• Paul S
    146
    I feel that in these times, people increasingly question the validity of their lives, and a lot of it stems from being cut off from nature and interaction, from the acts that humans have evolved with, our inate social activity.

    We are social animals that live in communities and its like a scream telling you something is wrong because something is wrong. Humans socialise. This maybe the first time in the history of humanity where we are not living even as humans have done for millennia. So it's normal to feel that way. It's as much a question of psychology in 2021 as it's is philosophy. It would be more worrying if you didn't question your purpose in times like these.

    We should all remember that we are important. Each of us in my view is like a neuron in the brain of the universe. We exist so that the universe is sentient.
  • Todd Martin
    206
    In pondering the purpose of life, don’t we need to make a distinction b/w MERE life, like that of the other animals who, though they have a simulacrum of the soul, pretty much just live for living’s sake, to fill their bellies regularly and procreate the species?

    Doesn’t a human life imply that it exist for the sake of something higher than that? That human life is subservient to a goal qualitatively different, and more exalted, than that of the lower species of existence and life?

    Some may say that it doesn’t, that it’s purpose cannot be determined by any objective nature, but rather only by its own individual will. If so, what is the evidence for that? For I only see a clear teleology to human lives: that they be led, ultimately, like lemmings to the brink of a cliff, into the various discussions on The Philosophy Forum!
  • GLEN willows
    93


    I agree. I think philosophy should be about the reality of existence, not dreaming of a better life. It's about truth, not "I wish."

    My only quibble is that you seem to be unnecessarily painting this as a negative. Not believing there's some transcendent "purpose" or "meaning" to life is undeniable. I mean IN THE WAY PEOPLE HERE are referring to these terms. Of course we do have a purpose in nature, unless you don't believe in evolution. Or believe in God.

    But the good news is: freedom. Our lives are NOT predestined, nor hardwired. We're free to do whatever we want.
  • schopenhauer1
    5.2k

    Yep. Purpose is misapplied to life itself. People live, suffer, and then they die. However, I see these kind of questions as seeing the pointlessness of keeping this going. What is great about survival, finding more comfortable states (less cold, clean environment, etc), and finding entertainment? All of this done within the context of a socioeconomic context and historical trajectory. Just one thing after the other. It's not so much "purpose" as "this is what we do". Sisyphus. Just because we "know" what we are doing while we are doing, doesn't mean it has more significance. In a way, it just amplifies the ways in which we suffer. A dog lives a happier life.
  • MondoR
    120
    In my philosophy I only have one life, so I'd better get moving on it right now! :wink:GLEN willows

    Inhibits quiet enjoyment.
  • GLEN willows
    93
    I'm quietly enjoying this forum. :smile:
  • GLEN willows
    93


    Well, I think it depends on a) your situation and b) your expectations. I think if you want life to make you happy, you'll be disappointed. I suffered from depression, still do really. But part of what got me out of that gutter was the realization that life is neither good or bad. Many of the things that seem unbearably awful are delusions that your brain can reason with, and discard. You can't find total happiness...that's impossible...but at least you can evaporate some of the delusions that plague you.

    Only speaking for myself of course.

    Then as Sartre said "hell is other people." That's part of it too. Not to say I've conquered the quest for happiness, oh no no. But I have put it in perspective, and don't blame the world for my darkness. Which helps.
  • GLEN willows
    93
    Doesn’t a human life imply that it exist for the sake of something higher than that?

    This is the supposition I can't understand.
  • schopenhauer1
    5.2k
    Then as Sartre said "hell is other people." That's part of it too. Not to say I've conquered the quest for happiness, oh no no. But I have put it in perspective, and don't blame the world for my darkness. Which helps.GLEN willows

    I tend to think our modern culture hyper-individualizes everything. You are here because of a historical trajectory. You have to "work" because you need to survive. "Work" is derived from how your sociocultural, economic, and political environment dictate it. There are many things that are actually out of your control. They can be dictated by the very conditions of existence itself even. You can perhaps choose certain things, but you can't choose to not have any choices, and you cannot choose to have choices that are not available to you. Certainly, if we wanted the status quo of creating more humans to work, get comfortable, and find entertainment, the message would be something like, "It's not the world that is the problem it is YOU. Now get on board or don't bother us". Etc. etc. and things like that.

    I am not saying you can't adjust your thought-process, but I am just saying it is convenient to turn the tables on someone complaining about existential conditions to shut up and leave the regular folk alone. In other words, "to get help".
  • Todd Martin
    206
    @GLEN willows. Looking back over these pages I saw where you posted that you believed neither in God, nor in any transcendent Nature that dictates to us our has determined our purpose as human beings...yet you profess a belief in the evolutionary process. Obviously, that process, in your opinion, must be totally random. Am I correct in surmising this?
  • Darkneos
    197
    But we agree - creating goals and behaviours in life (like helping others) are what give you purpose. But everyone has different ways of achieving that.GLEN willows

    They don't though.

    Purpose is something imbued by a creator, evolution has no purpose it simply is a force that happens. If you want to say purpose it would be something given by parents I guess but even then that is more a desire.

    Goals and behaviors in life can't give you purpose for you will have none at the end of the day. All they can do is distract you from the reality of existence.

    In my philosophy I only have one life, so I'd better get moving on it right now! :wink:GLEN willows

    Why? Why get moving? You won't remember any of it when you die and you can't take it with you (assuming an afterlife). There really is no reason to get moving or do anything.
  • khaled
    2.5k
    Why? Why get moving? You won't remember any of it when you die and you can't take it with you (assuming an afterlife). There really is no reason to get moving or do anything.Darkneos

    Because standing still is worse.

    Purpose is something imbued by a creatorDarkneos

    Or the creation.
  • Todd Martin
    206
    Why cannot it be true that the purpose of nature works THROUGH evolution?

    Too much emphasis is placed on the randomness of evolution by ppl who only look at mutation in genes. Yes, that mutation is indeed random, but the mutations that are accepted...are they merely random? No, they must be adaptable; and then we come to the question of what is adaptability, and we must allow that it means something like, “what fits in to the scheme of the universe”.

    It’s like if someone said, “pinball is a game of pure chance, for there is no way to know how the ball will return to the paddle, at what angle or speed. The player just pushes the button by reflex, and hopes it sends the ball into places where big scores can be racked up.” But there are, in fact, “pinball wizards”, who correspond to our evolutionary adaptability, able to choose the random things that fit into the scheme of the game.

    If there were no hierarchy among genetic mutations, ie some better, some worse than others; in other words, if all mutations were equally adaptable, then the universe would be filled with amorphous monstrosities!...nor would there be pinball wizards.
  • Darkneos
    197
    No standing still is not worse. Stop trying to affix to life qualities it does not possess.

    The creation cannot imbue itself with purpose. Purpose is imbued by an outside force not from within. So it cannot be given to oneself.

    Why cannot it be true that the purpose of nature works THROUGH evolution?

    Too much emphasis is placed on the randomness of evolution by ppl who only look at mutation in genes. Yes, that mutation is indeed random, but the mutations that are accepted...are they merely random? No, they must be adaptable; and then we come to the question of what is adaptability, and we must allow that it means something like, “what fits in to the scheme of the universe”.

    It’s like if someone said, “pinball is a game of pure chance, for there is no way to know how the ball will return to the paddle, at what angle or speed. The player just pushes the button by reflex, and hopes it sends the ball into places where big scores can be racked up.” But there are, in fact, “pinball wizards”, who correspond to our evolutionary adaptability, able to choose the random things that fit into the scheme of the game.
    Todd Martin

    But that would be misunderstanding evolution. The first mistake is that people believe it has a purpose. It doesn't. It just happens. Organisms that fit the mold survive and reproduce while the rest die. There is no purpose or reason behind it. It just is.

    The mutations ARE random. It's really luck that a mutation generates a benefit for the organism. There is no adaptability to the level you think there is. That isn't how evolution works. There isn't a scheme to the universe.

    Pinball wizards are really just lucky. It happens. People misattribute such things as skill when it's luck. The same goes for success or promotions. We say it's skill because it gives us a sense of control in our lives. We don't want to admit that our accomplishments are really just about luck.

    I really don't think a philosophy forum is for you, maybe try some new age nonsense.
  • Possibility
    1.9k
    The creation cannot imbue itself with purpose. Purpose is imbued by an outside force not from within. So it cannot be given to oneself.Darkneos

    Purpose: the reason for which something is done or created OR for which something exists.

    There is no ‘outside force’ presupposed by the term ‘purpose’. That’s an assumption in your interpretation.
  • Gregory
    2.3k
    Entropy makes people depressed because they feel that disorder is taking over. Howecer, I think entropy is about randomness. Order and disorder are in the eye of the beholder. Randomness and determinism are objective on the other hand. The world started with less randomness and is now becoming less determined. However if consciousness is founded on quantum uncertainty than the more random the universe becomes in the future the more it will be capable of create great consciousnesses.
  • Darkneos
    197
    Reread the definition. It presupposes and external entity imbuing it.
  • Todd Martin
    206
    @Darkneos. Oh Dark one, I appreciate you saying that the organisms which survive are the ones that fit the mold.

    Now, from your analogy of promotions to human positions, I would assume that you consider Nature or God to have the same fickleness as a CEO when making decisions, and that the mold the latter make is of the same sort that the former does, id est, according to the random will of the boss...but does that seem true? that Nature/God possess the inconstancy and capriciousness of some human CEO?

    I am just an ordinary guy living a very ordinary life. But when I sit on my front porch and watch the buzzards circle high in the air above me, I wonder at the confluence of nature that resulted in this reality: that beings came to be in this world that were able to overcome the effect of gravity in this way; that they were endowed with the ability to spot carcasses thence far below, and swoop down to get their sustenance from them; that there exist other such scavengers in water and soil; that man was born to imitate them through artificial means, etc...

    ...but I digress...

    You say adaptable mutations are just lucky, but you admit that there is a “mold” into which they fit. Is this mold by pure chance also? If so, was it made by God or Nature...or does that matter?

    As far as experts go in the game of pinball, since you believe success in it is due to pure chance, let me ask you: would you be willing to wager $100 that you could beat a pinball champion in a head-to-head contest?
  • Darkneos
    197
    Again, chance. There is no design to evolution. That's the first mistake they correct in class.

    Adaptable mutations are lucky because it is a role of the dice that they don't hinder the organism. There is no "mold" they fit, that's just you projecting design.

    I would be willing to wager, if I actually likely pinball. But they're just lucky. Much of our lives is based on chance and not really our own efforts.
  • Anand-Haqq
    10
    Life is without purpose – life is its own purpose,
    therefore he who lives without purpose truly lives.
    Live! Isn’t living itself enough?

    The desire to have more than just life is a result of
    not properly living – and that is why the fear of death
    grips the human mind, for what is death to one
    who is really alive!
    Where living is intense and total
    there is no time to fear death –
    and there is no time for death, either.

    Do not think in the language of purpose –
    that language is diseased in itself.
    The sky exists without purpose.

    God is without purpose,
    flowers bloom without purpose,
    and stars shine without purpose –
    what has happened to poor man
    that he cannot live without purpose!

    Because man can think he gets into trouble.
    A little thinking always leads to trouble.
    If you must think, think completely, utterly!
    Then the mind whirls so fast with thoughts
    that freedom from thoughts is attained.
    Then you begin to live.
  • Todd Martin
    206
    @Darkneos. It is not I projecting design, Darkney, but YOU. Remember? You’re the one that said, “Organisms that fit the mold survive and reproduce while the rest die”. Now you’re saying there is no mold. I never used the word “mold”.

    That’s why I asked you all those questions about the “mold”. Do you retract your original statement? Did you misspeak?

    As for your contention that the adaptability of mutations is governed by pure chance, let me suggest that you are confusing two very different things: the value of the mutation to the organism’s survival, and the likelihood that it will appear.

    Consider the coronavirus: like any organism, it’s genes undergo a wide variety of mutations over time, and these mutations are equally likely to appear in any one example of that organism at any time. In this way, all mutations are equal and subject to “a role of the dice”...

    But some of these mutations, which all have an equal chance of occurring, turn out to allow the virus more tenaciously to attach to the host cells, which in turn allows it to invade them more easily and quickly and in larger numbers, etc. These are the more successful “variants” we have been hearing about, which will undoubtably plague mankind for many many years to come. Their success, as opposed to their chance of occurring, is not due to chance, but to the peculiar way they fit the host, to the “mold” nature has set that they fill.

    I would suspect that something like this is rather what is taught in Evolution 101.

    As far as your sentiment, that “Much of our lives is based on chance and not really our own efforts”, I would agree with you. Chance plays a major role in the world, intermixed with design to a greater or lesser degree in all affairs. Sometimes it is purer, sometimes not so obviously pure. An example of the former is when a disabled aircraft crashes into your house and destroys it, and kills you and your entire family; but even that is not bereft of design: how close did you live beneath a major channel for commercial air-travel for example?

    I and my twin brother were once getting soundly beat by our older brother, noted for his jocular sort of wisdom, in a billiards match, sometimes by seemingly miraculous circus shots he was making. We both told him at the same time: “you’re just lucky.” His reply? “Luck is just skill looking for an opportunity.”
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