Comments on “Pattern”

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Of Oz The Wizard

Steve Alexander 2016-01-11

This alphabetized version of The Wizard of Oz is more structured than the original, yet less meaningful. I found obviousness of the lack of meaning very funny.

Thank you

Nicole 2016-06-12

Thank you for writing a book about this. I lost faith in a “God” about 8 years ago and have only recently accepted that I am atheist. By losing my grip on the belief that my life had a grand purpose and that someone all powerful was leading me, I discovered I had been using it to cope with the chronic anxiety and depression I had inherited from both sides of my family. I no longer had a sweet and comfortable “trust” in the greater universe, and spiralled deep into a suicidal nihilism, where the only things keeping me alive were often laziness or apathy.
Sadly, my therapist is religious, and so is very uncomfortable if I bring up any of this. So, I stopped bringing it up, and she is under the false thinking that I am getting better and recovering simply because I’ve shifted my focus to my work and making my bf happy. I had a meltdown yesterday because I made a small mistake at work, and work is one of the few things I feel I’m accomplishing right now. I searched “depression and nihilism” from my tablet today and found your book, and I am very glad I did. I am getting a lot of helpful information from this already and am looking forward to what I read next. Thanks again.

Glad it's helpful!

David Chapman 2016-06-12

I am glad you are finding it helpful!

This is a work in progress… I expect to say quite a bit more about nihilism and how to overcome it, eventually. I wish I had more of it written now. Comments like yours motivate me to work harder! :-)

Eternalism and Nihilism

Joscha 2017-11-10

I am generally very impressed by your thinking, but here I am unconvinced that eternalism results from seeing too much structure in patterns. I suspect that eternalism results from a desire for deep desire for higher purpose, i.e. the need to identify with a system of meaning that reaches beyond the individual and its social group, and to serve that system. Once that need is implemented in a mind, this mind will project extrapersonal purposes into the universe. If culture fails to bind this need with a societal operating system, such as an ideology or religion, it may turn transcendental.
Nihilism in turn is not the absence of meaning, but a frustrated need for meaning. It is especially pervasive in the West because we inherit both the romantic need for a divine question that we can be the answer to, and the epistemological proof that God cannot exist in any way that would offer such liberation. The clean answer to Nihilism is not the ontological acceptance of an extrapersonal telos (just a more “nebulous” one), but the eradication of a need for higher purpose. This does lead to its own problems when taken too far, because meaningful cooperation in groups seems to require a shared telos that is in turn built on a degree of shared existential debt.


Raederle Phoenix 2019-10-11

While a face in my toast may be meaningful to me personally (that is, if I ate toast), I would not mistake it for some global sign with significance to the whole planet. However, serendipity in my life has been too strong to dismiss. I have found that people who have no use for such concepts are not people I can tolerate well in my life because they refute my entire life. I could list hundreds of examples, starting with the most recent incident, but it is obvious (and now scientifically provable) that our thoughts and feelings are having literal, physical impacts on our surroundings, which means that personal signs from insects, animals, and other patterns are real. (Although, signs in the clouds are less likely unless one is putting great effort in shaping them. I did once manage to make a hole in the clouds so that the full moon would be visible during an important late-night reunion with someone special when I was a teen but I have not bothered to put effort into influencing the clouds much in my life.) I suppose you will just deem me as having a confused stance or some such, but . . . Anyhow, I will continue reading despite my strong feeling that we won’t see eye-to-eye. Your terms, if nothing else, will be useful for communication with others.


Joe 2020-10-26

from the beginning of a chapter on symmetry in Philip Ball’s book Patterns in Nature:

Randomness might seem the opposite of uniformity, but the two can be equivalent: a random structure is perfectly symmetrical and uniform on average, which means that it recognizes no “special” directions in space. In the natural world, perfect uniformity or randomness are surprisingly hard to find, at least at the everyday scale. Put yourself on a seashore. The sky is scattered with clouds, perhaps patterned into rows of feathery cirrus. The sea’s surface is wrinkled into waves that arrive on the shore with a distinctive pulse. There are plants around the shore, each with its own characteristic shape of flower and leaf. The sand at the water’s edge is grooved with ripples, and strewn with the delicate whorls of shells. All around there is shape and form: diverse, yet, but far from random, far from uniform. Symmetry is being broken, again and again.

Darn Pattern

Bee Liano 2021-01-03

I read this and wonder how one simply accepts the idea of patterns as just ‘there,’ and by doing so, somehow resolves the problem of HOW and WHY they are there. Perhaps the same reason why evolutionists won’t discuss language. Of course, I’m an eternalist, but I’m one who seeks to assign responsibility to the patterns we are told to just ‘accept.’ Neither nihilists nor eternalists should be content just ‘accepting.’

How to "just" accept pattern

David Chapman 2021-01-03

Excellent question, thank you.

Recognizing and participating in the intertwined nebulosity and pattern of everything may take some work, actually doing things. A conceptual, philosophical “accepting” may be inadequate and impossible initially, in which case it’s not a matter of “just.”

On the other hand, the work is simply to notice how things normally are, and to feel and act accordingly. For many people, that’s easy because how things are is pretty obvious: some things are meaningful, and some are not, for example. Everything in this book grows out of such simple observations.

The complete stance chapter has a detailed answer to the “how” question. You might start with “Textures of completion” to get the flavor, and then go back to start at the beginning of the chapter. There’s a step-by-step recipe in “Finding the complete stance,” and then additional detail following.

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