Value & Meaning building

Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked.

__Viktor Emil Frankl

What is  “Meaning” ?
To me:  A personal  or subjective  experience in definition. for something to  be “Meaningful”  it must hold Value and– in my relationship with this something or someone, concept, goal, object, human or life-fom, I must “esteem” it to be more value in comparison to other somethings in a context, landscape or gestalt.


respect for or a high opinion of someone


 Admiration for someone or something that you believe has good ideas or qualities.


the importance or worth of something for someone
how useful or important something is


  • meaningful… description of information, that is:
    • that is formed out of background of discord
    • that is relative: relative  to a topic, study, paradigm, “game” , time-space location, happening, or world- view.
    • that is defined  in language, symbols or gesture,
    • that is prioritized in importance – intellectually and emotionally.
  • meaninglessness:  information that is not meaningful and therefore  remains, or is relegated to the background.

—from  Agnostic Conditons : Pennsylvania Echoes

I have reworked a task/todo   sheet
Visible here:  Value Building Exercise Example Page .
to be a simple    exercise in thinking about Value  and then about Meaning.
the instructions are at the bottom of the page linked above.

Free as is now warranting  for Download:

valuing-building-exercise-pdf  PDF

valuing-building-exercise-odt -Editable ODT

Click on the links or picture Above for downloads.

Have a meaningful Day!


Metabolizing ~ k.i.s.s.

Keeping Me Healthy

The process involving a set of chemical reactions that modifies a molecule into another for storage, or for immediate use in another reaction or as a by product.

metabolism is used as a metaphor for psychological functioning. People grow through biting off an appropriate-sized piece (be this food or ideas or relationships), chewing it (considering), and discovering whether it is nourishing or toxic

As one discovers each moment that he experiences…
conscious gestalts(stimuli, senses far & close, emotional response  that together form temporal “phenomena”)  form out of the unconscious  background.
Assessing  these moments, is a matter of deciding what bits and pieces are “swallowed” (and nourishing) and what rejected
This happens at a metaphorical boundary between differences known as Contact“.  In this case Contact is between the subject -and- what-he-is-not,  at that moment.

Metabolism at contact boundary is holistic  body/mind/environment experiential adventure.

Keeping Me Healthy.








Beisser: Flying Without Wings

Arnold Biesser is the Author “Paradoxical Theory of change”
one of my favourite essays.

Briefly stated, it is this: that change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not

Paradoxical Theory of Change on PDF

Earlier post on Paradoxical Theory of change.



Cash Value of Meaning and Truth

To better understand William James’s  metaphor of  the Cash Value of Truth, I would like to make a case that “Cash value of Meaning” would be an improved word choice for today.
This is to say that from a subjective stand point, a person decides what is meaningful and how meaningful in any given context ( family social, work social environmental, aesthetically such as Studying a sculpture in a gallery) etc), in a market like process. Each context has own meanings, finally interpreted by the person, himself in his own interests.William James

A simplified example two people in the context of conversation.

Each person brings memory, previous opinion, biology, world view, diction and present mood into the field of conversation. This context of meeting  includes the physical location, and participants, including anything in the background. It maybe limited to what was discussed. If the two converse freely, the talking points and their significance of each discussed topic is decided by the participants in a intersubjective manner. All the topics discussed belong to the conversation and should rely only on that field at the time. How significant each topic was is prioritized with events in that field of conversation.

This may have been a meaningful exchange. The importances of this bracket event: the conversation, is experienced and prioritized by emotive, intellectual and active reaction. the important moments are provocative.

Later, If one the participants, reflects on the conversation earlier (people usually do) to define more meaning, they are now creating a NEW context. Now the context, or field, is with the person and his memory. Probably not as provocative… the entire market place is within the coercion of his own world view and mood of the location and his body/mind. The participants of the market place, of this moment of reflection are entirely himself. All arguments are of himself… body,mind, location.

  • Each meaningful experience is localized event. This fits with James thoughts that life is a series of interwoven experiences.
  • Interpersonal / intersubjective meanings are less coerced when it is discussed or experienced with multiple participants, whether other people, organisms, or environmental agents. just as William James market- like metaphor suggest.
  • The building blocks of are more constant meaningful ideas are defined tested and retested by new day to day experiences.

“Truth’s” for  William James,  are meaningful (in that they provocative or conscious constructed) ideas that are assimilated by one or many by verification in the marketplace of a reality. Truth is always contextual, always referring to experience, social, environmental, spatial, etc.  Truth always refers to an experience or a series of experiences where they are verified intersubjectively by all the participants in the field.  This holds true in science and other Academic contexts where ideas are rigorously tested by  the tester,   subject and controlled fields of testing.

Meaningful Conclusion

Truth Happens to an Idea as James proclaims, after rigorous testing in experiences, or its deemed as not true.
“Meaning of Ideas” is when those ideas and happenings, true or not, have a significance or use,  and  a how significant or useful to the ideas that are  tested in the realm of experiences.

Agnostic Conditions Reprised

Truth happens to an idea. It becomes true, is made true by events. Its verity is in fact an event, a process: the process namely of its verifying itself, its veri-fication.

When  I read what William James published in “The Meaning of Truth”  I believed he was refering to the truth of ideas proposed by a single person or group of persons, a single consciousness or a collective of consciousness within their existence(s).   One  constantly tests  his/her stream of ideas within present environmental experiences and social experiences, and then with his/her memory of experiences… to judge a notion true or  not.
Navigating this uncertain world is certainly easier  by  taking an Agnostic position in regards to knowledge, and a willing to do the work of verifying ideas:  in participation and in experience.  But that’s just my opinion.  So  to start with an Agnostic attitude, what is “Agnosticism?”

Revised posted

Agnostic Conditions ” was originally posted on May 3, 2009

Agnostic – definition: not knowing or unknowing
What, then is the definition of Agnosticism?. If the definition of the root agnostic is “not knowing, or unknowing”, it is doubtful that one can define any full intellectual system of Agnosticism.–Much in the same manner one cannot with other “-isms” such as existentialism or postmodernism.
I was thinking about Jean-François Lyotard’s phrase: ” Postmodern Condition” , which is  a loose  bundle  of observations and criticisms about Modernism. (specifically: these postmodern conditions are conditions that expose Modern ideas of “progress, “Meta-Narratives”, “cause-effect”,”objectivity” of Modernity as fallacious. ).

I wonder that if instead of an “Agnosticism”, there was  a set of Agnostic Conditions, that were a reaction to theories of knowledge.
So I came up with a few agnostic conditions of my own:


  • Our total knowledge of all details is limited.
  • Nothing is absolutely known. What is “known” is based upon acceptable supporting evidence and verification.
  • Knowledge is limited to the collective experience, communication means and data storage of a group or person.
  • Knowledge is inseparable from consciousness. (which includes, previous and current meanings, bias, and introjection, etc)


  • A definition of Objective Reality: “what is real is measurable” as defined by classical physics; accepted as universal.
  • A definition of Subjective Reality: what is experienced, and accept as real by a single consciousness. such as the cognation of an organism’s interactions.
  • A definition of Intersubjective Reality. the collected objects, events, structures, descriptions, meanings, principles, etc that are shared as “real” between  subjective consciousness* conscious beings (organisms)
  • A definition of Absolute Reality: the way things truly happen, whether comprehensible or not.


  • meaningful… description of information, that is:
    • that is formed out of background of discord
    • that is relative: relative  to a topic, study, paradigm, “game” , time-space location, happening, or world- view.
    • that is defined  in language, symbols or gesture, for clarification or communication
    • that is prioritized in importance – intellectually and emotionally.
    • that is  prioritized   compared to other meanings in the  context… social, personal, environmental contexts
  • meaninglessness:  information that is not meaningful and therefore  remains, or is relegated to the background.


Uncertainty. Image from

  • I  decide that “X” is true, false, or probable. I could be wrong.
  • I do not have to decide if “X” is true, false, or probable  with out the considering the  agnostic conditions   ( of Knowledge, Reality, Meaning).
  • Uncertainty is inherent in the nature of things,  actions and decisions.

I think that agnostic conditions are an important considerations when studying epistemology and knowledge theories, and when making decisions and actions. They are a criticism and completion of such. For me, this is a definition for agnosticism: a set of conditions.

As for the repetitive question is “Does God exist”?
Well, one ,must define what he means when he ask about  “God” or gods, because there have been many definitions over time ,cultures contexts and subjective view points. How important is to know if God or gods exists or not?  Is it as meaningful  a question as to ask  “is there intelligent  life on other planets?, or knowing what goes on in other people lives in other countries?     It might be.  It might not be.

I don’t know.

* edited for clarity and grammar  11-17-2014

wetlands photo 3

Its about meditation, love and family… and waterfowl.
A usual spot I visit on walks with cheap camera has become a place to practice observation – some field work for a class I am taking. Home work for my Permaculture Design class demands that I work on passive observation. observation is a passive form of interaction and a type of experience.

This class encourage, in part, sitting an ecosystem (ie. a neighborhood, park, farm, pond) and letting go of presumptions and subvocalization (my word choice for thinking in spoken language) and sensing the close proximity world. If that sounds like meditation, yes its close. Zen, Phenomenology, and the permacultural observational practices of meld well. I will talk more of in upcoming posts.

One thing I have pleasantly seen around the local ponds and man made reservoirs these last couple of months is a growing number of Herons and a new season of young Canadian Geese.
So a couple pictures from yesterdays walk and sit with my camera:

Clicking the mosaic image above will reveal the slideshow.
Have a great weekend!

Swimming between Systems

Today I learned a new word: Ecotone.
An Ecotone is an area where two ecological systems or communities meet, transition and integrate.
That to say: Enough differences between meeting systems or communities to observe a boundary , however resources are constantly exchange enough to to describe any “boundary” as permeable. A simple example would be beach and sea, where minerals and small life are constantly be deposited or eroded.

I cannot help, but to think of my new word “Ecotone”, learned in my permaculture class and compare it withthe word “Contact” from Gestalt Therapy. Contact is the meeting of differences, where resources are exchange between. And so is an Ecotone.

It does not surprise me (anymore, that is) to find similar, if not synonymous terms in both Gestalt and Permaculture. Both approaches merge science and holism. Gestalt therapy places weight on one’s awareness of his/her real-time experience ; Permaculture places heavy emphasis on one’s observation and interaction with ecological systems.
What first peaked my interest about permaculture as an approach, is that permaculture may be far better suited to empirically support holism.
Permaculture design is anchored, concretely, in observing ecology.

I have other ambitions and curiosities with permaculture. Besides I am only beginning my course. None the less, I welcome any personal synthesis between the gestalt theory, permaculture, science and holism , as I continue to learn.

On a completely unrelated topic: It’s still cold here in Pennsylvania, It was sleeting when I left my class for home. I feel like I am swimming between seasons, much like the Swans in the picture above.