meaning of life....

…what is the meaning of life… *…im still working on an answer to my own question and might have one later…

There is an old joke in which a man, an average, everyday man, becomes interested in Eastern philosophy. After a while, reading about it isn’t enough, so he abandons his job, his wife, and his kids, flies off to Tibet, and climbs a mountain upon which lives a legendary religious master.
He asks the master for the meaning of life.
The master replies “,The meaning of life is a flower.”
The man is outraged. “I gave up everything to come here,” he says, “and that’s all you have to say?! That the meaning of life is a flower?!”
Counters the master “,You mean it’s not?!”

Some of the suggested road maps out there.

oh yea i forgot i can find every question about anything in google… hmm…

Moderator’s Note: Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Board, Nomadic_One. The “General Questions” forum is for questions with factual answers. Our “Great Debates” forum is for “long-running discussions of the great questions of our time”, of which “What is the meaning of life?” is sort of a classic, so I’ll move this thread over there.

Not necessarily this one, Nomadic_One, unless you agree with the philosophies within. Welcome to the SDMB, BTW.

Life \Life\ (l[imac]f), n.; pl. Lives (l[imac]vz). [AS.
l[imac]f; akin to D. lijf body, G. leib body, MHG. l[imac]p
life, body, OHG. l[imac]b life, Icel. l[imac]f, life, body,
Sw. lif, Dan. liv, and E. live, v. [root]119. See Live, and
cf. Alive.]
1. The state of being which begins with generation, birth, or
germination, and ends with death; also, the time during
which this state continues; that state of an animal or
plant in which all or any of its organs are capable of
performing all or any of their functions; – used of all
animal and vegetable organisms.

 2. Of human beings: The union of the soul and body; also, the
    duration of their union; sometimes, the deathless quality
    or existence of the soul; as, man is a creature having an
    immortal life.

          She shows a body rather than a life.  --Shak.

 3. (Philos) The potential principle, or force, by which the
    organs of animals and plants are started and continued in
    the performance of their several and co["o]perative
    functions; the vital force, whether regarded as physical
    or spiritual.

 4. Figuratively: The potential or animating principle, also,
    the period of duration, of anything that is conceived of
    as resembling a natural organism in structure or
    functions; as, the life of a state, a machine, or a book;
    authority is the life of government.

 5. A certain way or manner of living with respect to
    conditions, circumstances, character, conduct, occupation,
    etc.; hence, human affairs; also, lives, considered
    collectively, as a distinct class or type; as, low life; a
    good or evil life; the life of Indians, or of miners.

          That which before us lies in daily life. --Milton.

          By experience of life abroad in the world. --Ascham.

          Lives of great men all remind us We can make our
          lives sublime.                        --Longfellow.

          'T is from high life high characters are drawn.

 6. Animation; spirit; vivacity; vigor; energy.

          No notion of life and fire in fancy and in words.

          That gives thy gestures grace and life.

 7. That which imparts or excites spirit or vigor; that upon
    which enjoyment or success depends; as, he was the life of
    the company, or of the enterprise.

 8. The living or actual form, person, thing, or state; as, a
    picture or a description from the life.

 9. A person; a living being, usually a human being; as, many
    lives were sacrificed.

 10. The system of animal nature; animals in general, or
     considered collectively.

           Full nature swarms with life.        --Thomson.

 11. An essential constituent of life, esp. the blood.

           The words that I speak unto you . . . they are
           life.                                --John vi. 63.

           The warm life came issuing through the wound.

 12. A history of the acts and events of a life; a biography;
     as, Johnson wrote the life of Milton.

 13. Enjoyment in the right use of the powers; especially, a
     spiritual existence; happiness in the favor of God;
     heavenly felicity.

 14. Something dear to one as one's existence; a darling; --
     used as a term of endearment.

 Note: Life forms the first part of many compounds, for the
       most part of obvious meaning; as, life-giving,
       life-sustaining, etc.

 Life annuity, an annuity payable during one's life.

 Life arrow, Life rocket, Life shot, an arrow, rocket,
    or shot, for carrying an attached line to a vessel in
    distress in order to save life.

I’m reasonably sure that the answer to the meaning of life is a small–but nontrivial–component of 42.

I really hate when people ask this question.
Asking “what is the meaning of life” is linguistically the same as asking “what flavour is a triangle”. Sure, one can physically string those words together, but it doesn’t make logical sense. “Meaning” is no more a property of life than is “flavour” a property of triangles…

Well that’s just silly. Triangles are obviously cheese flavour.

Doesn’t help with the question though. And, as the mice found out, even if you get the answer, you’re not entirely sure what the question is. The best answer and question we have to date are “42” and “What do you get if you multiply six by nine” respectively, I believe.

Yay! for Douglas Adams, who I thought was forgotten after reading the first five posts :slight_smile:

Trigonal Planar wrote:

Speak for yourself. Just because you consider your own life to be meaningless, that doesn’t say anything about the lives of other people. A triangle, in the context of art, can have attributes like “meaning”. And so can life in the context of a moral journey.

The meaning of life is the personal quest to find what gives your life “meaning” in the broadest sense.

Find wonder in the wonderful, feel the awe from the awesome, in work and play seek to experience fulfilment.

This “life” thing might or might not continue after your death, as it might or might not have existed before your birth. You might have only one chance at it, you might have many.

Either way, what can you lose in maximising the experience of this one?

The Master speaks.

Sorry, I’m not giving in that easy.

Certain interpretations of life may have certain meaning to certain individuals in their context of moving from point A to point B, but a blanket question of “what is the meaning of life” simply doens’t make sense. You must deffine exactly what your interpretatation of “life” and “meaning” is, along with the context in which they are being used.

Oh, lordy. Here we go with the definition maypole — the last gasp of a lost debate. Define life. Life is ABC. Define A and B and C. A is EFG. B is HIJ. C is KLM. Define E and F and G and H and I and J and K and L and M. And so on.

Even biologists have not defined “life” to their own satisfaction. And asking for a definition of “meaning” has a certain spooky irony to it. Maybe you should define what you mean by “interpretations” and “individuals” and “sense” and “context”. Or else, maybe we should stop pretending that we don’t know what each other is talking about.

The meaning of life is clearly subjective. Whatever meaning you assign to it will derive from whatever you most treasure about life as you understand it. As Jesus teaches, “Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.”

I dont know what the meaning of life is (other than 42). I do know the secret of life.

Libertarian: You’re actually not too far off base with that I’m saying. The meaning of life is, to borrow a math term, a “free variable”. It can take on any value. In the same sense that a triangle in a piece of artwork could take on any value. Abstract subjective values we assign to objects have nothing to do with the properties of those objects themselves. A triangle is a shape composed of 3 points joined by line segments. Color, flavour, etc. are not properties of triangles. However, we can assign a particular triangle a particular colour and interpret it as having flavour, a “sense”, meaning…whatever, afterwards.

Similarly, and individual can assign a particular value to a particular element of their being alive, but you cannot say “life has meaning” any more than you can say “triangles have flavour”.

Does my trip to the store have meaning? No.

Does it have a purpose? Yes.

If I take a trip to the store everyday at the same time to buy the same items in the same old routine, and I write a memoir on my days suffering with depression, then that trip might symbolize the pointlessness I felt. In that case, my trip to the store does have meaning.

(BTW, that’s just an example.)

what if the meaning of your trip was to have a purpose?


i have my own meaning for life as most of us do, you just have to find it