That Meaning Of Life Thing … Did You Really Mean To Say That?
As you might know, I asked my readers to comment on what they thought the meaning of life is. I got some interesting answers though it would appear that I don’t have too many ‘believer’ readers lately. Such is life.
I wanted to get a feel for what my readership thought of the meaning of life question before posting. I suppose that is odd or somehow paranoid, but it struck me as the right thing to do at the time. Such feelings have not always been a good guide for me but I thought I’d give it another chance.
As it turns out, it was an interesting response. There were several joke or humorous responses, of course.
tildeb: There’s only one answer: 42, silly.
And then my preacher friend says:
Surely the meaning of life is explained by different people in different ways, it all depend on what they want to get out of life.
If you think about that for a bit you can take it several ways. I find it interesting that a believer would view ‘the meaning of life’ as a meta statement about what we might want to get out of life. I’m sure that he meant this in respect of people wanting eternal bliss with skydaddy, but it has a deeper meaning in that it specifically implies subjective reality rather than objective reality.
What the hell, go on, tell me what YOU think already
Several commenters rightfully pointed out that meaning is a poor way to phrase things. Life as value, purpose, and meaning, not simply meaning. We humans like to conflate the three but they are very different.
Seems to me that the only meaning of life is to make more life. I suppose that brings up other questions: why bother expending all that energy on making something that has to expend energy to make something that expends energy making something… so on and so on, ad infinitum. Maybe the answer to that question is the real meaning of life?
It is true of all species on this one planet that the purpose of life is to create more life. Evolution may have created life at some point that is not hell bent or creating more of its kind, but they did not survive for us to observe. So it would seem that evolutionarily the purpose of humans is to make more humans. This endeavor, on it’s own, does not seem to have any purpose beyond propagating the species. Having more of one species or other does not imply a deeper meaning of any kind.
If we address value we dive straight in at the deep end of subjective morals and value propositions.
Purpose seems solid as nothing more than propagating the species. Value seems only subjective. What then is meaning, especially in the context of life or existence?
The word meaning implies a causal relationship, that we exist for a purpose not readily apparent to the casual observer. Meaning implies a chain of causal relationships of which existence on this planet is but one. That further implies that we exist somehow before and after this life. This, to me, means that the very concept of meaning is based on failed logic. There can be no ‘meaning’ without a chain of causal relationships. We have no credible evidence for such a chain nor any credible reason to believe that such a chain exists.
Without such a chain we exist simply because our parents were driven to procreate by the hormones in their bodies. Some of us truly are here by accident. Most of us simply don’t want to die before we have to. We do not approach life thinking that we are supposed to have x, y, and z without causing problems. This and other things tell us that we are here, no explanation. An explanation would show the chain of causal events.
Determinists are certain they understand the causal events, yet have no explanation for them.. therefore, they too have no meaning for life. In fact nobody does. There are those that will offer anecdotal stories of what they value and try to tell you that is what the meaning of life is… but it is not a shared experience or understanding.
We can show that life or existence in general has a purpose and subjective value but we have no way to assign meaning to the life we know. Life or existence has no meaning. Meaning then must be a subjective evaluation of life as it runs on the simulator in our heads.
I can only conclude that there is no objective or even universal meaning to life or existence. Those that believe in determinism will see this as true. Nihilists will see this as true. Does that mean that everyone else is fooling themselves?
There are those that say the meaning of life is friends and family – which is nothing more than purpose as stated above. Everyone else that seems to claim meaning for life or existence bases it on a belief in god or gods. One might then wrongly say that without god life has no meaning. The reality is that life has no meaning with or without a belief in god(s).
So how does one live life if there is no meaning? Just like you did before when you thought there was meaning except that you don’t blame everything on magic. Life just is. Existence just is. You don’t have to enjoy it, you just have to experience it. Try to make the best of it. Experience stuff. That sounds a lot like YOLO thinking but it’s not. What your life affords you to experience will be different than mine, but experience just the same. Try to live in the moment, in the awe of even being able to understand that you exist and that at any given moment, somewhere in the universe there is a star exploding with more energy than you can probably imagine. Why we are here does not matter. That we are here does. We didn’t ask to be on this amusement ride so make the most of it while you are here. Existence is guaranteed for those that can read this, so is the end of existence.
As it turns out, it’s just a ride…