• Average
    469
    Lately I've been thinking about my life and I've come to the conclusion that my life has a purpose. Very often philosophy is thought of in the light of the question "what is the meaning of life?". I would rather ask "what is the purpose of life?". To be more precise I would like to ask the question "what is the purpose of my life?". I have heard people endorse the view that "existence precedes essence" and that we should accept the existentialist position that our lives can be given the meaning and purpose that we want them to have. I apologize if this is a misinterpretation of existentialism. I am not interested in debating the merits of existentialism or it's flaws, not that there is anything wrong with that, but I am interested in examining the goal, mission or objective of my life and the role that I will ultimately play in human history. I think this is an important subject and one worth discussing. I know that I could be overthinking this and I accept that as a valid criticism. it might be hubristic and narcissistic to think that my life has a purpose and at the same time deny that the life of other people or animals has any real discernible purpose. Humans have assigned a purpose to other life forms like chickens and trees and we use them in accordance with the categories we place these things in, such as food or shelter. I suppose the Greek word for purpose would be telos and therefore this would be a teleological subject or topic and if anyone has a criticism of teleology I would love to learn more about their position and perspective. If I have in anyway failed to meet the desired standard of excellence while writing this introduction I would like to apologize in advance to all of my detractors. I hope that you will be generous and kind when criticizing me and not hold me in detestation on account of any perceived incompetence on my part.
  • Tom Storm
    8.6k
    I think paragraphs would be helpful, this slab of text is hard to read.


    Very often philosophy is thought of in the light of the question "what is the meaning of life?". I would rather ask "what is the purpose of life?".Average

    From my perspective those questions seem a bit ambitious, with a focus on utility. I don't think in terms of meaning or purpose but I can answer what I prefer to do with my life. How I prefer to spend my time.

    I suspect meaning or purpose is more of a by product of the choices you make, but not something you seek in itself. And what is meaningful to me may not be meaningful to others - in this way meaning is an abstraction which has no intrinsic qualities.
  • Average
    469
    From my perspective those questions seem a bit ambitiousTom Storm

    I am a very ambitious person.
  • Tom Storm
    8.6k
    Is your personal ambition the same quality as the kind of ambition present in the wording?
  • Average
    469


    I should think so because I have no reason to think otherwise
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.7k
    I am a very ambitious person.Average

    I think that's a good quality, and in itself could provide you with a whole lot of purpose.
  • 180 Proof
    14.5k
    I would like to ask the question "what is the purpose of my life?"Average
    I suppose "the purpose" of any one's life is whatever task or exercise or practice one is committed to that provides an end (in one's own mind) which 'justifies' all or most of one's means (i.e. choices). In other words, whatever one lives for, or cannot endure living without doing, seems to me to be one's "life purpose". One can only answer this question for one self – each one of us is, paraphrasing Sartre, condemned to be free to choose our own purpose/s.
  • Vera Mont
    3.7k
    I am interested in examining the goal, mission or objective of my life and the role that I will ultimately play in human history. I think this is an important subject and one worth discussing.Average

    Important to you. But what's in it for us?
  • Average
    469


    I can't offer you any money in return for your assistance but I can offer you my gratitude and if there is anything that I can assist you with I will be glad to do so. However I would like to suggest the possibility that we can all benefit from a discussion of this sort. For example if we were to inquire into the nature of a hammer in order to discover it's purpose we would be able to extrapolate from the particular instance of the individual hammer we happened to be discussing and extend our conclusions to all hammers or whatever tool we wanted to examine. I would be surprised if every human being had a unique purpose separate and distinct from all other humans. In other words it would be strange if some human beings were made of gold and some were made of silver or Iron and brass as plato famously suggested.
  • unenlightened
    8.9k
    I've come to the conclusion that my life has a purpose.Average

    That is interesting, I wonder if you can say more? I can imagine at least two different scenarios in which this makes sense. the first is the sense in which, for example, Winston Churchill felt he had a destiny to fulfil for which he spent probably most of his life preparing. In such a case, there is a purpose in the world and for the world. The other scenario presumes a soul incarnation to experience a particular life as a learning and development of the soul; thus a purpose relating to beyond this world.

    for my own part, I have long felt i was here on holiday, and the real work will begin post mortem.
  • Average
    469


    I don't know much about souls so If I was forced to chose between the two alternatives I would probably select the first option instead of the second. Another way of putting it is that I believe I am alive for a reason and that there is something I am supposed to do with the life I have been allowed to enjoy. Perhaps it's similar to a duty or responsibility that I am obligated to respect. I can't say for certain but I don't think I should live my life doing whatever I enjoy simply because I enjoy it or doing whatever benefits me simply because it benefits me. instead I view my life as entrusted to me and that I should use it in the best way possible instead of the worst. I don't want to to disgrace myself anymore than I already have by pursuing the inferior things in life because doing that seems shameful and ignoble.
  • Vera Mont
    3.7k
    However I would like to suggest the possibility that we can all benefit from a discussion of this sort.Average

    Many people might benefit from considering thew purpose of their own lives - rather more, i think from considering whether their lives have or need a purpose at all. But only you benefit from discussing your particular life; the rest of us are not invested in your ambitions.

    For example if we were to inquire into the nature of a hammer in order to discover it's purpose we would be able to extrapolate from the particular instance of the individual hammer we happened to be discussing and extend our conclusions to all hammers or whatever tool we wanted to examine.Average

    I suspect we would learn more from watching a master carpenter use a hammer than we could from talking about the hammer.
    I would be surprised if every human being had a unique purpose separate and distinct from all other humans.Average

    I would be surprised to learn that any human being a predetermined purpose, such as a hammer has; I'm inclined to believe we become tool only when other people a assign a purpose to us. Otherwise, we are free to set personal goals, meet obligations incurred in social existence, decide to what endeavour we dedicate what portion of our life.

    for my own part, I have long felt i was here on holiday, and the real work will begin post mortem.unenlightened

    For most people, it's boot camp. (Some typos, one is tempted not to edit.)
  • Vera Mont
    3.7k
    Another way of putting it is that I believe I am alive for a reason and that there is something I am supposed to do with the life I have been allowed to enjoy.Average

    This very strongly presupposes a deity, who has requirements of some kind, preferences in human behaviour and standard according to which humans are judged. I can't help you with that: I don't believe in gods.
    I do think we owe something to the mortals who contribute to our survival, welfare, security and comfort; those who nurture, support, instruct and cherish us through the helpless phases of life. We owe something to those others with whom we enter into contracts and intimate relationships, and to those who depend on us. But you don't get recorded in history for being decent.
  • Average
    469
    only you benefit from discussing your particular life; the rest of us are not invested in your ambitions.Vera Mont

    It was never my intention to discuss my personal ambitions or even my particular life. I don't see how I would benefit from that. I hope you'll give me the benefit of the doubt even if you suspect my intentions.

    I suspect we would learn more from watching a master carpenter use a hammer than we could from talking about the hammer.Vera Mont

    I don't know any master carpenters but if you do please tell me where I can find one, although I fear that you may be deliberately stretching my analogy to the breaking point for the sake of making me look like an idiot.
  • Vera Mont
    3.7k
    I don't know any master carpenters but if you do please tell me where I can find one,Average
    If you're interested in the use of tools, your best bet is You Tube.
    as an analogy: a famous person who did life well However, I hope you have among your acquaintance some persons who mastered the craft of living and didn't become famous.

    I fear that you may be deliberately stretching my analogy to the breaking point for the sake of making me look like an idiotAverage

    That's not my purpose.
  • Average
    469
    This very strongly presupposes a deity, who has requirements of some kind, preferences in human behaviour and standard according to which humans are judged. I can't help you with that: I don't believe in gods.Vera Mont

    I don't know if a god exists or if there are many gods and I don't care. I am completely indifferent to such questions.

    we are free to set personal goals, meet obligations incurred in social existence, decide to what endeavour we dedicate what portion of our life.Vera Mont

    I am not trying to take away your freedom or persuade you that it should be taken from you. I am trying to discover the best way to use the freedom that I do have. You seem to think that I should imitate Jimmy Carter or someone like him who has "mastered the craft of living" but whatever the case may be I don't think that my role in life is one of imitation although I could be mistaken. I don't even care about ethical questions like what we do or do not owe to the members of our species, not that there is anything wrong with discussing these subjects. My attention is simply directed to a different goal. It may be the case that I am incorrect in concluding that my life has a purpose and if that is the case I should like to learn about my error from anyone who is willing to reveal it to me. Perhaps nobody's life has a purpose and we are "condemned to be free" as someone else put it but I am convinced that I am alive for the sake of some end and that it would not be wise to resist this even if it cost me my life.
  • Vera Mont
    3.7k
    I don't know if a god exists or if there are many gods and I don't care. I am completely indifferent to such questions.Average
    In that case, what does this mean?:
    Another way of putting it is that I believe I am alive for a reason and that there is something I am supposed to do with the life I have been allowed to enjoy. Perhaps it's similar to a duty or responsibility that I am obligated to respect. I can't say for certain but I don't think I should live my life doing whatever I enjoy simply because I enjoy it or doing whatever benefits me simply because it benefits me. instead I view my life as entrusted to me and that I should use it in the best way possible instead of the worst.Average
    Who/what does the supposing?
    To what/whom is this obligation?
    Who/what imposes the "should"?
    Who/what sets the standard?
    You seem to think that I should imitate Jimmy Carter or someone like him who has "mastered the craft of living" but whatever the case may be I don't think that my role in life is one of imitation although I could be mistaken.Average

    All I meant by carrying on your own metaphor is that you learn more from example than you do from palaver.
    You don't care about theological questions; you don't care about ethical questions; you're not interested in social obligation - that doesn't leave much to palaver about. (And I'm not interested in snippiness or self-designated specialness.)

    I am convinced that I am alive for the sake of some end and that it would not be wise to resist this even if it cost me my life.Average

    Go, get 'um!
  • jgill
    3.6k
    but whatever the case may be I don't think that my role in life is one of imitation although I could be mistaken.Average

    My late aunt used to say about my grandfather, "It took him a long time to find his niche".

    Certainly, biologically, we are here to reproduce. We are fitted through evolution to survival and procreation. But most of us go beyond that, thinking,There must be a higher level purpose to our lives. I assume you are not an old person. Am I right? Because, when old we look back on our lives, thinking, What have I achieved and is it important to have achieved anything? Have I made may mark, and is that a necessity?

    Or, we don't think about these things. Living life as we can. I have been an existentialist for most of my life; when I reflect, I think creating meaning has served me well. Don't ponder too long about this issue. Get movin' and find your niche. :cool:
  • Average
    469
    Certainly, biologically, we are here to reproducejgill

    I think that you would agree that there is more to human life than our reproductive organs. I don't think that life exists to serve reproduction but I do think that reproduction exists to serve life. In other words I don't think that life exists to produce reproduction but rather reproduction exists to produce life. I apologize for saying the same thing twice but it seems like an important point. If all we ever did was reproduce we would be in no way different from the chickens we use as food. They reproduce and then their offspring goes on to reproduce but only for the sake of the slaughterhouse.
  • unenlightened
    8.9k
    I don't know much about souls...Average

    Well nor do I. I'm waving in the general direction of how you might feel about this

    there is something I am supposed to do with the life I have been allowed to enjoy.Average

    I understand. But the way you put it is as if there is someone - God? - who has allowed, and who supposes you. I think it is rather difficult to talk about purpose without something of an implication of 'beyond' the mundane world. But I'm just exploring something that is maybe quite nebulous.

    Perhaps we can call this thing instead a moral sense of owing to others a duty to improve life for everyone, or even a duty to the environment – to life itself – I don't know if any of this resonates with you at all? or perhaps there is a duty to oneself to live one's best life what ever one finds that to be. I think in general I would put learning to love at the top of my list. That's an all day thing that I fail at nine minutes out of ten. But perhaps you have a particular vocation - I envy such as musicians or doctors who find their purpose and never hesitate.

    Anyway, there is a philosophy that will declare any talk of purpose to be nonsense, though, what the purpose of following such a philosophy might be, I cannot fathom. So let's ignore that at least, and get on with whatever we can discern to be of value, to ourselves, or others, in this world or the next.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.7k
    for my own part, I have long felt i was here on holiday, and the real work will begin post mortem.unenlightened

    That's called 'leaving the work for someone else" better known as laziness.

    Average has already confessed to being very ambitious. The problem I find with pure ambition is that it needs to be directed. Properly directed ambition is what is commonly called "goodness", and wrongly directed ambition can produce all different sorts of evil, so I'll just say in simplification, that it's dangerous.

    It appears like Average is very ambitious, and also has an innate will, or inclination to avoid the dangerous side of things, assuming "a purpose", yet does not know "the purpose" which will ensure proper direction.
  • Christoffer
    1.9k
    "what is the purpose of life?"Average

    Nothing universal. There is no purpose or meaning universally. You can only form purpose or meaning in the context of something. We can look at our family and find that we have a purpose in that context. We can view history and see that we have a purpose in that. But there isn't any general purpose.

    It is much like this:

    Humans have assigned a purpose to other life forms like chickens and trees and we use them in accordance with the categories we place these things in, such as food or shelter.Average

    We exist in categories as well. I have a purpose in whichever category I'm in. In here I have the purpose of examining your text and ideas, giving you a new perspective. I might assign a purpose to myself in the context of arguing against ideas that are dangerous or arguing for ideas that I view as positive.

    If some higher intelligent alien view us as we view trees or other life forms in nature, they might see a purpose for us in the perspective of our place in the universe, or they view us as having no or little purpose just as we do for something like a lion, who doesn't give us anything more than being part of an ecosystem.

    Categorical purpose or meaning is the only way to apply any of it to others and ourselves. But we can also invent it as a form of morality. We can apply purpose or meaning as a form of guard against nihilism. We can state, as a maxim, that a human has a meaning and a purpose without even formulating any answer to exactly what that meaning or purpose is. This would produce a morality in which we view another person as important with an existential value that we should guard and protect against harm or non-existence. Purpose and meaning can therefore have a practical element without it needing explanation.

    Maybe you don't need to know of any meaning or purpose. Maybe you only need to apply it as an act in order to exist with a sense of meaningful momentum in life. Apply it as motivation for existing.

    In other words, I act as if I have a purpose, for then, even if unknown to me, I have one.

    We view all else around us as having a purpose, even stuff we don't yet understand, like unknown quantum particles we know have a purpose as part of the foundation of reality. So in the context of reality, we have a purpose, part of the ever-growing entropy of the universe.
  • unenlightened
    8.9k
    That's called 'leaving the work for someone else" better known as laziness.Metaphysician Undercover

    Thank's for the compliment. Laziness is the engine of civilisation. The wheel was invented by someone who found dragging stuff a drag.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.7k
    The wheel was invented by someone who found dragging stuff a drag.unenlightened

    I cannot disagree with that portrayal. Physical laziness inspired mental ambition. So that person, if it was just one, found oneself some mental purpose, even though that ambition was inspired by physical laziness. But if that person happened to get run over by pulling that first wheel laden with heavy stuff downhill, the difference between goodness and danger wasn't well respected in that lazily inspired ambition. The physical laziness may have seeped into the mental ambition resulting in a mental laziness.
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