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Does meaning come before awareness?

User Thread
 88yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that coberst is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Does meaning come before awareness?
Does meaning come before awareness?

I imagine that somewhere way back in time sapiens came to a conclusion that was driven by their deep and strong urge to live forever. Because sapiens are aware of their mortality and because they are driven by this great urge to stay alive they created the 'disembodied mind', it was probably christened as 'soul' at that time and from that decision they put forth their conclusion into ideas similar to these words 'what does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world but suffer the lose of his soul?'

Wo/man could not accept mortality and thus found a means to 'live forever' in the form of the soul, or mind, or ego, or... This conclusion has left us with the mind/body dichotomy that drives our religious, cultural, and philosophical thinking still today. 'Mind' and 'body' are abstractions; they are created aspects of the organism-environment interactions that we call experience.

John Dewey informs us that situations form the very essence of our emotions. He attempted to counteract the tendency to localize emotions as some form of private and interior subjective response that had nothing to do with our comprehension of objects in our world. Emotions are both subjective and objective as the distant Dewey and the present Damasio informs us. In a situation there is a comingling of what we now speak of as subject and object. 'Emotions are both in us and in the world at the same time.'

Before conscious awareness we begin a situation with an unconsciously constructed meaningfulness. Our world 'stands forth meaningfully to us at every waking instant, due primarily to the process of emotional feeling over which we have little control. And yet the situation is meaningful to us in the most important, primordial, and basic way that it can be meaningful-it shapes the basic contours of our experience. The situation specifies what will be significant to us and what objects, events, and persons mean to us at a pre-reflective level.'

While there seems to be disagreement regarding specific details among neuroscientists, they do agree on the fundamental issue that emotions 'play a central role in an organism's assessment of its internal milieu-its bodily states and processes that are tied to its ongoing interactions with its environment, thereby motivating both internal body-state adjustments and outwardly directed actions in the world.'

What is meaningful and how it is meaningful to us is a function of a continuous internal monitoring of our bodily states as we experience and act in the world. Much of our past religious, philosophical, and pop-culture has denied this fact. In so doing this, we have deprived our self from very important considerations regarding our world of value assessment.

SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) has put forth theories that are based upon the destruction of these basic assumptions of our Western religious and philosophical tradition.

If these new theories are correct then we are left with the question. 'If there is no disembodied mind-no transcendent soul or ego-to be the source of meaning, then what things are meaningful to us and how they are meaningful must be a result of the nature of our brains, our bodies, our environments, and our social interactions, institutions, and practices.'

Quotes from The Meaning of the Body by Mark Johnson

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 40yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that eye is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
First assumption (meaning is resolved through reason).

I think awareness is the essence that drives us into meaning.


Awareness is one of the most incomprehensible words in language (in my view). As in being aware of anything, nothing specific.

i'll follow some logical observations of all things perceived to us as 'living', 'alive'.

If we try follow the mind-body dichotomy to the end, we are left with one little problem, understanding how is it that we are aware of anything. I believe if we solve that problem we would know a whole lot more about "life", and what is it to be "alive" in comparison to objects or non-conscious existence.

Now if we talk physics, we might end up discussing "energy", to try solve the problem, going through comparisons between energy and matter (if we were to try to understand it through some of our fact-based sciences).

Well the answer to the question you stated is a mind boggling one, not in the same way of the chicken egg problem. But it leads us to a lot of realizations that might only lessen our toleration to this whole mess of existence.

Well I think it all circles down to our innate selfish ego (or awareness), I guess if we concentrate on the idea of 'self preservation' which is innate in all 'living' creatures. That might as well be the awareness we speak of. The idea I stated is innate in all creatures, if we ever stop to question why do creatures have this self preservation thing? We come closer to accepting that we might not all be just a dwell of action and reaction.

To better explain the self preservation idea, we try to ask why we are doing all of the things we do. Why are we alive, why do we do certain things, why do we do anything the way we do it. It all comes down to the fact that the best choice we ever take is ALWAYS and forever will be the one that keeps us alive, the one that helps us live better, (think of a chess match as being your life, and consider why u make a move).

Now in the matter of 'humans', and in specific the case suicide or self sacrifice, I think our minds as I might have stated in previous posts are capable of reaching 'objective' reasoning, not only subjective reasoning. Now this objective reasoning is the only thing that might drive us into such actions (or maybe some chemical imbalance that breaks the sanity of the person whatever sanity might be). I could go into how objective reasoning drives us to a lot of actions but that's not the subject here.

The whole point of this is to show what is it exactly that we have in common with all other creatures, and to me after the points I've stated it's 'self preservation' or 'awareness', I think both mean the same thing the first is if we discuss the creature's actions from an outside perspective, the second if we discuss ourselves inward.

Anyway as I've stated above we can think in 2 ways, subjectively and objectively, other creatures are (that we know of) incapable of such 'reasoning'.
if we try understand the why of the mind-body dichotomy it might as well lead us to the objective/subjective reasoning I spoke of, since all thoughts that we call purely mind relevant are objective, and all thoughts that we call body relevant are subjective (don't care what the words mean, trying to explain what I mean by objective and subjective)

So then is this method of objective reasoning innate in all creatures (to some level), or is it a distinct separation between 'Man' and 'Beast'. Meaning did we gain a soul, and other creatures don't have that 'soul'.

I find it more probable that our minds are simply a more evolved version of other creatures (how much is a very large factor but still is a factor) since we have similar biology and share a whole lot more in common that we dare to admit with all living creatures.

And if we can assume that all creatures (other than humans) do not have reason. (This is also another discussion, there are 2 answers. But surprisingly 99.9% of the populous deny reason to all creatures but humans)

I would say that awareness comes before reason, since it's innate in all of us. And Reason is acquired (might be through evolution, or just from experience).

Now this might not be in the same pigeon hole as you've stated it. But it might be an answer in more global terms, as in which is it that must have existed first.

The question relevant to a single person (thinking which he discovered first) is the one I cannot answer.
But the question relevant to the whole evolution process I would answer in that it is more probable that awareness came before reason (of course that is based on a few assumptions)

But I stand by my point.

(sorry if i drifted off the subject)

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"i think therefore i think i am"
 70yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that NicOfTime is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Does meaning come before awareness?

Depends on what one means by "meaning". The only entities to which the notion of "meaning" has any meaning at all are those who are aware of the notion of "meaning" to begin with. From this viewpoint, meaning must always follow awareness.

But if "meaning" means "truth" -- a truth that contextualizes the notion of "meaning" (for example, if it is true that there is no God) -- then that is a kind of "meaning" whether one is aware of it or not. So, from that viewpoint, this "meaning" precedes and transcends any awareness of it.

Like most conversations about this sort of stuff, the meaning of the question depends on the definitions of the words used to ask it.

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 40yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that eye is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Depends on what one means by "meaning". The only entities to which the notion of "meaning" has any meaning at all are those who are aware of the notion of "meaning" to begin with. From this viewpoint, meaning must always follow awareness.

in my view, it was "does logic exist before life".
by logic i mean a computing brain,
by exist i mean a material existance,
by life i mean subjective thinking (self preservation).

my personal interpretation was does "life" construct "logic", or does "logic" eventually becomes "aware".

if you look at it that way it has more possibilities.

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"i think therefore i think i am"
 70yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that NicOfTime is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
in my view, it was "does logic exist before life"

I think life is inherently "logical" -- a product of a logical, perhaps even inevitable cause/effect chain. In that respect, logic existed before life.

by logic i mean a computing brain

It certainly takes a computing brain to conceive of the notion of logic (or anything else) -- but the "logic" of cause/effect exists even if there's no computing brain to conceive of the notion of logic. Of course, I can't prove that -- but I would say that our own existence proves it. If there weren't at least some rules, some boundaries, some envelopes, some aspects that are more probable than other aspects, we couldn't exist.

by exist i mean a material existance

"Material" may be a matter of perception, relative to the context of the thing perceiving it.

my personal interpretation was does "life" construct "logic", or does "logic" eventually becomes "aware"

I suspect "logic" can create the circumstances in which awareness/consciousness may emerge (and we are the evidence/proof of that) -- if for no other reason than there's nothing that prohibits it, even if there's also nothing that guarantees it.

if you look at it that way it has more possibilities

One can create a virtually infinite number of possibilities simply by the way he defines the words he uses to express them.

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Does meaning come before awareness?
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