The meaning of Life

John K Clark (
Mon, 10 Feb 1997 13:24:46 -0800 (PST)


On Mon, 10 Feb 1997 Gregory Houston <> Wrote:

>Value is intrinisic to meaning.

You can't have value without meaning, but you can have meaning without value.
If it were otherwise then "value" and "meaning" would be synonyms.
They're not.

Haven't you ever been suckered into going to a very boring speech of zero
value where somebody is explaining in excruciating detail something that you
already know?

>there is nothing meaningful without value.

Is everything that you understand of equal value to you? It certainly isn't
with me.

>We ignore what we do not value.

I wish that were true but the mental mechanism that extracts meaning is not
always under conscious control and works even when we don't want it to.
If you're trying to concentrate on something you think is important, it is
not at all helpful to be near two people having a loud conversation about the
relative merits of opening an egg at the big end as opposed to the small end.

>Its a natural part of our perceptual process.

Evolution realized that total concentration was not conducive to survival.
If all of your brain power is being used to try to figure out the meaning of
life, then you won't notice the saber toothed tiger lurking in the bushes.
Conditions change however, inside my own home I'd be willing to take my
chances with saber toothed tigers in exchange for total concentration.

>If I do not value a noise in the room I am in, then it becomes
>ambient, attentuated, and I thus expend little to no energy on
>percieving it.

Much more difficult if the noise is a language you understand. I have a
recording of the sound of rain I sometimes use, the white noise masks more
obtrusive noise, my mind knows it's the sound of rain and does not try to
extract any more meaning out of it and let's me concentrate.

>our values create a continuum from good to bad, like to dislike.

Yes, and our understanding of something also forms a continuum from zero to
total, but the only relationship between the two is that if understanding
is zero then value is zero.

1)I understand that mass causes spacetime to curve.
2)I understand that Bozo the clown has a red nose.

My understanding of #2 is very deep and there is little if anything about it
that eludes me. My understanding of #1 is not as deep and there are things
about it nobody comprehends, yet I value idea #1 far, far, more than #2.

John K Clark

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