The meaning of Life? That’s easy.
It’s in the theme song to The Big Bang Theory: “Math, science, history, unravelling the mysteries that all started with the Big Bang.”
I try not to think of my life in terms of “meaning” or “purpose”.
I guess if I HAD to wax philosophical, I would say that I try to live a life that I wouldn’t mind living over and over again. I don’t waste time thinking about the afterlife, because this life is all I know. It’s all I got. I don’t want to squeeze enjoyment out of every moment (too exhausting), but I do want to try to experience each moment I get.
“And party on, dudes!”
I was very careful to only say your definition of Pleasure was idiosyncratic. I could see the definition of Virtue you used was in line with classic philosophy.
To me, the classic definition of Pleasure is “freedom from pain in the body and freedom from turmoil in the soul”, as Epicurus laid out and Descartes references. Nothing in there resembles your own definition. And it’s contradictory because if you’re doing it to feel good, you very much are maximizing your “success within the moment” as I understand those words.
Staying true to your code is a near-term pleasure for you.
“Do and be your moral best.”
To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.
Okay. I am not trained in this stuff and not looking to debate. My understanding of Pleasure is that you pursue freedom from pain and turmoil as your guide to life choices, vs. Virtue, which is adhering to a value set.
The point is: is “the meaning of life” moving closer to freedom from pain and turmoil; or is it feeling like you were true to your values, even if that leads to pain and turmoil?
But my point is that the way you’re describing it, being virtuous gives you pleasure, so there’s a false dichotomy in your initial statement to the OP, that you have to choose virtue or pleasure.
It would be different if being virtuous made you feel bad but you did it anyway. But you say it makes you feel good, not in pain and turmoiled.
Forgive my loose choice of words. If one lives according to their virtues and experiences pain and turmoil, but feels they are doing the right thing and so the pain is worth it. That is not “pleasure” and I don’t mean “I feel good about it” in terms of pleasure. I mean I feel the choice was worth it.
Live large, love large, and leave the world in a better shape than you entered it.
Do what makes you happy, do what you know is right, and love with all your might before it’s too late.
Yep, I live Moody Blues. There are worse philosophies to internalize.
Where is it required to have a meaning?
I’m not sure what the meaning of life is, but I like the idea of being a decent person.
I am certain that religion does not have the answer.
The true meaning of life is to engage in behaviors that promote the survival of said life forms, even when doing so is hostile to other life forms. But that is not a very mentally gratifying answer, hence why we have all these philosophical discussions about the subject.
Having said that, I think the pursuit of science, technology and medicine is the most noble and meaningful thing a human being can do. Helping us escape this pointless cycle of pain and suffering known as evolution by inventing technologies and discovering science to remove us from our animal nature is what someone would ideally do.
Social improvements are important too, but not as important as science and technology.
The universe is fairly young, 14 billion years is the blink of an eye compared to the Universes lifespan. Stars will continue to be formed for another 10-100 trillion years. The vast vast majority of the existence of this universe will be one where intelligent creatures who have mastered science and technology exist in it. We are like babies just beginning to look beyond their crib.
Eat, survive, reproduce. Although not necessarily in that order.
To misquote Richard Dawkins, a man is a sperm’s way of making another sperm.
I try to make my and my co-passengers as comfy as possible on the ride, but greater meaning? Nah.
Back when I had an easy life, I wanted for nothing really - my parents spoiled me rotten, I was a merit scholar semi-finalist without hardly ever studying in school, I was naturally fit and well proportioned (people would actually ask if I was a model on a regular basis; I did not know that was such an unusual thing until I was older fat and balding), the only meaning in life was fulfilling hedonistic pleasures.
My life had a sort of emptiness thought. After years of failure and struggle in the “real world”, I feel much more fulfilled now - which I would not have suspected. I developed a passion for supporting the idea of universal brotherhood of man, peace , harmony, the search for truth all that nonsense. I mostly manifests itself in me reading literature, having discussions with my coworkers about fat prejudice (lately ending up by me making fun of them in a mocking way saying “why do you hate? WHY DO YOU HATE?” and posting half baked ideas on here every now and then.
My life is meaningful, but rather pointless IOW. Hope this helps.
These were not embraced as a consecutive set of postulates, I’m just presenting them that way; they’re more of an end product of a more complex inquiry process…
A — I deem happiness to be relevant — that is, that the search for happiness and the resultant process of trying to establish the conditions that seem to bring it about, is itself a positive meaning-affirmative thing. This isn’t uncontroversial —there are plenty of perspectives that would hold that personal happiness is so much fluffy froth or, worse, decadent self-pleasurings the pursuit of which brings ill into the world.
B — As an elaboration or extrapolation on that, I deem the valorization of notions of a social happiness that we have tended to enshrine collectively to also be a positive meaning-affirmative thing. That is, we collectively have tended to visualize a world of peace and freedom and voluntary cooperation, of people doing good unto each other and taking mutual care of each other. I hold that this general notion of social happiness is also not fluffy froth, that it is an active positive good to seek to implement it in our structures and our attitudes.
C —As a clarification of both of the above items, I consider the process of seeking to be an active positive thing in and of itself, with the following additional insights and elaborations:
• Failure to completely attain the goals at any given time does not equate to lack of meaningful life nor lack of happiness, but rather each incremental motion towards these goals is good in and of itself
• On the other hand, there is no intrinsic barrier representing “as good as it gets” beyond which point further attempts to attain more of it would be without meaning or purpose
• In a self-referential sense, the everyday state of being is, ideally, to be in the process of seeking the ideal everyday state of being; the seeking process is not something apart from the living process
D — Dynamically, the twin imperatives of individual happiness and social-collective happiness are brought into conjunction through communication; communication is between individuals, and is also between an individual and the collective society as a whole, the latter of which is understood to be an entity, thinking its own thoughts and holding its own perspectives, which are housed locally in the consciousness of individuals through the culture that we share; and communication itself is an intrinsically good thing, in the sense that it is not only necessary in order to facilitate the happiness of the individual and of the society but in the larger sense that unimpeded communication inevitably results in understanding and shared experience and therefore is another aspect or presentation of the same process of becoming
E — All social structures are modalities of communcation and the accompanying notions and beliefs about those modalities and, as such, do not have a separate existence from the participatory processes of communication of which they are constituted; like a dance, they are both noun and verb, but at the participatory level of experience the verbal sense is primary; the social structures organizing human society exist in our heads and are danced by our behaviors and as our understandings and interactions change the structures change along with them
F — The sense of self implicit in discussion of individual happiness and the sense of self experienced through sharing and being cared for and belonging socially are both relevant and valid and non-contradictory; we exist in singular and plural; and indeed most of what is in our heads, our opinions thoughts ideas and the terms in which we think, are actually local manifestations of what the species is mulling over and cogitating about; this does not contradict individual freedom but mitigates the truth about what Self is; one consequence of which is that yes the Self outlives the duration of individual personal mortal lives
G — We, both collectively as us and invidually as you and me and he and she and etc, exist in a context of which we are a part, affecting it, arising from it, existing here because here exists, and therefore constituting a part of it, a manifestation of it. Thus, insofar as we are conscious, the universe is conscious. Our consciousness of our own consciousness has led us to realize how we are driven by causally deterministic conditions, both social determination and the larger clockwork determinism of physics, the world of particles and forces and vectors and whatnot. The truth is that consciousness exists and things are done and do happen for a reason, for an intended result, as an outcome of choice and desire and consideration; but the location of the Self is not as simple as we tend to think it. We are, in fact, not merely individual and plural, we are also superplural, as manifestations of the universe in its entirely, of which we are a part, and a conscious and pariticpating part at that.
H —In our inquiry and our seeking of happinesses, we intrinsically desire understanding, and hence crave certainty; but paradoxically the search for certainty is also a never-ending process —once again there is never going to be a state where things are “as good as it gets”, and any and all attempts to enshrine any certainty as immune to questioning is in vain; the state of perpetually seeking requires the vulnerability (or humility if you prefer) of knowing of one’s self that one might be wrong about anything that is currently held to be true. This paradoxical state of affairs with regards to certainty has some very important implications:
• For religion (and any other “meaning of life” process) there cannot be a set of enshrined truths or promises of a reliable certainty that would free the seeker from the process of seeking
• For individuals interacting with other individuals and encountering social friction, communication difficulties, adversarial antagonisms, one should always proceed with an awareness that one might be wrong, or in the wrong, and behave accordingly
• No system of laws can ever evolve to eliminate the need for open flexible communication and to replace that with hard and fast rules about what is right and what is wrong as a means of guiding human behavior. For each and every law there will be situations where the best pro-happiness approach for society and for the individuals involved lies contrary to the law, and hence ultimately law enforcement cannot exist as a rigid axiomatic mechanical process without destroying the intent with which it was devised.
I —None of the above should at any time be taken as gospel truth because I am in the process of understanding, because I might be wrong about anything, and because there cannot be any enshrinement of anything as gospel truth. Not even a statement that there cannot be any enshrinement of anything as gospel truth.