The meaning of life

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My first thought if somebody asked me about the meaning of life is that I don’t understand the question. Why does life suppose to have meaning? The question is more a declaration of a need for purpose and less a real curiosity about my life goals.

The traditional term meaning is used to mark a functionality of something in a broader context, like the meaning of a word, ergo, the meaning is contextual. What is the context of the meaning of life, a society, or a group we strongly feel we belong to, a civilization, the human species… Nobody cares to tell you or that is part of the question. We have to find first which context is of most importance to us and then look for the meaning of our life in this context. Let’s pick for the sake of argument — 21st-century Western civilization. In this case, the meaning of my life would be how significant is my existence for Western civilization, shared core values, my contributions to said civilization, etc. Even I can formulate how much my life is (or I would like to be) in harmony with the Western civilization, there is an argument that contributing to civilization is done better if you overstep (extend) its boundaries, so… There is no divine plan which my life is supposed to be a part of and defines the purpose of it. What can say I’m a scientist and hence I’m not in a business of meaning, that is covered by religions, ideologies and some philosophical teachings.

Now back to: if somebody asks you about the meaning of life, you have three options 1. ask for a context (there is no such thing as the meaning of life in general), 2. say life is meaningless mostly because you don’t need meaning in order to live a satisfying life (even the opposite if the life has a meaning you would feel confined by it), 3. as a compromise, say that everybody finds or makes their own meaning every single day of their lives. I don’t recall who said it beautifully: the meaning of life is that I wake up every morning.

PS if I get a pet I will call it “meaning of life”. Looking for “meaning of life”, taking care of “meaning of life”, getting cosy with “meaning of life”, all that will elevate the natural ambiguity of my mode of speech to a new level …nice!

Categories human condition


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