I was thinking about the meaning of life and how integral it is with intention and activity. Some of the ideas are self-evident but I figured I’ll get them out anyway.
Intention. What is intention? The idea of intention has stuck with me the past few days. Intention is characterized by some end-some purpose or aim; it can be said to be about things. It is an orientation, so to speak, a mental or emotional disposition, with a relation. It can be said that a person possessing an intention maintains an intentional state. If thinking and feeling can be marked by changed, one can conclude that an action caused something to occur to bring about this change. In this way the process of thinking and feeling can be considered actions. The intention is a property of being about something. This about is characterized by the end.
All knowledge is a result of actions that bring about an experience that elucidates the nature of the intention. If there is no experience, is there is no meaning? Yes. Even a thought or emotion is an action and surely we experience thoughts, i.e. memories and reflection. (I need to think more about what an experience might be. A property? A substance? Must it necessarily exist? A thought?)
Intentionality gives rise to meaning through human activity. With no intentionality there is no end or purpose. With no end or purpose there is no activity. With no activity there is no meaning.
Depression can be marked by a lack of intention which leaves one to conclude there is no meaning. Anxiety can be marked by an over awareness of intentionality; that is, overwhelmed by the possibilities to act.
Action gives rise to meaning. Action generates experience. A first hand empirical account gives rise to personal meaning. The first hand empirical account is an experience which is attained via sense impressions. The experience resulting from sense data gives rise to meaning when reconciled with the intentional state. If the sense data does not have anything to do with the intentional state (or maybe a peripheral intentional state), it is rendered meaningless.
Meaning is gleaned from the accretion of new experiences and eventually contributes to a web of beliefs, likened to the character or the constitution of a person. A web of beliefs forms as each new experience assents or dissents according to the meaning of past experience. As a result of conditioning and habituation, meaning slowly forms beliefs which cause a person to respond in predictable ways. Establishing unique personal intentions requires that the consciousness critically engages reality for itself. In this way wholly original and unique meaning can be coined that correspond to beliefs and convictions that were personally cognized and verified through personal experience. This is a bottom up approach to arriving at meaning.
In the same way, meaning can be adopted through enculturation. That is, the observation, experience and instruction as a result of human interaction. Meaning, and the beliefs and ideologies they constitute, is transposed onto us second-hand through others. This meaning is not immediately personal or relevant. On the contrary, it is oppressive and robs a person of a critical consciousness that cognizes personal intentions. This oppression transplants meaning and intention that was cognized by another. This is a bottom up approach to arriving at meaning.
If one hopes of finding meaning in life, one need only to adopt an intentional state and act upon in. That is to say, one only needs to set purposes and goals for himself and act upon them. The more focused and deliberate the intent, the more meaningful the action. One can create a life of meaning from the bottom up by cognizing and choosing intentions that are personal and relevant to their degree or interest for themselves. They can weave a web or beliefs that are unique to their intentions, their actions and aims alone. Activity alone will not breed meaning. It must be accompanied with an intention that carries a distinct and clear purpose or aim. One can act without thinking. For example, any oppressive action is simply forcing one person’s intention onto another. It is simply going through the motions. This is why personal goals are necessary. They elucidate the intention and give activity a context for meaning to develop.
The specific nature of the purpose or properties of the end will bring about an activity that is proportionally specific. That is, the more specific the goal, the more specific the activity. For achieving a specific goal, one needs to undertake specific activity. The clearer the goal, the more exact the activity, and the greater likelihood for achieving that goal.
Blah. Anyway. I need to continue clarifying these thoughts.
Bottom line is this. If you are anxious, focus your intention, your mind, on something specific. If you are depressed, chose a purpose or aim and get into action. Chose an intention and act on it. It is near impossible to be sad with your mind is occupied with a purpose and acting on its attainment.