Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The meaning of life

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself "why am I doing this?", "whats the end result?". I am assuming almost all of us have at some point asked these questions. Lately I realized practically no one knows the answer and they have trained themselves to ignore the question entirely, or rather fear it.

Because such a question, if answered properly, can give a complete purpose for one's entire life, and if answered incorrectly, can lead to endless despair, finally culminating with the thought "There is no intrinsic meaning to life".

For a few years now I have attempted to debate on this topic with various people, my parents, grandparents, cousins and friends with a philosophical bent, what I observed was very disturbing.
Most people tend to skirt the question by answering something about "spiritual being" "god" "prayer", and just let it go. Few people fear the question so much they will not be willing to go near it. And some people have just and never want to think about it.

I however believe that a question of such seminal importance should be pondered over endlessly until an answer is that is satisfactory to oneself is found.

And after my months of pondering, I have answered this question at least to my satisfaction.

Here is what I think (and this answer may very well repulse you, or may not feel right, but it fits in with my logical reasoning well). I believe at a fundamental level the role of an individual in a species is simply to pass on genes and ensure survival of the species, nothing more nothing less. Our only task is ensuring humans as a species survive and genetic evolution continues. Everything else is just blither.

And lately this survival has moved on from the basic needs of food, game and shelter to a more advanced one i.e. the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Essentially all we have as a species is millenia of accumulated knowledge. From basic stuff like how to cook, to how to build a cruise missile.

So essentially, today, the intrinsic meaning of life or reason for living is simply to further the frontiers of out knowledge base, therefore we must ensure that each one of us is on a constant quest to better our species through this relentless pursuit.

6 comments:

WRATH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ramachaitanya K said...

I second your opinion. Essentially the sole purpose of existence evolved around the grand question of what,how and why is life given or crafted. I personally feel all the human kind is in some sort of a chain reaction which is seeking a control rod for its termination. Here metamorphically the control rod is a solution or an answer for the question. Thus you are either a part of the chain reaction or the control rod. Presuming that none of us have a solution for the question in debate it becomes our innate duty to contribute to the chain reaction. I have delibrately digressed from the topic at hand since I feel that my opinion will tag me with the slime of humanity but none the less a point that needs to be made.

Rohan Sehgal said...

However you seem to ignore the result, in your scenario, I am curious what will happen with the lack of a control rod, what if there is no answer?

Rituraj said...

There is no meaning actually. Your viewpoint takes earth into consideration. Why dont you expand it? Look at the cosmos. What are you? You are the result of randomness, of chance.
Lets say you do become the frontier of knowledge and carry your species forward gallantly. Then the next day an asteroid hits the earth and everything perishes. So what meaning did your actions hold then? Remember the dinosaurs?
We are just a ball of interacting chemicals. When some chemical reactions get too complex we call it life. So your life just has as much meaning as C + O2 -> CO2

Rohan Sehgal said...

@ritu: I respectfully disagree,
As I stated if u assume there is no reason, u will be pushed into an abyss of meaninglesness, culiminating with suicide.. This reason seems to keep me sane..

The point I want emphasize is no one really knows, or bothers, they are content just rolling over and dying.. this is just one of the answers..

dinosaurs did not pursue knowledge, and so perished..I believe with the current levels of technological advancement, the human species will prevail no matter what, if not here then elsewhere..

Rituraj said...

Once again, knowledge is nothing but chemical reactions and physical interactions that are extremely complex. If you try to block the current of flowing water with a brick the water just flows around it. Would you say that water has 'knowledge'? It's just that your actions are the result of some more complex backend processes. That does not mean it contains meaning.
And what makes you think dinosaurs did not pursue knowledge? Knowledge is not just printing books fool bear. How do you think they could hunt other animals? Is not knowing how to use one's claws and teeth knowledge?

In a nut shell, I agree with you that the purpose (not meaning) of your existence is carrying your species forward. But I dont think there exists anything called 'meaning' to your life (especially you hammal. Go get my data!).