Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Old Conversation About Man, Personal Universes and Belief

My own personal universe

I was thinking about other stuff while I was in the train.

Amazing how man is no? I mean, we make beautiful things, that's for sure. We make them in all sorts of ways; tangible and intangible. Like architecture and music. It's like man has the entire universe for options and when he makes something, he picks out distinct things to work with, and he ends up with something else that's greater than its parts. I think they call it an ouevre.

And these ouevres, you know, if you come to think about it, are all basically definitions. An encapsulation of the enormity of everything. We can make it pretty, or make it sound great, or whatever you want it to be. You hold it in your hand, proclaim it's the entire existence of everything, and I don't think you're wrong. Then, when you, uhm, release it (to your desk for example), it becomes a part of every other thing. But in that moment when you had it in your hand and you're looking at it, it's the entire universe. Am I making sense?

What's amazing is that man has the ability to create these definitions for himself and has the freedom and intelligence to do so. It's like we're all gods. Or maybe pro-active observers or something.

Wow. Pure poetry. :)

We are gods. Though some replace this power with apathetic existentialist whining. That doesn't change the fact that we're still relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things of course, but still, like you said, we are gods, if only for a particular fleeting moment that is, for oneself, as long as Time and as far-reaching as the universe.

Thanks. :) You got what I said pretty well. I was afraid someone might read whatever I wrote down in a Christian context. (Like most people would. Not that it's bad, but it's way off course).

But when you mention the universe as this vast, ultra-incomprehensible big, big space, and compare it to man, you are talking about man as a material body right? I mean yeah, we're not even a speck of all that. But when you take man's ability to create, it's like time and space cease to matter, you know? I mean, why must we all think the universe is this super big place? Why can't it be whatever we see and assess and only that? It's actually difficult to explain without contradicting myself... sigh, but I think you get it.

We need to think in both contexts, I believe. My own personal universe gives me power, but in the context of the (material) universe it stops me from being a narcissistic megalomaniac who believes is better than everyone else.

The thoughts do not really contradict themselves. They're two very different things concerning two very different logic systems.

That sounded pretty good. Why can't I phrase my thoughts and feelings like your first paragraph? Lol.

Although, I'm not really keen on the idea that man has a natural inclination towards becoming a narcissistic megalomaniac when he (only) considers his personal universe, or maybe I just don't want to believe that.  I mean, somehow, he must have already translated his experience of his personal universe as something that other people already have experienced.

I also think that this interplay of personal universes is extremely fascinating. Funny how there's a lot of conflict and compromise just to arrive at the same basic notion or idea.

You're right I guess. Empathy is usually a great way to stop oneself from becoming a narcissistic megalomaniac.

On a related note, I've always found my relative insignificance to the material universe a source of power. Put it this way: If everything I do will in the end ultimately be unimportant, and is only important to me and my immediate surrounding environment, then it becomes terribly, terribly important to me. Thus, I get power from it.

Some people, on realizing their insignificance to the universe, are paralyzed. These are usually people who believe in power and a certain grandeur i.e. heaven, money, fame, armies. Then there are those who gain power from it, like me, who enjoy their relative obscurity to the world at large.

I agree. This relative insignificance DOES make you consider your actions to be either meaningful or meaningless no? That's a great point. That's something I've always believed in, although this is, I have to admit, the first time that belief of mine has ever been put into words.

It is pure self-empowerment I think. A very humanist way of looking at the universe. The world revolves around you because when you die, it really does end; well, at least for you anyway. So everything is important.

So I believe in making a difference and trying to achieve something. But I'm not foolish enough to believe it will become more important that what it really is.

I don't know if I believe it just ends when I die. Maybe, maybe not. It ends in one sense that's for sure. But I'm alive now. And every time I reflect on the "now", that for me is infinity.

Same affinity. But, for me anyway, the threat of death (not necessarily my own) makes me look at things for what they are, without having to worry about stuff that really doesn't concern me now. Maybe death isn't the proper word. I think what I really mean is when anything important (including my own life) ends. The threat of the important thing ending gives that important thing (whatever it is) a new dimension of importance and urgency.


Original, unedited conversation can be found here.


  1. I agree with what he said in one aspect that there's no really greater meaning in doing something good other than doing good itself. Th reward is purely intrinsic. There's no Heaven or Grey Lands that will welcome you after death for good deeds while you were alive. Rather, you've lived a rewarding life knowing that what made you feel good was doing something good.

  2. Regarding personal universe, I think we tend to see the universe in terms of our own because we feel in a way that the outside universe is a magnification of our own. It is really always about ourselves. I never really believed in the word "selfless". Don't get me wrong, there are lots of people there who would do something for the betterment of others at what may seem as sacrifice on their part, but in reality, everything we do, no matter how hard they may seem to the people around us, is for the intention of feeling good. Be it giving your last peso to a homeless child or letting go of a lover so he can be with someone else whom he will be much happier, we do these things because at the end of the day, we know that it will make us feel good. That they're not sacrifices to begin with.



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