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Jackie Marano's picture

Meaning, money, and truth/Truth

     I too have find the meaning of 'meaning' very interesting, and I have been thinking about how we probably don't really need 'Truth' to have meaning, as 'truth' seems to function just fine. I tried to think of one of the most universal 'truths,' all of which are subjective/man-made. The best thing I could come up with is MONEY. In an economics class here at Bryn Mawr, I learned about something called 'fiat money.' What this refers to is the universal acceptance of some common form of exchange (even if what is exchanged has no intrinsic value) that allows us to assign values to things. The US Dollar, for example, is fiat money. Everyone in this country accepts the same green-and-white pieces of paper (worthless intrinsically) to be our units of exchange.

    And when you think about it, so much of human life revolves around these really worthless pieces of paper. But they aren't worthless, because our 'truth' says they're not. They can even be exchanged internationally for other intrinsically meaningless pieces of paper. This seems like an outrageously fragile system, based on nothing, really. But it DOES work, and it IS effective, and it is what ultimately allows our global community to thrive. As long as we all accept this 'truth,' even if it is founded on nothing tangible, it will continue to define what we do, when we do it, how we do it, why we do it...it gives us meaning and a often sense of presence or purpose or importance in the world.

     And then of course, people have strategies of how to manage this 'truth' of money. Perhaps just like Darwin's theory on evolution, all of these money-management strategies that we employ to give us meaning only have meaning, themselves, in the context of the 'truth' and not the Truth. So, in this way, maybe evolution doesn't matter in the context of the Truth...and maybe it isn't relevant?! Isn't it just like money, a man-made 'truth' that is even less universally accepted than money? Like the 'truth' of money, Darwin's theory of evolution opens up opportunities to add more meaning to our life. But when you think about applying 'Truth' to Darwin's theory of evolution, it's like wondering whether "God said 'Let there be Money (not light)'"...it really does get reduced to just a good story. But the story works well in the 'truth' of our lives, and it gives many of us meaning.

     But I still wouldn't 'kill' the idea of Truth, because maybe it would explain how the concepts of money and evolution (a ridiculous comparison I know) came to be on earth. Or maybe it is, itself, that nothing that our money system seems to be fundamentally based on. But whether Truth can explain or define our 'truths' is a real complex matter...maybe knowing this would give more meaning to our notion of meaning? Or our notion of nothing? And then where do we go from there?

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