The Meaning Of Life

Life is meaning.
As always, first read the FAQ:-)

http://pobox.com/~sentience/tmol-faq/meaningoflife.html

Life ceases to have meaning, without a continual search for The MeaningOfLife.


Well, it's nothing very special. Uh, try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations [...] -- MontyPython's The Meaning of Life


HappinessIs ... triumph over the InvisibleHand

HappinessIs the meaning of life and that is a fact. We are advanced computers programmed to find happiness in ourselves. There is no such thing as an unselfish person. A father who works all night and day to provide for his family of adopted children is not unselfish. The reason he adopted the children is because he believed he would be more happy if he did than if he didn't. The reason he works all night and day is because he believes that to provide for his family will make him happier than if he didn't. We cannot control what we think will make us happy. Squillions of events which have occurred since we were born, and genetic events before we were born have decided that for us. Therefore humans are not in control of their destiny. This distorts the DefinitionOfSelfishness beyond recognition, as explained there. Nor are people controlled entirely by their genetics.


Easy, FortyTwo.

1)What was the question again? (Thanks Douglas.)

In the radio play it was: What is 6x9?

On the TV series, it was "What do you get if you multiply six by nine?"

And here I was expecting a MontyPython reference, 42 is the answer to Life the Universe and Everything. Or was it the HitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy?

Not to be confused with TheMeaningOfLiff. Especially since the title of the movie looks like it could be read that way in the opening: [here was an image from someone else's server]


Your personal meaning unfolds as you follow your destiny (we all have one). Religion gives a clue think of it people have been searching for answers for thousands of years there must be some truth in there even if we don't all agree which one is right. Some tips (in no particular order):

Bible: Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly with your God, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Zen: ClearYourMind?, hear the VoiceOfTheUniverse?. Experience the perfection in all things large or small. Power in simplicity.

Tao: First is infinite emptiness, then Yin, Yang and the world of 10,000 things.

Buddhism: NobleEightfoldPath

Hinduism: EnergyAndConsciousness?

Islam: Allah is One, and Mohammed is his prophet

Shamanism:Control your dreams (Lucidity) then you can control the dream that is this reality. Try concentrating on the details of your hand then the awareness that you are dreaming (and ability to influence it) emerges. The ability to be more participatory in dreams apart from being very therapeutic also gives confidence during the challenges of waking life. The theme of dreams also is a signal to guide your destiny.

JosephCampbell has good insights into how these all fit together (instead of being mutually exclusive).

Also, wouldn't it be nice if 100, 200, 500 years from now your unfolding destiny and the meaning it entails enriched others so they flock to museums and web sites (whatever form that might take - Guggenheim Mars?) to see the merest sample of your handwriting, thoughts and work. Think of Michealangelo, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Einstein, Hemmigway etc. Even if they were not perfect, don't we agree their life had meaning that significantly influences us long after they were gone? Perhaps even now they continue their tapestry of existence in other planes. What did they do minute by minute, day by day (DecisionRoutines in much harder times - much less medicine, education, plumbing, social services etc) to accomplish what they did when here? It helps to study their biographies to see what kind of world they lived in and what they did right and wrong to produce the results they did.


Isn't this BeggingTheQuestion? It seems that for so long, humans have been trying to discern the meaning of life, without asking whether it is necessary that life have a meaning. What is the meaning of rain? What is the meaning of warm? Why is it that we can't just be? I suppose that it's possible we're confusing the "meaning" of life with the "method" of life.


What does "meaning" really mean? Needs clarification (GeneralSemantics does not seem to help at this time). Intuitively, the meaning of object O to perceiver P is that how O affects P i.e. the meaning of an approaching lion (O) to a zebra (P) is that the zebra needs to make a run for it or cease to exist. That is helped by instinct not just a cerebral analysis of what "Lion" means to the zebra but the best interpretation in that situation is "danger". Likewise, the meaning of life to an individual is how life affects her/him and others. Of course, rain can have a meaning if the big game you were looking forward to washes out means disappointment conversely to the farmer that has not seen a drop in weeks it might mean keeping the family farm. Warm has meaning too - warm instrument spikes when Columbia was re-entering the atmosphere "meant" disaster not that there was anything they could have done. Even in that case the perished doing what was most meaningful to them. Meaning is in the eye of the interpreter and goals to give life meaning (to self as well as others) makes the question a practical instead of theoretical one. For the larger question of life's meaning we have to ask what is the meaning of the universe? Are there other universes? Why is there something instead of nothing? Is there LifeOnOtherPlanets? Are we asking the meaning of bacterial, plant and animal life or our own human world? Will we nuke ourselves completely and make the question moot, or will we find ways to get past our differences and expand our civilization throughout the cosmos (hopefully being able to cooperate with other civilizations should they exist)? Is there a personal God, a pantheon [?] or is [God?] just an illusion? In the end, instances of lives well lived help define the class [?] of what life should be and it's meaning.


The meaning of life, I have the answer, I really really really do. Read this and it will change your life, or not.

After reading quite a lot of philosophy, and thinking about it for far too long when I've been in a less than good state, I now know that the meaning of life is happiness and the pursuit of happiness. Our brains are made of things which we are starting to understand, chemicals etc. I can take a drug, for example which makes me, whatever position in life I'm in, happy. We think within ourselves, what would make us happy. i.e. if I want to do something, the reason is because it will make me happy, or I think it will. I believe we have an unlimited list of things possible, and we do the one which we THINK will make us happy. For example, a person who decides to say, work in a horrible job non stop in order to afford a car, is doing so because he believes that the car will make him, on average, happier than if he were to not to work and not get the car. After thinking about this idea for along time I have become to believe in fate. The idea of Fate is something I had been against for a long time, but my idea logically brings me to it. I do not choose what I think I would like or enjoy. It is something that has been affecting me since I was born. I have looked for role models, rejected them, found new ones etc. Every moment in my life I have been thinking, on some level, OK, now what should I do next that would make me happy.

Another example, a person who struggles to make friends, but would like them is still in this position. For whatever reason they believe that say, the embarrassment of making a fool of themselves in front of people will make them less happy, on average than if they were to be embarrassed but persevere to make them. This belief of course, may be false, but since they were born, unlimited amounts of events have taken place, which have caused them to think this.

Also, a religious person who believes in the afterlife is still in the same position. For whatever reason, parental influence etc. they want to live their life by the word of whatever god because they believe it will, (and I'm talking about human life only), make them happy in that they feel like they are living for a reason. the very fact that they want to think they are living for a reason is due to the unlimited events that have taken place before this belief came into existence. They may know that having sex behind their wife's back will give them a sort of happiness, happiness of the flesh, but internally their reason for not doing this is because they believe that the happiness gained from this act will be less than the feeling of unhappiness that they would suffer, guilt, possible marriage breakup etc. On the other hand there may be a person in this position who knows that they really want to do it, and knows they would feel no guilt, but doesn't do it because of other reasons like they think the unhappiness gained by a knockback from the proposed mistress it not worth the risk. And the very fact that the person may or may not be a risk-taker is down to the unlimited events I have mentioned.

This is where fate comes in. I could, right now decide to get up and run naked around the city. But because I have been brought up to believe that this will not make me happy, I'm not going to do it. On the other hand If I where to think "I'm not going to be controlled by fate, I'm going to do this", the reason I would do it is because throughout my life there have been so many influences on me to try and rebel and to try and make my own destiny, that I would believe that doing it would make me happier than not doing it.

The reason a person would sacrifice their life for the sake of another's is because they believe they they could not live with the fact they could have done it, but didn't.

(By the way when I use the word happiness I mean anything which makes a feeling of happiness, or pleasure, in the brain.)

I believe in fate because, yes, I may now look at a website that has an advert for a cool jumper, and I may think that this jumper will make me happy, perhaps changing my fate, but the fact that I went onto the website was because I believed at the time that going onto this website will make me happier. In the same way, the person who put the advert there did so because they thought it would make them happy, i.e. they might have lost their job, a job they were happy in, if they didn't, or they wouldn't be in line for that promotion, which Daddy always wanted wanted them to get, and they want to please Daddy, because when they please him there is a lot of happiness gained. Because Mummy always buys a big pie when Daddy is happy.

In this way, I do not see how this argument of the pursuit of happiness can be refuted. I would like to hear from anyone who can claim that they, or anyone, has done something where they believed that the overall happiness (in themselves) of their action would be less than not doing the action, or doing a different one.

In essence, you've defined happiness to mean whatever a person decides to do. That makes your argument irrefutable, but entirely vapid. It's no surprise to anyone that people always do what their brain chooses. It certainly doesn't provide a meaning, in the normal sense of a purpose or goal for their actions.

Knowledge is belief which turns out to be true. - Richard K. Mathieson Jr.


Humans are silly.


The purpose of life is to not be dead.


What we choose to do in life is based on what we believe we would regret not doing after we are no longer living. Those who believe that they will be alive tomorrow will procrastinate, those who do not will live life to it's fullest. I welcome anyone to disagree with me. Please agree with me first (do you want me to agree with you or disagree with you? I can do both at the same time, but only express one at any given point in time), then respond with your point of view so that I can understand where you are coming from and therefore, hopefully, be able to see things from your point of view.

- Some people do view their life as stated above. However: This view assumes a continued existence after death, and that the existence allows us enough awareness of our past to regret it. That is a point of view which is not consistent, AFAIK, with the beliefs of most humans. My personal view is that we should direct our actions in such a manner that we will not regret them while we live. For our lives are short, and time spent on regretting actions is time wasted.


I can understand that some people live their lives to the fullest because they do not believe in a continued existence after death. That, in my opinion, is a selfish point of view because though it is questionable whether one can be conscience of their own existence, as we know it in this life, others will continue to live with the same conscience of this existence. What I am saying is that one should live for the moment but also take into consideration that the things one does now, will affect the future.


You can find TheMeaningOfLife at: "The Meaning of Life" (http://www.lbministry.org/id49.htm) -- BrucePennington

It would seem "meaning" is being interpreted as "purpose". In most cases, one's purpose is self-improvement, but I'm not sure this would apply in respect of actions decided upon while, say, drugged, severely ill or extremely tired. Regardless of where the principles you apply come from, you still make decisions for the benefit of yourself. For example, you usually choose not to do something which will make you feel guilty or which you believe is likely to harm you. Of course, some decisions may still be mistakes (i.e., based on mistaken beliefs). It makes no more sense to find the meaning of life through religious belief than it does to find the meaning of computer software through your beliefs about what the software specification intended.

Yes, I think I am using the terms (meaning, purpose) interchangeably. I agree I went on my search for meaning, because I cared about myself (making my motive, therefore, selfish). Having found God, though, and surrendered my life to Him, I have sometimes found myself having to choose life directions that I would prefer, personally, not to make. I do these out of love for my Savior, who set the example of self-less service. I have read good discussions that build a case for the idea that even the most altruistic action can be traced back to a selfish motive. This is a hard argument to refute. For example: I choose to avoid lusting over a woman's exposed body sitting next to me at the airport. I would love to just drool over that skin, personally, but my Savior asks me to avoid such behavior. Out of my love for Him, I comply. Is my compliance strictly unselfish? I hope to say yes. OTOH, I'm aware of my Father's loving, but firm discipline. Is part of my motivation powered by my selfish desire not to be punished? Hard to know for sure. Interesting subject, but me thinks we could run afoul of the Topic Police if we go on much further. You could join me at the BrucePennington page on TheAdjunct, for more of this type of talk. -- BrucePennington
See also: TheMeaningOfTheMeaningOfLife

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