|07-13-2007, 09:52 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
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?
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