Noimetics: Your New Philosophy

Noimetics is a complete naturalistic philosophy that takes our understanding of our place in the universe into account.
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Noimetics is a complete naturalistic philosophy that takes our understanding of our place in the universe into account and that spells out how an individual who is interested in manifesting her potential, making herself proud, and creating daily meaning can do so. Since few people look to be interested in manifesting their potential, making themselves proud, and creating daily meaning noimetics is not likely to interest the vast majority of people. If, however, you are someone in the former category, it may interest you enormously.

Noimetics starts with certain observations and assumptions. The first observation and assumption is that we are creatures provided with naturally occurring consciousness who exist in an indifferent universe. The second observation and assumption is that this indifferent universe is not designed to care about us or care for us and that either we create a life we deem worth living or else we reel back in a too-keen awareness of our mortality and our insignificance. The third observation and assumption is that it is possible to create exactly such a life, even given the obdurate nature of the facts of existence (including the obdurate nature of our own formed personality), by, first, painting a clear picture of what "value" means and what "meaning" means and, second, by marrying the two concepts into an action-oriented philosophy of value-based meaning-making.

Central to noimetics is an updated, more accurate understanding of what "meaning" is. Meaning is primarily (and "merely") a psychological experience. It is a psychological experience that feels poignantly important and special but, that poignancy aside, it is simply one in our repertoire of psychological experiences. Because it is just that, a psychological experience, we do not have to take it quite as seriously as we have tended to and we can think through (and implement, if we like it) the idea that "value trumps meaning." That is, we can decide that the life we choose to create for ourselves is one where we act on our values and principles and if meaning follows, excellent, and if it doesn't, we will at least have made ourselves proud by our efforts.

The psychological experience of meaning may be some sort of evolutionary advantage or it may be an artifact of our "big brain" and of consciousness and, as an artifact, potentially a disadvantage. It is easy to make arguments either way for this particular psychological experience proving an advantage or a disadvantage to the species as a whole and an advantage or a disadvantage to any particular member of the species. But all such arguments would be idle and impossible to prove.

It would be nice if we could ask nature, "Did you want us to have the psychological experience of meaning and, if so, why, or did it just sort of happen?" But of course nature would make no reply. Nor can the question be investigated in any real way, scientific or otherwise. There is nothing to look for in brain structure; there is nothing to look for in the fossil record; there are no experiments to run. We will never know if the psychological experience of meaning is a smart and useful adaptation or a distracting, debilitating artifact of consciousness (or both, or something else entirely). We will never know.

That doesn't mean, however, that we can't decide how we intend to deal with it and what weight and power we should give to it. Let's say that you woke up one morning with an iron rod sticking out of your head and you had no idea whether this was presented to you by nature as an advantage, a disadvantage, or with complete indifference. You are nevertheless free to decide whether you can make some use of, how you might minimize its awkward presence, and to what extent you can ignore it and go about your business of living life according to your principles. With regard to any sort of psychological experience that nature hands us, we can make precisely these sorts of calculations.

It is entirely possible to form ideas about the place of the psychological experience of meaning, if not its origins or its purposes. We can "meta" treat meaning by asking ourselves "What should I do with this pesky, fascinating naturally-occurring thing?" We can stop all of our wrong-headed talk about "the meaning of life" and "the purpose of life" and concentrate on creating a life that matches our intentions and that supports our vision of principled living. That is, we can craft a smart, functional idea of meaning to deal with the fact that meaning is "merely" a psychological experience. We can rally around our idea of meaning rather than pining for the experience of meaning.

If you believe that our species has been put on this earth with a purpose, then you had better submit to that purpose and align with that purpose. If, however, you believe that the species has evolved, then it is on your shoulders to decide on your particular purposes and to create a life of value-based meaning-making. Noimetics is a philosophy that embraces this second view and that spells out the logic and tactics of meaning-making. If you want noimetics to become your new philosophy, please join me in welcoming it and investigating it.

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