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Lynn's picture

Almost this entire semester, I've been going back and forth about some aspects of this course. I came into EvoLit something of an existentialist, and I feel (mostly) certain that that has remained constant, but these past few lectures in particular have made me unsure how comfortable I am with that existentialism. I'm not going to argue whether randomness implies a meaningless universe - I believe that it does, and for the purpose of this post (this ramble, really), my belief is the important thing. I accept that evolution is random; thus, I believe that our world is essentially meaningless; thus, my existentialism is also my last vestige of purpose. I can impose my morals and my values on my world, but I cannot change the nature of that world itself, and I cannot force it to have meaning anywhere outside my own mind. (I feel compelled, at this point, to scribble down some bad poetry with questionable rhyme scheme...) This post, I suppose, also lacks a point. It's simply something that I've been thinking about while I struggle to think up a decent project. 


ewashburn's picture

 I too have struggled with

 I too have struggled with the concept of "meaning," but in a somewhat different sense. Over the course of this class (no pun intended), I've found myself in several discussion during which the search for meaning was disparaged, or during which the idea of being religious was made synonymous with being ignorant. I particularly remember, during our discussions of Darwin, our class beginning to refer to those opposing Darwin as "conservative Christians;" I also recall that during a talk about how people try to ascribe a higher purpose to personal tragedies, someone referred to that method of coping as "highly destructive."

It seems to me that there's this idea perpetuating liberal arts education--or at least perpetuating this class--that the pursuit of meaning is hopeless, or a stupid endeavor, and those who choose to pursue meaning condemn themselves to ignorance. "Accept that your life is meaningless! Existentialism is the only true philosophy! Everything is random and there is no designer!" This mindset always seemed unproductive to me. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and certainly we have encouraged that in this class. So why is it that those who are of the opinion that life has meaning, or who actively seek meaning in their lives, are being told that they are wrong?

In the previous post, Lynn says that she cannot change the nature of the word itself, and cannot force it to have meaning anywhere outside her own mind. While I agree that you cannot change the nature of the worlds itself, I wonder how you can force it to have meaning outside of your mind when your mind is how you perceive the world and create meaning from it? Is the act of interpreting what your senses present "forcing meaning onto the world?" Am I somehow wrong if I choose to believe a tragedy is part of a higher plan, if that belief gives me comfort and allows me to cope with tragedy?

In any case, it's just a frustration I've had in this class. I welcome discussion on the subject, and hope I haven't offended anyone. I look forward to seeing your presentations in the next couple of days.

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