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the mother of all paradoxes

 
 
Reply Tue 4 May, 2004 03:35 pm
Because we die, life means nothing; and because we die, life means everything.

So, how are we to live in such an inherently contradictory world?

RP
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 3,989 • Replies: 54
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2004 03:40 pm
IMO, that's more like word play than an actual paradox.
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Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2004 03:52 pm
Simple. Live by dying, and die by living... When you think about it, isn't it what we do?
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Terry
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2004 04:56 pm
The first half of your statement does not make any sense to me; therefore I see no paradox here. How could the fact that life is finite make it meaningless?
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blueveinedthrobber
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2004 04:58 pm
By drinking and screwing? Just an idea.......a suggestion.....a thought......
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2004 05:08 pm
Bi-Polar Bear wrote:
By drinking and screwing? Just an idea.......a suggestion.....a thought......


Can you umm.. Work something to stop the aging process to go with that? Wink
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Randall Patrick
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2004 07:03 pm
Craven de Kere wrote:
IMO, that's more like word play than an actual paradox.


No it isn't. The fact is we all die. And there is absolutely no credible evidence to suggest there is life after death. So, 100 years from now it may as well be as though none of us were ever even born at all.

And yet we were. And in that cosmological blink of an eye existence we all share [in the interim between the cradle and the grave] we must devise some semblance of social, political and economic continuity...or move lock stock and barrel to a deserted island somewhere.

Just imagine how it would be if there was hard evidence to warrant a belief an afterlife. We would all be wondering: will I be judged in this life before I get there? If so, in what way? Wouldn't it behoove me to find out? Shouldn't I try to impregnate my life now with a Meaning conducive to passing the entrance examination at Judgment Day? As it stands, if someone believes when they die that's it, what could possibly be more or less meaningful when, in the end, you die and for eternity become nothing at all but sub-atomic particles?

Sure, we all subscribe to this or that "existential meaning" in order to facilitate some level of functioning human interaction. But that always varies from historical era to historical era and from culture to culture and from one circumstantial context to the next. And always we know that whatever "meaning" we apply to our own lives, we can never take it with us when we stumble over into the abyss...into oblivion.

RP
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Greyfan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2004 07:25 pm
I think life would be meaningless whether we are finite (which seems probable) or live for eternity (which seems unlikely).

If there is an inherent contradiction, the solution would be to behave as though we had never flummoxed ourselves by thinking of it.

Just carry on. Or not. It doesn't matter.
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blueveinedthrobber
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2004 07:26 pm
fishin' wrote:
Bi-Polar Bear wrote:
By drinking and screwing? Just an idea.......a suggestion.....a thought......


Can you umm.. Work something to stop the aging process to go with that? Wink


The constant release of endorphins is life extending and will keep you young enough for the activities associtaed with the drinking, which will, if not stop the aging process certainly stifle the maturing of a person.

It's a win win situation.
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2004 08:44 pm
Randall, I think I know what you mean. If all is vanity and in vain, why bother? and because life is so short, we must live it to the max. Question
You say that after death we become nothing but sub-atomic particles. We are, of course, that now. But we are not "nothing but" that. The question is what were we before birth, during life, and after death. I think we are fundamentally the same thing. Your statement is full of provocative lines. Another one is that we (individually and collectively) ascribe meaning to our lives (I firmly believe that this is the source of meaning), and that "we...cannot take it with us when we stumble over into the abyss...into oblivion." Wonderfully expressed by the way. I feel that because the meaningfulness of my world is my construction, when I die, it all goes with me. And when I die I will cease to be a subject or an agent of anything. As such (and I've stated somewhere else in these threads) there will be noone to (non)exist in a state of oblivion (or death). No subject (me) means no predicate (oblivion). Not to be too weird but I feel that ultimately that that is how "I" am now
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2004 09:35 pm
Randall Patrick wrote:
Craven de Kere wrote:
IMO, that's more like word play than an actual paradox.


No it isn't. The fact is we all die. And there is absolutely no credible evidence to suggest there is life after death. So, 100 years from now it may as well be as though none of us were ever even born at all.


So? That does nothing to validate the proposed "mother of all paradoxes".

Quote:
And yet we were. And in that cosmological blink of an eye existence we all share [in the interim between the cradle and the grave] we must devise some semblance of social, political and economic continuity...or move lock stock and barrel to a deserted island somewhere.


Ok, but again, this does not constitute a paradox.

Quote:
Just imagine how it would be if there was hard evidence to warrant a belief an afterlife. We would all be wondering: will I be judged in this life before I get there? If so, in what way? Wouldn't it behoove me to find out? Shouldn't I try to impregnate my life now with a Meaning conducive to passing the entrance examination at Judgment Day? As it stands, if someone believes when they die that's it, what could possibly be more or less meaningful when, in the end, you die and for eternity become nothing at all but sub-atomic particles?


So? If I become particles it will still not render this a paradox.

Quote:
Sure, we all subscribe to this or that "existential meaning" in order to facilitate some level of functioning human interaction.


I don't.

Quote:
But that always varies from historical era to historical era and from culture to culture and from one circumstantial context to the next. And always we know that whatever "meaning" we apply to our own lives, we can never take it with us when we stumble over into the abyss...into oblivion.


Yet again: so?

That doesn't make it a paradox. Sincerely, do you know what a paradox means?
0 Replies
 
Jim
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 May, 2004 11:16 pm
I guess it all depends on what you believe happens to you after you die.
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blueveinedthrobber
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2004 07:00 am
Elvis Presley once said "I had a dream I was in a field with a bunch of cows, and I got put in another field by myself that was bigger. I looked around and realized the fence was so big I could never get out so I said all right, I'll graze."

I read that once and it stuck with me, coming from Elvis of all people.

We're here. We go. No control. Might as well graze.
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Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2004 07:26 am
This question was explored and answered by Monty Python.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2004 07:26 am
It's not a paradox at all if you recognize the grey areas of human existence. If you get ill, don't call a paradox, call a paramedics.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2004 09:17 am
Randall Patrick wrote:
Craven de Kere wrote:
IMO, that's more like word play than an actual paradox.

No it isn't.

Yes it is.

It's a form of equivocation. In the statement "because we die, life means nothing; and because we die, life means everything," the equivocation comes in with the word "means." In the first phrase, it connotes a type of futility: what does life avail us if we all die? In the second phrase, however, it connotes a type of value: if life is all we have, then death takes everything of value from us. Only if we confuse the two meanings and deem them equivalent do we end up with a paradox. As it is, however, the statement is no more paradoxical than saying "life is all we have, so live to the fullest; Life is all we eat for breakfast, so pour on the milk."
0 Replies
 
Randall Patrick
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2004 06:12 pm
RP previously:

No it isn't. The fact is we all die. And there is absolutely no credible evidence to suggest there is life after death. So, 100 years from now it may as well be as though none of us were ever even born at all. [/quote]

CRAVEN responds:

So? That does nothing to validate the proposed "mother of all paradoxes".

RP:

What are you suggesting....that there is a Logical and Rational maner in which to construe what is or is not a paradox? Your own, perhaps? A paradox to me is merely something that seems to tug us reasonably in both [or differing] directions at once. It is an antinomy....like trying to contemplate finite or infinite time and space...or free will and determinism....or realism and idealism...or nature and nuture. We all crave meaning in our lives. We all want to believe that what motivates our behavior makes sense...that it is derived from some rational teleological fount. But if we die and "I" is obliterated for eternity how can this meaning be anything more than existential...and profoundly epemeral? If you don't see that as paradoxical, fine. We are, after all, each and everyone of us entitled to our own self-delusions, right?

RP previously:

Sure, we all subscribe to this or that "existential meaning" in order to facilitate some level of functioning human interaction.

CRAVEN responds:

I don't.

RP:

Okay, lets start from there. Let's take a particular human interaction and dispense with the conceptual nature of dueling definitions. Let's focus the beam on, say, the American invasion of Iraq. Tell us all what it "means" to you and how you derived this meaning. Or pick your own existential context.

Randall Patrick
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Randall Patrick
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2004 06:36 pm
joefromchicago wrote:
Randall Patrick wrote:
Craven de Kere wrote:
IMO, that's more like word play than an actual paradox.

No it isn't.

Yes it is.

It's a form of equivocation. In the statement "because we die, life means nothing; and because we die, life means everything," the equivocation comes in with the word "means." In the first phrase, it connotes a type of futility: what does life avail us if we all die? In the second phrase, however, it connotes a type of value: if life is all we have, then death takes everything of value from us. Only if we confuse the two meanings and deem them equivalent do we end up with a paradox. As it is, however, the statement is no more paradoxical than saying "life is all we have, so live to the fullest; Life is all we eat for breakfast, so pour on the milk."


RP:

With all due respect this is precisely the pedantic recipe one gets from folks who insist that philosophy is first and foremost about Analyzing Reality into existence conceptually, scholastically, academically with language----concocting a terminology so as to define Rationally and Logically the only possible thing Paradox Can Mean. It is as though the word paradox is transfigured into a Thing. As though it were a rock one could pull out of one's pockets and exclaim, "look everyone, I have Paradox here".

If that is important to you, fine. It is, however, not nearly as important to me. For me when folks speak of a paradox they are speaking of ways of looking at the world around them such that one can encompass a meaning that seems reasonable while at the same time seeming to be contradictory. Thus we are all looking for meaning in life [from God, faith, philosophy, logic, science, metaphysics...whatever]. Yet if we all die and disintegrete into nothing at all [save sub-atomic particles] why in the world would we bother searching for meaning at all when, In The End, it is all so utterly futile anyway? Why not just jerry-rig some existential contraption that facilates human social, political and economic transactions so as to make them the least dysfunctional instead?

Which is, by the way, my own nihilistic sense of what is "meaningful" respecting human relationships.

Randall Patrick
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2004 07:12 pm
Randall Patrick wrote:

What are you suggesting....that there is a Logical and Rational maner in which to construe what is or is not a paradox?


Yes. And were it not for the codification of meanings discussion itself would be impossible.

Quote:
A paradox to me is merely something that seems to tug us reasonably in both [or differing] directions at once.


In other words, a game of tug-o-war is a "paradox". Unbeknowingly, you have created the epitomal example of the equivocation that Joe spoke of.

Quote:
We are, after all, each and everyone of us entitled to our own self-delusions, right?


Indeed. Rock on dude.

Quote:
Let's focus the beam on, say, the American invasion of Iraq.


Let's not, I've done that topic ad nauseum.
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2004 08:51 pm
Randall, I understood your point clearly. You are talking about being between an existential rock and a hard place. It's not quite what I would call a dilemma because it doesn't call for actions on the horns...Maybe it does. You ask "how are we to live in an inherently contradictory world?" A good question. I wonder why you let yourselves be ambushed into a discussion of the nature of paradox. That term wasn't even in your question. It surely isn't "mere" word play, even though all talk is word play in a way. But you had an existential point, a valid point for consideration. And it was hijacked. I'm not blaming Joe and Craven for doing so. Apparently I've done it a lot, with my consistent focus on "the problem of dualism". But I hope you learned something about the the rather aggressive sport of debate here. I'm trying to. Sometimes it's fun; other times it interferes with serious substantive discourse.
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