Thoughts Sans Boundaries

Civilisation, Structure and the Meaning of Life

Posted in Uncategorized by Aditya Moorthy on December 24, 2009

Every act of human beings that has been an outcome of civilisation has a structure to it. A general conception is that, structure is for rational minds and not for the artistic. But I beg to disagree. If we dissect an act to its core, we will encounter a structure behind it. And an act that does not have a structure will not have a following.

Allow me to explain this in a little bit more detail. We can straight away assume that any scientific act has a structure to it and we will not ponder on that too much. So, let’s look at some artistic acts like painting and music. My contention is that however abstract a piece of art or music might be, but the one that generates at least a handful of followers or fans, will have an underlying structure based on which it has been built. Most of us are unable to appreciate abstract art is because, we are incapable of seeing the underlying structure and hence unable to appreciate the beauty of that piece of work. And the ones who ‘see’ it either are greatly impressed by the trick the artist has played with that structure or at the least appreciate the twist the artist has created using the structure underlying to it.

The reason I use civilisation in this context is because, I think the first discovery by the people of the first civilisation is the discovery of the human ability to recognise structures and build something on top of it. The moment, you develop the innate capability of observing these structures, you become compelled to act and build on it and that in turn makes that individual or group of individuals civilised. I think it does not necessarily apply to human beings alone. Even in the animal kingdom, one can observe acts of civilisation such as the monkey’s using a straw to draw the ant out of an anthill. This is possible only if they are able to see the underlying structure of that act which results in the ability to draw ants for food. If we extrapolate this to all acts of living beings, you realise that none of them are a random act but an act coordinated to achieve an objective, which means there is a structure (or framework) behind it. Now, I am getting close to the metaphysical argument of whether there is any act of nature that is based on randomness alone without any predetermined objective.

I have read about the quantum physics experiments that shows at an sub-atomic level, we influence the experiment, when we observe them. But for this argument, let’s keep the sub-atomic state of affairs aside and look only at the macro side of things.

Now for argument sake, if we take the premise that every act of nature has a predetermined objective unless interfered by an external force, then does that not indicate that there might be a predetermined objective which explains the meaning of life? The caveat here is the interference by an external force, which in the case of human beings, manifests as the ability of choice. The counter argument could be that the ability of choice prevents a presupposition of an exact meaning for life. But as earlier demonstrated, that an act performed by a person has a structure / framework underlying it and any act based on randomness is detrimental to the actor. So collectively speaking, the choices however numerous, is limited by the frameworks underlying them and hence the choices themselves are predetermined. The net effect could be that we are moving towards a destiny that is already configured and our choices are only giving us an illusion that we have the ability to make our own future.

Is this possible?



One Response

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  1. Scoobs said, on December 24, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Now that you say this, it’s only natural to wonder the complete opposite – perhaps everything is truly random. I know some believe that even chaos has a “structure”, but that notion is for arriving at an explanation to something that seems unexplainable at first. So if you take the notion that everything is the “way it is” without worrying about the structure underneath and try to appreciate it for what “it is”, then the question of meaning of life becomes even more interesting. Do you believe in destiny or probability? 🙂

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