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Debate Score:66
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 Meaning of life (56)

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Meaning of life

Do you feel like there's a meaning in your life? 

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4 points

I do not think there is any cosmic or universal meaning to my life. The only meaning in my life is that with which I personally imbue it; this meaning originates from my emotional condition and is purely subjective.

1 point

I like this stance. To me it seems like the most solid basis we can have for what we call 'meaning'. Meaning in context of things like purpose and morality always has an emotional component which isn't a bad thing per se. But it adds a component of unpredictability to our life. Our likes and dislikes and our understanding of our everyday lifes change all the time, and so having a meaningful existence can be challenging. I guess that's why existentialism has such a big role in contemporary philosophy. It almost borders on nihilism. By the same token, I think people have always feared meaninglessness, and I think this is one of the primary reasons why religion has been very popular. People like to have some constant, that they can build their life upon. Isn't that exactly what Christianity is about? If you look at some of the answers in this exact thread you will see that people see that the purpose of their lives is to get in tune with God and do what follows naturally from such a relationship. In other words, their constant in life is God, a being that per definition is infinitely compassionate. So not only is it a constant, it's also a very positive constant. Today there's a strong tendency towards choosing the natural laws of science as the constant in life, and then try to discover the beauty that flows from these scientific laws. This constant is different because scientific laws are inherently void of any meaning. Instead, the job to find anything positive in them is on the shoulders of the scientist. Such a thing is very possible though. I think anyone who has heard Neil DeGrasse Tyson talk would agree.

Jace(4757) Clarified
1 point

I genuinely appreciate getting to read your responses.

I like this stance. To me it seems like the most solid basis we can have for what we call 'meaning'. Meaning in context of things like purpose and morality always has an emotional component which isn't a bad thing per se. But it adds a component of unpredictability to our life. Our likes and dislikes and our understanding of our everyday lifes change all the time, and so having a meaningful existence can be challenging. I guess that's why existentialism has such a big role in contemporary philosophy. It almost borders on nihilism.

Emotion is not an inherently negative force, I agree. Though I personally value reason informed by emotion rather than the reverse, for reasons I could elaborate upon if you were interested.

More to the point, I do not feel unduly distressed by the unpredictability you observe this as introducing into our lives. Unpredictability is the closest approximation of reality in life, I think, and I see no reason to fight this with any expectation of predictability. My cognitive state is not a fixed absolute, and so naturally any purpose or meaning (or even morality, if I ascribed to it) I experience is impermanent and non-absolute as well.

I am uncertain as to what you intend by observing the existentialist and nihilistic elements of this perspective, if indeed you had any intention behind the remark beyond casual observation.

By the same token, I think people have always feared meaninglessness, and I think this is one of the primary reasons why religion has been very popular. People like to have some constant, that they can build their life upon. Isn't that exactly what Christianity is about? If you look at some of the answers in this exact thread you will see that people see that the purpose of their lives is to get in tune with God and do what follows naturally from such a relationship. In other words, their constant in life is God, a being that per definition is infinitely compassionate. So not only is it a constant, it's also a very positive constant.

More than meaninglessness, I think our species has long possessed a fear of the unknown or uncertain. Meaninglessness is merely one possible manifestation of that larger source of anxiety. I agree, however, the religion is a byproduct of that very fear and that the connection is rather blatant in observing everyday commentary around the matter.

I think it is false to state that God is synonymous with infinite compassion, both as personal belief and actualized reality. Not all who believe in god(s) believe in the compassionate deity, and throughout history vengeance and wrath have been at least equal parts to the idea of god(s) as compassion. It is difficult for me to view any coping mechanism premised and driven primarily by fear as a "very positive constant". While religion was an inevitable development in the evolution of the human species, it is very much an aspect of mixed consequence. Certainly, I should say it is an unfortunate though apparent necessity and one which I should hope we do eventually evolve beyond the need for. When we do that I suspect it will mean the evolution past fear as a strong primary motivator in human thought and conduct.

Today there's a strong tendency towards choosing the natural laws of science as the constant in life, and then try to discover the beauty that flows from these scientific laws. This constant is different because scientific laws are inherently void of any meaning. Instead, the job to find anything positive in them is on the shoulders of the scientist. Such a thing is very possible though. I think anyone who has heard Neil DeGrasse Tyson talk would agree.

I would not necessarily say the tendency is strong, as most people persist in elevating emotionally driven conclusions before scientific reason and evidence. The very compulsion to find "beauty" in scientifically probable truths (i.e. "natural laws") is a representation of this in my opinion. Beauty is the projection of a subjective value judgement onto the pursuit of a more highly objective perception of reality. This projection is done out of a need or desire for emotional gratification and can limit the actual efficacy of the pursuit itself (at best it has no effect upon the pursuit).

3 points

The purpose of life, is a life with purpose .

2 points

If sentences could answer for themselves, and I were to ask this sentence when my life would have purpose, the answer would be "when your life has purpose". It resembles answering the question "what is the meaning of life" with "the meaning of life is the meaning of life". It's a tautology.

This sentence isn't constructive in any sense, but it doesn't restrict what a purpose is in any way either. I could easily let 'purpose' be equal to 'eating nachos' which would yield the following sentence "the purpose of my life is to have a life eating nachos".

In this sense it appears you have a very relaxed understanding of what a life with purpose is. It appears that as long as the individual thinks that life has purpose it's enough reason to call it a purpose. In other words, the mere fact of describing something as a purpose makes it into an actual purpose. In many ways this is the ultimate nihilist paradise (pun intended) since this basically implies that everything is the purpose of life.

2 points

Pretty much, that's how I see things. No true complexity in the question.

That is beautiful. .

1 point

thanks .

Jace(4757) Disputed
1 point

Why is that life cannot simply exist as an end unto itself? Why does it have to lead to something else?

Kite626(714) Disputed
1 point

Is your statement directed towards my outlook? If so i don't see the relevance in your point.

1 point

My meaning of life is to make yours meaningless. Bitch.

Lel.

1 point

Oh you, don't flatter me. xoxo  

1 point

No seriously, why do you think I began deleting your arguments? ;)

1 point

Yes I believe there is a meaning to our life. That is to get to know our Creator and establish a relationship with Him.

2 points

A physical relationship. ;)

Srom(12203) Clarified
1 point

A spiritual relationship with Him.

1 point

You think that part of our purpose is to worship him, right?

1 point

To get to know Him, as our Lord and Savior. To live a life that He wants us to live and also to worship Him for what He has given us.

1 point

Not just worship. My relationship with Jesus involves having a Friend that i can turn to when Im hurting and express my needs and feelings without being cast into Hell.

1 point

Meaning in MY life individually? I would assume that if we do have a purpose in life, then we all share it. I do not think that we exist to worship God. That makes him sound a bit like an egomaniac. I think that if anything, our existence is a learning experience. Maybe a way for us to grow and gain knowledge about ourselves. What our purpose should be is to try and live in harmony with each other and nature. I read a quote once that said something like, "we live on this planet like we have another one we can go to."

We abuse our environment for really stupid reasons. We go to war for really stupid reasons. We often arrest people for really stupid reasons. There are people who go outside and shoot animals for fun... What the fuck? I would love it if one day we landed on an alien planet and found that it's inhabitants did everything right. How stupid would we feel if we saw that they were able to live simply and get along without any problems? Every inhabitant happy and without suffering. They'd look at us, and despite how advanced our technology is, see a bunch of savages.

I do not think it is lights out after death. That is just too difficult of a concept to grasp, in my opinion. Some may say, "well, you don't remember anything from before birth do you? It will be just like that." That may be, but I also do not remember anything from when I was an infant, but I know I existed then. I can't even remember most of my dream from last night... But I know I had one. If we have always existed, the limitations of our human brains would obviously prevent us from remembering. Memory improves as our brains develop, but we aren't going to remember much of anything from when our brains were still in their early stages. Much like certain memory chips can contain more information than others, the same goes for our brains.

I think that God may in fact be just as curious as to why he (although, I doubt God has a gender) exists, as much as us... And that may in fact be our purpose. To try and further understand what we are. It may be that our brains act as an antennae of sorts, and we are all feeding off of the same source, but at different frequencies, so to speak. Maybe our purpose is to all get to the same frequency.

Nikola Tesla said two things which apply greatly to this idea. One, he said: "If you want to understand the secrets of the universe, you need to think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration." And the other thing he said was: "My brain is only a receiver. In the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength, inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists."

I do not know if he is right, but it is a fascinating idea. One that actually makes sense if you think about it long enough. So, if we are in fact eternal beings, not only being from the same source, but all of us actually ARE the source, then I would have to assume that there is a purpose behind this experience of limitation.

1 point

We really do live on this planet like we have another one we can go to. It seems like your conception of our purpose relates fundamentally with morality. I think this rings quite true. I think anyone would agree that the fundamental truism of morality is that 'we are supposed to be good'.

Morality relates to how we treat each other and how we treat each other. So I think it's very true that our purpose is to live in a harmonious way. You talk of being on the same frenquency. Maybe living in tune with the flow of things is what it means for all to get to the same frequency. That seems plausible, because if everyone is content with just moving a long with the causal chains of things, it would seem like we firstly are living harmoniously and secondly, indeed are on the same frequency.

But you place a lot on emphasis on the social aspects of being on the same frequency. Arguably, from a biological point of view, it is very beneficial for people to understand each other. It would fluent communication enriches cooperation which is a good thing. So if we are supposed to be good, then we are supposed to communicate better, i.e. get to the same frequency.

Fully connecting with people is an incredibly hard challenge. In some circumstances it is easier, of course, but for me, as a general rule of thumb, I have to admit that I don't really understand people. This is not because I am not trying, the reason is that people are extremely complicated. Everything in this world is complicated; I don't even have a full understanding of who I am myself. So the way I look at it, any means that make it easier for us to connect with each other, are quite good things. Realizing that we aren't distinct individuals, but rather are parts bumbing into each other in this absurdly confusing universe, then maybe we have a greater chance of reaching an enlightened kind of understanding.

1 point

If I had to guess which of Jesus' teachings he considered to be most important, it would probably be: "love thy neighbor as thyself." That would be to say that loving both your neighbor and yourself is very important. Anyone who is happy with themselves, tends to be a better person, overall. Just a simple leap over to a more positive outlook could change the world. But like you said, people are very complicated. Much more so than we need to be, and I think that complication is a result of our own doing. I think materialism, our egos, and lack of patience have a lot to do with that.

The experience of an imperfect life is probably very important, and maybe we need to try and bring heaven to earth, rather than waiting to see if there is a life better than this one. I think that the idea of heaven may be so appealing, because we are actually equating our current lives with hell.

Jace(4757) Clarified
1 point

I think anyone would agree that the fundamental truism of morality is that 'we are supposed to be good'.

Of course, most people disagree on what being "good" actually entails.

Morality relates to how we treat each other [...]. So I think it's very true that our purpose is to live in a harmonious way.

Why, exactly? I do not see how the former leads to the latter.

Fully connecting with people is an incredibly hard challenge. [...] people are extremely complicated. So the way I look at it, any means that make it easier for us to connect with each other, are quite good things.

I agree, but would apply that rationale to challenge most everything preceding this point in your post and the OP observations. However pleasant ideas such as "harmony" and "flow" and "frequency" may sound and feel, these are not really practicable possibilities. Our genetic dispositions for understanding the world are distinct, and this is compounded by our innately subjective experiences of the world around us; we each experience the world differently, and consequentially we understand and interact with it differently. We cannot be on the same frequency; and what does it mean to say our "purpose" in life is to chase something that cannot happen?

Realizing that we aren't distinct individuals, but rather are parts bumbing into each other in this absurdly confusing universe, then maybe we have a greater chance of reaching an enlightened kind of understanding.

By stating that we are not distinct individuals, do you mean to observe simply that we interrelate and affect one another... or are you referring to the more cosmic shared conscience/being that OP seemed to be discussing?

What do you mean by "enlightened kind of understanding"? Does this refer to the "same frequency" ideas earlier?

Jace(4757) Clarified
1 point

What our purpose should be is to try and live in harmony with each other and nature.

Why?

I would love it if one day we landed on an alien planet and found that it's inhabitants did everything right.

Do you believe this is actually even remotely probable? People do stupid, arguably fucked up things quite frequently but we do them because this is how we evolved to be: not perfect, but good enough. There is no reason to suspect that another species would exist and/or develop independent of evolution, and not be subject to the same pressure towards imperfect adequacy.

I do not think it is lights out after death. That is just too difficult of a concept to grasp, in my opinion.

Since when is conceptual difficulty a legitimate invalidation of a possibility?

Much like certain memory chips can contain more information than others, the same goes for our brains.

Much like certain memory chips, brains cannot hold information if they do not exist. Before we are born the physical brain that generates our conception of self does no exist, and without that the self-conception does not exist either.

I think that God may in fact be just as curious as to why he (although, I doubt God has a gender) exists, as much as us... And that may in fact be our purpose.

Any particular reason you believe this... or do you just believe it?

I do not know if he is right, but it is a fascinating idea. One that actually makes sense if you think about it long enough.

Interesting, perhaps. Sensible, not especially (to me at least).

GuitarGuy(6095) Clarified
1 point

Why?

Because depleting our resources and going to war with each other is not doing us much good.

Do you believe this is actually even remotely probable?

That there may be an alien planet where they have taken a better path than us? Yes.

People do stupid, arguably fucked up things quite frequently but we do them because this is how we evolved to be: not perfect, but good enough.

You can refrain from any negative actions.

There is no reason to suspect that another species would exist and/or develop independent of evolution, and not be subject to the same pressure towards imperfect adequacy.

Sure there is. If you look at several Native American tribes, they lived in harmony with each other and nature. Sure, they hunted animals for food and killed those they considered a threat and they certainly weren't as advanced as we are now, but a lot of the technology we currently have I find unnecessary for living a good life... And I do not see why even with certain technologies, we couldn't be more environmental-friendly and unified.

Since when is conceptual difficulty a legitimate invalidation of a possibility?

I never said it was. I was just stating what I believe. Is that really something you feel the need to address?

Much like certain memory chips, brains cannot hold information if they do not exist. Before we are born the physical brain that generates our conception of self does no exist, and without that the self-conception does not exist either.

So, how does that refute what I said?

Any particular reason you believe this... or do you just believe it?

It's just an idea. Not something I necessarily believe... I just think that it may be the case, as I also think some other things may be the case.

1 point

Just took a look at those Nicola Tesla quotes. They are actually pretty interesting. Maybe you know Dennis McKenna (brother of Terence), he also has this idea that the brain is just a receiver. He makes the analogy of that fact gravitational force is a function of mass, by proposing that consciousness is a function of complexity. This aligns with the fact that the human brain is the most complicated structure in the known universe. It also aligns with the perceived hierarchy of consciousness of less complicated beings.

Nikola Tesla might be implying that by being more conscious (whatever that means) we may penetrate deeper into the secrets of that core.

1 point

I have heard of Dennis McKenna, but I know more of Terrence McKenna's stuff. I'll have to take a look.

Nikola Tesla has been regarded as the greatest mind of all time. Even Einstein said that Tesla was the smartest man alive. This doesn't mean everything he claimed was correct, but I think that does give us reason not to reject any of his ideas, unless they can be totally falsified.

Nikola Tesla might be implying that by being more conscious (whatever that means) we may penetrate deeper into the secrets of that core.

Many of the world's religions and philosophers have been saying that for thousands of years. Buddhism calls it enlightenment or nirvana... Christianity calls it the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of Heaven.

The meaning of life is to live. Its that simple. Just live. Just be you. Just love God. Be honest with your Creator.

Jace(4757) Clarified
1 point

Loving God and being honest with a Creator seem in excess of just living.

Purpose of my life: Have fun.

Jace(4757) Clarified
1 point

Classic hedonist, eh?

I just googled hedonist... You're pretty much spot on :D

I am here to do the mission that God told me to do.

Jace(4757) Clarified
1 point

Which is what, precisely? And how did God tell you this, exactly?

Live long enough to reproduce. And you might pick up some extra meaning on the way.

1 point

The meaning of life is to glorify God and to bear his image... Something we do oh so poorly

Jace(4757) Clarified
1 point

Maybe that is because the ideas of God and his image are so terribly ambiguous and abstract as to render them impossible targets?

AngryGenX(463) Disputed
1 point

Gold star for you. It is an impossible target, but it is not so ambiguous an abstract! All you have to do is live a life rejecting what is destructive and embracing what is good. It is pretty clearly explained. We should be smart enough to figure these things out, but mankind just makes the same mistakes over and over again. Can you explain that? I can.

"There are two important moments in your life. One, the day you were born, two, the day you figure out why." -Mark Twain

"We were not born with a purpose, we were born to find a purpose." -Me after reading that inspiring Mark Twain quote

"YOLO" -The whole internet world

Love life and find that purpose. xoxoxoxo

Jace(4757) Clarified
1 point

If it is all the same to you, I would rather just live my life as an ends to itself. I do not need any purpose to do that, and in fact "finding a purpose" undermines the value of life as an ends to itself by turning it into a means to accomplish something else.

GuitarGuy(6095) Clarified
1 point

Maybe what you claim is in fact our purpose... To just be alive.

1 point

There is no meaning to life at all or death!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The meaning of life is different for everyone. It is very individualistic. The meaning of someone's life is determined only after they die. For example, the meaning of Hitler's death was that we would not be living his vision of life any time soon. ;)