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.
Post Reply
User avatar
anthonybrown
New Trial Member
Posts: 2
Joined: October 14th, 2018, 9:04 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post by anthonybrown » October 14th, 2018, 9:12 pm

The reason we are all here and struggling is because life is a school, we are here to learn, and do better with a stick rather than a carrot.
want to hear a whole lot more of what I have discovered in a lifetime of research? just let me know

User avatar
JohnB53
New Trial Member
Posts: 4
Joined: August 1st, 2018, 9:10 am

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post by JohnB53 » October 29th, 2018, 9:24 am

Life is meaningless, it is no more than uncollated sense data that a euphemistically termed societal concept reason imposes order upon. We are tossed; thrown, unto a godless, meaningless, expanse of space and time forced comport with other finite historical consciousness which next to death is our biggest problem.

Belindi
Moderator
Posts: 1540
Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post by Belindi » October 29th, 2018, 2:13 pm

JohnB53 wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 9:24 am
Life is meaningless, it is no more than uncollated sense data that a euphemistically termed societal concept reason imposes order upon. We are tossed; thrown, unto a godless, meaningless, expanse of space and time forced comport with other finite historical consciousness which next to death is our biggest problem.
So we can feel free to make sense of it. Each person makes sense of it all in their own unique way. It' s bad to not try to make ones own sense of it in a sincere way.

Jklint
Posts: 1246
Joined: February 23rd, 2012, 3:06 am

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post by Jklint » October 29th, 2018, 4:14 pm

Whatever it means to you personally. What else could it mean?

User avatar
LuckyR
Moderator
Posts: 3094
Joined: January 18th, 2015, 1:16 am

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post by LuckyR » November 1st, 2018, 1:57 am

There's a slight difference between the meaning of life and the meaning of human life.
"As usual... it depends."

User avatar
SimpleGuy
Posts: 338
Joined: September 11th, 2017, 12:28 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post by SimpleGuy » November 2nd, 2018, 7:17 am

Belindi wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 2:13 pm
JohnB53 wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 9:24 am
Life is meaningless, it is no more than uncollated sense data that a euphemistically termed societal concept reason imposes order upon. We are tossed; thrown, unto a godless, meaningless, expanse of space and time forced comport with other finite historical consciousness which next to death is our biggest problem.
So we can feel free to make sense of it. Each person makes sense of it all in their own unique way. It' s bad to not try to make ones own sense of it in a sincere way.

I do agree to your Point of view , except that there is an aspect of personal perception of sense that is not valid for everybody else. So the non invariant Point of sense that is nonperceptible for others is a could be aspect of sense.

User avatar
SimpleGuy
Posts: 338
Joined: September 11th, 2017, 12:28 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post by SimpleGuy » November 2nd, 2018, 7:27 am

There do exist about 8 Billion humans on this planet, so there are 8 Billion possible meanings of life , which probably don't coalesque in an intrisical way , which means that there is no absolute meaning of life.

User avatar
Numb3rThr33
New Trial Member
Posts: 3
Joined: November 9th, 2018, 6:14 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post by Numb3rThr33 » November 9th, 2018, 6:27 pm

There is an actual answer to this question, but to answer it within the confines of our current existence is near impossible. Life needs to be reverse engineered in order to fully comprehend the answer. Visit the following site to satisfy your curiosity and to learn the truth: www.shaungeorgedreyden.com.

User avatar
ktz
New Trial Member
Posts: 15
Joined: November 9th, 2018, 12:21 am

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post by ktz » November 10th, 2018, 3:26 am

I must confess I haven't read all the thousands of responses to see if someone else has expressed what I have, so forgive me for indulging myself here with my own research into this question. And in fact we should all consider ourselves both blessed and cursed to have the luxury of the meaning of life to be a personal question in this age, a question that even accepts the parameters of individual taste and personal development, as opposed to imposed from the external as it may be in the past and future. Choose an arbitrary number of centuries ago to be born, and more likely than not the answer to this question would be simple: serve god, serve your king, serve your feudal lord, etc... and to be honest, perhaps they were on to something back then, as the freedom to select one's own meaning of life in the style of the existentialist thinkers can be a terribly heavy burden -- just look at Sartre whose major work is cheerfully titled, "Being and Nothingness".

I've encountered a few different interesting approaches to this question in my own praxis. I mentioned Sartre, but Frankl with his incredibly struggles and background in practical neuropsychiatry is, in my view, the most powerful existentialist writer on this topic, with quotes like: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” And, "What is to give light must endure burning." Frankl, writing in his excellent book Man's Search for Meaning, accepts as his answer three things to be pursued as the meaning of life: Purposeful work, love, and courage in the face of difficulty. Maria Popova's summary on him on Brainpickings is quite a good entry point to this thinking. I think one could do a lot worse than living a life filled with purposeful work, love, and courage in the face of difficulty, and anyone coming on here with nihilistic conceptions of life's meaninglessness I think ought to take some time to truly consider this line of thinking, for their own sake. At the very least before approaching Camus's philosophical problem. Other interesting thinkers along this path are Maslow, who developed in conjunction with Frankl the concept of self-transcendence on top of his hierarchy of needs and Goldstein's conception of self-actualization. Fromm, who talks about the distraction of materialist desires in his book, "To Have or To Be", and Kierkegaard who provides a more spiritual perspective on existentialism.

Lately, I've taken to compiling a new idea from reading bits from cyberneticist Francis Heylighen and biologist Edward O Wilson. With Heylighen I'm paraphrasing because a lot of his work is too technical for me to understand, but he has this quite tantalizing idea of a "Global Brain" as an emergent phenomena from the complexity of modern human society, and so it evokes the need for a kind of Darwinian fitness for our collective endeavors -- that is, the meaning of life is to help extend the range of endurable and explorable situations for humanity, all DNA-based life forms, and the collection of ideas from Popper's World 3. On an individual level, any contribution we each can make to this goal -- whether academic, political, parental, or just by helping others become stronger or more evolutionarily fit in any mental or physical sense -- all are meaningful pursuits. I've affirmed this idea through EO Wilson, who writes in his book, the Meaning of Human Existence, about multi-level selection and the ability for groups of altruistic individuals to subsume groups of selfish individuals, even when at the individual level selfish individuals parasitically rise to the top.

There are real challenges facing a view like this -- the quite lethal threats of nuclear war and climate change/sixth extinction woes, our inability to overcome Habermas's "strategic action" in modern political discourse, the rise of fraud and misinformation and the empowerment of ethically bankrupt capitalists -- all make me a bit pessimistic whether or not we have long for meaningful pursuits. But this is where my thinking has led me so far, and I would be quite interested to converse with anyone with new ideas or information to enhance these ideas. Thanks for reading and may you live a courageous life in pursuit of your own conceptions of meaning, spirituality, and love.

User avatar
Numb3rThr33
New Trial Member
Posts: 3
Joined: November 9th, 2018, 6:14 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post by Numb3rThr33 » November 11th, 2018, 8:38 pm

Impressive research ktz, but available knowledge can only take you so far, believe me, I have been there. Humanity is under a misconception in terms of what we think we know. Our first error is to think that this is the actual intended existence of humanity, confined to rules, deprived from freedom and oppressed to the point that we accept it as the norm. To find truth, we need to dig deeper, to a time before the artificial construct, that we now perceive as life was enforced. As you stated, it would have been easier to define life a few centuries ago, when everything was simpler. Most of the other theories on life is based on survival within the man-made structure, overarching our true purpose. Life today is designed to occupy our time and to exhaust us physically, with the intention, for us, to forget the spiritually.

User avatar
ktz
New Trial Member
Posts: 15
Joined: November 9th, 2018, 12:21 am

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post by ktz » November 11th, 2018, 11:42 pm

Well the thing is, I'm not seeking some kind of ultimate Platonic answer to the perfect version of the meaning of life. When I talk about these concepts I am speaking in a very concrete sense, as in, how ought we guide our practical choices given the practical limitations of daily life in the modern world? How do we escape the cynicism, defeatism, and ennui that engages us day by day? What set of goals should a person choose for the purpose of pursuing a meaningful life? As much as possible I prefer for philosophy to stay out of the abstract world, grounded to practical choices that can improve our lives. So while I am perfectly content to acknowledge how very little I know and understand, I decline to accept the idea that pursuing and developing the available body of knowledge on this subject is a waste of time, even from someone who says they "have been there". If you feel that life today is designed to occupy your time and exhaust you physically, why not instead develop plans and strategies to improve what you can in the time you are here, so that others may build upon your foundation? All great change is ultimately composed of many small choices, day by day.

It may be the case, as you say, that many of our current man-made constructs in philosophy, political economy, education etc. have iatrogenic consequences, or impose more limitations than benefits to spiritually productive and meaningful work -- but with correctly-placed effort, the "man-made" can become the "man-unmade" or the "man-improved". Please don't mistake me -- I did not reference the past because I would have preferred to be born in a time when we had simpler answer to these questions. I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that the valuable opportunity each of us now has to choose our own way is a rare phenomenon that could be confined to a very short period of history. It's wrong to idolize the past -- let us instead view the present with optimistic eyes, and seek to confine our conversations on this subject to the realm of the practical and productive. It may be as you say that our true purpose has been lost, but even so, we must do the best we can with what we have.

User avatar
anthonybrown
New Trial Member
Posts: 2
Joined: October 14th, 2018, 9:04 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post by anthonybrown » November 13th, 2018, 10:32 pm

There is a reason we don't know exactly what we are searching for in life, if we did know we we would get too focused on that and not consider the bigger picture. You have to trust your heart/instincts as to what you are looking for. In my case, when younger I thought I wanted a career in a scientific area, and rejected all this mumbo jumbo that could not be proven or even questioned. However I did like to try asking awkward questions of any one pushing a religeous theme. So I started to do a bit of research purely so that I cold ask more difficult questions, and quickly found that research to be of great interest to me. Also when I had got over a lot of childish inhibitions, almost as if by a miracle, as teacher appeared totally out of the blue, but at the exact time I was ready to receive that knowledge. Trust your instincts, keep an open mind, but question everything that seems wrong to you. It takes time but it all falls into place eventually.

User avatar
Whitedragon
Moderator
Posts: 931
Joined: November 14th, 2012, 12:12 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post by Whitedragon » November 14th, 2018, 4:34 am

Here is an oracle answer to the meaning of life:

Doves and blades - falling feathers; the meaning of life is in the falling of the feathers. (I leave the interpretation of the symbolism up to the reader)
We are a frozen spirit; our thoughts a cloud of droplets; different oceans and ages brood inside – where spirit sublimates. To some our words, an acid rain, to some it is too pure, to some infectious, to some a cure.

Belindi
Moderator
Posts: 1540
Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: What's the meaning of life?

Post by Belindi » November 14th, 2018, 9:40 am

Anthonybrown wrote:
There is a reason we don't know exactly what we are searching for in life, if we did know we we would get too focused on that and not consider the bigger picture.
When you say " There is a reason we don't know " do you mean "there is a cause of our lack of knowledge" ?

If so, what or who is the cause of our lack of knowledge?

Post Reply