What is the purpose of life?
This is something that has been bothering me for quite some time now. I've been trying to think it through the best I can, and yet I can come up with nothing.
For the nitpicky out there (ie, me), let me rephrase the question slightly: What purpose should every person adapt in order to produce the optimal result for the maximum number of people?
The first answer that popped into my mind was, "Create the most amount of happiness for the most amount of people." This answer, however, caused me great distress. To me, this invariably led to the solution of each individual choosing to be drugged until death. This way, we would all literally be happy every remaining second of our lives. This solution is clearly not optimal.
This led me to the conclusion that happiness is two-dimensional: one dimension is degree of happiness itself, and the other is length of overall happiness. So while, in the case of drugging, we would maximize degree of happiness, we would simultaneously be minimizing length of happiness. However, I have not been able to come up with a solution that can maximize both at the same time.
For example, take two different people. One just got back from two straight days of wandering a blistering desert without access to water. The other is a typical citizen of a first-world country. When you offer both individuals their first glass of water the following day, clearly the first individual will have a much greater degree of happiness than the second. However, it's also clear that the second individual will have had a much greater length of happiness, as surely wandering a blistering desert for two days without water is a trying experience. In fact, no matter what scenario I come up with, I am always forced to choose between length of happiness OR degree of happiness. In the end, it is always a zero-sum game.
Some new 'purposes' I have been fiddling around with as a fix are compassion and education/knowledge. These seem to be less zero-summy, can be clearly defined (one-dimensionally), and generally lead to a good outcome for most. Anyone else have any ideas?
From your post, it sounds like what you are interested in creating is happiness for as many people as possible, right? Maybe a more powerful approach would be to begin with what YOU are willing and able to do to generate happiness for as many people as possible -- and to let go of "shoulds" altogether.
Just my thoughts.
I believe our purpose here is one of unfurlment or expansion.
Are you inspired by compassion and education/knowledge as driving values for yourself? If so, I think you've nailed it. If not, keep looking. It sounds to me from your post that there's a deeper value trying to inspire you, one that underlies both compassion and education/knowledge. What do you think?
However, I find it necessary to think carefully about what it is I am inspired to do for two reasons. First, there are many who feel inspired to kill others for petty reasons. While I certainly do not suffer from such explicitly destructive inspirations, I want to be absolutely certain that my inspirations do not lead to similar destructive outcomes, even indirectly. Second, I want to make sure that the philosophy I adapt produces the greatest possible good for myself and everyone around me. I do not want to waste my life following one ideology when a different one would have produced better results.
No pain, no gain
I'm just thinking aloud and writing thoughts I would normally keep to myself but I thought, "well, what the hell, I'm anonymous." :p Anyway, it seems the majority follow the phylosophy of the 'pursuance of happiness by doing good works and deeds' and this is our purpose in life.
However, I have been toying with the idea that supposing the opposite was true? It is possible (even though it's off the wall) that our purpose could be to kill, destroy and experience sorrow. If this was so, then what purpose would this serve?
What happens following death and destruction? What do we do as a human race? We rebuild and rebirth. I just wonder if we stopped pursuing happiness and the good things, and replaced them with some pain and suffering instead, the world might be a better place?
I think that by seeking knowledge and educating ourselves by studying the philosophies of the great thinkers throughout history, we can employ critical thinking and come up with a value system that benefits our own needs as well as those of the rest of humanity.
Collectively we are here to learn, explore, become. Individually we're here to develop, express ourselves and strive to the best that we can be. This can take place in a variety of ways depending on our talents and abilities.
There is no purpose
DiscoDan, I feel where you are coming from as I had to do plenty of thinking about this same subject, and am still learning as I grow. Hopefully, my point of view can help you in your understanding. Now what I am going to say, I realize may come as a shock to many, not all, but I'm asking you take my point as only that - a point - my own frame of reference. Take from it what you will. Right now it may help you or it may not. I know you will read it with an open mind. Ok, here it goes:
I think you nailed it, with your introduction: "I've been trying to think it through the best I can, and yet I can come up with NOTHING." (my emphasis on nothing)
What I see, is that when you boil everything down (i.e. break apart all the lies), then what you see is that there is NO PURPOSE - IT (life, the universe, existence) just IS the way it is. Why? Because there can be no other way.
Too much? :confused: Bear with me because I am not trying to rain down on anyone's parade, actually I am trying to do the opposite. :) Because as I see it, it is only with this realization that the true beauty of it all "shines" through. How can that be? Well, because once you realize that there is no purpose, there is no meaning, then you realize that EVERYTHING has purpose, ALL has meaning! :mad: I know, I know, it's difficult for me to explain too. :( I'll try my best.
How can life be purposeless, yet purposeful at the same time? Well, because it GIVES YOU ALL the POWER! YOU give life meaning, YOU give life purpose. Yes, do whatever it is YOU "want, feel, are inspired" to do. If you want meaning in life create it, if you want purpose in life, then create that too.
What has meaning to you? Well, I can't help you "uncover" that. It is a process you must discover for yourself. Heck, I'm still trying to figure it out for myself! :D
P.S. I love all the great thinking and ideas that are going around in this forum. It helps me to grow. I just wanted to share my ideas so that it may help you as well.
We are the edge of chaos
The point of life is to exists. That's about it. It just exists.
Life is just the boarder of chaos... like fractals, like the Mandelbrot set, its the boarder that makes everything absolutely beautiful. And the cool thing is that nature DOES work in fractals, like trees, like our cells that grow into our brain using fractal patterns of different layers of heirarchy, snow flakes... ect.
So maybe what it means to be human is that, in our current state, we are a certain parameter of chaos, we are a certain fractal dimension, like if we tune down the parameter, then we'd be rocks, and if we turned it up too high then we'd be gas... and we are just right at the boarder that makes everything absolutely beautiful.
Like the Mandelbrot set (google it if you don't know what I mean) in the middle is all darkness, if you go out too far then it escapes out to infinity, either extreme is not that cool but its the infinitesimally sharp boarder that makes things interesting...
And then as time goes on our fractal dimension is changing as our human nature changes throughout time.
You just have to decide if you want to live and have fun, live and feel like in you are in hell, or die.
I kinda think of life like the Olympics, yea people could cheat and take drugs, but it would not be natural, and it would not be a challenge.
I think pleasure is natures way to keep you what you are doing, because if something feels good why change?
But there are different things keeping us from reaching that point.
And then there is... how much of the body do you actually need to feel like you are in pleasure?
What kind of technology do we need to keep our bodies alive forever?
Who is going to not be "plugged in" to keep up maintenance, like power plants, and growing food?
Is our planet reaching a tipping point in the climate so that we would not be able to exist for much longer?
Maybe we should be sure that we are going to be able to exists. All these flung out goals have the same basic problems at first that need to be solved.
Where are we going to go when the sun decides to give out on us? Who's going to wake us up?
What are we going to do when protons start to decay in the 10 to the power of whatever years?
Who's going to keep the catastrophic space rocks away while we are all cozy?
Are we going to freak ourselves out by doing all this weird stuff so that we should have a choice or not to do it?
Are we going to decide as a society that we should agree that we keep our chaotic parameter the same and not cheat in life, like athletes agree to only be natural in contest?
And of course we should have a choice or not if we want to be plugged into it or not. I mean... I think I would want the challenge... yea I could cheat... maybe it feels good to cheat... and maybe if i was plugged in then I would not care that I was cheating, or maybe I'd want to play the game of life with other people first, maybe I'd want variety.
But the reason that humans want variety is that variety gives shots of pleasure as we create new invariant representations that is able to learn that new variety, so then why not just cut to the chase and just cause the pleasure and screw variety???
And then again we have to decide... since we are humans, do we want to exists as humans with our unique chaotic parameter or do we want to exists as blobs of feeling good computational goo (yea, that sounds really sick and scary, but if you were a blob of feeling good computational goo then you would be like "man this is life :D" , I think since we are run by physics, and if we had enough energy through like solar power or something, then we are going to tend toward the feeling good computational goo.
But then again, maybe we would be like... well... that's cheating, so lets just all agree to stick with our unique human chaotic fractal dimension / parameter as long as we possibly can until the heat death of the universe starts to really take its toll, and as that happens then we'd decide to shift our chaotic parameter as neccessary to survive and "live good lives" in whatever form that might be... but that we decide to keep our current human state as long as possible... because after all the point of life is to exists and that the reason that sharks have not changed form is because the form of sharks is good enough for its environment... and our minds obviously revolve around how our bodies are built so if we change our physical representations then we change our minds.
lol..., just making this up on the spot, so then maybe the battle between conservatives and liberals will be should we maximize the rate of our chaotic parameter or keep the choatic parameter the same for as long as possible.
But first we need to make sure that we don't blow ourselves up with nukes, and that we keep our climate in check, and that there's not some funky disease that comes and gets us.
I think what's going to unite the world is the "common enemy" of climate change.
Oh yea... and I'm not the only weirdo with these thoughts. I have not checked the intenet, but I've read the book "The Age of Spiritual Machines"
Amazon listing: Amazon.com: The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence: Books: Ray Kurzweil
here's a webpage about it
The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil
It gives an outline of technological change up to this point and then it he guesses:
you know Steve wrote a few blogs on how to discover your life's purpose.
this one worked for me: how to discover your life's purpose in about 20 minutes.
It worked for me; my purpose:
To know that there is an all knowing God, in which you, and I, are allóall knowing gods. Our purpose, my purpose, is to learn how to love.
What does it mean to be a rock? A planet? A star? A wild animal? The wind or a tree? The meaning of each 'thing' lies in what it is, the way it exists. The meaning of a star is just that -- being a star. In this context, the meaning of life is exactly that -- being alive.
There is an effortlessness that you can witness in nature. Grass does not try to figure out it's purpose, it just is, it doesn't try to grow, it just does. Fish donít try to figure out the stream or it's reason for being a fish, it just swims. Flowers donít question a thing, they just bloom. Nature knows it's meaning in the life process without questioning it, or perhaps it doesn't, yet somehow it fulfills it's purpose anyway, simply by being what it is.
The question then is simply, what makes you feel more alive?
Right now, I'm more inclined to agree with Smarky then the Steve Pavlina speed purpose approach. Basically we are a part of the ultimate manifestation of consciousness. We all play are little role, do what we do, live our lives, just like Smarky was saying grass is just grass, it's purpose is to be grass.
The question though, that we can tackle because we are intellectual humans (I'm assuming we are. Haha I know this board does not accept assumptions), is whether this ultimate manifestation has any purpose. That is the real question.
So in summary, you know what you are supposed to do. Just live your life, be DiscoDan. That is the easy part. Realize that you have this part down. The hard part is tackling the question, is the world evolving into something? Is there a finish line? Is there some meaning to life?
Ah yes, but i think the whole point is, is that question even relevant?
You have to much living to do to worry about this question. Life is too short to spend it on some quest for unattainable concepts.
You have two basic answers, life has a meaning, or it doesn't. Whatever the answer your life is the same. If it has a meaning then you obviously don't need to know it to fulfill it, if it doesn't then you just want to enjoy the experience of being alive while you can.
I think at some level we find it difficult to let go of the idea of finding meaning, but honestly it's just not important, find what is meaningful for you and then enjoy that, everything else is just details, that may be answered someday, that may not. Still not important.
We don't know what happened before this, we don't truly (out right certainly) know what will happen after, but do we need to know how a watch works to tell the time? If nature can fulfill it's purpose be simply being and we are a part of nature then why are we to be different? We fulfill our purpose by being alive, whatever the purpose ultimately is, we all have to much living to do, to spend our time figuring out how this watch works. It's true meaning perhaps will become clear to all when the last breath is taken or perhaps not, such is the dilemma of the human race.
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Harold Whitman
"People say that what weíre all seeking is a meaning for life.... I think what weíre really seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our innermost being and reality, so that we can actually feel the rapture of being alive."
I guess everyone would feel that finding happiness must be on top of the list as a main purpose in life and I think reaching your dreams is the way I look towards fulfilling my purpose.
Finding my purpose lead to to consider is money everything, since without it, it is difficult to find purpose or happiness.
I believe that you are on the right track, but are uncertain of where to direct your energies, on yourself or on others.
I think that you must choose a purpose that will make 'you' happy, and if you focus on other people's happiness, you will incur nothing but resentment. You are not responsible for other people's happiness, only your own.
All the best
The purpose of life is........................To output thought into dense physical reality. The trick is to choose which thoughts should become your reality. :rolleyes:
The nature of heat to warm. The nature of cold is to cool. That nature of light is to illuminate. The nature of space is to expand. Whether you notice it or not, everything follows its nature. We are consciousness, and guess what its nature is? To be conscious of course, which, in all likelihood, you are growing in without even realizing it. For consciousness, everything is lessons.
Aside from that, the purpose to life is whatever you want to make it. You are the value ascriber. You decide what is desirable or undesirable -- what is fulfilling or unfulfilling.
I find I get the most satisfaction out of learning the secrets of existence. The more awareness I gain, the more peaceful I feel.
For many, knowing and establishing a purpose helps them determine direction and goals. As I stated earlier there are collective and there are individual purposes. Who would argue that we are here to learn, evolve and help each other?
Exactly Shamou! If we know or can prove anything it's that one of the purposes of life is to sustain itself. Evolution and the need to procreate are proof of that.
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