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Monday, July 15, 2013

What's Your Problem?- Part 1: Introduction

Most worldviews hold that there is something wrong with man- a problem. Man used to be in one perfect condition but is not now. The belief systems of the world provide prescriptions to get man back to the original/perfect state. Different worldviews believe that different things are wrong with man, so each will provide a different antidote. In this short series I want to look at a few of the proposed problems to see which one seems to fit best with humanity as we know it and see if the problem can be rectified by the respective worldview.

A Problem Requires A Purpose
First, though, I want to address the idea that there is no real problem with man- we must not just assume this. The concept of a "problem" is dependent upon humanity having a purpose. A "problem" would be a state in which man is unable to fulfill his purpose. If man has no purpose, then no state exists in which he would not be able to fulfill his purpose. Hence, if there is not purpose for humanity, humanity cannot be in a problematic state. Further, any worldview that holds that humanity has no purpose also holds that there is nothing "wrong" with the state of humanity. But, is this view correct?

Is There A Purpose?
If humanity has no purpose, and no problem exists to prevent humanity's fulfillment, then humanity was fulfilled at the moment it entered the world (no purpose requires no effort for fulfillment of that purpose). Paradoxically, humanity has fulfilled its purpose 100% and has also not been fulfilled at all (because there was no purpose in the first place). This seems like a violation of the law of non-contradiction, but I'm sure that that can be avoided within semantics, so I'm going to go another route. 

If we are to take the position of 100% fulfillment, we must ask, "why does humanity long for something more than what they already have?" That longing indicates that humanity has not been 100% fulfilled. As individuals (humanity consists of individual humans) accomplish goals (fulfillment), more is desired (not fulfilled). This indicates further a lack of 100% fulfillment.

If we are to take the position of no fulfillment (because of no purpose), we must ask, "why does humanity long for fulfillment?" If humanity longs for fulfillment, it indicates a purpose. We could say that a longing for fulfillment comes after we devise a purpose for ourselves. But then we have to ask about the reason for devising the purpose in the first place, and "why do we continue to create purposes as each purpose is fulfilled?" (see previous paragraph). 

Purpose Allows For A Problem
It doesn't matter which road we take if we assume that humanity has no transcendent purpose; because we desire fulfillment, we still end up with a purpose that originates outside ourselves. Now that we have a purpose, there is the possibility that a problem does exist for humanity. The fact that man continues to find purposes to fulfill, even after previous purposes have been fulfilled, indicates that 100% fulfillment is not possible. If 100% fulfillment is not possible, then there must be a problem with humanity that prevents the fulfillment of its purpose. But what is that problem?

Over the next several weeks I will look at the proposed problems of a few different worldviews to see if they accurately reflect humanity, and if the proposed solutions are viable for fixing the problem. Keep in mind that as I go over these worldviews, that I am addressing the worldview in general; I am not addressing nuanced claims that some adherents may hold (see my post "Are You Addressing a Worldview Or Its Adherents?"). However, in some cases, even the nuanced positions do not help the case. Next week we will begin with investigating the Hindu claim of man's problem.

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