5 June 2006

Dude, where's the Dharma

Dude, where's the Dharma: "Let me share a memory to highlight what I mean. When I was 12 my father went back to school, first studying Philosophy en route to a Law degree. Thus our home library was soon augmented by the works of Descartes, Berkeley, Locke and Hume, to name a few. As children are wont to do, I emulated my father and read, perhaps tried to read would be a better description, some of these works. My impression was that these books were confusing.

When I began my own studies in Philosophy as an undergraduate a few years later, I was surprised to find that these once confusing works were now understandable. Indeed, each time I have revisited these works I have come to find more and more meaning. Yet the texts were unchanged from the first time I had picked them up. That is, the books themselves weren't confusing. I just didn't have enough background and life experience the first time I picked them up to discern much meaning in them.

The conclusion I drew from this was that meaning is subjective. As Thomas Carlyle put it, In every object there is inexhaustible meaning; the eye sees in it what the eye brings means of seeing. "

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