Comments on “Rumcake and rainbows”



Jack Walker's picture

Hello David,

Where does inter-subjectivity fit in to your account of meaningness? Does the failure of an existentialist stance extend to inter-subjective accounts of meaning?
I was thinking of certain examples of cultural attitudes to sexual vitality and abuse, e.g.: Etoro people. There is a strong relationship between cultural attitudes or inter-subjective constructs, and the personal/subjective experience.

I did have a big sprawling comment about nested relationships, Peterson, Mandala Principle (as taught by Trungpa), Sloterdijk....but decided the verbosity was fun but rather unnecessary!

Thanks for another stimulating read.

Questioning "are interactions among people and circumstances"

Regarding "are interactions among people and circumstances" - this is a common theme I see in the research on meaning literature - bald claims that meaning is in large part some sort of social construct. The analogy with ethics here is strong. However, I wonder why there can't be meaning if someone is on a deserted island? Analogously, there can still be morality, therefore, my prior is that there can also be meaning without people.


Edward Heidicker's picture

Thank you for putting into a few words what some have devoted volumes to.

I have used thunderstorms as a means to "understand" meaning.

Thunderstorms "happen" under certain conditions. When the conditions are "right" there is a thunderstorm. When conditions change the thunderstorm ends but doesn't go anywhere. We cannot isolate any one of the factors (that we know of) as the cause of the storm.

In like manner "meaningness" seems to happen but requires as it were participation as you suggest. I find sitting down and creating a clay pot meaningful. I cannot "create" that experience by saying that the meaning resides in either me or the clay; the experience requires both (plus other factors). If working with clay were inherently meaningful then anyone would describe working with clay as meaningful. We know that cannot be the case. Meaningness can also not reside in a box of clay. It takes a potter and the clay (and other conditions) for meaningness to arise temporarily.

Or at least that may be another "way" to get a handle on the it.


Anonymous's picture

My comment will probably seem feeble but something about this chapter occurred to me. I wonder if the human mind has been headed all along, towards this complete subjective reality, but it required a perfect storm of sorts to find full fruition, which perhaps shows up as this fragmented, disjointed society we now live in.

Could be technology has contributed to this, the sharing of vast amounts of information erodes long held beliefs that were considered indisputable, along the crumbling of accepted cultural definitions of our lives (the atomizing of society you talk about) etc. It does seem as though we are racing towards a complete breakdown of 'shared' meaning. While the potential to traverse could exist, it doesn't look like humans are in any hurry to give up their remaining meanings, maybe even clutching on them even more as ultimate subjectivity looms over like a giant fly swatter.

Even as I try to deploy the ‘complete stance’ in my daily life, a little awareness always reminds me just how driven the human mind is to solidify reality. It’s baffling and remarkable all at the same time.

Vajrayana model: objective->

Romeo Stevens's picture

Vajrayana model: objective-> known, subjective->knower, intersubjective->knowing.

This also makes a frame click into place regarding the 4-5 bridge: the transition from prescriptive systematizing to descriptive systematizing.

What is the intersubjective equivalent for descriptive-prescriptive? Describing vs explaining? Process vs goals? The knowledge that by prescribing an action we lock in a certain ontology of reality? That by describing something we've changed our construal of it which is in many ways the only thing that actually exists?

RE: Romeo Stevens' 'intersubjective'

Jack Walker's picture

Not really my place to reply, but just thought that as my question also used the term 'intersubjective', I'd ask you what you meant because you seem to be using it in a rather different way. So I was just curious :)

I recall reading a similar formulation, whereby knowing/meaning emerges from the coalescence/interpenetration of subjective/objective 'spheres'. I really don't know the work of Ju Mipham well at all - David would be able to give a much better reply I'm sure - but he states that in the context of Dzogchen, in order to see the coalescence of appearance and emptiness, that would rest on a prior recognition of the interpenetration of object/subject. How this translates to David's project, I assume would be the focus on the process-relational emergence of meaningness.

But I'm not sure you can use the term 'intersubjective' to refer to that, unless you are using it in a way considerably different to current usage in social sciences and psychology.

Add new comment


This page is in the section Nihilism: the denial of meaning,
      which is in Meaning and meaninglessness,
      which is in Doing meaning better.

The next page in this section is ⚒ Cold comfort: the false promise of nihilism.

The previous page is You’ve got nihilism wrong.

This page’s topics are Essentialism 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.