Class Warfare Blog

October 21, 2019

Brilliant Thought on the Meaning/Purpose of Life

I have written a number of time on the “purpose” or “meaning” of life. This answer to a question on Quora really rang a bell for me. Enjoy!

What is the purpose of life?

by  Richard Muller, Prof Physics, UC Berkeley, author “Now—The Physics of Time”

Updated Dec 21, 2017 · Upvoted by Elsa Álvarez Forges, B.A. Philosophy, University of Barcelona (2006) and Ingrid Harris, Ph.D. Existential Phenomenology & Hermeneutics, Philosophy (1996)

Let me answer the closely related question: Why do we seek to find a purpose in life? The pursuit of purpose, in my experience, is found only in individuals who are overly self-centered. Sometimes I joke that the search for purpose in life is God’s punishment for those who care more about themselves than about others.

I once suggested to a student who felt his life was meaningless that he volunteer at a local kitchen that feeds the poor, just one day a week. He gave it a try; a few months later I spoke to him, and he had not found his purpose in life; he just no longer cared about the question.

Parents who focus on their children, above career and success (except to the point that some level of success helps in the rearing of children) don’t ponder the purpose of life. Nor do people who are deeply interested in others. It’s not that they’ve found the purpose, but (like my student) the question no longer bothers them.

Seek out others. Try to help them. It doesn’t have to be a lot of people, just a few will do. Listen to them. Interact. Take their thoughts and concerns seriously. Be a part of a larger community. It’s remarkable how the deep philosophical and bothersome search for meaning in life fades and itself becomes meaningless.

 

18 Comments »

  1. Excellent point

    Like

    Comment by maryplumbago — October 21, 2019 @ 4:07 pm | Reply

  2. I suppose I’m something of an existentialist. My personal feeling is that there is no real meaning to life other than how I define it myself. I don’t believe there is any overarching purpose or fate or destiny and I don’t understand why so many people need to have such a thing in their lives, and need it so badly that they have to start making stuff up to try to justify their own existence.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by grouchyfarmer — October 21, 2019 @ 10:40 pm | Reply

    • I am in complete agreement. Maybe we should form a club! :o)

      On Mon, Oct 21, 2019 at 10:40 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 22, 2019 @ 11:25 am | Reply

  3. When we finally realize that the question of meaning is meaningless, we have found our meaning.
    Brilliant!

    Like

    Comment by John Branyan — October 22, 2019 @ 11:49 am | Reply

    • Ah, the fallback position of every scoundrel apologist, deliberate misunderstanding. Keep it up, you are becoming very good at it.

      On Tue, Oct 22, 2019 at 11:49 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 22, 2019 @ 11:57 am | Reply

      • “It’s remarkable how the deep philosophical and bothersome search for meaning in life fades and itself becomes meaningless.”

        Tell me where I’ve misunderstood.

        Like

        Comment by John Branyan — October 22, 2019 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

        • If I may interject — You live. You die. Any “meaning” between those two points is up to you.

          Liked by 2 people

          Comment by Nan — October 22, 2019 @ 12:19 pm | Reply

          • Ta da! [6.0, 6.0, 6.0, 6.0, 6.0 The judges have ruled!]

            On Tue, Oct 22, 2019 at 12:19 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

            >

            Liked by 3 people

            Comment by Steve Ruis — October 22, 2019 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

          • Fabulous.
            I hope you never get a phone call from someone contemplating suicide.

            Like

            Comment by John Branyan — October 22, 2019 @ 12:31 pm | Reply

        • “When we finally realize that the question of meaning is meaningless, we have found our meaning. Brilliant!” Tell me that this wasn’t written to mock both the author of that piece and me. Mocking because our opinion is foolish in your view.

          Like

          Comment by Steve Ruis — October 22, 2019 @ 12:19 pm | Reply

          • Yes. I was mocking your worldview. You’re no stranger to a mocking opposing worldviews.

            Are you going to explain how I misunderstood this worldview?

            Like

            Comment by John Branyan — October 22, 2019 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

  4. pur·pose
    noun
    the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

    The purpose of life seems simple… to live. What other purposes would life have? Not only that, life goes to great efforts to do just that… live. If it were not the purpose then why try so hard?

    Like

    Comment by Lander7 — October 22, 2019 @ 10:52 pm | Reply

    • According to your schema, the purpose of a rock is too be hard and the purpose of a tree is to be tall. Just because a word has a definition only establishes it as a word that is used or was used. It doesn’t mean it makes any sense or has any physical reality. Purposes and reasons are fictional. They are made up for various purposes and I suggest that if you tried to use a stated purpose or reason for a criminal act in a court, you would lose anyway. When someone states reasons they find incomprehensible, they reject those and make up others. For example, theists often claim that atheists are atheists because they just want to sin, or they hate god, or … well, you probably know the list well. They make up their own reasons because they reject the reasons of the atheists as being nonsense.

      So, when you say meanings are meaningless, you are spot on. Similarly reasons and purposes are not what they seem.

      On Tue, Oct 22, 2019 at 10:52 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 23, 2019 @ 8:16 am | Reply

      • “So, when you say meanings are meaningless, you are spot on.” – Steve Ruiz

        Ah. It’s okay for you to say it but when I say it, I’m deliberately misunderstanding.
        Does your hypocrisy ever bother you or have you developed a tolerance for it?

        Like

        Comment by John Branyan — October 23, 2019 @ 5:03 pm | Reply

  5. Check out the Freedom From Religion free thought for today, 23 October 2019 the third quote is from Ned Rorem. To paraphrase his quote, we invented god to give purpose to life as life has no purpose. We invented money for that. We invented art, which helps us kill time before time kills us.
    The only possible purpose life may have, and this after reading this very blog almost every day for years and having managed to live almost 71 years so far, is to replicate itself. My own view is that life is a tenacious critter. Once it got started, it wants to continue. Survival of the fittest is NOT survival of the biggest/strongest, just the fittest to pass on genetics that will help the next generation.
    If I messed up this comment, sorry, old brains with severe lung issues don’t get enough oxygen to the brain. Makes life a bit confusing for those I interact with, but it can also be comical.

    Like

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — October 23, 2019 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

    • I am a member of that organization and hadn’t checked their thoughts of the day. Since it is my birthday I went and checked. Thanks for pointing out that feature. (I often join organizations just to provide them the support of my dues.)

      And as to your not very jumbled comment (I guess since we are roughly the same age, we speak the same language–a little like the “genuine frontier gibberish” alluded to in “Blazing Saddles” (Rawber!)) I will add that one of the most liberating ideas ever presented to me was that “now that you are an adult, you do not have to have reasons for what you do.” This is something we demand of our children as part of their training, that they have reasons for the things they do. This reason training is for … I don’t know … maybe to teach them to think? (I suggest some Socratic questioning would be more effective.)

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 23, 2019 @ 1:26 pm | Reply

      • Such a sneaky way to let us know it’s your BIRTHDAY!

        In any case … 🎂🍦🎈🎉🎁!!

        Like

        Comment by Nan — October 23, 2019 @ 2:55 pm | Reply

  6. Happy birthday sir.
    I check the thought for the day every day. Even though my computer was down a few days (we moved) I went back and checked the days I missed.
    Being born in southern Wisconsin, I understand differing ways of speech. Rawbur/Rawber, either way, some critter is robbing some other critter/business/bank.
    Have an extra of whatever you enjoy on your birthday, I’ll pay.

    Like

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — October 23, 2019 @ 4:26 pm | Reply


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