Reality is a blank canvas. We humans are the artists, and we paint pictures of meaning upon it. This idea, that meaning is a human construct, an artifice pinned to existence, is central to my OS. That doesn’t make me a nihilist, though. Nihilism is a despairing response to the meaninglessness of reality. But it is not the only response available. For example, I find the inherent un-meaning of reality to be empowering—it means we have the freedom to create our own. But this isn’t why I’m writing these words. No. As I thought about meaning, reality, and possible responses to the interplay between the two, I started to look for some sort of order in how we attribute meaning. I came up with the following:
Meaning is either individual (beliefs in agency, fate, destiny or purpose), abstract (derived from religion or in accordance with a higher power or order), or collective (tied to membership in a family, a group, a community or a species). Most constructs of meaning fit—or can be squeezed—into one of these categories, or a hybrid of two. Which brings me to another realisation.
I titled the diagram, “Sources of Meaning”. That is strangely similar to “Sorcerers of Meaning”. And is that not what you and I are, in truth?