Does life need a purpose to have meaning?
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I agree with your statement, however i just want to say that you could figure out your purpose in life and successfully veer off of that path, which is free will, but also, relating to the topic it means that life doesn't need a purpose, and it can just be created and it can bring about meaning and purpose, life can create purpose, but then that begs the question is it a divine plan? who knows
I do not understand why there has to be a purpose or objective. Why is it not enough that we are alive and that we have experiences and feel emotions in response to them? Does those experiences having a purpose really make them more profound or meaningful? To the contrary, I think that it cheapens the lived experience to think it has to exist for a purpose rather than seeing it simply as existing for itself.
I love the way you posted this question, and wish I have done so earlier on. The reason this question pleases me is because this question has a good amount of relevance to how I feel about the purpose and meaning of life. Meaning to me from how I've seen it used in society does not equal purpose, meaning from how I observed it to mean is to refer to what "X" means as a noun possessed by "X" (Ironic statement?). For example what does it mean to put two apples in an empty basket and then another two apples into an empty basket? The meaning of this is that there are four apples in said basket. Another example, let say I hold a bouncy ball few feet above the ground and drop (whether intentional or accidental) what is the meaning of this scenario is that the ball will fall, hit the ground, bounce back up, etc. However the ball didn't necessarily have a purpose.
Hi Jace, I know this debate's pretty old, but I just had a fun thought for this sort of topic, and didn't feel like starting a whole new debate.
I play video games, I don't know if you're familiar with them so I'll give a quick explanation of the things I'll mention: (At least in single player games) There can be games composed of linear levels with only one or two 'goals' to complete, and you can't stray from the path very much.
There are also games that have big open worlds for you to explore, where you can do whatever you like, and can choose between an array of missions, or just no missions at all.
To reiterate, the linear games have a set purpose (in a way god-given), and the open world type games do not, only the purpose you give yourself. I find the experience of playing an open world game much more 'meaningful,' even though it is somewhat purposeless, other than the purpose of achieving goals I set for myself.
Defining the word meaningful is hard, but I would say that something which has more value to me, and is more personal/unique is more meaningful to me in this context. The value of playing an open world game is to me much greater than a linear one, maybe because I'm in control, and I decide what my purpose is, just like in a life with no set, objective, purpose. It's also much more personal/unique than a linear game, as nobody else will have had the exact same experience to me in an open world game.
I think this is pretty comparable to life, and that without a set purpose (other than what you give yourself), life is even more meaningful.
I'm a gamer nerd, so this is fantastic. :)
I much prefer a sandbox to linear game play as well, and for the same reason really. I don't like being stuck on a track, and find it less rewarding. It's an interesting parallel to draw with meaning and free will, and I hadn't really thought about it before.
I'm getting the impression you might not be a determinist; accurate? For clarity, I am (well, technically I'm a no-free-will-either-wayist because I allow for quantum indeterminacy but don't think it permits for free will).
There's a pretty big difference to me between playing the linear game and real life being determined, though. IRL, my brain responds to the environment acting upon it and determines what I will do and I don't believe I control that at all. But it can still be satisfying because I'm doing what I want to do, whereas in the linear game I can't do what I want to do. As long as part of what's determined is that everything else which is determined for you is congruous with what you'd want to do, it shouldn't be dissatisfying the way the linear game is. And maybe that's an insight in itself, too... that we're dissatisfied when we want to be something other than what we are.
Believing that I live a determined life (can that be used interchangeably with having a set purpose?) doesn't cheapen my experience of living at all. I'm not sure if it would feel more meaningful if I believed it wasn't determined, though, because I have no idea what it's like to believe it. I don't have an intuition that it'd matter to me that I was choosing freely, though, because it's not the choosing that makes it rewarding. What is it about having an option that makes life more meaningful to you?
On rereading before submitting I realize I interjected a lot of determinism stuff into this and you were really more focused on the effects of set purpose on meaningfulness... I'm not sure I was totally responsive; let me know if not and I can redirect myself?
Weird, I definitely responded to this a while ago. I must've done something wrong somehow as the website didn't pick it up. I'll respond now.
"I'm getting the impression you might not be a determinist; accurate?"
Actually, I'm probably a determinist too. I haven't spent very long thinking about it myself so I'm unsure, but it seems to be a sensible position.
"I'm getting the impression you might not be a determinist; accurate?:
"Believing that I live a determined life (can that be used interchangeably with having a set purpose?) "
No, I at least not in the way I mean. By set purpose, I mean one that's given to you, rather than one that you create. With determinism, your purpose may be set in some way, but it's not really given to you, right?
"What is it about having an option that makes life more meaningful to you?"
I suppose it's just that it makes it your life in a way, if you don't pick your own purpose, then it's hard to say it's really your life. It makes you life more unique, and that kind of makes it more valuable, at least to me, in the same way that the mona-lisa would be worthless if Da Vinci had painted seven billion of them. (things might be different if the set purpose was different for different people and/or if it was always what I would have chosen anyways) I don't want to be the same as everyone else, I suppose it's just my opinion, and other might find their life more valuable with a set purpose, but the question is "Does life need a purpose to have meaning?" so in my case it's the answer is no. (at least if you meant a set objective purpose, rather than a subjective one) To answer the question, if my life had no purpose of any sort, not even that I created for myself, then there wouldn't be much reason to value it.
"On rereading before submitting I realize I interjected a lot of determinism stuff into this and you were really more focused on the effects of set purpose on meaningfulness... I'm not sure I was totally responsive; let me know if not and I can redirect myself?"
That is indeed correct, you can just respond to what I say above now. I may have rushed my answer a little as I was frustrated to have lost what I wrote the first time.
Claiming that we have meaning because we exist seems like circular reasoning to me. Why does our existence translate into meaning? Because meaning derives from existence? Neither follows from the other in my estimation; we can exist without that existence having meaning.