If it can be sensed; if ideas about it can reside within our brains, then why would it be outside of the purview of science?
I don't get it at all. Can you show me a scientific approach to finding meaning? I'm interested to see you justify a particular operational definition of meaning. And once you've done it, I'm interested for you to show me the results. Please point me to the scientific study that gives us the meaning of life.
Isn't meaning simply the information we learn about the world outside us that places our own internal lives in context?
I don't think so. I can put my life in all sorts of context and feel no sense of meaning at all. I think meaning is more a guttoral state; you either feel your life has purpose or not. For some people this can be reached through thinking and searching, maybe through establishing context. For some people, they never doubt it and never have to worry about it. For some people, they discover it through your "lies" etc. For some people, they find meaning through love, through having children, through... all sorts of things. There are lots of path to meaning which do not go through science. Lots of people have meaning in their lives, and they wouldn't be able to do science even if they tried.
The meaning derived from science comes from science's study of the world, not science's study of meaning.
But that's not necessary at all. Maybe crashfrog's meaning is derived from science's study of the world... what about Barry Bonds' meaning? Jane Fonda's? This guy's?
Everything that we see, hear, feel and see is just a bunch of meaningless chemical reactions (which science can quite easily measure).
Actually, "science" CANNOT measure this easily. We have all sorts of difficulty measuring chemical reactions in human brains because we have laws and standards against these invasive procedures.
Which makes me wonder... can you describe these laws and standards through the scientific method? Surely you don't expect me to believe that you can give me a reduction of these laws and standards to chemistry. That would be a real overstatement of our current scientific knowledge.
That which cannot be described using current scientific theories is outside of science. We're stuck with folk psychology for now, my purple friend.
Science doesn't stop being there just because we haven't found it yet.
OK, I've been trying to clairfy my thoughts more. And I think I can make things clearer. As things become clearer in how to present them, I think I've been doing a bad job.
There are THREE ways in which life is outside of science:
1. Even if you can describe something with science, we simply don't USE science in our daily lives. Science is just a method for coming up with models and for collecting empirical data, all so we can predict and manipulate our world. We don't use science to go to the grocery store, we don't use it to watch TV, we don't even use science to hit a baseball.
Lots of things in life can be DESCRIBED using theories developed by science, but life itself is outside of science.
2. Anyway, we don't have theories that can accurately describe lots of things. Foremost in my mind is that of cognitive processes, because that's what I'm currently studying.
We have general ideas on how the brain works. We certainly, unquestionably, are very far from a complete picture. We're very far from even having a useful partial picture. What we have is SOME understanding of the cellular mechanisms, LESS understanding about the computational properties of the brain (no, it's NOT just feed-forward neural networks; the connectivity in the brain is WAY more complex than that), and EVEN LESS understanding of how cognitive processes, mental processes, and cultural processes come from those architectures.
We cannot describe behavior, in any rigorous way, from neuroscience or cognition. Far, far from it. We're still stuck with intuitive, non-scientific folk psychology.
Thus, in this way as well, life is outside of science.
(aside: In fact, I fundamentally think it is flawed to believe we can accomplish a reduction of folk psychology to neuroscience or chemistry in any useful way. It's way to computationally intensive. It's not clean enough. Even if we describe the computational and architectural properties supporting it, the computations to make predictions are too heavy. Neuroscience would have to further reduce to more computationally simple approximations, and I don't believe that's going to happen. Folk psychology offers us close to the best we're going to get in terms of speed and accuracy, IMHO.)
Yup, I'm familiar with it. I haven't used it or had it used on me but... pretty cool, huh? We can do all sorts of cool manipulations. We can inject you with sodium amobarbital (the WADA test and basically paralyze half your brain, then run cognitive tests on you. We can do direct electric stimulation on the surface of your brain during brain surgery.
Of course, TMC is cool because ... well... those other things aren't done to normals :)
Apparently it can make people experience feelings of "Meaning" too.
I'm sure it can. I have little doubt that all emotions, feelings, etc. derive ultimately from
I don't even know what this statement means...
Dude. Cognitive science is freaking cool. Don't get me wrong. I love it.
There are most definitely things that are outside of "The scientific method" but outside of science? I don't think so since being outside of science means that we just don't have any knowledge of it. If we have no knowledge of it then to all intents and purposes it does not exist.
Come on, you're basing your meaning of science on a non-technical, derivative meaning of the word. That's meaningless.
That's like using dictionary definitions to "prove" that evolution is a directed process that moves from simple to complex, from worse to better.
1 : one of a set of prescribed movements 2 a : a process of change in a certain direction : UNFOLDING b : the action or an instance of forming and giving something off : EMISSION c (1) : a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state : GROWTH (2) : a process of gradual and relatively peaceful social, political, and economic advance d : something evolved 3 : the process of working out or developing 4 a : the historical development of a biological group (as a race or species) : PHYLOGENY b : a theory that the various types of animals and plants have their origin in other preexisting types and that the distinguishable differences are due to modifications in successive generations 5 : the extraction of a mathematical root 6 : a process in which the whole universe is a progression of interrelated phenomena
If you look at the OP, I think I was really specific about what I meant by science:
It's not a science board. I really hope we don't turn it into one. Science is a way to argue inductively. That's it. Life contains many things outside of it.
That was my 4 word summary of the scientific method. Was it too unclear, maybe?
Anyway, I hope this means that we actually agree. There are lots of things outside the scientific method.
AbE: hedging my happiness a bit, thinking maybe I wasn't as clear as I thougth I was.
This message has been edited by Ben, Tuesday, 2005/09/13 06:14 PM
Seems to me, "meaning" derives from "purpose" which derives from "intention" or "conscious perception."
So the question of meaning seems to have to do with conscious observers and actors. Since we don't have a real good test for consciousness, then what consciousnesses exist is a matter of faith.
I guess what I'm getting at is that "meaning" falls out directly from a world view. No universal world view, no universal meaning.
Although I would vehemently disagree with anybody who would claim that meaning is established intellectually. You can search for meaning intellectually, but I've yet to meet somebody who intentionally learned to find meaning in a task because they intellectually thought it was the right thing.