What is the Meaning of Life?
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DESCRIPTIONWhat is the Meaning of Life?. Feraco Search for Human Potential 13 December 2010. A Constant Work in Progress. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation
What is the Meaning of Life?FeracoSearch for Human Potential13 December 2010
A Constant Work in ProgressI often wonder if I'll ever finish all I've started, and the answer I have found is no! No, I will never finish all that I have started because life is about doing the process not the resultMy lifes a constant work in progress, and I wouldn't have it any other way.Set Your Goals, Work in ProgressSomething left unstated during our death lecture albeit something that most are already aware of is the fact that time marches on without you once you pass awayYour children will age, your spouse will die, and new generations youll never meet will rise and fall
A New InteractionismThe dualists the interactionists, anyway insist that theres an interactive relationship between our bodies and our soulsI propose that a similarly dualistic relationship exists between our attitudes towards death and lifePeople who are truly terrified about life after death say, those who are convinced theyre going to do something during life that theyll pay for in death probably arent going to live as boldly (or recklessly, to be fair) as those who arent
Good Things, Odd ReasonsI have also mentioned that we often do good things for odd reasons in order to avoid a negative consequence, for example, rather than out of a genuine sense of goodnessDont behave cruelly, or the guilt will haunt youSome of you only do your homework because you recognize the consequences of giving away points
Beyond Self-PerpetuationIs that the purpose of life?Eighty years of avoiding negative consequences long enough to make it to the next day?Eighty years of resume-building?I may be young and fairly inexperienced, with a whole lot left to learn, but Im reluctant to believe that the ultimate meaning of my life is so narrowSo thats my starting point: Well build on survivalWhat is the meaning of life beyond self-perpetuation?
Not Naturally EvilBut What?I tend to take a lighter view of humanity than many of you; I dont believe that were naturally evilIf I believed humans were naturally evil, what would human potential even mean?I think that we do good things for a lot of weird reasons but that we do good things for the right reasons as wellI dont think creatures of evil could even conceive of some of our treasured concepts love, preservation, loyalty, curiosityWhat I wonder, then, is whether these admirable qualities give us a clue about what the ultimate meaning of life actually is assuming one exists, of course
Is There Meaning?What are we considering when we set out to study the meaning of life?For one thing, we have to take an honest look at the possibility that life is meaningless that not only were the monists right about human existence (with regards to the afterlife, not with regards to the everything-is-made-out-of-the-same-stuff business), but that theres not even any meaning to the existence youre currently enjoying
In All of the UniverseBy doing so, however, we confront a variation on an old theme: How do you prove something thats this abstract doesnt exist?Its like saying Theres never been and will never be a creature who can survive in the vacuum of outer space.Really? Never? In all of the universe?How can I possibly prove that with any degree of verifiability?We also need to examine whether something else confers purpose onto us or whether the meaning of our own lives is within the realm of our control
Nihilism and TeleologyIts worth noting that this is a teleological question (remember them?)After all, teleological operating philosophy doesnt just assign one purpose to life it assigns multiple ones in the form of goalsTeleologists can believe in an external force that confers meaning on people, and they can believe that we create our own meaningsYou can also talk about nihilists those who believe life is fundamentally, unchangeably meaningless, and that nothing we do, say, or think matters (or ever has mattered)Theyre the flip side of teleology no goal is meaningful at all
The CallingThe idea of a person finding his calling can work both waysIt can mean he needs time to figure out what hes supposed to do (external)It can mean he needs time to figure out what hes good at, or what we want to do and whether those things can be meaningful enough to sustain him (internal)Think of how often college kids change their majors!Think of how often professionals switch lines of work!Again, this can seem arbitrary but it can also seem like a logical processIt all depends on whether you believe purpose is static
Back to NihilistsNihilists want you to accept that life is fundamentally meaninglessThey argue that theres no great scheme, no grand purpose, to you or anything elseNihilists say everything is arbitraryWe are random and alone, have always been and always will beThere are no universal moral values that humans should hold
Without PurposeWhile faith isnt necessary for morality, purpose seems to be for morality, in many cases, seems to be about upholding ones ability to fulfill his/her purpose, or to avoid harming others in their quest to do the sameWithout purpose, without meaning whats the point of a moral system? What are we even trying to protect?
Done With NihilistsTheres really nothing more to say about nihilism either you buy into the idea that theres no meaning to life (think monism stripped of purpose) or you dontWe cant really spend too much time on it, other than to wonder about the hypothetical consequences if nihilism is correctAfter all, we talked about how morality would be impacted by either an affirmative or dissuasive knowledge of what awaits us beyond deathIt could make morality easier or people would still be tempted to push the limits and see what they can get away withWhat would happen if we knew that nothing really mattered?
Conceivable MeaningsIf purpose and meaning are conferred upon us, what are some conceivable meanings?Perhaps to generously provide for othersPerhaps to search for answers and questionsPerhaps to teach and guide those around usPerhaps to improve and evolve, physically and emotionallyPerhaps to carry on in our predecessors footsteps, or to protect our heritagePerhaps to find peace and serenityAny others?
Chaos!!!Weve joked/observed throughout the unit that humans seem to gravitate towards chaos that we complicate things unnecessarily, that we love questioningHowever, that same tendency towards chaos might be what keeps us from stagnating might even be what makes life worth living after allThe very chaos that nihilists cite as reason to believe that none of this matters could very well be the reason everything does
The Star and PhilosophyWe began this semester by talking about the five points of a single star: enlightenment, independence, identity, security, and loveNone of our existential questions is about one of these pointsand yet, at the same, all of them areIsnt the question about choice really about independence and identity?Isnt the question about morality really about identity and (mutual) security?Isnt the question about happiness really about independence and identity?Isnt the question about the soul really about love and identity?Isnt the question about death really about love, identity, and security?And isnt this question about the meaning of life really about the whole thing?
The Star and the CubeLife seems to be a wonderful, endlessly fascinating puzzle, like Wall-Es Rubiks Cube full of trade-offs and mysteries to be solved, happiness to be won, and new frontiers to crossOur stories this semester dare to ask the questions we need to ask ourselves along the wayIf our dreams came truewould we be worthy? Would we be ready?If humanity is meant to improve, how can we get better without losing who we are?I appreciate progress, treasure it, learn from itbut never settle for itIf were going to build a better world, we cant cheat when challenged by the cubeSo solve a puzzle, and start anotherbecause life means more than 42