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The truth that I can't escape is that there is no deeper meaning


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What's the goal here? To prohibit the crimes committed by religious extremists or to just impose your ideology on others?

Neither. This is what some people might call a false dichotomy. I've clarified my "goal" at least 6 times in the thread from which this was split and also at least once in this one. There is really no need for you to continue making such flawed assumptions when I've been explicit on this exact point numerous times.

 


Believers in God are not people that pray and then wait for gifts from God. The ones I know are concerned for the people of the world in a material sense. They are active in many charitable acts by donating from their own incomes and organising relief for people in need and those involved in natural disasters. They are tolerant of non-believers and generally just get on with their way of life hoping others might follow their example.

I agree there is no point in trying to steer them away from their beliefs and I see no point in trying to. They do no harm and a lot of good.

The "they do no harm" argument has already been debunked. That's simply not true. I'm not saying it's Syria massacre level harm, but there is harm being done and it would be wrong to dismiss it so flatly.

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And yet I presume you are neither actively engaged in suicide attempts, nor waiting to simply waste away. Why? Most likely because you simply cannot help the fact that you are hard-wired to value thin

That comment was indeed flippant and over-the-top, and I would never dream of trying to eradicate religion by authoritarian means - everyone certainly should have the right to believe as they wish whe

Neither. This is what some people might call a false dichotomy. I've clarified my "goal" at least 6 times in the thread from which this was split and also at least once in this one. There is really

Neither. This is what some people might call a false dichotomy. I've clarified my "goal" at least 6 times in the thread from which this was split and also at least once in this one. There is really no need for you to continue making such flawed assumptions when I've been explicit on this exact point numerous times.

 

You're right. They aren't mutually exclusive so you can stop punishing religious crime while imposing your ideologies as well.

 

Stop throwing around the same terms and hiding behind accusations of fallacies. You know what I'm asking. Face up and stop avoiding it.

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You're right. They aren't mutually exclusive so you can stop punishing religious crime while imposing your ideologies as well.

I didn't say they were mutually exclusive. I said it was a false dichotomy.

 

All I can do is repeat myself. I've clarified my intent more than once. You continue to misrepresent it and assume I have motivations that I simply don't if you truly wan to, but you really should stop pretending that you know more about my intents than I do. It's really quite silly and out of line.

Edited by iNow
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The "they do no harm" argument has already been debunked. That's simply not true. I'm not saying it's Syria massacre level harm, but there is harm being done and it would be wrong to dismiss it so flatly.

 

That's why we spend time thinking about things and drawing lines that may not be perfect but do a good job. Just because Stalin was an atheist doesn't mean I think you share ANY of his other views. Theism is much too vague and a lot of theists don't do anything that deserves the kind of disrespect you shell out. Just because you feel like associating them all together doesn't mean it's right. That is dishonest. Punish those who deserve punishment. Stop preaching.

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You develop values based on your purpose in life. You don't have a purpose because of values.

 

I can see why valuing the death of prostitutes can be criticized because it's illegal. I don't understand why you can tell me I cannot value meaning from an external source.

 

You seem quite unwilling to detach yourself from the notion of purpose which I regard as nonsensical, but I clearly won't be able to convince you of that. As far as I am concerned, we have values and that's it. They neither come from nor generate purpose, and they do not need an external source to be cultivated. I personally find it mightily liberating to make of life what I want without the concern of an authority telling me if it has intrinsic meaning. As far as I can tell, talk of purpose and meaning is smoke and mirrors to make the authority seem necessary, but I am yet to see anyone elucidate what purpose would actually be or look like.

 

EDIT: And if you choose to value things solely because of an external source - e.g. a god or the law - you are able to do it, but that is hardly an avenue that will create a real sense of fulfilment. Surely you recognise that it's better to value something because its effects are good than to value it because you've been told to.

Edited by Polednice
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I didn't say they were mutually exclusive. I said it was a false dichotomy.

 

Oh man, iNow.

 

You seem quite unwilling to detach yourself from the notion of purpose which I regard as nonsensical, but I clearly won't be able to convince you of that. As far as I am concerned, we have values and that's it. They neither come from nor generate purpose, and they do not need an external source to be cultivated. I personally find it mightily liberating to make of life what I want without the concern of an authority telling me if it has intrinsic meaning. As far as I can tell, talk of purpose and meaning is smoke and mirrors to make the authority seem necessary, but I am yet to see anyone elucidate what purpose would actually be or look like.

 

EDIT: And if you choose to value things solely because of an external source - e.g. a god or the law - you are able to do it, but that is hardly an avenue that will create a real sense of fulfilment. Surely you recognise that it's better to value something because its effects are good than to value it because you've been told to.

 

I also like to live without an authority telling me that the concept of meaning or no meaning is silly. Who are you to tell me I cannot find value in my definition of God?

Edited by Appolinaria
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Just because Stalin was an atheist doesn't mean I think you share ANY of his other views. Theism is much too vague and a lot of theists don't do anything that deserves the kind of disrespect you shell out. Just because you feel like associating them all together doesn't mean it's right. That is dishonest. Punish those who deserve punishment. Stop preaching.

There are important differences across the various populations of theists. I don't discount that. However, what you may perhaps be missing is that there is one very critical similarity among all of them... That is the acceptance as true of the extraordinary proposition that there is a god or gods all in the face of profoundly inadequate evidence to draw that conclusion. All theists, by definition, believe there is a god... even though the nature of that god and their reason for belief in it and how that impacts their daily life may differ.

 

Yes, there are huge differences, but the one area where they are PRECISELY the same is the area where I focus the brunt of my criticism. It is also PRECISELY this area of commonality that is the target of my disrespect . The differences you cite are irrelevant to my central challenge, and your calls for me to sit down and shut up and leave the status quo alone (while well intentioned) are misguided at best.

Edited by iNow
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Oh man, iNow.

 

 

 

I also like to live without an authority telling me that the concept of meaning or no meaning is silly. Who are you to tell me I cannot find value in my definition of God?

 

I don't think I've been at all authoritarian in my suggestions in this thread. You came with a question about meaning, and I suggested a resolution by rejecting the assumption that meaning is a coherent concept. Now you push back and say that you can find value in your definition of god - well why the initial question if that's so successful for you? You still perhaps want help, but you clearly don't want it from me, so I'll leave it at this.

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I don't think I've been at all authoritarian in my suggestions in this thread. You came with a question about meaning, and I suggested a resolution by rejecting the assumption that meaning is a coherent concept. Now you push back and say that you can find value in your definition of god - well why the initial question if that's so successful for you? You still perhaps want help, but you clearly don't want it from me, so I'll leave it at this.

 

No, I appreciate you genuinely wanting to help and your wonderfully written posts.

 

We shouldn't even indulge in thoughts of meaning or no meaning, it's a completely bogus concept - just concern yourself with well-being, and for that to thrive, religion must die! :)

 

Obviously, as it is apparent in my other posts, I just find it offensive to profess "religion must die". So therefore, I asked why someone who is so against authoritativeness would outwardly say something like that, when someone who doesn't commit any crime and wants to observe a religion should very well have the right to do as they please without criticism.

 

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someone who doesn't commit any crime and wants to observe a religion should very well have the right to do as they please without criticism.

 

As someone who is basically an atheist (more atheist than agnostic) I completely agree with this statement.

Edited by Joatmon
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Obviously, as it is apparent in my other posts, I just find it offensive to profess "religion must die". So therefore, I asked why someone who is so against authoritativeness would outwardly say something like that, when someone who doesn't commit any crime and wants to observe a religion should very well have the right to do as they please without criticism.

 

That comment was indeed flippant and over-the-top, and I would never dream of trying to eradicate religion by authoritarian means - everyone certainly should have the right to believe as they wish when not causing harm. However, I am one of those atheists who cannot stand any firm belief in ideas without evidence, as I think even a moderate, harmless believer gives credence to garnering morality from absurdly vicious scriptures. Because of that, I think religion must 'die' for us to maximally flourish in terms of well-being, it being replaced by rational moral philosophy, but I would only ever seek for it to disappear by educating people. And I don't think that people should be able to think what they like without criticism, either - they shouldn't be treated as morons, but any ideas ought to be open to scrutiny.

Edited by Polednice
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That comment was indeed flippant and over-the-top, and I would never dream of trying to eradicate religion by authoritarian means - everyone certainly should have the right to believe as they wish when not causing harm. However, I am one of those atheists who cannot stand any firm belief in ideas without evidence, as I think even a moderate, harmless believer gives credence to garnering morality from absurdly vicious scriptures. Because of that, I think religion must 'die' for us to maximally flourish in terms of well-being, it being replaced by rational moral philosophy, but I would only ever seek for it to disappear by educating people. And I don't think that people should be able to think what they like without criticism, either - they shouldn't be treated as morons, but any ideas ought to be open to scrutiny.

 

 

 

But as one who values evidence, do you ignore the evidence behind human nature? That it is also our duty to irrationally adhere to beliefs and refuse to let them go? Then why is such little patience given?

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But as one who values evidence, do you ignore the evidence behind human nature? That it is also our duty to irrationally adhere to beliefs and refuse to let them go? Then why is such little patience given?

 

Care to elaborate?

 

It is also our natural instinct to go to the next town, kill the men, enslave the children and impregnate the women. I don't really see any rigor in that type of argument.

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But as one who values evidence, do you ignore the evidence behind human nature? That it is also our duty to irrationally adhere to beliefs and refuse to let them go? Then why is such little patience given?

 

I don't quite follow what you meant here. I recognise a biological component to superstition, in that we seem hard-wired to develop irrational beliefs, but I also recognise that with advanced cultures, that they can both be damaging, and we are capable of leaving them behind with rationality, hence the impatience.

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Care to elaborate?

 

It is also our natural instinct to go to the next town, kill the men, enslave the children and impregnate the women. I don't really see any rigor in that type of argument.

 

Edit rewording some terrible wording.

 

Nowadays those same urges manifest into things that are acceptable.

 

I don't see how eliminating religion will also eliminate the behavior of adhering irrationally to beliefs. When is that ever acceptable?

Edited by Appolinaria
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believer gives credence to garnering morality from absurdly vicious scriptures

It's hard to understand a religion from the outside. From the inside those absurdly vicious scriptures may contain the most beautiful ideas in the world, and the experience of that beauty may give it the weight of truth. Yes, perhaps in matters of religion and ultimate meaning, beauty itself is a criterion of truth. Perhaps this is truth that goes deeper than mere discursive reasoning and logic. It's surely of existential significance.

The fact that the infinite creator of the universe -- compared to which we are nothing -- the fact that this all good and all powerful being took on our humanity in order to suffer and die for us. These are beautiful stories that are true because they open my heart to the hidden depths of reality and endow life with a vitality and luminescence. There is a joy in living, and a peace about the world, knowing that this story is true. The more sincerely you believe it, the better it feels. God loves us. God loves me. The people that I care about are in his hands; and no matter what happens, there is a better life ahead. Thank you, God.

 

Cartoonish tales of God commanding terrible things in ancient times? That was the old dispensation; the old law. You're emphasizing it too much. It was a doggy dogg world. Revelation is pedagogical and that's where people were at back then. Our reading of those texts must be relativized in the face of the definitive revelation of God in Jesus Christ. If only you could experience the beauty and transformative power of the gospel you would understand. Perhaps God is speaking to your heart but it is your sins and pride that keep you from receiving his grace.

 

Note: Lest anyone misunderstand my intent and reply as though I am preaching, this is a parody of sorts. And no ridicule or belittling is intended by any means. This is just something I like to do.

 

But entertaining this for a moment, perhaps there is a privation without authentic love. Perhaps there is some truth to the sentiment that without knowing love persons cannot access their full humanity and really grasp what it means to be human. Religion often involves epic language and poetry; polyvalent narratives that contextualize the human condition in a universe that is ultimately personal, and good, and beautiful. In a way I think this kind of love presupposes an afterlife. Profound love compellingly declares the immortality of persons. It is beyond the wholly calculable and rational. It requires a surrender to love itself. To love is to know that being is ultimately good. Inexplicably good. This is the transcendent end of human life that cannot be revealed except in the childlike simplicity of an open heart.

 

Is this not something like the level on which religion speaks to many people? I mean, judging from the prayers and songs? Although I've surely been overly saccharine. But in this context, you can take your "cold logic" and bogus "scientism" and stuff it. I know that Jesus Christ is God and that all that this implies is valid. This is a holistic truth that trumps any trivial, dissected "truths" you might appeal to. Faith is a living relationship. How dare you try to rob me of all this.

 

Here's some more imaginary stuff: DBAG: Hey, this book debunks the bible so hard... XTIAN: "Look, if Christianity isn't true, I might as well kill myself." In other words, drop it. Yes, I have cognitive dissonance. Yes, I realize that the bible is full of contradictions. Yes, on some level I realize that my religion rests upon a big pile of special pleading and question begging. But if you pursue this, you'll wreck my life. My beliefs, my loves, my entire personality and life; these are deeply rooted in this religion. The disrespect in your words alone brings me a great deal of pain. I have no choice but to lash out in defense of my life and for the sake of my loved one's. This religion MUST be true, period.

 

 

If you think my caricatures are highly exaggerated I will say that they're inspired by real events. For what it's worth. Just trying to make the point, which I'm sure everyone knows full well, that religion is often much more complicated than a reasoned discussion about some matter of fact.

 

I suggested a resolution by rejecting the assumption that meaning is a coherent concept.

I assume you mean transcendent meaning, supernatural meaning, and/or meaning of cosmic significance. This seems outside the scope of humanity, at least for the foreseeable future. But don't you think the cliche that we make our meaning has validity? As something emergent/dependent on human beings in the first place, we have the power to create meaning in the world. This doesn't suggest that it has existence outside of our minds and societies, necessarily, but it may be compelling in itself to many people. Anyway, could you elaborate on what you're saying here? I'm curious to understand your view. Thanks.

Edited by the asinine cretin
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I assume you mean transcendent meaning, supernatural meaning, and/or meaning of cosmic significance. This seems outside the scope of humanity, at least for the foreseeable future. But don't you think the cliche that we make our meaning has validity? As something emergent/dependent on human beings in the first place, we have the power to create meaning in the world. This doesn't suggest that it has existence outside of our minds and societies, necessarily, but it may be compelling in itself to many people. Anyway, could you elaborate on what you're saying here? I'm curious to understand your view. Thanks.

I won't respond to the rest of your post because I don't know how much of it was parody and how much of it was you, and I'd rather engage only with your actual thoughts than with fictitious caricatures.

 

With regards to the above, I've said that the idea of meaning is incoherent, so in order for me to state whether or not I think what you're describing is invalid, you'll have to tell me what you mean by "meaning".

 

And I say in the most loving possible way that the correct turn of phrase is "a dog eat dog world". ;)

Edited by Polednice
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I won't respond to the rest of your post because I don't know how much of it was parody and how much of it was you, and I'd rather engage only with your actual thoughts than with fictitious caricatures.

Good.

 

With regards to the above, I've said that the idea of meaning is incoherent, so in order for me to state whether or not I think what you're describing is invalid, you'll have to tell me what you mean by "meaning".

Meaning in a general and even open-ended sense. The finding of purpose, significance, value, a vista of reality greater than oneself, a grounding, personal contentment. I don't have specific or idiosyncratic definition in mind, just the most general term. I was more curious to know what you mean, since your statement about meaning is what is actually in question here. I haven't expressed a view. When you say meaning is an incoherent concept, what do you have in mind? And what do you think of the popular secularist wisdom that we make our own meanings? Without an explanation I find your invalidating of the concept of meaning to be meaningless.

 

And I say in the most loving possible way that the correct turn of phrase is "a dog eat dog world". ;)

Where were you in the '90s?

 

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Meaning in a general and even open-ended sense. The finding of purpose, significance, value, a vista of reality greater than oneself, a grounding, personal contentment. I don't have specific or idiosyncratic definition in mind, just the most general term. I was more curious to know what you mean, since your statement about meaning is what is actually in question here. I haven't expressed a view. When you say meaning is an incoherent concept, what do you have in mind? And what do you think of the popular secularist wisdom that we make our own meanings? Without an explanation I find your invalidating of the concept of meaning to be meaningless.

 

These were all vague synonyms, but I accept that you're not advancing a particular definition.

 

Well, the sense of "meaning" that is often used denotes that a life has intrinsic value - that, somehow, there is an absolute goodness to something, that things aren't merely relative, that there is a transcendent essence and intentioned reason behind our existence. Even with a god, that idea is bogus, but I don't think atheists ought to be trying to adopt it by saying that we can create "meaning" ourselves. We can find life enjoyable, we can value things and we can help each other, but I don't think that's "meaning" or "purpose" as it's typically conceived.

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These were all vague synonyms, but I accept that you're not advancing a particular definition.

Right.

 

Well, the sense of "meaning" that is often used denotes that a life has intrinsic value - that, somehow, there is an absolute goodness to something, that things aren't merely relative, that there is a transcendent essence and intentioned reason behind our existence.

Okay, so, basically how I was interpreting you to begin with. Super duper, ontological, transcendent meaning.

 

Even with a god, that idea is bogus, but I don't think atheists ought to be trying to adopt it by saying that we can create "meaning" ourselves. We can find life enjoyable, we can value things and we can help each other, but I don't think that's "meaning" or "purpose" as it's typically conceived.

Meaning doesn't have to be absolute, transcendent, and the like to be legitimate. I don't agree with you on this. In a godless universe where meaning does not originate from a transcendent, personal creator, I think it's clear that meaning is something we choose and create, period. It may not be the kind of lofty, cosmic meaning that you're referring to, but you seem to agree that such a concept is specious at best. We can live meaningful, purposeful, significant lives, and find objective values, fulfillment, and even a kind of transcendence without appeals to the supernatural or the absolute. And why not? Because you're insisting that those terms cannot be taken out of a supernatural or Platonic context? Okay, if in your world the term "meaning" is restricted in that way, fine. You've defined it out of the picture. I haven't. And I'm not particularly interested in going around the merry-go-round with you ad nauseum.

 

If all you're really trying to say is that theists and atheists have different understandings of "meaning" as it applies to our lives, that's obvious. Are theists the only thinkers to have pondered meaning, value, fulfillment, and the like? Hardly.

Edited by the asinine cretin
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Meaning doesn't have to be absolute, transcendent, and the like to be legitimate. I don't agree with you on this. In a godless universe where meaning does not originate from a transcendent, personal creator, I think it's clear that meaning is something we choose and create, period. It may not be the kind of lofty, cosmic meaning that you're referring to, but you seem to agree that such a concept is specious at best. We can live meaningful, purposeful, significant lives, and find objective values, fulfillment, and even a kind of transcendence without appeals to the supernatural or the absolute. And why not? Because you're insisting that those terms cannot be taken out of a supernatural or Platonic context? Okay, if in your world the term "meaning" is restricted in that way, fine. You've defined it out of the picture. I haven't. And I'm not particularly interested in going around the merry-go-round with you ad nauseum.

 

If all you're really trying to say is that theists and atheists have different understandings of "meaning" as it applies to our lives, that's obvious. Are theists the only thinkers to have pondered meaning, value, fulfillment, and the like? Hardly.

 

Definitions are important, and I think an atheist adoption of "meaning" is self-deceptive. I don't think our lives have meaning because life is insignificant and trivial in the context of the entire universe. There will come a point when our entire species is extinct, and no action or achievement ever committed will matter. That is surely the definition of meaninglessness. My point, however, is that this doesn't preclude an enjoyable and fulfilling life, it just won't ever have any significance beyond our tiny humanity.

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Definitions are important, and I think an atheist adoption of "meaning" is self-deceptive. I don't think our lives have meaning because life is insignificant and trivial in the context of the entire universe. There will come a point when our entire species is extinct, and no action or achievement ever committed will matter. That is surely the definition of meaninglessness. My point, however, is that this doesn't preclude an enjoyable and fulfilling life, it just won't ever have any significance beyond our tiny humanity.

 

All that means is that the legitimate concept of "meaning," as it pertains to our lives, is finite and contingent. There is nothing self-deceptive about this. In a cosmic and/or theistic sense, sure, there is no meaning from above; but there is meaning that we create, and very often it will die with us. In some cases it may carry on through many generations, but it is not eternal and transcendent. Yet it is still meaningful to us subjectively. That's all there is. You're assuming super duper theistic meaning is the only option.

 

Look, of course our lives are insignificant from a cosmic perspective. But to each of us our lives, our consciousness, and so on, is the most important thing. We ground the meaning and the values. As individuals and in the structures of meaning and value that we create as conscious, sapient beings who care about meaning and value.

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All that means is that the legitimate concept of "meaning," as it pertains to our lives, is finite and contingent. There is nothing self-deceptive about this. In a cosmic and/or theistic sense, sure, there is no meaning from above; but there is meaning that we create, and very often it will die with us. In some cases it may carry on through many generations, but it is not eternal and transcendent. Yet it is still meaningful to us subjectively. That's all there is. You're assuming super duper theistic meaning is the only option.

This is little more than special pleading, though.

 

Extremely simplified, your basic point (and one inherent in the position of several others here) is that... "Yeah, those OTHER gods are silly nonsense with no merit, but MY version of god is different so your criticisms don't apply."

 

No... Your version really is not any different and yes, the same criticisms apply for the same reason. It's that reason why many of us treat them all the same. They are equally made up personal preferences and wishes, even though the assigned attributes and characteristics may from person to person.

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This is little more than special pleading, though.

 

Extremely simplified, your basic point (and one inherent in the position of several others here) is that... "Yeah, those OTHER gods are silly nonsense with no merit, but MY version of god is different so your criticisms don't apply."

 

No... Your version really is not any different and yes, the same criticisms apply for the same reason. It's that reason why many of us treat them all the same. They are equally made up personal preferences and wishes, even though the assigned attributes and characteristics may from person to person.

 

No, that's not my basic point at all. I don't have a version of god. I'm saying that meaning and value are anthropological phenomena. They may or may not exist apart from human brains in some Platonic realm, or in a Divine Will, or whatever; but I doubt it. Psychology and neuroscience have a good bit to say about how we process the world and create meaning, coping mechanisms, value systems, and the like. I am only assuming that we are the source of meaning and value. If there were no sapient entities in the universe the discussion of existential meaning and values would be irrelevant.

 

How we choose to live our lives us up to us; it isn't dictated from above. Nihilism is a choice, but it isn't necessary. If you accept that the meaning and the value doesn't extent beyond humanity into some cosmic eternity, or supernatural realm then you are agreeing with me. The contention is that Polednice asserts that the concept of meaning is invalid if it does not exist within a transcendent context. Only "absolute" or "ultimate" meaning and value matters. I disagree with this. I think these things are probably not real and that in fact the sense of those words that is concrete and legitimate is that which I've expressed. I suppose you could call it an immanent and humanistic understanding of meaning and value.

 

Edit: typo

Edited by the asinine cretin
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