The Pleasure of Meaning
"After the Rain - How the West Lost the East"
Here for Information about "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited"
People often confuse satisfaction or pleasure with meaning.
It is one thing to ask "How" (what Science does), another to seek an answer
to "Why" (a teleological quest in most cases) and still different to contemplate
the "What for". For instance: people often do something because it gives
them pleasure or satisfaction – however this does not endow the act with
meaning. Meaningless things can be – and many times, are – pleasant and
A prime example is human games. Games are structured,
they are governed by rules and represent the results of negotiations, analysis,
synthesis and forecasting. They please and satisfy. Yet, a few will dispute
Games are useful. They teach and prepare us for real life
situations. Sometimes, they bring in their wake fame, status, money, the
ability to influence the real world. And even this does not make them meaningful.
It is easy to answer HOW people play games. Specify the
rules of the game or observe it long enough, until the rules become apparent
– and you have the answer.
It is easy to answer WHAT FOR do people play games. Pleasure,
satisfaction, money, fame, learning, simulating real life experiences in
anticipation and preparation for them.
But al this does not draw us an inch closer to the answer
to the question:
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF GAMES?
For meaning to exist, we must have the following (cumulating)
The Meaning of Life must also adhere to these criteria:
A relationship between at least two distinctive (at least
partially mutually exclusive) entities (space-time is the result of such
This relationship must manifest itself as the ability to
map important parts of the entities unto each other ("Important" – without
which the entity is not the same, an identity element)
That one of the entities should be larger than the other
in some important sense. One of the entities must be physically bigger,
older, more encompassing, mappable to more entities, etc.
That there be an interpreter to discern and understand the
relationship between the entities (therefore, an "intelligent" interpreter)
That such observations would lead the interpreter (potentially)
to explain and to predict an important facet of the identity and of the
behaviour of one of the entities (usually, in terms of the other, within
the context and while using the laws of mathematical logic)
That the understanding of a "Meaning" will provoke in a human
observer an emotional reaction and in a non-human observer, an alteration
in its information content and / or in its behaviour
That the "Meaning" will be invariant (not conjectural and
not covariant) in every sense: physical and cultural.
For a meaning to arise – an observer must exist (and satisfy
a few conditions). This raises the well-founded suspicion that meaning
is observer-dependent (though invariant). Put differently, it seems that
meaning resides with the observer rather than with the observed. This tallies
nicely with certain interpretations of Quantum Mechanics. It also leads
to the important philosophical conclusion that in a meaningful world –
the division between observer and observed is critical. And vice versa:
for a meaningful world to exist, we must have a separation of the observed
from the observer.
As humans, we are distinct entities, largely mutually exclusive
(though genetic material is shared and the socialization process homogenizes
minds). We are related to the outside world and thus satisfy the Two Entities
Parts of the world can be mapped to us and vice versa (think
about the representation of the world in our minds, for instance). The
ancients believed in isomorphism: they mapped, one on one, features and
attributes of entities in the world to one another. This is the source
of certain therapies (acupuncture).
We are related to bigger entities (the physical universe,
our history, God) – some of them "objective – ontological", others "subjective-epistemological".
Some of them are even infinitely larger and, potentially, bear infinite
We are intelligent interpreters. We are, however, aware of
the circular argument involved in observing ourselves and our relationships
with other entities. This is why we are looking for other intelligent observers
– preferably of a higher order of intelligence.
This has been the obsession of the human race: trying to
decipher, understand, analyse and predict one entity in terms of others.
This is the best definition of Science and Religion (though there have
been other strains of human intellectual pursuits).
Every glimpse of ostensible meaning provokes great emotional
turbulence in humans. The situation is different with machines, naturally.
When we discuss Artificial Intelligence, we again confuse Meaning with
Directional (teleological) behaviour. A computer does something not because
it means anything to it, not even because it "wants" anything. A computer
does something because it cannot do otherwise and because we make it do
it. Arguably, the same goes for animals (at least those belonging to the
lower orders). Only WE, the intelligent observers, can discern direction,
cause and effect – and, ultimately, meaning (however limited – see the
end of this Article).
This is the big human failure : all the "Meanings" that we
divined hitherto are of the covariant, conjectural, dependent, circumstantial
types. We can, therefore, safely say that humanity has not come across
one meaning yet. Since the above condition must ALL co-exist for Meaning
to manifest – human existence is meaningless.
A second conclusion is that meaning – being the result
of interaction between entities – must be limited to these entities. It
cannot transcend them. This means that it can never be invariant in the
purest sense, it will always have a "privileged frame of reference".
In other words, meaning can never exists. The Universe
and all its phenomena are meaningless.