Posts Tagged ‘significance’

The Search for Significance

Friday, January 1st, 2010

I am about to begin reading, “The Search for Significance“. Before I began I wanted to quantify my thinking on the subject and try to provide a structured framework into which I could integrate the material. It works out well that this is the inaugural post for my blog since it is, in some respects, an attempt to validate my worth.

Am I significant? Do I have significance? I can answer those questions affirmatively. But only anecdotally, I am not sure that I have a philosophical framework to justify that belief. However, I am a subset of the superset of everyone. If everyone is significant then it follows that I must be. That I think I can justify easily in a couple of ways.

From the perspective of personal belief as a Christian I accept that “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son“. God thought that the whole world, every person, was valuable enough to redeem. Everyone is significant to God. Therefore everyone is significant. Therefore I am significant.

From a sociological perspective I assert that there is universal altruism. Whether altruism is truly selfless, based on universal egoism, or a biological evolutionary imperative makes little difference. In any case helping someone else is “good” or has value.

But is the act of helping valuable? I do not think so. Any act of helping another requires the expenditure of resources. There is a cost associated with an action and hence a value somewhere. Rational beings do not exchange something for worthlessness. If the action has no intrinsic value then it follows that the object of the action must have value else we would not perform a costly action. Altruism is universal. Therefore everyone has value, i.e. is significant. Therefore I am significant.

So, already I intellectually accept that I have significance. What can I expect to learn from the book? Perhaps other justifications for this belief. Maybe ways to internalize that belief or practical applications that can help me to change the way I act. But just this initial exercise has led me to the conclusion that not only I, but all others are significant.

This has some far reaching implications for my personal life. By this reasoning if I accept that I am significant, then I must accept that everyone is significant. Creed, color, or socioeconomic status does not change that. Are you significant? How will that change how you deal with others today?