“Be as a page that aches for a word which speaks on a theme that is timeless …”
(words and music by Neil Diamond)
All my life I struggled to stretch my mind to the breaking point, until it began to creak,
in order to create a great thought which might be able to give a new meaning to life,
a new meaning to death, and to console mankind. ~ Nikos Kazantzakis
This blog focuses primarily on whether life and death have meaning—the fundamental existential concern of my lifelong intellectual search. The question of meaning, like all philosophical questions I ask, is informed by an evolutionary perspective, without which philosophical answers are incomplete. This perspective has led to my interest in the future technologies that will transform or destroy us, and to the future of cosmic evolution itself.
Nonetheless it is hard to continually discuss such timeless themes. 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 topics, which allows a break from thinking about more substantive questions. 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 about which I’m not an expert. 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 provisional.
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, work, 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 connect almost 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 then, I will direct my attention to 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.”