This event is in the past.
The Edinburgh Philosophy and Psychology Group will be holding its October meeting at the Southside Social Bar (New Venue) - once again with free snacks!
Discussions are non-academic and group members come from a range of ages, backgrounds and nationalities. Non members are welcome and group meetings are FREE.
Attendance is usually around 20-30 members.
The topic for October is:
The Meaning of Life: Does Life have a meaning at all or is existence a meaningless accident? Or do we give Life meaning and, if so, what?
For our first meeting after the summer break, there is nothing like asking the big questions. Leaving aside the temptation to quote Monty Python… well OK, I will. Their Meaning of Life was "Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations".
But now for something completely different…
Views on what Life means, or whether it means anything at all, are many and varied. Religion, whichever branch you choose to follow, has always seen the meaning as being an opportunity to progress to some higher state through living according to a divine set of rules. The higher state, rules and the nature of divinity may change but in general the Meaning of Life is something overarching and beyond mere physical existence. Many religions are intrinsically peaceful and advocate living in harmony but this, all too often, is interpreted as peace being a consequence of wiping out all opposing beliefs. It is doubtful whether this is the Meaning of Life that was intended in the Big Picture of Creation – or is it?.
On the other hand, those of a more materialistic nature point out that Life is essentially an accident of physics and biochemistry. Given the very nature of the Laws of the Universe, Life is an inevitable consequence and must exist in many forms in many places. Not all Life will be ‘intelligent’ (in fact one view says that we are still seeking intelligent life on Earth!) but even consciousness, intelligence and the illusion of will are simply aspects of our biology. It is therefore meaningless to talk about Meaning. We may seek to understand more of the science and mechanics of Life but the search stops there. Science asks the question How? Rather than Why?
A third view is perhaps a more philosophical and psychological perspective. Our understanding of ourselves, our lives and the universe in which we live is something that we form on the basis of experience and cognition. Even the very notion of ‘Self’ is something that we come to develop and enhance as we mature. Is the Self we are today the Self we were yesterday? Similarly we develop a personal sense of Meaning about that Self, the world we live in and our interaction with others. That too may change over time. Our notion is not just the question of why we exist, but also what gives that existence a sense of purpose and value. For some that is a strong and driving force while others seem to drift without direction. I once met with a man who was leader of an Occult order that was often claimed to hold the Secret to Life. I asked him what it was and why a secret. His answer was that it was no secret at all. “You can tell anyone”, he replied, “but only a few will understand the answer”. And he told me, no it wasn’t 42, it was “Life is what you earnestly believe it to be”.
So what do YOU earnestly believe it to be? What gives value, purpose and Meaning to Life for you?
As usual, so much to discuss.