What is the meaning of life?

When I was a young kid in the 60s, I recall constantly hearing references to that noble question. “What is the meaning of my life” Then came Reaganomics, and the “He who dies with the most toys wins,” mentality, greed is good, and never look back, and the question disappeared from the public stage.

Seems to me in these days that promise to be increasingly trying, faster than any of us dares think, I think the question is worth taking up again.

So seriously, what is the meaning of your life?

What is the purpose your days that are fleeting as the sands running through an hour-glass?

We have our dreams and plans for the future, but as John said, life is what happens to you, while you’re busy making plans. Then it becomes our past. Glories and failures and everything in-between, done, unchangeable, part of who you are, no matter how one choses to deal with it. Which leaves us with navigating our todays.

And here we must find meaning.

What gives your life meaning to you?

How does moving through your day to day, feel to you?

When you go to bed at night, do your thoughts ease you into sleep, or do you wrestle with the day, reliving its tensions until the dawn arrives?

Of course, no two nights, or days, are the same, turn around.
We look in the mirror and face our own aging,
why does our mind not recognize the aging that our bodies experience with the decades.

Are you confident about the future?

Or does the future terrify you?

How do we deal with our inner sense and feelings,
verses our exterior projection,
and doing what we need to do to succeed during that particular day, that was.
Then we get up and do it again.

What keeps you going? What justifies your existence?

Who are you?

Philosophy with a bite.

Just for conversation sake.

An increasing understanding of how it all works and how fortunate I am to be alive and able to contemplate these tremendous things.
Self-referential systems lead to mutual understanding.

Sometimes, the place to start is, what is it NOT? The meaning of life is not a search for the meaning of life. It’s not a matter of finding the one true philosophy that covers everything and explains the mysteries of the universe. Unfortunately, that’s a quest many of us are told to take.

When I was at the Crazy Horse Monument in Custer, SD, I saw this

"They will teach us to quarrel about God, as Catholics and Protestants do. We do want to do that. We may quarrel with men sometimes things on earth, but we never quarrel about the Great Spirit. We do not want to learn that. – Chief Joseph 1861

Even making this statement is somewhat of an argument, so that’s a trap to be avoided. It’s something that has to be lived for a while, maybe a few generations, before we can embrace it.

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Great concept that makes sense to me, but I don’t think it addresses the question itself.
I mean all this, on a more personal level.

What gives us individuals a sense of meaning and belonging, within the circumstances of our lives unfolding?

I don’t think the answer to Our Meaning of Life needs to be wrapped up in defining or defending God,
God always seems to be something out there, with its substance more a dream than anything concrete.

Our lives are filled with our thoughts dealing with the concrete events and people who collectively inhabit our physical existence. It’s a dance between individual us and the world

Can we find meaning in that, without worrying about ultimate powers, or is that unrealistic?

Does Meaning of Live need to be wrapped up in an ultimate authority on creation, that is God?

I can certainly relate to and subscribe to that, but again I don’t think it addresses the question, it seems closer to a means to that end rather than, that end itself.


Seriously, why life should have a meaning per se.

I think that the idea that life has a meaning is an abstract concept and without any substance.

But i think also that it is up to each of us to give a meaning to our life and that, willingly or not, we do it by our acts.


Because people always try to infuse things with meaning?

“Without any substance” is taking it a little far, isn’t it? Achieving our daily bread is substantial, falling in love, raising kids, participating within your community, all of that is filled with substance in the moment, just because they are transient, shouldn’t equal insubstantial.

Okay, I think we arrive at the same place.

Wonderful! I hadn’t heard that one before. It’s funny how comedians can do such a grand job of nailing life. Thanks!

Oh my. That explains a lot. I’ll be over to your place soon with a stack of DVDs.

Life doesn’t have any meaning if we look at it as a scientist. Living things are just an accidental product of nature. Life definitely has a purpose though, which is survival and reproduction. For myself, family is the main thing that gives my life meaning – and family is the ultimate expression of survival and reproduction, so it goes together nicely.


The astrophysicist Sean Carroll has a great take on this question. He understands what time and space are, that there was once a point of nothingness, and that the whole thing is headed toward a state of no life, no motion, because of entropy. That doesn’t sound like much meaning.

But, in between those, locally, places like our Earth, receive energy and grow and develop complex forms, what we call life. The form that we are, the life that we live, is complex enough to reflect on this. That is worth celebrating. Next time you get impatient or frustrated, think about all the things that had to happen to create whatever it is that is frustrating you. Pretty amazing.

Exactly. As I said, sometimes a place to start when trying to define a large concept is with what it is not.

I’ve have tons of respect for Monty Python, back in Wawona days (74ish) everyone would gather for the weekly show. Friends would be rolling on the floor from start to finish, while I felt out in the cold, too silly and smug - I did warm to them with time, they are devilishly funny at times, but in small doses for me. You know, I always was a tad more serious then those around me, how else would I have retained and absorbed climate science and Earth science lessons, and continued to proactively keeping up on the science news.

How else could I have been so cynical, if not antagonistic towards the Ayn Rand, Reaganomics crowd and their me, me, me thinking. :v: :slight_smile:


Back to the thread, and simply for conversation sake, okay rather than “meaning” of life. How about the question:

# Who Are You?

I’m curious, how would one response to that question?

I agree that the purpose of life is survival and reproduction.
But we could look a little deeper into the abstract orderly nature of spacetime itself.

What is survival but an effort to maintain your “purpose” in an abstract mathematical sense of maintaining inertia and/or balance.
Then there is the inherent fractality of spacetime and the self-organization of similar “patterns”. It takes a force to disturb a pattern once it has formed and has structural intergrity.

In nature that translates into a constant “struggle” to maintain as an individual.

Come to think of it, meaning is a purely subjective term. One might have a shared experience of something meaningful, but it is still only processed by whatever energetic mechanism that drives the organism.

How did a single-celled organism like the Paramiceum come to propel itself ?
Did the acquisition of a flagella have meaning?
How did a multi-nucleic single cell like the slime mold acquire the ability for pseudopodia to hunt for its food?
Was it a meaningful goal or a stochastic choice by “natural selection”, the ultimate meaningful judge of who shall live or die.

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The universe has an inherent ability for problem-solving. It seems to be that when there are sufficient resources all you need to do is wait.

There is a law of “necessity and sufficiency”.

In general, a necessary condition is one (possibly one of multiple conditions) that must be present in order for another condition to occur, while a sufficient condition is one that produces the said condition.[3] The assertion that a statement is a “necessary and sufficient” condition of another means that the former statement is true if and only if the latter is true. That is, the two statements must be either simultaneously true, or simultaneously false.[4][5][6]

When reversed this reads that when sufficient conditions are present it becomes necessary for B to emerge from A.

This is why I firmly believe in a physical, but mathematically structured Universe.

The process of self-ordering and self-replication requires a MathematicaL Logic, no matter how mysterious that concept might be. It’s actually simple.

Our bodies are dynamically functioning mathematically ordered biological patterns, made of stardust, just like everything else!

In light of the strengths and weaknesses of the human condition of intellect and consciousness, and the multitude of abilities and limitations we have, I would answer with one word: Joy.

Specifically, to maximize Joy for self and others.

That is both long-term Joy (love, friendships, intellectual satisfaction) and short-term Joy (sex, bacon, and whiskey).

From a subjective anthropomorphic perspective, you are correct.
From an objective scientific perspective, “joy” is measured and described as “balance”, “symmetry”, and “comfort” (a state of physical ease).

Some musings from Albert Einstein.

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