This page introduces a section containing the following pages:
Gambling, religion, and addiction: a personal story.
Great confusions about meaningness stem from the mistaken assumption that there must be some sort of eternal ordering principle.
Eternalism promises everything you could want from meaning: safety, support, certainty, reassurance, and control. Solid ground!
What we want most from meaning is guarantees. Religions, political ideologies, and other eternalist systems promise certainty; but they cannot deliver.
It’s deluded to think we mostly understand issues of meaning (ethics, purpose, value, politics). Ideologies deliberately create and sustain that illusion.
Eternalism promises complete control over life—but that is an impossible fantasy. Influence through collaboration and improvisation are possible, however.
Eternalism promises answers about good and bad—the meanings we care about most—but cannot deliver.
Eternalism's final promise is to keep nihilism at bay. There is a better alternative to both!
Eternalism—belief in fixed meanings—makes promises it can't keep. It makes us do stupid, crazy, evil things. And we still love it and keep going back for more.
Ploys—ways of thinking, feeling, talking, and acting—which stabilize eternalism; and antidotes to use against them.
Forcing fixed meanings on experience always eventually results in unpleasant shocks when reality refuses to conform to your pre-determined categories.
Monist eternalism—the New Age and SBNR, for example—say everything is meaningful, but leaves vague what the meanings are.
Magical thinking—hallucinating causal connections—is powerfully synergistic with eternalism (the stance that everything has a fixed meaning).
Hope is harmful in devaluing the present and shifting attention to imaginary futures that may never exist.
Eternalist religions and political systems are always partly make-believe, like children playing at being pirates.
Because eternalist delusion is so desirable, we collude to maintain it. To save each other from nihilism, we support each other in not-seeing nebulosity.
Hiding from nebulosity is a ploy to preserve eternalism by physically avoiding ambiguous situations and information.
Eternalist kitsch is the denial of the possibility of meaninglessness. This leads to willfully idiotic sentimentality.
When nebulosity becomes obvious, eternalism fails to fit reality. You can armor yourself against evidence, and arm yourself to destroy it.
Privileging faith over experience is an eternalist ploy for blinding yourself to signs of nebulosity.
Thought suppression is a ploy for maintaining faith in non-existent meanings. It leads to deliberate stupidity, inability to express oneself, and inaction.
When eternalism lets you down, you are tempted to make a bargain with it. Eternalism will behave itself better, and in return you renew your faith in it.
Wistful certainty is a ploy for reinforcing eternalism based on the thought that there must exist whatever it takes to make eternalism seem to work.
Faithful bafflement is a ploy for maintaining the eternalist stance that remains committed but begins to doubt.
Mystification uses thoughts as a weapon against authentic thinking. It creates glib, bogus metaphysical explanations that sweep meaninglessness under the rug.
Reminding yourself and others of how bad nihilism is can help maintain the eternalist stance. This is the hellfire and brimstone of eternalist preaching.
Purity is an obsessive focus for dualist eternalism. It mobilizes emotions of disgust, guilt, shame, and self-righteous anger.
In the face of undeserved suffering, is difficult not to fall into the stance that most things are God’s will, but not the horrible bits.
Accomplishing eternalism would would mean knowing the meaning of everything, and acting accordingly. This is impossible, because there are no fixed meanings.
Learning skills for escaping the grip of eternalism—the delusion that everything is meaningful.
Freeing ourselves from theism is only a first step toward freeing ourselves from a host of ubiquitous, harmful, mistaken ideas about meaningness.
Eternalism, not supernaturalism, is the root cause of religion's harmfulness.
The belief that beliefs are clear-cut entities, which people do or don't have, supports dysfunctional ideologies.
UFO cults, which make no supernatural claims, disprove the rationalist belief that religion’s faults stem from supernaturalism.
Rationality is a valuable way of knowing, but cannot provide explanations or meanings for everything.
Wrong-way reduction is a logical fallacy that turns messy, tractable problems into tidy, impossible ones.
Ideological rationalism usually turns difficult, messy problems into tidy but insoluble ones.
Taken as an epistemology, logic is a wrong-way reduction: it turns difficult problems of practical reasoning into impossible feats of deduction.
The continuum gambit tries to eliminate ambiguity using numbers on a scale. This can only ever partially succeed, and may mislead badly.
Bayesianism is a quasi-religious ideology of rationality and epistemology. It cannot deliver the meta-certainty it promises.
Probability theory is sometimes called a complete theory of rationality, on the mistaken belief it generalizes logic. I explain why this is wrong.
Utilitarianism promises to eliminate ethical uncertainty, but instead replaces a difficult, messy problem with an impossible, tidy one.
A history of supposedly-scientific nutritional theories illustrating pathologies of rationalism (scientism), with an analogy to cognitive science.
A satire: all nutritionists offer their resignation, having recognized their incompetence; but their employers refuse it.
Nutrition science has conclusively failed; it was myths invented to satisfy compulsive hunger for meaning. Now what?
Cognitive “science” was actually a philosophical ideology of the self. It mostly failed, but neuroscience is now infested with the same wrong ideas.
Political eternalism is the belief that some system of government can provide an unquestionable foundation for meaning.
☜ The previous page is Schematic overview: meaningness.
Click on terms with dotted underlining to read a definition.
The book is a work in progress; pages marked ⚒︎ are under construction.