Meaning from Puzzle Pieces
January 24, 2010
It seems more common for people to increase meaning and significance in their lives incrementally than the explosive gains of a ecstatic vision for example, and such incremental gains fit a materialistic theory of where meaning arises. Within the context of something like evolutionary theory, such incremental gains of meaning make much sense; some things are more important because they help us better survive and give us a genetic advantage. Yet I have no conscious experience of my genetics or of this survival advantage; as an experientialist in my historical and evolutionary present, to say meaning is simply an epiphenomenal evolutionary byproduct holds little explanatory power for me.
On the other hand, when I think about why those incremental gains have the meaning they do, it is seemingly because, in the manner of an ‘important’ puzzle piece, it fits with other pieces of meaning on our interior, and perhaps the new piece gains its level of meaning due to the greater or lesser number of interior pieces, or greater or lesser meaningful pieces, that it fits with. And of course, it might be said the scheme of the puzzle is determined by the current authoritative framework, and the way in which we choose exterior pieces for an attempted interior fitting might be how differentiated or compact we view our world.
Perhaps those occasional experiences of meaning that are so powerful it overwhelms the ‘framework puzzle system’ are so powerful due to a much greater number of interior pieces being suddenly fit together that the larger picture they make becomes so much clearer. Moreover, the way the new piece of meaning fits old puzzle pieces together, ways the previous framework might never allowed for, might now make a far more coherent picture; and when we apply the new way to the rest of our interior, for coherency’s sake, more new insights and meaning might turn up.
Lastly while this ‘framework and meaning puzzle theory’ does have some explanatory power over where some meaning comes from, it might also have some explanatory power over where some desires and passions come from. When we have enough interior pieces, and again their varying degrees of importance may have influence, to create a clear need for a specific kind of piece, the intent manner in which we begin looking for that piece, might easily be described as desire or even a passion. Such a yearning for the perceived missing piece and for the completion of our interior puzzle picture might even be often described as having ‘a hole in our heart’.