We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I always admired Victor Frankl, but I am with Schneiderman (and David Brooks, et al) on the essential narcissistic delusion in "the search for meaning."
It has always seemed grandiose to me, but I understand that Frankl needed to find some purpose or reason to hang on, as do most people in prison camps. In the end, he produced a work which is inspiring to many.
It's easier for me, with an ordinary life, to get my mind around the search for simpler things like money, good food, romance, being useful, raising kids, living with integrity, being a good friend and spouse, and the like. When it comes to ultimate meaning, I'll go with Jesus and won't presume to invent my own. I am not smart or inspired enough to do that even if I wanted to.
I really cannot remember when I stumbled upon a bigger false dilemma than Schneiderman's. As I read it, 'meaning'- left largely unexplored here via a thorough definition - exists not as an adjunct to good old (Calvinist?) do-goodism, but somehow as it's mortal enemy.
Oh come on. To exist is to possess consciousness, and to be conscious is to be aware. To be aware is to become cognizant that by being aware one has the inevitable, inexorable condition of choice, that fulfilling at least Schneiderman's moral formulation (or not, that in turn fulfilling Schneiderman's formulation simply by another turn).
In other words, to exist is to be thrust into a meaningful construct, that being existence. From there it's no big leap to stir in all the valid morality you need to fulfill any reasonable interpretation of G-d's Purpose for life. For man. For Mind.
Or perhaps G-d had no Purpose, Schneiderman could be interpreted as saying, assuming that meaning is indeed a vapid and narcissistic construct when it then applies to God's Purpose for man.
To put it yet another way, I'm fairly confident Christ was on about meaning.
That, then, is the very construct of meaning. Or is Schneiderman simply disavowing 'meaning' when used by anyone he's yet to identify?
I'd chalk Schneiderman's error up to mere bad prose - to not bothering to define meaning except obliquely by passing reference to Freud and psychoanalysis - or maybe to some latent (or active?) strain of good old moralistic Calvanist guilt, it living on some much lower level awareness than Schneiderman's formulations really require - but then he drops this in for good measure:
Of course, psychoanalysis has also convinced people that understanding is transformative and curative. It has never really done so, but convincing people that it is has produced placebo cures.
Again, oh come on. The presumption of speaking for the legions who quite possibly have had an entirely different experience and reality. Wasn't it Peck who compared Christian rebirth with the resolute walk toward 'reality at any cost' analysis?
Of course meaning is the thing. Meaning is, after all, meaning. That entire human vernacular, to put it, is based on a reality vastly more mental than it can possibly be sensory.
I reject the psuedo-objectivist science of striving to deflate the science of mind and replacing it with psuedo-objectivist moral posing; with speaking for G-d. Science of mind may not be reliable or universal, but it's fallacious to conclude that it may not then exist.
And then we have David Brooks, as flabby as his stuff usually is, as quoted by Schneiderman:
Meaningfulness tries to replace structures, standards and disciplines with self-regarding emotion. The ultimate authority of meaningful is the warm tingling we get when we feel significant and meaningful. Meaningfulness tries to replace moral systems with the emotional corona that surrounds acts of charity.
Well said! concludes Schneiderman.
No, ladies, and your rank intentionalism is rejected for what it is. Meaningfulness regards structure, standards and disciplines with the structuralism their Creator endowed them with, that being the Order of Things, G-d's very Creation, the Word, and probably the Alpha and the Omega Itself.
These things are the great violation of and exception to the Void and Chaos. They are meaningful where before there was none.
The ultimate authority of meaningful is therefore not the presumably warm tingling they get when they feel significant and meaningful, David, and I reject your narrow, exclusionary intentionalism yet again, as fed up with secular leftism and all its G-d-denying subjectivist bullshit as I am.
Meaningfulness involves moral systems to then include and involve the sound 'emotional corona' that surrounds acts of charity.
That's some bad stuff indeed. And to think the whole point was made and then immediately lost because of the public preening - that rigid, good-by-guilt grovelling or whatever it is that, remarkably, subscribes 'meaning' to whatever Other these people are trying to conjure in order to conduct an inquisition against them.
Yes, got them. Gaghdad Bob is one of the better minds on the political right-meets-mystical spiritual meaning continuum. Of course, it's a crowd of about six, but great things start small.
But Bob is really superb.
Everything is meaningful, I'll add. That began to really slam home about the time The Dancing Wu Li Masters came out, now as much a classic as The Road Less Traveled.
Reality is G-d's construct, right down to the smallest nuts and bolts. To exist is to be in that dance, and to dance is to possess purpose, choice, and meaning, all higher Western spiritual constructs as well. The Grand Unifying Theory of Everything, so to put it.
Ten, your comments are bracing & refreshing. Just wanted to throw in my "Hear, hear!" It takes more effort to bat down the truly narcissistic posturing that meaning is meaningless than many of us have the knack for. You & Gagdad Bob have a knack. Of course, the wrong meaning is, while not exactly meaningless, worse than worthless.
Doctor, I'll go with Jesus, too, for it was he that endorsed the validity of "seeking" with something worth "finding". With our nihilistic deconstructivist culture, it's easy to miss the forest for the trees while throwing out the bathwater with the baby.