Sunday, June 7, 2020

Simantism

Edited for tone and correctness.

What if there was a philosophy that was the opposite of nihilism? Nihilism denies meaning. So what would we call its opposite? The Greek for "meaning" is "semantos". That's ancient Greek. But in modern Greek it's "simantos" -- modern Greek for meaning as it's experienced everyday nowadays. So, it could be called "simantism".

Everything has meaning. When you look at something, you see its meaning, the way that it registers in you. In The Little Mermaid movie, the mermaid sees a fork as a comb (which she calls a "dinglehopper"). When she looks at it, it means that to her, but it means "fork" to us. Physically, it's the same. But the world isn't fundamentally physical. A thing is a thing according to its meaning.

How can a thing mean what it does? It does, we do not perceive that we project meaning on to it. What we actually experience is not that we project. We don't think we project the physical world. If we assume that the physical world is ultimate reality, we have to assume that the meaning of a thing can't be stored in the matter of a thing, and so must be a projection. But what we really experience is that a beautiful thing is beautiful, and a sunset is a sunset, not billions of unrelated dust and water particles lit up by light, which we "make" into a sunset. A sunset is a real thing independent of us. You do not make a sunset, you see it. You don't make it beautiful, it is beautiful.

So then, materialism goes against empiricism. When we deny our experiences, life becomes less meaningful. We become dishonest on a certain level.

What we see to be beautiful deserves to be beautiful. So there is an element of legitimacy in meaning. Human well-being is deeply meaningful to people because it deserves to be meaningful. If we think "I'm projecting deservingness onto this", it weakens the meaning of it.

But sometimes interpretations betray us. So we learn to not trust our perceptions. Does this mean that we do not really perceive what we perceive? No, we really perceive the sunset to be a sunset and a beautiful sunset. We really perceive wrong as wrong and right as right. We really perceive people as this way or that way. The perceptions may turn out to betray, but they really are what they are.

When we misinterpret a person, we really are relating to some kind of reality. It isn't them, but we really are perceiving something. This something has meaning to us. Illusions and lies have meaning to us. Doubts do. They all really do. We really do perceive.

So how can we explain meaningful perception? There are beings (objects, people, phenomena, ideas, etc.) which are not us. We directly perceive these things. And yet these beings which we could never conjure on our own in some way are what they are in a way that follows from who we are. The sunset is beautiful, has an intuitive meaning, to me because of who I am as well as because of how it is. So these things, which I do not make, which do not follow from my will, which sometimes surprise me, sometimes surprising me in how they are meaningful, somehow "know" me in order to speak to me the way that they do, be the way that they are.

Is there anything other than consciousness? If so, then how would that non-consciousness interact with consciousness? I'm not sure that it's possible for something that is essentially not conscious to "bring about" or interact with consciousness. But it makes perfect sense to say that consciousness perceives appearances of non-consciousness (for instance, perceives matter), and that consciousnesses can interact with consciousnesses.

On the other hand, if we look at what is the most fundamental reality, we arrive at "I think, therefore I am." It could be that only I exist. If so, then what do I think about myself? If I am the base unit of reality, then why should I question my sense that I am a full-fledged person, rather than some stringing-together of matter or impersonal consciousness? The person becomes the fundamental unit of reality.

But if only I exist, how do I explain all the things that are not-me that I interact with? And how is it that these things that are not-me somehow "know" how to be connected to who I am in their very being? Are they each conscious beings who know me?

Perhaps. If so, then what about the way in which everything that exists (as a whole) can speak to me, can mean a certain way to me? Does that mean that everything that exists is a conscious being who knows me? It could be that I have my own individuality and yet am part of another being. If we look at things from the "everything is consciousness" lens, a consciousness (a "coordinating consciousness") could connect with another consciousness by sharing that other being's exact consciousness. If I feel pain, this coordinating consciousness could feel the exact experience I do, not a copy. And this coordinating consciousness could connect to all other conscious beings, and communicate their intentions into my consciousness. It might be like how a live TV director can see a bank of different potential camera angles on different screens all at once. This could bind things together using pure consciousness.

So, the being that is conscious of everything could be everything that is -- a person who is distinct from all the things that it is and yet contains everything / everyone. This being is fully empathic -- goes beyond empathy as humans know it, by perfectly experiencing what we experience exactly as we do. Through that experience, it is able to communicate things to us exactly as we would perceive them. Its motive would be to eventually eliminate the betrayals we experience, because a betrayal of us is a betrayal of it, as well as bringing us into tune with itself so as to eliminate the ways we betray it. It puts up with our suffering, and our betrayals of it, without deciding to make us not be one of the things that are -- why? It must value us on some level.

Basically, this being sounds like God.

What about legitimacy? Is it possible for things to really be as we interpret them? Can something really be wrong? We might be wrong about it being wrong, maybe it's right, but is there any possibility of us being right about it? If we internalize on some level that no one really knows what's right or wrong, beautiful or ugly, we don't trust our plain, honest perceptions of things. And, supposing that there is a real right and wrong, if we think it's just "my take on things" that something is wrong, we don't do what's really right or avoid what's really wrong, because we can't fully trust our own values.

The problem comes because people's values differ. People's opinions differ. So is there an opinion that can decide between different values, opinions, cultures? What is it that would make an opinion most valid? Is it that the opinion-haver is powerful? Or rather that they are in touch with reality? Or they are reality? We tend to find valid the opinions of people we respect. Who is the most-respectworthy, most-valid person? What would they look like?

If a leader imposes a situation on you, shouldn't they also experience what you do as much as you have to? Isn't being all about experiencing, about trust? So then to really be, you have to be disposed to trust, to connect to and accept as beneficial on some level even the worst things. God experiences all the bad things we do (and the good), so then what is left to validate his legitimacy but for him to experience life (and death) as a limited being? So there must be some way in which the author of legitimacy can be a limited being. This would make sense if reality, the language of reality, of how things mean to personal beings (a sunset is a simantic word that many people can share, but which means something a little different to each person), and thus the language of what is and what is legitimate, was first coined and developed by two or more beings in collaboration, one of whom was all-things, conscious, some of whom were limited but of the same kinship group.

If God exists and is the foundation of legitimacy, then if we align our thinking with God's existence and values, then we can minimize how much we interpret things a certain way and then turn out to be wrong. We can find meaningful the things that God finds meaningful to a greater degree than if we based them on "what I feel, or what everybody sort of feels" -- we might say "I like loving people", but if we acknowledge the reality of God, then we have to really love people, even more than we would like. And we would have to approach love itself from the angle that God really exists (viewed Spiritually), and not make love (or some version of it) a pitiless, brutal god of its own, an impersonal idol.

If a society acknowledges God, then it can really be good. And it can take into account working according to God's interests, not just its own. Humans have something outside themselves to look to, so that humanity itself does not become a collective (semi-personal) idol.

People get focused on their own pain, their own ability to trust. But there is a reality outside of well-being and the obsession with well-being -- the world of meaning, of things that exist just in themselves, apart from anyone's interests. On a certain level, this is what we want when we seek after truth.

So this is a sketch of a philosophy which supports or even maximizes meaning, to provide an opposite to nihilism.

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