Schematic overview: meaningness

This table summarizes three stances one can take to the most fundamental questions of meaning.

For an introduction to these stances, see “Preview: eternalism and nihilism.” The main discussion begins here.

The meanings of the rows in this table are explained in “The psychological anatomy of a stance.”

StanceEternalismNihilismMeaning/ness
SummaryEverything is given a fixed meaning by an eternal ordering principle (Cosmic Plan)Nothing is really meaningfulMeaning is nebulous, yet patterned; meaningfulness and meaninglessness intermingle
What it deniesNebulosity; meaninglessnessPattern; meaningfulness
What it fixatesMeaningMeaninglessness
The sales pitchYou are guaranteed a good outcome if you follow the rulesYou don’t have to care!
Don’t get fooled again
Accurate understanding of meaningness allows both freedom and purpose
Emotional appealCertainty; understanding; control. Reassurance that if you act in accordance with Cosmic Plan, everything will be well.Intelligence. Also, nothing means anything, so not getting what you want is not a problem.
Pattern of thinkingDeliberate stupidity; sentimentality; self-righteousnessContempt; rage; intellectualization; depression; anxietyJoyful realism
Likely next stancesMissionMaterialism
AccomplishmentUnify your self with Cosmic PlanTotal apathyWizardry
How it causes sufferingAction based on imagined meanings fails; narrowed scope for action; Cosmic Plan makes insane, harmful demandsHave to blind self to meaningfulness; undermines any practical action
Obstacles to maintaining the stanceDifficulty of blinding oneself to manifestations of nebulosity, and submitting to Cosmic PlanDifficulty of blinding self to manifestations of pattern, and abandoning all desiresUnappealing due to complexity and uncertainty
Antidotes; counter-thoughtsCuriosity; realism; intelligence; enjoyment of nebulosity, meaninglessness, un-knowingEnjoyment of pattern; recovery of passion
Intelligent aspectThere is meaning, and it is not merely subjective, so nihilism is wrongThere are no inherent, objective, or eternal meanings, so eternalism is wrong
Positive appropriation after resolutionRespect for pattern is a compassionate aspect of realismRecognition of nebulosity is a wisdom aspect of nihilism; nearly-correct understanding of defects of eternalism

Navigation

This page is in the section Meaning and meaninglessness,
      which is in Doing meaning better.

The next page in this section is Eternalism.

The previous page is So how does meaningness work?.

This page’s topics are Eternalism and Nihilism.

General explanation: Meaningness is a hypertext book (in progress), plus a “metablog” that comments on it. The book begins with an appetizer. Alternatively, you might like to look at its table of contents, or some other starting points. Classification of pages by topics supplements the book and metablog structures. Terms with dotted underlining (example: meaningness) show a definition if you click on them. Pages marked with ⚒ are still under construction. Copyright ©2010–2017 David Chapman.