My Raison D’etre – Mon 30th Apr 07

What is the meaning of life? Nothing. Life has no meaning. There is no rhyme or reason to life; there is no purpose or master plan to the existence of anything, let alone life, and certainly not intelligent life.

There cannot be purpose without design. And the universe was not designed. It the product of natural forces working without direction but by precise laws of physics and logic. The inter-working of these rather simple forces can produce pretty complex things, and these complex things can produce more complex things over time. This is where life came from. But it was not planned, or designed, and therefore not purposed. Hence, life has no purpose.

This may sound nihilistic. And at first glance, with good reason. When I de-converted from belief in God, I felt alone, afraid, and cold. I felt a world that was empty, harsh, remorseless, transient, ephemeral, and meaningless. I despaired. I was broken.

But I began to learn new things about the universe and about life. I realised that although life is meaningless, lives are not. There is no purpose to living things, but intelligent living things have the unique ability to give their own lives meaning! What does that mean? It means that the purpose of life is an irrelevant question. It is viewed as the apex of metaphysical questions…the ultimate riddle that only perhaps the very wise could ever answer. But I believe the question is a red herring. It has no meaning. The real question should be: “what is the meaning of my life?” And the answer is: “whatever you want it to be.”

The purpose of life that we should all give ourselves is: happiness. It’s as simple as that. Do things that make you happy. Aim to bring as much happiness to your life and the lives of others as possible. Of course if you hurt or exploit people you are not making anyone else’s life happy, and ultimately, if this doesn’t make you unhappy, perhaps you are not a human being worthy of the name.

But life is about being happy. I can’t tell you what that means for you, as I’ve barely begun to figure it out myself. We all have to figure it out for ourselves. The meaning of lives is, to find happiness.

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10 Responses to “My Raison D’etre – Mon 30th Apr 07”

  1. Amir Hussain Khadim Says:

    But I believe the question is a red herring. It has no meaning. The real question should be: “what is the meaning of my life?” And the answer is: “whatever you want it to be.”

    very well put. Heres my version : the purpose of life is life itself. The propagation of life. Through out our lives, all human beings, tall or short, painters or engineers, optimistics or pessimistics, everyone and everything we do is to propagate life before our mortal bodies give way. To produce others like us so that life continues with a balance. We are mere agents of life just as wind and water are agents used for pollination. Thats it. Its the life, the nature that is using us for its perpetuity and in return gives us its bounties.

  2. evanescent Says:

    Actually Amir, I couldn’t disagree with you more. The purpose of life is most definitely not the propagation of life. If it were, then whatever our own desires and purposes and values in life, they would all be secondary or sacrificial to propagating life. This notion suggests that the propagation of life is a duty or obligation of living things to perform, regardless of who or what we are. In other words, what you’re suggesting is that the primary value in our life be something external, intrinsic, to the actual values in our lives.

    But why should one’s purpose in life be the propagation of life? Why should one hold the propagation in life as the most important thing, the highest value? Of value to what? And to whom? And why?

    If I have a choice of living in slavery for the rest of my life or a very risky escape that might result in my death, should I choose slavery because at least then I am propagating life?

    If I have the choice to live with my partner without children whilst we enjoy our youth and relative freedom and happiness, should we sacrifice that and avoid having an abortion in the event of an undesired pregnancy, because the latter is after all propagating life?

    What you’re basically saying is that it doesn’t ultimately matter what purpose we have in our own lives, as long as we perpetuate “life itself” – we are just indivisible interchangeable agents through which this “life” can live itself out in. (Hence your analogy with pollination, as if humans beings are like pollen, bees, and flowers.)

    Underlying all this is the “purpose” of service and obligation, of devoting our lives to something ‘greater’ or external than/to ourselves. People have different names for this higher cause. Some call it god, some call it society, some call it serving others, but you call it the “propagation of life” which you seem to suggest is realised through reproduction. But the morality behind all this thinking is the same: altruism.

    Since true morality demands that altruism is immoral, I cannot agree with you on this.

  3. Nabeel M Sher Says:

    I read this post after years of being published . To start off your idea about life is truly egoistic and full of pride in your self and belongings .

    You value life because of a partner who can live with you and have sex with you ?

    or because of your vodka that makes you tick ?

    or the music that makes you want to dance ?

    look at yourself … you believe the complexities just grew randomly without any objective therein ? why is your finger print different from 6 billion other people ? why is your face distinctive ? why is your voice even distinctive ?

    when you walk why do you leave foot prints behind ?

    when there is an action why is there a consequence ?

    when you are enjoying life to its peak why do you then die ?

    when you love happiness so much , why arent you always happy and living in this sad aura that you have created around you ?

    why do leaves turn green and wither away ?

    you disbelieved in GOD the ONE , truly you are arrogant

  4. evanescent Says:

    “I read this post after years of being published . To start off your idea about life is truly egoistic and full of pride in your self and belongings .”

    Wow, thank you. How nice of you to start off with a compliment like that. You’re right, I am egoistic and I am full of pride in my self and what I have and own.

    “You value life because of a partner who can live with you and have sex with you ?”

    This is one of many things that one might value.

    “or because of your vodka that makes you tick ?”
    Drinking vodka doesn’t make me tick. NOT drinking vodka makes me tick. :p

    “or the music that makes you want to dance ?”
    …dance, or smile, or cry, or remember. Music is a great value for many reasons.

    “look at yourself … you believe the complexities just grew randomly without any objective therein ? “
    Not randomly, no. Through evolution by natural selection.

    “why is your finger print different from 6 billion other people ?”
    Because the odds of having the same fingerprint as someone else by chance are well in excess of 6 billion to one.

    “why is your face distinctive ? why is your voice even distinctive ?”
    Because the odds of having the same face and voice as someone else by chance are well in excess of 6 billion to one.

    “when you walk why do you leave foot prints behind ?”
    Because I’m not a hologram.

    “when there is an action why is there a consequence ?”
    Because existence is identity, and A is A.

    “when you are enjoying life to its peak why do you then die ?”
    Because we’re mortal, and the possibility of death gives value meaning.

    “when you love happiness so much , why arent you always happy and living in this sad aura that you have created around you ?”
    Are you on drugs?

    “why do leaves turn green and wither away ?”
    Probably something to do with clorophyll, sunlight, seasons, and the coldness of winter.

    “you disbelieved in GOD the ONE , truly you are arrogant”
    And you’re a deluded maniac. Don’t bother posting again on my blog.

  5. evanescent Says:

    I didn’t really expect Nabeel to reply so fast on my other article! I thought he was a hit-and-run theist nutjob.

    So in all fairness I think my reaction above was excessive. I would like to ammend this comment:

    “you’re a deluded maniac.”

    Nabeel, I don’t think you’re a maniac.

  6. Nabeel M Sher Says:

    Evanescent . Lets forget our subject of discussion now , kindly make it comprehendible to me that where do you get the energy to reply to each commenter in here , I believe you really believe what you do . So in all fairness we are equated in passion .

    But still written arguments over long periods of time with multiple attacks is quiet a tiresome job I believe , especially in the case when you have the bandors on the corner of your eyes so that you only see what is in front of you . You know we use the bandors to make a horse ride in a straight path on a city road .

    But its not that easy to constrict a human with so many thoughts and randomly bizzare visions . Dont you see girl life offers so much variety . We are so same but so different in nature and temper and beliefs and habits . We see cultures coming up in youth and in cult that makes all of them get together on similar trods or its our job in the corporatocracy that requires us to act together in well defined codes of law . But when we go down to sleep at night we all think of different things .(i know it looks like an indie movie phrase , a surrealist director making an attempt at romance), but come to think of it we are no more different than leaves that bloom and wither away .

    But we are free to move , free to say , free to reign , free to ride free or fly in the air or dive in the sea . To cut the trees to kill the beast to make houses to bomb places to shake the earth on the jam night or on a nuclear test , we have control of everything in accordance to a written down code , the same code that makes your finger print different than mine and my identity different than yours .

    The concept of NAFS includes the assertion of the self , its your ego , your character “evanescent” . And like your self the 6.8 billion people of the earth have their own egos with them . Ego consists of your memory and your responses and everything is stored in your brain cells , though we are not able to requite it but maybe some One can .

    I dont believe in fighting over petty sentences so that I may quote you , neither would i like you to quote me its all a pretence . The real matter is we convey what we believe to each other and why we believe so . Rationality has no limits you cannot achieve perfection . No person in the world can achieve complete authority on even the subject of road making cause there are always better alternatives waiting to be discovered .

    How can you philosphize emotions when you rarely understand all facets of happiness or all vices of misfortune .

    Your being born in any country to any parents and getting the life you have right now wasnt in your parents control , neither in your own control . But let me tell you what is in your control right now , the power of choice !

    and hence the irony of hell and heaven . Yes its an irony for the disbelievers because even in this life we come to the misfortune of expecting something and ending up with something other , the feeling of lost and wasted days and energy ignites the pain and especially when we see that the mistake we made is really making the life horrible ..

    what if you are wrong evanescent ?

    just ponder and tell me what if the sun that you see everyday and the moon every night are not randomly around us , what if their motions are not determined by the hogwash but really the result of an active force holding the fort together .

    we see forces way beyond our comprehensions all around us , yet we have this innate feeling that we are the masters of the universe , no 1 knows more than us the humans , no 1 is capable of the feats we are capable of , no 1 in the heavens and the earth is the “MOST WISE” but us ?

    although we had no part in creating our self or determining our way of life ‘apart from the limited free will that we are allowed to exercise and which rarely determines our status . Everybody needs that ‘stroke of luck’ , where do they come from no 1 knows . Most of the people in this world are humbled down to the dust and then made strong . How does it all happen . The most powerful countries in the world combined are not holding together the fort of the cosmos .

    You hold the fort of your PC and if you dont do the right thing you wont be able to blog in here , so you are holding together the fort in here , making it a place of rich discussions and shallow thoughts . How could you expect the glam of the heavens and the earth without some 1 holding the fort ?

  7. evanescent Says:

    Hi Nabeel. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  8. evanescent Says:

    Deleted your last two comments, Nabeel. Like I said, I am not here to be preached to and my blog isn’t a soap box for other peoples’ opinions. If you want to espouse your religious ideas perhaps you should do so on your own blog.

    If you want to know my opinions on religion and god, look under the relevant articles on my blog. But unless you want to have a spotlight shon on your beliefs highlighting every last fault and inconsistency with them and your faith, this probably isn’t the place for you.

    I am just being honest.

  9. Bee Says:

    Evanescent, your responses made me laugh (genuinely, not in a mean sarcastic way. You are very passionate, hence i even care to response, i rarely response to any blogs). I came across your blog because lately I have been, you used it – nihilistic (not in a sad suicidal way, just generally wondering). I do share some of your views, that life has no meaning, and that question is irrelevant in fact – couldn’t agree more with you here.

    I guess believing in God is something personal per person, people go about shoving faith in others faces is retarded and opposite of believing; it’s about them and not faith.

    “The purpose of life that we should all give ourselves is: happiness”. I can argue that drugs & alcohol addicts are “happy” if they do drugs and drink alcohol. People who cant help but kill and rape and are pedophiles, fulfilling their “condition” makes them happy. Me not doing a thing and just sitting around makes me happy – which is in fact asking for being homeless (and unhappy). I am not saying that you are wrong because I also don’t have any answers. I am also on a journey, like you are. This approach may work for you, but this statement is too general, don’t you think?

    Of course, happiness is important, otherwise it’s depressing as hell. But It seems like to me that life is more than just being happy. It seems to me that I should “fight” for my beliefs and the person I want to be, and that is not a happy thing to do (people are not going to always approve of you, may hate you for you are not sheep, etc), and who’s to say that person i become will be who i thought i wanted to be after “fighting”and what not.

    I think that answer is not simple as making happiness the ultimate goal. Doing something for the happiness is like being it’s bitch. Do what makes you happy? No, do what makes you a legend rings well with me…

  10. evanescent Says:

    Bee, the problem with aspiring to be “a legend” as you say, is that it makes you a dependent on the whims and ideals of others. A legend, to whom? In what way? Why? Maybe people have differing ideas of “legend”, and most of them are wrong.

    You shouldn’t live your life trying to be someone else’s ideal. For a start, it’s their own job to live their life to their own ideals, and secondly, your life should have far more worth to yourself than to sacrifice it trying to be a legend or hero for others. Legendary or heroic is a nice status to have, but it should be the consequence of your actions, not the end in itself. It’s like saying you want to get famous. Lots of good and evil people are famous, for many reasons.

    I can argue that drugs & alcohol addicts are “happy” if they do drugs and drink alcohol. People who cant help but kill and rape and are pedophiles, fulfilling their “condition” makes them happy.

    Well it depends how you define happiness and how you believe it can be achieved? This is the task of philosophy to identify. Happiness cannot be chased in and of itself, without identifying WHAT it is, and HOW it can be achieved. Happiness is the consequence, the reward, for a life well-lived. It is the highest moral purpose you can pursue.

    I recently wrote about this, when I compared a Humanist’s moral code that basically says “maximise happiness” versus the Objectivist theory of ethics. You can read it here:

    http://angel14.com/2011/02/03/universal-utilitarianism/


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