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Does Life Have Meaning?

Do you feel that life has a meaning/purpose?  

69 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you feel that life has a meaning/purpose?

    • Yes
      44
    • No
      25


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I think the purpose of life is to exist.

You are born, you reproduce and you die. And your children are repeating this process, just as animals do.

Is there any reason which would give meaning to all of this? There could exist one.

But I think that the existence itself has no meaning.

 

If what we do or might do is important for something then our life has a meaning. It matters whether or not we exist. But what if that something doesn't exist? What if nothing exists, no physical matter, no energy, no space, just nothing.

I believe there is no need for there being anything. The existence is important just for itself alone. Therefore, because existence has no meaning, the universe has no meaning and life has no meaning. If it exists, it has no meaning, including God.

 

So for me it's more of a question whether is life worth it. Joy vs pain situation. If you wouldn't live you wouldn't feel pain but also you wouldn't get any enjoyment. On the other hand, even if joy largely outweighs pain in life and you are enjoying it, when you don't exist you won't miss it, because you won't be even able to.

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I think you tied yourself up in knots a little bit with that argument...

 

Just the simple fact that there is joy and pain, the concept of something being bad and another thing being good for you means that there is a gradient, a bias, a direction.

 

And if there is a direction - that means there is a purpose. A destination point somewhere in that direction - on the way from bad to good.

 

And that's what life does - it avoids what's bad for it and tries to move towards what's good for it. And even now we can have a reasonably good idea of what that good is and some conclusions can be drawn from there about if not the final purpose, then at least about the key milestones on the way there.

 

Regards

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And if there is a direction - that means there is a purpose. A destination point somewhere in that direction - on the way from bad to good.

I didn't say life has no purpose, only that it doesn't matter.

 

I also don't really see any knots here, just a simple conclusion.

When there is nothing, there is also nothing what can say that something matters. So in the big picture it's no real difference between is and isn't and nothing here has a meaning.

Unless someone manages to prove this wrong my view on this topic won't be much different.

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*sighs* Existential nihilism is not a valid philosophical theory and "meaning" and "purpose" are interchangeable in the context, let's not split hairs here... So, yep - still pretty much in knots... :D

 

Regards

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I personally believe your own life is what you make of it, it can be as facile and meaningless or fulfilling and purposeful as you subjectively will it to be. I think whatever side of the spectrum you fall under - though I honestly reckon most people hover uncomfortably between two poles, in terms of their daily experience - it's only anthrocentric hubris on our part that allows to even have the nerve to assign or deny "meaning" to the whole broad scope of reality.

 

Or, the easier version of that answer is, I DON'T ACTUALLY KNOW. Being the heathen ig/agnostic that I am... :P

When close friends speak ill of close friends

they pass their abuse from ear to ear

in dying whispers -

even now, when prayers are no longer prayed.

What sounds like violent coughing

turns out to be laughter.

Shuntarō Tanikawa

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*sighs* Existential nihilism is not a valid philosophical theory and "meaning" and "purpose" are interchangeable in the context, let's not split hairs here... So, yep - still pretty much in knots... :D

Yeah, the interchangeability of those words makes a bit of mess in this. It would have been better to at least define them first.

Anyway, would you care to explain why it is not a valid philosophical theory?

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Ah, it's simply because it flies in the face of observable facts and any theory that does that is not valid, by definition.

 

Regards

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Ah, it's simply because it flies in the face of observable facts and any theory that does that is not valid, by definition.

Fine, but then most of this thread wouldn't pass as a valid theory either. It is still an opinion though, and I gave mine with some explanation of why do I think so.

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We are only dealing with opinions here and I may agree or disagree with yours but I'll always respect your right to have one.

 

I have to say though - your explanation didn't convince me in the least, that's why I hastened to state my own opinion on the matter... Basically you state that "because there is no meaning in anything, anything has no meaning" - I think is it is a circular argument and it's based on a highly disputable assumption in the first place...

 

I personally think that existential nihilism is a seductive self-deception for those who don't otherwise like to look at the simple facts of physical life and prefer to escape from reality into these kinds of flawed logical constructs. Its proponents are mostly "humanities" scolars like Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky and those people REALLY tied their minds in knots, driving themselves fairly crazy in the end...

 

Regards

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I have to say though - your explanation didn't convince me in the least, that's why I hastened to state my own opinion on the matter... Basically you state that "because there is no meaning in anything, anything has no meaning" - I think is it is a circular argument and it's based on a highly disputable assumption in the first place...

 

That isn't quite accurate summary of what I tried to say. That seems more like just saying "nothing has a meaning because a said so".

 

I'll just make a last atempt and give an example.

Let's say internet. Existence of Internet definitely has a meaning, we made it to share information and it does just that, from small things like getting data from point A to point B to higher goals like helping us develop faster. Thus it's meaning is tied to humans.

Existence of humans has it's own meaning which is tied to something else in the universe which is tied to something else and so on.

So we get the Existence - a system which includes everything that is (don't know if there is a better word for it, can't say just universe in case there is more then one). In hypothetical situation when nothing exists the meaning of things which did exist is lost too. So I say that because the meaning is tied to the Existence, then things don't have a meaning on their own, without other things which give it a meaning. Only here I make an assumption that the Existance has no meaning, because there is nothing more outside of it which would give it a meaning.

 

Maybe I'm just unable to properly explain it, due to fact that English is not my first language or because I know only little about existential nihilism and the like. It's just what I came up with on my own when I had nothing to do so I thought about meaning of life and such.

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There seems to be two parts to your argument: 1) the meaning only exists when there is an observer to deduce it; and 2) if the meaning is lost when something no longer exists - then it had no meaning to begin with.

 

I can kind of agree with 1 but the number 2 seems illogical to me... Meaning is information and information is not lost when something ceases to exist, unless you are talking about the extreme case of the whole Universe ceasing to exist and even then, if you go back along the arrow of time you will encounter all the meaning that existed before and if a meaning existed even for a fraction of a moment - it is never lost.

 

Also you're saying that the meaning of things is tied to humans as if only our understanding of things creates it. Do you think that when no humans existed - all the things that were happening for billions of years were devoid of meaning?

Don't you think that there may be a universal meaning which is totally independent of whether or not we understand it?

 

Regards

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I think I may be partially on Enguzrad's side in the last exchange - maybe this is one way to phrase it:

I would say that what we refer to as meaning in this context is contingent upon there being one or more mind/s. A rock lying on the ground, by itself, holds no meaning. However, to a bug it might make for a cozy hiding spot. To a hiker it might make for something fun to kick, or a memento that for the rest of her life will always remind her of the most amazing trip she ever took. The meaning of the rock is not an attribute of the rock itself, it is something ascribed to it by a creature with some sort of rudimentary faculties for experience, feeling and possibly even thought. Thus the meaning does, in a very real sense, cease to exist once the mind that gave rise to it ceases.

 

And for my part I am still quietly waiting for any grand religious claim to know of some sort of "universal meaning" to meet its rather staggering burden of proof.

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I would say that what we refer to as meaning in this context is contingent upon there being one or more mind/s. A rock lying on the ground, by itself, holds no meaning. However, to a bug it might make for a cozy hiding spot. To a hiker it might make for something fun to kick, or a memento that for the rest of her life will always remind her of the most amazing trip she ever took. The meaning of the rock is not an attribute of the rock itself, it is something ascribed to it by a creature with some sort of rudimentary faculties for experience, feeling and possibly even thought. Thus the meaning does, in a very real sense, cease to exist once the mind that gave rise to it ceases.

That.

I said meaning of a thing is tied to other things, not just humans or even sentient beings. Basically I'm saying that something has a meaning if it's important for something else.

I can kind of agree with 1 but the number 2 seems illogical to me... Meaning is information and information is not lost when something ceases to exist, unless you are talking about the extreme case of the whole Universe ceasing to exist and even then, if you go back along the arrow of time you will encounter all the meaning that existed before and if a meaning existed even for a fraction of a moment - it is never lost.

I'm talking about view from the outside. You are right that whether things exist or not the meaning is there, or at least was there. If I'm not entirally wrong by making parallel between meaning and importance, then I think that existing things are important only to other existing things (the importance gives meaning to it's existence, no matter how big the importance is), so the entire Existence is basically important just for itself, things inside it gives meaning to each other but on their own they don't have any. There is nothing outside for which what exists would be important or meaningful. At the end things exist for the sake of existing, they both have a meaning and have none depending on whether you look from the inside or the outside.

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Thus the meaning does, in a very real sense, cease to exist once the mind that gave rise to it ceases.

 

I disagree with that.

 

You can talk about a perceived meaning disappearing when the conscious construct that perceived it disappears (even that is not true as the fact of perception influences further events and ripples through the time-space) but the underlying objective meaning will remain forever. You cannot look at an object and the observer as on two isolated systems. They interact. Having perceived the meaning of that rock the observer's behaviour alters and that alters everything else that the observer interacts with. So, even if the observer mind ceases to exist it has already passed that information further down the chain of events...

 

And "mind" is a vague contrsuct. You only talk about a mind equivalent of human brain, operating on our timescales. For all I know - the entire universe may be but one huge mind - self aware and conscious but on a timescale immesuarably slower than what we use.

 

And I won't hold my breath for a philosophy or a religion to give any insight in a universal meaning of things. What they had to say about it - they've already said long time ago. Any further understanding will now be coming from science.

 

At the end things exist for the sake of existing, they both have a meaning and have none depending on whether you look from the inside or the outside.

 

Do they? But, clearly, the whole universe has a certain lifecycle, so any thing that exists - is a part and an agent of that process from the beginning to the end. So it's meaning is to play the role that has been allocated to it. Nothing in the universe exist in total isolation except whatever's fallen into singularities and even that is debatable.

 

Anything that's ever existed has influenced and shaped all that exists and will exist afterwards. The information is never lost.

 

Also, one can say that the issue of "meaning" is closely related to mathematical optimisation. When you find a process that runs optimally given the nature and location of the object(s) you are considering - you have the true meaning of that object. And the laws of mathematics exist regardless of any intelligent observer, I hope we can agree on that, at least...

 

Regards

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Do they? But, clearly, the whole universe has a certain lifecycle, so any thing that exists - is a part and an agent of that process from the beginning to the end. So it's meaning is to play the role that has been allocated to it. Nothing in the universe exist in total isolation except whatever's fallen into singularities and even that is debatable.

 

Anything that's ever existed has influenced and shaped all that exists and will exist afterwards. The information is never lost.

Let's say there are two universes which cannot interact with each other in any way. Then one universe holds no meaning to the other. It's existence doesn't change anything.

And I'm expanding this by saying that this one "universe" holds everything that exists.

 

I'm starting to feel awkward by repeating myself. But I can't help it when I understand your arguments as that they are trying to prove meaning in existence of things with regard to their interactions inside universe. Which I have already acknowledged that existing things have meaning in relation to each other.

And If you are not referring to that, then I have to be missing something.

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*cringes* your underlying assumption seems to be that everything will dissappear at one point so everything is futile and pointless, right?

 

That's too big an assumption to me. You just don't know whether it will disappear or not. In fact a much more logical assumption would be that the purpose of life in this universe is to find a way to transcend it. We just don't know yet, but we will in time... For now - stick to obsevable facts and deductions from those... Otherwise, I can assume the meaning of everything is imparted by Flying Spaghetti Monster and no one can ever argue against it...

 

Regards

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*cringes* your underlying assumption seems to be that everything will dissappear at one point so everything is futile and pointless, right?

 

That's too big an assumption to me. You just don't know whether it will disappear or not. In fact a much more logical assumption would be that the purpose of life in this universe is to find a way to transcend it. We just don't know yet, but we will in time... For now - stick to obsevable facts and deductions from those... Otherwise, I can assume the meaning of everything is imparted by Flying Spaghetti Monster and no one can ever argue against it...

Almost, it doesn't have to end, it probably won't, there is no reason why things should cease to exist. It's just that I see no point to it and more importantly I think there can't be a point to it.

We can as well figure out our purpose in the universe, create civilization spreading out across the galaxies, even become godlike and going beyond laws of this universe. But for what I ask?

You could say we will see once we get there, but then what is next. Going forward and forward without an end. Maybe it's about the journey, an endless journey.

 

Some of the people who posted here said that "immortality blows", and I agree. You could say that the neverending reproducing makes life immortal.

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It's just that I see no point to it and more importantly I think there can't be a point to it.

We can as well figure out our purpose in the universe, create civilization spreading out across the galaxies, even become godlike and going beyond laws of this universe. But for what I ask?

You could say we will see once we get there, but then what is next.

 

Just because you don't see the point in something doesn't mean the point doesn't exist, or that others cannot see it.

 

But that's what nihilism boils down to - I can't see the wood for the trees therefore the wood doesn't exist. It's a depressive mood, rather than a philosophical concept.

 

Now... if you look at this universe - it isn't eternal. It is going to run out of energy one day. That's what life is doing - it is trying to use the available energy to transform itself so it can escape by the time the batteries run dry. It's a race against time.

 

Again, you will ask - what for? (and I will want to shake you up or give you a shot of whisky to snap you out of your pessimism) - here it is all still open to interpretation. Imagine - to escape the death of this universe, life creates a new and better one, and so on and so on until another, yet grander race is won. And maybe there is a cycle - because once you're out of the universe the concept of time means nothing. Or maybe there is something else. But you cannot say - there isn't. You simply have no reasonable grounds for that assumption.

 

Cheer up, man. Your life has a purpose... and a meaning.

 

Regards

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Just because you don't see the point in something doesn't mean the point doesn't exist, or that others cannot see it.

Well yes, after all we are thinking with our brains which are made in certain way, shaped by instincts and experience and different lifeform could think completely differently. Just because something makes logical sense to me and seems undeniable doesn't mean it's true, unless it can be proved like physical laws of our universe.

But then can you tell what is actually true when you have to perceive everything with your eyes, ears etc. which are part of the universe you are observing and can be deceiving?

But that would be for other topic and I don't want to digress too much.

 

Again, you will ask - what for? (and I will want to shake you up or give you a shot of whisky to snap you out of your pessimism) - here it is all still open to interpretation. Imagine - to escape the death of this universe, life creates a new and better one, and so on and so on until another, yet grander race is won. And maybe there is a cycle - because once you're out of the universe the concept of time means nothing. Or maybe there is something else. But you cannot say - there isn't. You simply have no reasonable grounds for that assumption.

 

Cheer up, man. Your life has a purpose... and a meaning.

 

My view on this might be pessimistic but I don't really see myself as a pessimist. If I saw only the worst in everything I would be already dead or something. Also violence and drugs are of course effective ways how to keep one in line :lol:.

Anyway, we are still on the same spot, you presenting the same arguments and I saying that you are right but it doesn't change anything about the main point of my thinking. I think it would be best to wrap it up, it was a nice discussion but I already spoke my mind and there is really nothing new I could add to this.

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