Sunday, December 23, 2012
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
When talking about ‘meaning’ in a general sense, it is usually accompanied by ‘purpose’; more specifically, the purpose is that of life. To most philosophical theories, you cannot have one without the other.
There is no exact definition of meaning, but the one that can be most accurate is given by an online dictionary, which states “meaning is the sense or significance of a word, sentence, symbol, etc.; import; semantic or lexical content”. Also, the definition of purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”.
notion that purpose precedes meaning seems unappealing. This is due to the
unanswerable questions that this notion provokes, which makes the concept of
meaning very restricted, and gives it a doctrine-like nature.
The fundamental questions that purpose poses are “why” questions. Therefore, when asked about life, the answers tend to be weak because they are oversimplifications. Also, most explanations imply that we have to work our way into having a purposeful life. This method is highly unperceptive because it neglects a lot of human factors, especially emotions.
Having a universal explanation for something so abstract and vast like life is useless and dull, for life goes beyond thought and purpose. Even more, it is the epitome of human arrogance and narcissism to claim that life is not worth living without purpose.
Since meaning is derived from the significance of things, and since different people find different things significant to them, it makes more sense for the meaning of life to be subjective. It also makes more sense that a purposeful life which adheres to a doctrine is likely to become meaningless.
Things that are most significant to us are those that give us pleasure, but this does not mean that a hedonistic life is a meaningful one, for significant pleasures are not restricted to bodily gratification.
If one must give a structure for meaning, it is likely to be general and applicable for different types of people that value different things – or simply relative. One theory that is this way is the “Engine Theory”. This theory states that in order to derive meaning, three elements must be present, which are: thought – which has a similar function to the engine lubricant, emotions – which have a similar function to the engine pistons, and personal experiences – which share the function of the driver. Remove any of those three elements and you will not be able to properly derive meaning. Similarly, if you remove any of those elements from a conventional car, it cannot go anywhere.
It might be appealing to relate the Engine Theory to Pragmatism. This is due to the significance of experiences. However, unlike the Engine Theory, Pragmatism states that meaning is only derived or discovered through experiences.
Similarly, the suggested theory also shares attributes with the theory of Existentialism, but it is different because Existentialism decrees that meaning is only derived through thoughts.
Common grounds can be found between Nihilism and the Engine Theory, since both asserts that there is no purpose to life. But unlike the Engine Theory, Nihilism requires that purpose precedes meaning, thus rendering the concept of meaning void.
The discontent that people experience does not have to do with the meaning of life, because everyone is living a meaningful life, especially since the concept of meaning is subjective. It is more likely that it arises from uncertainty and its significance. People become discontent when they are uncertain of what is significant to them, which keeps them from knowing what means to them; thus, they ironically feel as if their life has no meaning and their dissatisfaction becomes greater and grows exponentially.
Since the concept of living a meaningful life is significant to most people, and since everyone is, in fact, living a meaningful life, this means that knowing that we are living a meaningful life ideally is enough to minimize the dissatisfaction that people experience from that subject, without going into its meticulous details. However, the ironic reality is that everyone is dissatisfied because “meaning” is ubiquitous, which renders the “purpose” of having a meaningful life untenable.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
So I’ve been exploring the world of whisky, especially malt whisky for a couple of years now. I was drawn to this category of spirits by its aura of refinement, sophistication and mysticism. I don’t have a personal favorite, I’m still exploring the world of scotch, but I’m also interested in what the other major whisky producing countries are doing, like Ireland, Canada, and the US.
On a separate note, as I was researching scotch whisky in particular, I discovered that they use what is called a copper-pot “gooseneck” still. It directly had a lightbulb light up in my mind, those stills bear a striking resemblance to the still that my grandfather bought in the late 60’s or early 70’s, which he used for distilling grappa, brandy and arak. Also, earlier this year, my father started producing beer for export, so I stole a batch and distilled it for whisky experimentation purposes with the still that we had. I also started experimenting with different kinds of wood for aging.
So far, it looks promising, but I don’t want to work with imported malt, so I’m also experimenting with malting some domestic “Lebanese” feed barley, and honestly its easier than I thought it would be. I still don’t know beer breweries aren’t malting Lebanese barley, It’s more accessible and more relevant than imported ones to the beer that they brew.
In any case, I am brewing, distilling and maturing something interesting for you guys. Let’s see how much time it will take to have something that I think is worthy of releasing into the market.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Sunday, December 18, 2011
I passed by AUB's Online Collaborative on Friday around 7:30 pm. I came a bit late, but it was the only time I could pass by the event. There was a Panel discussion on Social Media for personal use, and it was moderated by Ayman Itani. It fount that it is no surprise for people to have that much power created by social media, in particular blogging. However it was interesting to hear about a couple of success stories related to blogging, it gives you an insight about the evolution of that medium.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
A few months back I read a book called "The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding" and there as a section about the internet and how communication is shifting from the traditional medium "broadcast and print" to, well, the internet.
I remembered this today while Mr. Nasri Atallah, the author of the blog "Our Man in Beirut" was talking about his blogging experience, how it evolved, and why and how it turned into a book. As you have noticed, his blog talked mainly about Beirut and his perception of it. So why is relevant to the main topic ? Other than the obvious reason that he has experienced success on an online medium and is now trying to shift to a more traditional one, I believe that it is important to see why he did so and to what extent would he have success.
Why the shift ?
Getting published usually in the pre-internet era had to do mostly with credibility when it comes to the author, it was used to build credibility about a certain topic, for when you get published most people would get the sense that you are an expert in that field. However Mr. Atallah got published because he was credible due to his online audience, however it is most likely the shift occurred based on self-esteem or self-actualization needs on the behalf of Mr. Atallah, and I believe he mentioned that motive in an indirect manner while he was talking about the issue. Therefore, the shift from the online medium to the more traditional medium had nothing to do with which is the more successful one in terms of communication.
Will his shift be successful ?
There is no doubt that the man has had a lot of success when it comes to blogging, however I don't believe that his book will have as much success because the audiences are different. Some might argue that the book audience is not so different because the theme "Beirut" is still the same, and that was Mr. Atallah's argument. However, the motives and the consumer behavior of each is very different, people who are more likely to read blogs are less likely to take the initiative to go to a book store, pay and read something which is found online for free. Whereas book readers seek out authors differently and in a more ordered and structured way. Therefore I can't see for the book the same success that the blog has had for different mechanics go into buying or reading each. At best the book will be a collector's item for someone who is passionate about Nasri's blog work, and in case sales spike in the near future, it will be no more than a fad. and one piece of advice to Mr. Atallah, I suggest you stick with the medium that got you where you are, if you stop blogging your following will decrease dramatically, however there is a possibility that my analogy is inaccurate but I still think the reasoning behind it is sound.