Monday, June 8, 2009

All or nothing

One interesting phenomenon we have observed is the tendency for people to agree with the absurd for the most part, but with an exception. Many people, for example, will say that nothing matters except family. Or friends. Or being happy. Etc, etc, etc.

But this is to miss the root of the issue, which is that either none of it matters...or it all does. Either there is some larger world of which our consciousness is a part (and thus will survive our physical death) or there is not. If the former--and, it should be noted, this is a view with zero evidence to support it--then things do matter, although we cannot say how, or what the consequences will be. If the latter, then life is simply a grand illusion, imbued with a seductive (but ultimately false) sense of "purpose."

Ascribing importance to one thing over another in such a world may seem logical (after all, how can family not matter?), but on further inspection this is a classic example of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Indeed, as Richard Dawkins has so ably pointed out (most notably in The Selfish Gene), the protective sense we feel for family members is simply a result of natural selection - in short, genes that impel people to protect "kin" have better survival rates than genes that do not. This is so simple and compelling (not to mention being a tautology), that we struggle to understand why it is almost universally misunderstood.

In short, the vast majority of humanity clings to the notion that not only do certain things matter more than others, but some things matter and some things don't! The intellectual bankruptcy and hypocrisy of such a position is simply stunning--for example, does an orphaned child with no relatives "matter" or not? In our opinion, this is yet another result of the desperate quest for certainty and meaning in a world that encompasses neither.

1 comment:

  1. Ah but doesn't it take a proactive, intentional effort to consider the welfare of others? I'd hardly call that a mark of 'meaninglessness'.