What's the meaning of life?

Use this philosophy forum to discuss and debate general philosophy topics that don't fit into one of the other categories.

This forum is NOT for factual, informational or scientific questions about philosophy (e.g. "What year was Socrates born?"); such homework-help-style questions can be asked and answered on PhiloPedia: The Philosophy Wiki. If your question is not already answered on the appropriate PhiloPedia page, then see How to Request Content on PhiloPedia to see how to ask your informational question using the wiki.

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1051  Postby Ranvier » March 21st, 2017, 6:18 am

Belindi

You are very silly to think :D that I or anyone else can answer that question. I have mere opinions and I was trying to get you to commit yourself to an opinion instead of wittering.


I knew what you were trying to do...and It's not my intent to post here to get into contention. I appreciate everyone's thoughts, as it can enrich my own understanding of our reality, and I would welcome your thoughts as well if you wish to share. I would be glad to be of help in offering my thoughts if you seek insight of others but not to enter into an adversarial debate. If you want me to commit to opinion: I believe that we all have the intellectual capacity to ask questions in pursuit to find answers.
Ranvier
 
Posts: 116 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: February 12th, 2017, 1:47 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?



Become a member for less ads

Already a member? Login
 

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1052  Postby Belindi » March 21st, 2017, 2:35 pm

Ranvier wrote:

I knew what you were trying to do...and It's not my intent to post here to get into contention. I appreciate everyone's thoughts, as it can enrich my own understanding of our reality, and I would welcome your thoughts as well if you wish to share. I would be glad to be of help in offering my thoughts if you seek insight of others but not to enter into an adversarial debate. If you want me to commit to opinion: I believe that we all have the intellectual capacity to ask questions in pursuit to find answers.


But how can we learn from others without committing to at least a tentative opinion and putting up for criticism? Contention is how we move forward from idea to idea.
" Adversarial debate" is not in order, but neither is inability to commit an idea to public scrutiny.

Certainly ask questions. I didn't know that was what you were doing.
Belindi
 
Posts: 665 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1053  Postby Greta » March 21st, 2017, 9:56 pm

Woodart wrote:
Greta wrote:What brings profound meaning to life and, ironically, what also renders life meaningless, is the fact that the worst thing that can happen to each of us is 100% certain of happening. Individuals and groups have different ways of coping with this difficult fact.


“What is the meaning of life” begs the question – what is the meaning of death? We struggle our entire lives with the notion and inevitability of death. Death makes us insecure. Why, because we fear the unknown. We want to be able to guide and navigate our lives, but in death and beyond we don’t know if there is a rudder. I think this is a key point because philosophers seem to be an insecure group. Thinkers are aware they do not know. “Ignorance is bliss” has always been true.

Objectively, we can understand that death is a state change of matter, but that isn't going to mean much to those immediately facing death.

Yes, fear of the unknown and also fear of not being, of disintegrating, which is so much at odds with our survival instincts.
User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5213 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1054  Postby Woodart » March 21st, 2017, 10:39 pm

Greta wrote:
Objectively, we can understand that death is a state change of matter, but that isn't going to mean much to those immediately facing death.

Yes, fear of the unknown and also fear of not being, of disintegrating, which is so much at odds with our survival instincts.



Death and its mysteries gives us pause in this life, but in doing so, it also bring purpose and motivation to the present. If you think about it all we have is the present. We don’t live in the past or the future. We are essentially prisoners in the moment – there is no past or future. We may think of other times, but we do it – now. We are traveling down a river of time, conscious of time but always from the perspective of now.

Our time is a gift, if, we choose to think of it as so. It can also be a curse – it is a matter of personal preference. Death can be a motivator of good or ill. We are obligated to make a choice in how we view death. In the same regard each moment holds the potential for life affirming or denying choices. We are always on the precipice of life and death, however most of the time we are unaware of how tenuous life is.
Woodart
Moderator
 
Posts: 154 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: March 3rd, 2017, 1:49 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1055  Postby Belindi » March 22nd, 2017, 5:26 am

It's good that we are temporary . The alternative would mean that life had no value at all."What's the meaning of life?" is a worthy question but it is implicit in all philosophical, scientific, ethical, practical , and aesthetic quests.

"What's the meaning of life?" would be devoid of meaning unless we die and know that we will die. It's because we know we will die that any life has any meaning whatsoever.
Belindi
 
Posts: 665 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1056  Postby Greta » March 22nd, 2017, 5:42 am

Woodart wrote:Death and its mysteries gives us pause in this life, but in doing so, it also bring purpose and motivation to the present. If you think about it all we have is the present. We don’t live in the past or the future. We are essentially prisoners in the moment – there is no past or future. We may think of other times, but we do it – now. We are traveling down a river of time, conscious of time but always from the perspective of now.

Our time is a gift, if, we choose to think of it as so. It can also be a curse – it is a matter of personal preference. Death can be a motivator of good or ill. We are obligated to make a choice in how we view death. In the same regard each moment holds the potential for life affirming or denying choices. We are always on the precipice of life and death, however most of the time we are unaware of how tenuous life is.

We have a choice as to how to view death in the same way as we have a choice as to how to view an amputated arm. Yes, we can make lemonade with lemons but they are still lemons.

I'm less of a fan of the present moment than most. Most species are deeply immersed in the present and yet it's humans, so often lost in memories and dreams, that turned out to be the fittest (in a Darwinian sense). There is great power in both the preservation of information (to learn from) and projections into the future (to anticipate opportunities and threats). Also, when we are in physical discomfort, mentally drifting away from the present is a relief. Each moment is in fact deeply limited by the moments that came before, and the tendrils of the past can stretch a long way, well beyond a single lifetime.
User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5213 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1057  Postby Hobbes » March 22nd, 2017, 10:49 am

Greta wrote:
Hobbes wrote:So rather than surrendering to our innate desire to find patterns where there are none, to assign explanations of the unexplainable to some divine being we cannot witness, why not simply accept that the beauty of life lies in its randomness, in the fact that the future is still up for grabs.

The beauty of chaos only takes you so far and, further, there's no reason to assume that we have perceived all the patterns of reality.
What brings profound meaning to life and, ironically, what also renders life meaningless, is the fact that the worst thing that can happen to each of us is 100% certain of happening.
Individuals and groups have different ways of coping with this difficult fact.



It goes without saying that we shouldn't assume to discovered every single one of reality's patterns, yet, until proven to otherwise, we should assume that are none, while continuing the search.
I am curious though as to why you refer to death as the worst thing that can happen to us. Surely death is the most neutral happening in the universe for the one experiencing it? Again, there is no way to rule out the existence of an afterlife but until evidence suggests otherwise, let’s just assume there isn’t, following Occam's razor principle.
If there isn't an afterlife, then death is painless, instant and neutral, the point of life would be then, on a certain level, to die, and the point of death would be to have lived. Could you elaborate on the train of thought which led you to conclude that death is the worst thing that can happen?
User avatar
Hobbes
New Trial Member
 
Posts: 2 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: March 10th, 2017, 3:46 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1058  Postby Woodart » March 22nd, 2017, 11:13 am

Greta wrote:
Each moment is in fact deeply limited by the moments that came before, and the tendrils of the past can stretch a long way, well beyond a single lifetime.



I hear your argument and I find it cogent. I agree “each moment is in fact deeply limited by the moments that came before”. Navigation of the moment is the crux of the issue. We have an obligation to choose in every “here and now”. At times we are on auto pilot; seemingly oblivious to the consequences of our decisions. In the next moment we may become deeply determined to move in way that defies or defines good reason. The operative concept here is that we must choose.

Death is part of the equation in determining our path in life. Death and amputation are certainly not conditions I want to experience now. I have been a professional carpenter since age 13 – I am now 67. I have almost killed myself dozens of times. Now more than ever I am very careful in how I work. The arrogance of youth and physical fitness are more of a distant memory than reality. I choose to be careful precisely because I am aware of negative consequences.
Woodart
Moderator
 
Posts: 154 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: March 3rd, 2017, 1:49 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1059  Postby Greta » March 22nd, 2017, 8:06 pm

Hobbes wrote:
What brings profound meaning to life and, ironically, what also renders life meaningless, is the fact that the worst thing that can happen to each of us is 100% certain of happening. Individuals and groups have different ways of coping with this difficult fact.

I am curious though as to why you refer to death as the worst thing that can happen to us. Surely death is the most neutral happening in the universe for the one experiencing it? Again, there is no way to rule out the existence of an afterlife but until evidence suggests otherwise, let’s just assume there isn’t, following Occam's razor principle.

If there isn't an afterlife, then death is painless, instant and neutral, the point of life would be then, on a certain level, to die, and the point of death would be to have lived. Could you elaborate on the train of thought which led you to conclude that death is the worst thing that can happen?

Terror of death of self or offspring is hard-wired in us. On a primal level, of the many harms that can come to us, the most extreme is death.

Seeing dying and death at close quarters several times confirmed to me that the process is brutal. That at least can get people in a frame of mind where they seek the relief of death the way we seek the relief of sleep.

Woodart wrote:
Greta wrote: Each moment is in fact deeply limited by the moments that came before, and the tendrils of the past can stretch a long way, well beyond a single lifetime.


I hear your argument and I find it cogent. I agree “each moment is in fact deeply limited by the moments that came before”. Navigation of the moment is the crux of the issue. We have an obligation to choose in every “here and now”. At times we are on auto pilot; seemingly oblivious to the consequences of our decisions. In the next moment we may become deeply determined to move in way that defies or defines good reason. The operative concept here is that we must choose.

Death is part of the equation in determining our path in life. Death and amputation are certainly not conditions I want to experience now. I have been a professional carpenter since age 13 – I am now 67. I have almost killed myself dozens of times. Now more than ever I am very careful in how I work. The arrogance of youth and physical fitness are more of a distant memory than reality. I choose to be careful precisely because I am aware of negative consequences.

I suggest that the choices are not that great, and at any given time most available choices are too disastrous to rationally contemplate. The antics of the naive, children and other species - those who are liable to dumb choices - are similarly entertaining to us.

It would seem that our natural negativity bias at least in part drives increasing carefulness with age (me too). When we are young the possibility of losing future potentials seems less worrisome than losing all that we have built up over the years. To follow the last post's analogy, we are more in the grip of the tendrils of the past when we are older - all those connections we build up over the years, both socially and cognitively. I suppose with age the past and future become more important and "real" to us.

On a personal level, what life meant to me has changed for me over the years, although some time ago I have assumed the practical aspect to be "have fun, minimise harm and make yourself useful".

But to what end? The betterment of humanity? Why? What does it mean that life emerges and then spreads out as much as it can, increasingly taking nonliving material and bringing it to life? Further, it seems that conscious beings have their own "magic wand", converting ever more unintelligent animal and plant matter into intelligent human matter (now humans have the highest biomass of any large species on Earth).

It seems that life, consciousness and intelligence bloom out of nonliving stuff like a bacterial plague, recycling the non-living, non-conscious and unintelligent into itself. Matter emerged similarly, gradually converting disordered gas clouds into ordered stars and planets. So perhaps the answer to the OP's question lies in the question of what may yet emerge from, and supersede, humanity's conscious intelligence - or what could become of that?
User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5213 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1060  Postby Woodart » March 22nd, 2017, 8:40 pm

Greta wrote:I suggest that the choices are not that great, and at any given time most available choices are too disastrous to rationally contemplate.


Greta I hear your angst. You have a fine mind and you should use it to propel yourself into a better realm. Be more fully the powerful, assertive woman you are capable of being. You are an artist – create something new.
Woodart
Moderator
 
Posts: 154 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: March 3rd, 2017, 1:49 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1061  Postby Woodart » March 22nd, 2017, 8:57 pm

Greta wrote: To follow the last post's analogy, we are more in the grip of the tendrils of the past when we are older - all those connections we build up over the years, both socially and cognitively. I suppose with age the past and future become more important and "real" to us.


Greta I would like to amplify what I said about being a prisoner of the present. If you slowdown in the present, there is great awareness in a still mind. Just breath – it can do magic.
Woodart
Moderator
 
Posts: 154 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: March 3rd, 2017, 1:49 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1062  Postby Greta » March 23rd, 2017, 8:32 pm

Woodart wrote:
Greta wrote:I suggest that the choices are not that great, and at any given time most available choices are too disastrous to rationally contemplate.


Greta I hear your angst. You have a fine mind and you should use it to propel yourself into a better realm. Be more fully the powerful, assertive woman you are capable of being. You are an artist – create something new.

Thanks for those nice comments but I was thinking more abstractly than personally. My point was (admittedly not well expressed) that at any given moment we have the choice to to discard or ignore diplomacy, safety, caution, prudence, ethics, logic, etc but they are only technically choices. In practice those abstractions are as solid as a straitjacket. Many succeed in escaping those straitjackets - and they tend to not live very long.

Woodart wrote:
Greta wrote: To follow the last post's analogy, we are more in the grip of the tendrils of the past when we are older - all those connections we build up over the years, both socially and cognitively. I suppose with age the past and future become more important and "real" to us.


Greta I would like to amplify what I said about being a prisoner of the present. If you slowdown in the present, there is great awareness in a still mind. Just breath – it can do magic.

Then again, Woodart, you know how it feels to be more careful with age.

The benefits of a still mind are well documented, and experimentally verified. Still, I never gained much benefit from meditation. Further, neither of my peak experiences stemmed from a still mind but a sense of intense happiness and wellbeing that "opened something up" in me.

An episode of Trust Me, I'm a Doctor (of all things) really opened my eyes up to a simple truth that I was too caught up in abstractions to realise. That is, we really are all wired differently and the difference is not always trivial. Therefore, aside from basic human survival needs, "universal remedies" do not exist. Rather, there are types of individuals who share attributes and will benefit most from certain activities.

bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2lw8qKp7N ... -change-it
User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5213 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1063  Postby JBH74 » June 3rd, 2017, 5:46 pm

My failure to manage life on my own as an atheist opened my mind and led me to Christianity. Once I started praying and become religious, I discovered that my religion offered new answers to the perennial philosophical questions such as this one. As a Christian, I believe that life is a struggle (actually a war) between a power that wants to destroy you (Satan) and a power that wants to prevent your destruction and see you flourish (God). If you're on God's side (which you probably ought to be because he is the one who is trying to help you), then you see countering Satan's destructive actions as the top priority in life. Indeed, the meaning of life is to achieve strength against evil and provide aid and compassion to those who are also assailed.

The most important thing in life is how you treat people (kindness) and alleviating the suffering of others (compassion). And when they are sinful (self-destructive), bringing them the Good News (Gospel) in the New Testament, which will help them to purify their lives, making it harder for Satan to hurt them, and making them stronger so they can help others.
User avatar
JBH74
New Trial Member
 
Posts: 4 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: December 11th, 2014, 4:59 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1064  Postby Belindi » June 4th, 2017, 3:01 am

JBH74 wrote:My failure to manage life on my own as an atheist opened my mind and led me to Christianity. Once I started praying and become religious, I discovered that my religion offered new answers to the perennial philosophical questions such as this one. As a Christian, I believe that life is a struggle (actually a war) between a power that wants to destroy you (Satan) and a power that wants to prevent your destruction and see you flourish (God). If you're on God's side (which you probably ought to be because he is the one who is trying to help you), then you see countering Satan's destructive actions as the top priority in life. Indeed, the meaning of life is to achieve strength against evil and provide aid and compassion to those who are also assailed.

The most important thing in life is how you treat people (kindness) and alleviating the suffering of others (compassion). And when they are sinful (self-destructive), bringing them the Good News (Gospel) in the New Testament, which will help them to purify their lives, making it harder for Satan to hurt them, and making them stronger so they can help others.



But The Gospels aren't the only source for compassion and kindness. Congratulations however on finding at least one source for compassion and kindness. Is it any use my telling you that there are other sources than the Gospels for compassion and kindness?

One problem about the Gospels as the only source for compassion and kindness is that the Gospels don't go into detail about how to distribute compassion and kindness. How do you choose who is to be the recipient of your compassion and kindness, bearing in mind that you cannot please everybody?
Belindi
 
Posts: 665 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post Number:#1065  Postby JBH74 » June 4th, 2017, 12:03 pm

No, the Christian Gospel is not the only pathway to purification. There are others like Islam and Buddhism. Not all Christians believe Christ is the only way. But he is really good for those who have lost their way.

Regarding the choice of who to help first, I take the pragmatic approach and help whoever is hurting the most first.
Belindi wrote:
JBH74 wrote:My failure to manage life on my own as an atheist opened my mind and led me to Christianity. Once I started praying and become religious, I discovered that my religion offered new answers to the perennial philosophical questions such as this one. As a Christian, I believe that life is a struggle (actually a war) between a power that wants to destroy you (Satan) and a power that wants to prevent your destruction and see you flourish (God). If you're on God's side (which you probably ought to be because he is the one who is trying to help you), then you see countering Satan's destructive actions as the top priority in life. Indeed, the meaning of life is to achieve strength against evil and provide aid and compassion to those who are also assailed.

The most important thing in life is how you treat people (kindness) and alleviating the suffering of others (compassion). And when they are sinful (self-destructive), bringing them the Good News (Gospel) in the New Testament, which will help them to purify their lives, making it harder for Satan to hurt them, and making them stronger so they can help others.



But The Gospels aren't the only source for compassion and kindness. Congratulations however on finding at least one source for compassion and kindness. Is it any use my telling you that there are other sources than the Gospels for compassion and kindness?

One problem about the Gospels as the only source for compassion and kindness is that the Gospels don't go into detail about how to distribute compassion and kindness. How do you choose who is to be the recipient of your compassion and kindness, bearing in mind that you cannot please everybody?
User avatar
JBH74
New Trial Member
 
Posts: 4 (View: All / In topic)

Joined: December 11th, 2014, 4:59 pm

PreviousNext

Return to General Philosophy

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

Philosophy Trophies

Most Active Members
by posts made in lasts 30 days

Avatar Member Name Recent Posts
Greta 162
Fooloso4 116
Renee 107
Ormond 97
Felix 90

Last updated January 6, 2017, 6:28 pm EST

Most Active Book of the Month Participants
by book of the month posts

Avatar Member Name BOTM Posts
Scott 147
Spectrum 23
Belinda 23
whitetrshsoldier 20
Josefina1110 19
Last updated January 6, 2017, 6:28 pm EST