Life has purposes?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Saint, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I disagree with that.
    I would argue that life has no objective. At best I would say that its purpose is the rather trite "to be what it is".

    I would call reproduction a function of life. Not a purpose/objective.
    Because I have a mouth and vocal chords, is my purpose to talk?
    Because I have the ability to counter the effects of alcoholic consumption, is my objective to drink alcohol?
    Function, in my view, does not imply or equate to purpose/objective.

    Further, when you label anything an "objective", would you say that those who have not carried out that objective have somehow failed?

    Survival is an instinct, not an objective.
    While we have labelled "life" as something that has the function of reproduction, we have labelled the sun as something that gives us light and heat... but do you honestly think that the purpose of the sun is to give us light and heat?

    "Purpose" or "Objective" is a purely human concept... one that we assign to our subjective actions: I do X because I want the outcome Y.
    Sure, some humans want to reproduce for various reasons: the desire to be a parent, the feeling of obligation to procreate, for child-support payments etc.

    But a personal, subjective purpose is a far cry from saying that life itself has such a purpose, and further away from saying that nature itself has a purpose or intention.
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  3. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    What are we seeking when we ask 'why'?

    The question seems to assume some sort of teleology, the idea that events are headed somewhere, towards some conclusion. And it isn't just the physics-style idea of predicting how events are likely to play out in the future, how natural systems will evolve over time. There's kind of an emotional/ethical aspect to it, the idea that there's a goal towards which things are headed, and that it's a desired goal, somewhere that we should and presumably do want to be.

    Heaven, enlightenment, samadhi, moksha, the end of suffering, communion with God, the beatific vision, evolution into higher beings, transcendent knowledge and wisdom, joining a grand galactic federation led by the universe's elder species, the Revolution, promises of "change", freedom, equality and abundance, being rich, famous or powerful, getting laid constantly, the establishment of communism, the promised Kingdom, Islamic law established worldwide... paradise.

    Religions typically deal in these kind of hopes and dreams, but they are often implicit and sometimes fully explicit in secular politics and in the scientistic idea of progress as well. Supplying people with an individual and collective sense of meaning and purpose for their lives and daily efforts is perhaps the biggest single function that myths fulfill.

    My own view is that human life probably doesn't have any goal, destination or terminus that exists objectively outside us and towards which we must always strive. If we experience the need for such an external compass direction in our lives, and I think that most people do and sometimes they feel it very strongly, then people will just have to supply it for themselves, individually or collectively.

    That's what human beings have always done, and it's what they continue to do.
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  5. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    There are plenty of pine trees, were pine trees capable of thought, who might disagree that every creature is better off alive than dead. Particularly when they're carrying large axes and thinking that the winter would be a little easier to bear if one had a large fire burning. I'd imagine, too, that those pine trees would find allies among the moose who have encountered humans carrying large caliber rifles and thinking about roast venison cooked on a pine log fire.
    Frankly, there are plenty of humans who would be better off dead than alive.

    All well and good; unfortunately the general tone of your post infers that all human life is to be valued. Including those for whom personal space and freedom of thought is abhorrent, and give you no such opportunity to retain your own space where it conflicts with their own..

    Not much to say other than that the delights afforded to individuals in life do appear to be somewhat disproportionate. I myself have been extremely fortunate in this regard.

    Probably just as well most humans don't really subscribe to this.
    They're about the only thing giving us half a chance when the sun does the big kablooey in a few billion years. Imagine all the Buddhists being so terribly disappointed when, after they've been reduced to ash, they suddenly find there isn't anything they can reincarnate as. Other than as a speck of dust floating through the cosmos. I'd imagine that would be fairly boring. All that guff about separating oneself from the reality of life would be somewhat moot, when one discovers there is no longer a reality from which one can strive to separate oneself from..

    Come the end, the Buddhists will be clutching for dear life onto the coattails of those who did dare to dream. If for no other reason than that they might find safe harbour from which they can safely retreat once more.

    Emerson. Not too bad, other than that experimentation doesn't really serve when does not take the time to completely immerse oneself in the experiment.
    Don't ever make the mistake of becoming a tourist in life.

    Ten out of ten for stating the obvious. Hardly a shattering revelation.

    I'd imagine Harvey might have had a few qualifications on this had he been pressed to fully explain it. A caveat or two.
    The problem with most of these quotations is that the uneducated, the spiritually deprived, and the intellectually challenged tend to take them to heart and become complacent in themselves.
    There is an inherent conflict between acceptance of ones own beliefs and the desire for personal growth.
    Popeye has a lot to answer for. "I yam what I yam" is utter bullshit, but unfortunately has been accorded validity by those who misunderstand philosophy they've partially read and partially understood.

    Don't mind this too much.
    Other than he's missed one or two waking thoughts; one of which would be to wipe the slate clean and start again.
    Microsoft employees understand this implicitly; they are under no illusions as to the futility of persisting with that which has been proven to be nonviable. The problem lies in that generally, those who know what they are doing are under the power of those who do not recognise any authority other than their own.

    And yet there are plenty of those who have gone "further in life" without having paid to much thought to any of this. One man's measure of what constitutes success does not necessarily dovetail with your own; or Carver's.
    While we might debate their own worth in terms of morality and success, they have without a doubt contributed to humanity being where it is now.

    What would you have been, had Pol Pot never existed?
    What would Buddha have been, had there not been a viewpoint against which he could define himself?

    Can you imagine a world consisting entirely of Buddhas? Imagine the relief felt by pine trees and Moose. Until the sun blew up, and in the process of doing so obliterating all sense of relief, everywhere.

    Without a belief in an afterlife, there can be no meaning other than that which we define for ourselves. The value of religion is that it saves us the time and effort of doing so. Yet without religion, we are burdened with the responsibility of defining it for ourselves. It is probably just as well some are prepared to shoulder that responsibility, right or wrong in methodology they might be.

    Which has more value, those of us who act, or those of us who sit behind our keyboards afterward and judge their actions?

    Someone invented Bourbon once, and presumably he was no Buddhist; a fact for which I am, and will remain, eternally grateful.
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  7. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    What do I look to achieve?

    Love, perfection, pacifism, beliefe, hope, science, knowledge, salvation, confidence, imagination... destiny.. eternity all the way down the line.
  8. seagypsy Banned Banned


    I don't mean to make light of your despair but if living as a man seems meaningless there is no law saying you cannot live life as a woman. Don't knock it til you try it.

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  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    English is not his first language. I'm fairly sure he meant "as a human being." Or as one wag once put it, "I consider man as embracing woman."

    We tend to translate Chinese ren into English as "man," e.g., Zhong-guo ren, "Chinese person," becomes "Chinaman." But Chinese nouns have no gender, except for a few family-relationship words like mother, son, sister, uncle, etc., in which it is implied by the inherent meaning rather than inflected by a suffix. If you specifically mean a male person or a female person, you have to say nan ren or nyu ren.
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    BTW... The purpose of my life is to create and appreciate music. Everything else is just details.

    I'm exaggerating (but only slightly, just ask Mrs. Fraggle), to make the point that individual Homo sapiens differ dramatically from one another. It's unlikely that we could identify one purpose for the entire species.

    Since we invented the technology of city-building or "civilization" around eleven thousand years ago, life has become increasingly complex. We can't all live for the same purpose because there are far too many important things to be done.

    But I'll offer one definition that I like very much, even if it's a little too philosophical:

    To attempt to leave civilization a little better than it was when you got here.
  11. seagypsy Banned Banned

    So far I haven't seen anyone offer a better suggestion for a generalized human purpose.
  12. Neverfly Banned Banned

    Although opinions vary heavily as to how to make humanity "better."
  13. Saint Valued Senior Member

    The purposes of life are to eat, drink, sleep, fuck, and so on.

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  14. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

    Pretty much what I said. Everything else is a vain attempt to achieve immortality in one form or another.
  15. seagypsy Banned Banned

    Ok, so do you need more? Seems pretty simple and easy to navigate to me. I like it. Its practical. Though the "so on" is a bit vague.
  16. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    That is up to each of us to determine and act upon. Judging the values of what others do is not my responsibility but theirs. If one should act by killing millions and other sit back and watch, as America did when Pol Pot was murdering millions of Cambodians, would that act be something to be valued?

    Bénédictine is a herbal liqueur beverage developed by Alexandre Le Grand in the 19th century and produced in France.

    It is claimed that at the Benedictine Abbey of Fécamp in Normandy, monks had developed a medicinal aromatic herbal beverage which was produced until the abbey's devastation during the French Revolution, but in fact Alexandre Le Grand invented the recipe himself, helped by a local chemist, and he told this story to connect the liqueur with the city history to increase sales.


    The original grain spirit, whiskey, appears to have first been distilled in Ireland. While its specific origins are unknown (Magee, 1980, p. 7; Wilson, 1973, p. 7) there is evidence that by the sixteenth century it was widely consumed in some parts of Scotland (Roueche, 1963, pp. 175-176). It was also during the seventeenth century that Franciscus Sylvius (or Franz de la Boe), a professor of medicine at the University of Leyden, distilled spirits from grain.
  17. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    That, Buddha, is the question.
    Don't ask me... tell me what you think. I might even respond, should you do so.
    I Might.
  18. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    Values that we have are made by choices that we are given in our lives. What we learn, who we know and where we live institute those values many times. When I can do something to help others I do but when I cannot help others I can only shed light on the plight that they might have but cannot do much due to my inability to reach out. It is up to each of us to try to bring about a positive environment, TO ME, in the world in which we live only because if we don't the world we live in becomes corrupted and vile with very nasty things happening to humans by those who's values are not positive for helping anyone but themselves. Psychopaths are some of those people, do you like their values, I do not.
  19. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Except for the Bourbon reference and some sophistication, you sound awfully like one of the Kardashians, or one of those chicks from Jerseylicious.

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  20. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    Precisely. Now imagine other choices that may be given to you. Wider learning.

    All of the time, not many times. The only society worth anything is the one which gives us those choices outside those deemed acceptable according to its own values.

    Which values, in particular?
    What "values" do psychopaths hold that those deemed "normal" do not?
  21. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    Jersey-what now, Wynn? I'm Australian, and I don't watch an awful lot of TV unless it involves the Zombie Apocolpyse. Or Q&A in Australia if I feel a little "normal" and am prepared to consider localised opinion.

    Kardashians, huh. Ouch. Please extract the knife from my breast, I'm not particularly enamoured of it.
  22. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    That whatever they do is only done to get them ahead and not to help others they might encounter who could use the help. Many times they cause more problems than soultions for society especially when they lie, cheat and steal for their own personal gains at the expense of others.
  23. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Among the intelligentsia, there is a generally disparaging attitude toward reality shows, the people who play in them and the people who watch them.
    And yet the life philosophies espoused in those reality shows are not rarely precisely of the kind that the intelligentsia espouse.

    When you hear someone like this -

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    talk about how she dares to dream, how she is not like others to stay in her comfort zone, how she is her own person, how she resents people who try to limit her freedom, and so on -

    yes, it may be tempting to write her off as a walking cliche, and refuse to notice the Ubermensch philosophy in her words. And yet she lives it.

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