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Re: The Meaning Of The Universe For Dummies

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Posted by Jamie White on July 21, 2004 21:07:16 UTC

Wow. That's... wow. Almost makes my head hurt, which is hard to do lately. :D

I haven't found such a book by this title, but if I did, I doubt I'd be willing to buy it. Not that I wouldn't be interested in such a book if it was what it claimed, but I'd be a bit skeptical that anyone knows the meaning of the universe even in the most intelligent circles, much less in a scaled-down version that could easily explain it for everyone. >>
However, certain things in the universe have meaning, otherwise we couldn't use language since words require meaning in order to be understood. When I think about it, a great deal in our universe has meaning. For example, I'd say that we understand the meaning of not only words in so many languages, but humans create a number of symbols that have meaning too. Symbols might as straightforward as a letter, or as sophisticated as the Liberty Bell. The current meaning doesn't always have to exist today as it did yesterday (such as the Twin Towers have a far different meaning today than the architects intended when they designed them, or when the movie King Kong came out, or of course the events of 9/11).

Meaning exists, at least, in the heads of humans. But, it also must exist in the heads of animals since the sight of a simple can of cat food will sometimes excite a cat into a frenzy. This association of objects with other objects or events is the basis of meaning.

This all raises the most basic question. What do we mean by meaning? Do we mean symbolism? Or, are we looking for a certain kind of symbolism such as one that reduces the complexity of a message to a much simpler message (e.g., a code), or maybe something even more profound as message that says something about the significance of human life or the significance of our own personal lives (e.g., spiritual meaning)?

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