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Offline coberst

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Happiness is achieved through Meaning
« on: 17/12/2008 14:03:00 »
Happiness is achieved through Meaning

I suspect that when parents are asked what are the most meaningful things in your life they will answer “My kids are the most meaningful things in my life”.  A kid might say anything when asked the same question.  It may be their car, their boy friend, their new hair style, their new bike, etc.  The parent has had more time and experiences about which to organize what is meaningful in their life than does a kid.

The great truth of the nineteenth century was that produced by William Dilthey, which was the answer to the question “what do humans constantly strive for?”  “It was “meaning” said Dilthey, meaning is the great truth about human nature. 

“Everything that lives, lives by drawing together strands of experience as a basis for its action; to live is to act, to move forward into the world of experience…]b]Meaning is the relationship between parts of experience[/b].” 

Man does not do this drawing together on the basis of simple experience but on the basis of concepts.  Sapiens impose symbolic categories of thought on raw experience.  Her conception of life determines the manner in which s/he values all of its parts.

Concludes Dilthey, meaning “is the comprehensive category through which life becomes comprehensible…Man is the meaning-creating animal.”   

What are some of the fundamental considerations we must focus upon when we speak of creating meaning?

Meaning is an abstract concept.  What is an abstract concept? Webster informs me that concept is defined as “an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances”. I would say that there are two types of ideas, i.e. concepts: concrete (generic) and abstract. 

A concrete concept is the neural network that is created in the brain when we have a physical experience.  An abstract concept is constructed, often unconsciously, by one or more concrete concepts.  An abstract idea might usefully be thought of as similar to a molecule.  The molecule is made up of one or more atoms and the abstract concept is made up of one or more concrete concepts.  That is to say the conceptual and inference structure of a concrete concept is mapped into the “mental space” containing the abstract concept.

The concrete concept is an “objective” concept while the abstract concept is a “subjective concept”.

Examples of objective concepts becoming part of subjective concepts:

Infant feeling warm when held mapping into subjective concept of affection.
Sensing a foul smell into abstract idea of a movie “that stinks”.
Sensing the rise of milk while pouring into a measuring cup leading to a subjective judgment that prices are too high.

We are meaning creating creatures.  We are creatures who create abstract ideas about which we live, die, and kill.  Our task is to comprehend this fact and through the sophistication thus achieved we may be able to create abstract concepts suitable to permit our survival for a few more centuries.


 

Offline coberst

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Happiness is achieved through Meaning
« Reply #1 on: 18/12/2008 11:09:48 »
Aristotle said that all men seek happiness.  Freud said that the goal of the pleasure-principle is happiness.  Man’s desire for happiness sets at odds to the reality-principle.  It is the reality-principle that propels the world into tomorrow.  Humans naturally seek what they wish but “reality imposes on human beings the necessity of renunciation of pleasures”. 

Therein lay the rub and the rub is called repression.

Freud says that the whole edifice of psychoanalysis is constructed on the theory of repression—the essence of society is the repression of the individual--the essence of the individual is repression of him or her self—Freud’s theory is that the phenomena dreams, neurotic symptoms, and errors are caused—i.e. the principle of psychic determinism—they are meaningful because this means there is purpose or intention—“since the purport of these purposive expressions is generally unknown to the person whose purpose they express, Freud is driven to embrace the paradox that there are in a human being purposes of which he knows nothing, involuntary purpose”—i.e. unconscious ideas.

Neurosis is “the disease called man” Nietzsche.  “Neurosis is an essential consequence of civilization or culture.”  Brown

“Between “normality” and “abnormality” there is no qualitative but only a quantitative difference, based largely on the practical question of whether our neurosis is serious enough to incapacitate us for work.”  The difference between “neurotic and healthy is only that the healthy have a socially useful form of neurosis.”

Freud defined psychoanalysis as “nothing more than discovery of the unconscious in mental life”—the other hypothesis is that “some unconscious ideas in a human being are incapable of becoming conscious to him in the ordinary way, because they are strenuously disowned and resisted by the conscious life”.

Norman Brown tells us that to comprehend Freud one must understand “repression”.  “In the new Freudian perspective, the essence of society is repression of the individual, the essence of the individual is repression of the self.”

Freud discovered the importance of repression when he discovered the meaning of the “mad” symptoms of the mentally deranged, plus the meaning of dreams, and thirdly the everyday happenings regarded as slips of the tongue, errors, and random thoughts.  He concludes that dreams, mental derangements, and common every day errors (Freudian slips) have meaningful causes that can be explained.  Meaningful is the key word here.

Since these psychic phenomena are unconscious we must accept that we have motivation to action with a purpose for which we are unconscious (involuntary purposes).  This inner nature of which we are completely unaware leads to Freud’s definition of psychoanalysis as “nothing more than the discovery of the unconscious in mental life.”

Freud discovered that sapiens have unconscious causes which are hidden from her because they are disowned and hidden by the conscious self.  The dynamic relationship between the unconscious and conscious life is a constant battle and psychoanalysis is a science of this mental conflict.

The rejection of an idea which is one’s very own and remains so is repression.  The essence of repression is in the fact that the individual refuses to recognize this reality of her very own nature.  This nature becomes evident when it erupts into consciousness only in dreams or neurotic symptoms or by slips of the tongue.

The unconscious is illuminated only when it is being repressed by the conscious mind.  It is a process of psychic conflict.  “We obtain our theory of the unconscious from the theory of repression.”  Freud’s hypothesis of the repressed unconscious results from the conclusion that it is common to all humans.  This is a phenomenon of everyday life; neurosis is common to all humans.

Dreams are normal phenomena and being that the structure of dreams is common to neurotics and normal people the dream is also neurotic.  “Between “normality” and “abnormality” there is no qualitative but only quantitative difference, based largely on the practical question of whether our neurosis is serious enough to incapacitate us for work…the doctrine of the universal neurosis of mankind is the psychoanalytical analogue of the theological doctrine of original sin.”

Quotes from “Life against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History” Norman O. Brown
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Happiness is achieved through Meaning
« Reply #2 on: 12/01/2009 07:43:41 »
Are you posting spam too AaronAgassi?
 

Offline GregBucket

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Happiness is achieved through Meaning
« Reply #3 on: 12/01/2009 17:27:23 »
I thought I'd start a fight by importing some ideas from another chat thread.

Repression is a simple conflict between instinct and reason.  Neurosis is when there are so many conflicts that they are uncontrollable.

Happiness is the emotion you get when sets of stimuli are resolved both in your instinctive and rational mind.

A person's 'nature' or 'subconscious' is the hodgepodge of bioneurological programming that it took to evolve anything as complex as a human being. Evolution wasn't 'trying' to create an ultimate perfect creature in man.  Evolution isn't aimed toward anything in particular, it's the upshot of what can have sex before it dies.  We got here through uncountable chances and random environmental developments.  Here we are, and our brains aren't designed to function in a perfect, consistent, fluid way.  They function the way they function and it allowed us to survive and dominate the planet, despite the fact that we get repressed or neurotic sometimes.

There.  That ought to stimulate some interesting talk.  Wish Freud was still around. 
 

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