasey and the Merry Pranksters on the west coast took LSD as a party drug. Go gigue. The Beasties found inspiration in drugs.
    That's how I did it too. But its irrational. Its in conflict with following science and the Enlightenment as guides to life. Which was Nietzsche's critique of the Enlightenment.

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    One of the major critiques I have with Pinker's 'Enlightenment Now' is that all of the health, happiness, and prosperity we see these days:

    a) Has an environmental cost and only exists on the back of massive energy exploitation

    b) Only exists among the upper classes, who are very often propped up by people living near the poverty line

    c) Exists in super-power countries who experience wealth at the expense of a huge proportion of the world that is experiencing regular poverty and human rights issues.

    Basically it's just wishful thinking to sell books to people who drink the 'science is our saviour' kool-aid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Mass advertising prompting consumption as happiness has shaped the world. Nothing short of global collapse will change that.The old norms of moderation and self restraint are gone. Instant gratification is the mom.
    The old norms of moderation and self-restraint existed because they had to. People couldn't consume because they didn't have the time or money to.

    Now what 'intellectuals' decry as rampant consumerism is really just people trying to fill their free time with something more entertaining than sitting in a room drinking water, because for some reason that's the better way to spend our lives?

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    IMO, science and reason can't give meaning, it can give an explanation. Having a correct understanding of the world doesn't imply having a purpose, it just means you're living under fewer illusions.

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    Veteran Member PyramidHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    IMO, science and reason can't give meaning, it can give an explanation. Having a correct understanding of the world doesn't imply having a purpose, it just means you're living under fewer illusions.
    This. Just as often as it illuminates and opens new pathways, they can close them and reveal dead ends. If we stick to the idea that science and reason are for finding the truth, then we can't discount the fact that the majority of their fruits are either bitter or bland. Most of our lives are pretty boring, usually frustrating, and most of the universe is kind of empty and repetitive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PyramidHead View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    IMO, science and reason can't give meaning, it can give an explanation. Having a correct understanding of the world doesn't imply having a purpose, it just means you're living under fewer illusions.
    This. Just as often as it illuminates and opens new pathways, they can close them and reveal dead ends. If we stick to the idea that science and reason are for finding the truth, then we can't discount the fact that the majority of their fruits are either bitter or bland. Most of our lives are pretty boring, usually frustrating, and most of the universe is kind of empty and repetitive.
    Anymore, I also think that for many people science can actually *kill* the magic of life. Sure you'll get knowledge-seekers interested in promoting their materialist ideology, but most people believe in a higher-power, spirituality, magic etc because they want to.

    Ever wonder why Harry Potter as a franchise is so popular? It's because it made magic real to people. Most people don't want to sit in a room eating Bran Flakes, optimizing their nutritional efficiency and listening to Sam Harris podcasts, they want to be enveloped by the beauty/mystery of the world. They're not interested in knowing more, because the present, as is, is already enough.

    That's not the kind of life I want to live, but I get it.

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