The Meaning of Life? – It’s Right Here!

Welcome again, gentle reader! This post might take a little longer than I’d like, so please bear with me. Rest assured, this has nothing to do with my ability as a writer and everything to do with your ability as a reader. To this end, I’ll try not to use too many big words, as I appreciate this can be somewhat incommodious and cumbersome. If there’s any part of this article that you don’t agree with, feel free to email me evanescentisneverwrong@mac.com. Thanks.

There must be something worth living for.

There must be something worth trying for.

Even some things worth dying for.

So go the words of Beth from Jeff Wayne’s musical version of the War of the Worlds. Granted, some of our real life problems actually feel worse than being invaded by Martians, especially to those who live in Manchester. Big, ugly, slimy beasts with lipless slathering mouths and writhing tentacles, Mancunians do have hard lives – but that’s not the point.

I was in the pub the other night, drinking with friends. A pint of Guinness, thanks for asking. Yes, yes it was nice. Thick, dark, and with a rather large head, the bartender is known for serving a good pint. Towards the end of the evening one of my friends (after I’d paid them extra for staying a little longer) despondently mused “is this all there is to life?” His point was basically along the lines of: if I die, and I’ve contributed nothing, and left nothing, does it really make a difference whether I was alive or not? I should point out that although he might have held this opinion, I believe he was playing Devil’s Advocate somewhat, and saying that even if you or I are optimistic, some people would have every right to feel that way.

Is he right? Is life pointless since it is undoubtedly the end?

Before I answer that, let me give my reason for why many people can and do feel this way – as I was once one of them. I may be wrong, but I’m not. What I’m about to say will get a little philosophical, so if you’re under 12 / not very intelligent / a fan of reality TV, feel free to close this window and get back to watching Big Brother repeats or TabooSexStories.com (page 20 is a good one). Actually, that’s a bit harsh of me, since if you’re a fan of reality TV shows you’re automatically either one of the other two options anyway.

Morality. Morality is a branch of philosophy that attempts to deal with the questions: “how should I live my life? What is good for my life and what is harmful?” Unfortunately, philosophy in general today is in terrible hands, because the “intellectuals” who teach it are riddled with perverse anti-rational anti-human anti-moral contradictory notions. I’m not going to go further into this here, but as an example, how many times do you hear the experts tell us that we cannot know anything; that reality is subjective; that man can never achieve certainty?

Getting back to morality: society in general (as a result of famous philosophers and especially religion) holds one thing as its standard. What I mean is, the measure by which an action is considered virtuous and noble. That standard is: sacrifice. It is the belief that the more an action is directed towards others, and the less it is directly for personal selfish benefit, the more moral it is. The more you serve and live for others, the better a person you are – so says society in general. This is because the underlying philosophy on which this morality is based is the following: your life is NOT an end to itself. Your life has no purpose, and has no meaning, and cannot be given one by yourself. Therefore, the only reasonable worthwhile thing to do is live for others; give up what you have; sacrifice for the good of others; create a legacy, make the world a better place; disown yourself.

I’m not saying ignore others, and don’t better the world, and don’t help people, and don’t be kind and generous – the difference is this: one morality tells you to act with OTHERS as the primary beneficiaries of your life. The other tells you to act with YOURSELF as the primary beneficiary of your life, your actions, your choices.

Humans can die. We are mortal beings. In order to live, not just as animals do from one moment to the next, seizing whatever meal comes along and never planning ahead, you must realise that there are things that are of objective value to your life as a human being. It is precisely because you are mortal that things can make a difference in your life. It is your mortality that gives rise to values – and a value is that which one acts to keep or gain. It is only because the possibility of death is present, that you MUST constantly act in accordance with the antithesis – life. And whether you like it or not there is no alternative here. You are either moving toward life or moving toward death. Life is a constant process of self-generated action. Even if you stand still, you move toward death.

Inasmuch as you choose, implicitly or explicitly, to live – you must discover those values that your life as a human being, as a rational being, needs. But, this would require a morality that tells you to act in accordance with those values – to NOT sacrifice them. But whose values? YOURS!

Those who ask the question: “what does it matter what I do if I just die?” have already conceded the argument – they have already given up their morality. Those who say that your life is not an end to itself, that you have no right to live, that the best thing you can do is give your life to the service of others (like a man on a street returning a wallet that didn’t belong to him) – they have already won. They believe that life is pointless because their lives have no point. They believe life has no meaning because their lives have none. They teach that only having kids is the answer, only giving all your money to charity is the answer, only spending your life in the service of others is the answer, living like a priest and walking to work and never polluting the air is the answer, doing something that “makes a difference” is the answer. Notice the premise they have smuggled in? “Make a difference” – to whom? “What does it matter” – but to whom? “Mortal life is pointless” – to whom? The premise they have smuggled in below your radar is this: other people are the standard for right and wrong. Other people can judge your life as a success or not, even after you’re dead. And no matter how you live your life, you are forever striving after the ethereal recognition, the approval, of others.

This, is the “morality” that you need to reject. This is the subjective capricious code of “ethics” that takes other people as the standard – which also goes by the seemingly harmless and benevolent expression “altruism”. Which people? Doesn’t matter – just others, and the more the better. Until this backward evil premise is rejected, people who ask the questions we began with will never understand how life can have meaning, because they are looking for OTHER people to give it to them.

The moral person knows that their life is an end to itself. That the admiration and consent of other people does not equal morality. That giving away your values is not the key to happiness but the destruction of it. That your life is not the means to the end of others. That your life belongs to you and no one else. That we are not just the product of an evolutionary process that implies: be born, procreate, die. That the highest moral purpose you can pursue is not the happiness of others, but the happiness of yourself.

But it takes a break from convention and an objective rational philosophy to ground one’s morality on these foundations – the exact sort of “radical” unconventional thinking that society today denounces.

Rather than being the “me me me” attitude that this may appear, it is actually the only proper way to live your life. By acting with your life as the ultimate value, you will take care of all the other values that make it possible: your health, your money, your family, your friends, your lover, your music, your car, your holidays, your books, your hobbies, your pets. These values you must discover for yourself – and they are selfish. Selfish, and good. And don’t let anyone tell you differently.

That is why the question: “if we’re just going to die, what does it matter?” can be seen for how vacuous it is. For a start, “what does it matter?” – well, my life matters to me! And it matters to those people I value and those who value me. The rest, I’m not too bothered about!

There is only one way to live – to value your life and act accordingly, and that is how to achieve happiness. If you don’t choose to pursue happiness, you are not choosing to pursue your values. And since values have their ultimate goal in life – the rejection of values, of the pursuit of happiness, has only one other goal: death. If you can’t see the point in being happy, you might as well kill yourself now, otherwise you’re living a contradiction. If you live, pursue happiness. It’s your right. In fact, there is no other purpose in life.

Planetarium for your PC

I came across a piece of software this morning that is a must, if you like astronomy or planetariums!

It allows you to scan the heavens in 360 degrees, external to earth. It’s also in real time so you can see the earth as it would look in space right now, and where day and night are.

Here’s the link: http://celestia.sourceforge.net/ (opens in new tab)

And here’s a screenshot from my computer of the earth in space at this moment in time, 12.42 pm GMT:

celestia

One of the Pleasures of Life

In my opinion, there are very few pleasures in life greater than music. Okay, there’s friendship, love, sex etc. But I’m not even sure how you’d classify the pleasure you can derive from listening to a song you love. A great song, a great voice, great lyrics, can be pleasurable emotionally, intellectually, and even physically.

It is so hard to pin down exactly what it is about music that can make it so addictive and why humans would evolve to invent and then appreciate it, that it seems almost magical, almost irrational. But I believe it is anything but. If there is anything to be said for the human soul, it can be found, and evoked, in music, as in other forms of art (something that is seriously lacking in the world today). After all, animals have no appreciation for music. Music has meaning, and songs have power, but only to a being that can draw inferences from sound, and tie lyrics and tunes to memories, emotions, and fantasies. In other words, it takes a conceptual mind. It takes a rational mind, an intelligence.

A life without art, without music, would be no life at all. It would be soulless.

There’s Something Wrong With You

Is there any religion that doesn’t tell you that you’re dirty, tainted, immoral, and flawed? If there is such a religion, there certainly isn’t a monotheism that doesn’t.

Why?

Here’s why: virtually all religions share a standard of morality in common with secular beliefs, as much as the Humanists and New Atheists would like to believe differently. They all hold one particular action as the standard of good noble virtuous behaviour, a standard that is irrational, contradictory, and ultimately impossible to achieve. It is no surprise therefore that the phrases “nobody’s perfect” and “I’m only human” are bandied around so often by theists and atheists alike.

What is this standard? Sacrifice.

Before anybody complains that I’m tarring everyone with the same brush, I’m talking about society in general, religion in general (monotheism mostly), and even secular atheist forms of morality. Ask yourself: do you consider the parable of the widow’s mite a lesson in virtuous behaviour? To those not familiar with the story, it’s a lesson given by Jesus in the bible in the gospels of Mark and Luke. After seeing the rich and wealthy donate large sums of money in the temple charity box, an old lady comes along and drops only two mites, the least valuable of coins. Jesus has this to say: “That poor widow has put more into the offering box than all the others. They all gave a lot because they are rich. But she gave even though she is poor. She put in everything she had. She gave all she had to live on.” – Mark 12: 43-44, New International Reader’s Version.

There are several interpretations of the lesson being offered here, but I will take this one: the greater the sacrifice, the more it hurts, the more of a burden you impose on yourself for others, the more virtuous, the more moral the action.

Even the non-religious might empathise with this thinking. After all, taking care of yourself or those you care about is easy isn’t it? It takes a really moral person to put other people first, to put strangers ahead of loved ones, to give instead of receive.

This, basically, is what is wrong with religion and society’s warped view of morality today. Why else do you think selfishness is regarded negatively, and selflessness is praised?

But if sacrifice is the human ideal, to whom should we sacrifice? And what is to be sacrificed? You cannot sacrifice to those you care about, since that would be selfish. The more selfless the act, the more you should sacrifice to those you care least about, or even hate. And how can you sacrifice without first having? So what does this morality recommend? Do we live a life of “immoral” selfish pursuit, accruing values until some undeterminable point in the future when we must then give away? If everyone did this, what would be left to sacrifice? And when you have sacrificed until you have nothing left, the beneficiary of your actions must then sacrifice everything they have for another, and so on and so on, until the entire human race is left with nothing and there is nobody left to sacrifice to.

This thinking leads to the punishing of productivity and creativity for their own sake, and the raising and exalting of inability and suffering for the sake of being so. Don’t believe me? Consider some examples:

Who is living the more “moral” life in your eyes: the social worker who slaves all day to help people or the businessman who makes a fortune off his products? The son who leaves home to pursue a career of his own, or the one who spends his youth taking care of his sick relatives?

These aren’t specific examples – but they illustrate a trend. Act for yourself: selfish, immoral. Act for others: selfless, moral. For everyday examples, notice when you try to justify an action to others. You will have far more chance of being convincing if you make out yours actions were motivated by concern for others at your own expense, than if you just stated honestly that you were acting in your own rational self-interest.

Here’s a fact: businessmen throughout history have done more to benefit the human race than any number of social workers, charity workers, or caring for the community workers ever have done put together and squared. I’m not attacking charity at all. On the contrary, charity is a wonderful way for those who are well-off to take care of other people and benefit their society as a whole through a freely chosen genuine act of compassion and human empathy (which is a selfish action by the way). What I am attacking is the notion that this is the most noble act one can do. As if the greatest thing a human being can do with their life is live it for other people. Wrong.

No person is a sacrificial object for another person. Nobody’s life belongs to you, and your life belongs to nobody but yourself. Nobody can make a claim to your mind or your body or your property (they are one and the same), nor can you claim theirs.

Yet, that is exactly what most religions and collectivist moralities deny. They say that you have no right to exist in your own right; that the noblest thing you can do is forsake yourself, give away what you have, live on the essentials, give what you can to others, live for the sole purpose of making the world a better place, for making other people happy. What about the self?

Any morality that asks this of its adherents has only one standard: death. Why? Simple: if you choose to live, if you choose to pursue your own life as your ultimate value, you must act in harmony with that value and hold your other values as a guide to your actions. You must accept reason as your primary means of survival, and act consistently with your values. This means NEVER sacrificing a higher value for a lower one. In fact, it means NEVER sacrificing anything, ever. If you give something up of great value for something of even greater value (say, spending £100,000 on an operation to save your child), that is NOT a sacrifice.

There is absolutely no way to deny this, except to use something other than your own life as the standard. And of course there is only one alternative to life: death.

No wonder the morality of sacrifice, of altruism, is so impossible to achieve! No wonder this morality teaches people that they are sinful depraved losers in dirt, who must constantly keep giving and giving to achieve an impossible standard. The morality of sacrifice is the philosophy of self-denigration, self-abuse, self-rejection, and suffering.

Consider this alternative:

The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.

Sweep aside those hatred-eaten mystics, who pose as friends of humanity and preach that the highest virtue man can practice is to hold his own life as of no value. Do they tell you that the purpose of morality is to curb man’s instinct of self-preservation? It is for the purpose of self-preservation that man needs a code of morality. The only man who desires to be moral is the man who desires to live.”

Both quotes are taken from John Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged.

It’s a shame that so many New Age Atheists who are so quick to vilify religion as immoral and irrational still accept many of its basic tenets.

Ayn Rand saw man as a being that could achieve moral perfection. As a being that was not sinful and flawed, but as an efficacious virtuous rational creature without limits, that could achieve his own happiness and betterment. She did this by rejecting the irrational evil morality of suffering and self-sacrifice, and identifying rational egoism as the code of morality, and reason as the highest virtue man could hold. If you can do this, then you’ll learn that there is nothing wrong with you! You can be a perfect virtuous person.

My 40k

The hit count on my blog has just smashed through the 40,000 barrier in just under 12 months, and although I’ve not researched this properly, I’m pretty sure that makes it the best blog ever written, ever.

Here are some not so interesting facts about the number 40,000:

It comes after the number 39,999

There is a game called Warhammer 40,000

A man took 40000 ecstasy tabs in a nine year span

It comes before the number 40,001

40,000 is a round number

Asteroid 40000 has the provisional designation 1998 HZ87 and was discovered on April 21st 1998 in Socorro

40,000 is the only number to end with four zeros and start with one four

A footprint of early humans found in Mexico was 40,000 years old

40,000+ is the visitor count of popular, intelligent, and witty writer Evanescent

 

I originally posted my blog on MySpace as a way to rant incoherently about football and everyday things that pissed me off in an attempt to look cleverer than I was. That’s not me anymore – I’ve stopped writing about football.

I’ve moved from just “atheist” to “humanist” to “anti-theist”, before discovering Ayn Rand, and I proudly identify myself as an Objectivist now. Not only has this been of great personal benefit to me, I think it gave my blog a whole new lease of life. I’ve also had the dubious pleasure of having many political and ethical debates as a result.

I haven’t posted much recently as nothing has moved me to write an in-depth article, and I’m also drafting a perennially-planned work of fiction. I’ll release more information about this in the coming months. Needless to say this will make me rich and famous, but I won’t forget you my readers, the little people, for putting me where I am.

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