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The Idea of Man

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The First Words... The Origin of Language

 

Re-Thinking The Meaning of Life...

 

 

 

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     The question of 'The Meaning of Life' is usually addressed in an abstract way. But when this question is put in another way... concretely... the answer becomes apparent… Instead of asking what is the ‘meaning’ of life, let’s ask ‘What is the point of life’? And to this question the answer is as clear as day.

   ‘Life’, human life… points ‘up’. To see what this means, simply stand up. Now try to incline yourself 15 degrees off-center… you can’t without falling. Human beings need to stay true or else they will fall… first physically and then morally. Human beings, first of all in their upright posture and later in their ‘Rightness’… of thinking, speaking, building… constantly maintain a relationship of rightness to the world. And this Rightness, both primordial (in upright posture) and current (as the ‘rule’ and the ‘truth’ of all we think and do) is a ‘pointing’… a pointing vertically, up.

     So it would seem, by the evidence and by logic, that the ‘point’ of life, the meaning of life… is somehow, ‘up’... to be found in the realm of ideas, of spirit... the realm of heaven and of Being itself. That may not tell us everything, but it gives us a good start toward a good answer to this best of questions.

     If assigning such significance to the vertical dimension, to what is ‘up’, seems puzzling and dubious to you, your doubt is very understandable. We're used to thinking horizontally. Human beings think horizontally because that's where 'things are' of meaning, value and significance... food, mates, 'power'. At least that's where they seem to be. Thinking vertically seems unnatural and in fact, quite 'pointless', given the fact that there's 'nothing up there'. But it's precisely in this direction, the vertical one,  that thinking, originally, essentially and constantly, takes place. Why?... because thinking requires 'nothing' in order to happen. Thinking about a thing requires that it stand at a distance from the thinker, that there be a 'field of nothing' in which this thinking can occur. From this field of nothing, the thing can 'appear', not as it presents itself in its immediacy (as it does to an animal) but as an idea. In this way, ideas, all ideas, and therefore all things are born from nothing and require nothing for their being.  (Heidegger, Sartre) Well, it's no accident that man, Homo Sapiens the thinker, is drawn away from things (as they present themselves to the animal in the horizontal dimension) and toward that place where 'nothing' is. So, what is 'up'? It's simply the direction in which this nothing (or better, Nothing), necessary to thinking and to the very being of any thing, is. That's the point of 'up'... Nothing... the possibility of Being and of the world of beings.

     Here is a LINK to the first chapter of a Videobook that begins to rethink the question in this concrete way. 
           (This link skips the Introduction and goes right to the reading.)

Photo attribution:
Man Standing on the Shore    Photo: "Self-portrait, walking away on one of the jetties at Gräsvik"by: Stuart Heath - https://www.flickr.com/photos/misteraitch/2473473518
- 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Videobook on YouTube

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