“Be as a page that aches for a word which speaks on a theme that is timeless …”
(words and music by Neil Diamond)
This blog focuses primarily on the meaning of life, especially the role that future technologies will play in answering the question. The above line captures the sentiment which motivates our thinking and writing.
I think we should write, talk and think about timeless themes, at least as far as circumstances admit. Yet it is hard to constantly do this. Sometimes we want to discuss current affairs, daily experiences, questions from readers, or important topics not directly related to the meaning of life. Therefore the blog often reflects on these other topics, which allows a break from thinking about more substantive questions about life’s meaning. Still, regarding any issue, I will try to bring to bear a reasonable amount of analysis and insight.
There are two disclaimers I would issue regarding my blogging on topics other than the meaning of life. First, when I venture in areas in which I lack expertise, my thoughts are less measured and thorough. Regarding issues other than academic philosophy, I can only speak as a reasonably intelligent layperson. Second I often do not have the time to fully research topics that demand it. Many topics I address demand book-length treatment but I have only limited time and blog space. Thus my conclusions about topics not thoroughly research are somewhat suspect.
Still there is something valuable in thinking about topics about which one lacks expertise. First it forces you to keep thinking and to practice writing at the same time. Second such thinking grounds one to reality. For instance if loved ones ask for practical advice or one reads about some important practical matter, then one should think about these things. Finally, virtually any topic connects to questions of meaning at least in some way, so thinking about almost anything is indirectly relevant. And it is easy to see why.
Consider topics which I sometimes blog about such as politics, society, art, education or economics. It is easy to see why the meaningful life depends on a good society and a decent education, as well as on a just political and economic system. It is also easy to see why issues of religion, science, technology, ethics, personal relationships and philosophy are directly related to questions of meaning. In fact these are the primary areas from which most persons derive meaning. So one can easily connect anything I blog about with the question of meaning, no matter how tangential my subject matter may appear from my primary concern.
I hope this explains why I sometimes deviate from writing directly about the most fundamental question for me, the question of life’s meaning. Evolution, transhumanism, science and technology, and all topics that have most influenced me do so ultimately because of my deep concern with life’s meaning. But life’s meaning is not only a theoretical or even existential question, it is a question that demands attention to the details of living. Oftentimes I will thus direct my attention to what may seem like more mundane matters. Perhaps this is what Wittgenstein had in mind when he wrote: “… we could say that man is fulfilling the purpose of life who no longer has any purpose except to live.”