These questions can collectively be summarized by the last one: "Why are you here?"
In some ways, all of the answers--not necessarily all possible answers in a speculative sense, but all RELEVANT answers in a practical sense--could be found right here in answering these questions. If there were a way to determine beyond a doubt that there was no purpose to existence whatsoever, then there would be no fear in either losing or gaining existence, since it would be of no value.
Could it be that there are abstract principles of more value than life itself? I tend to require that there are. For if there aren't, then everything is built around the mad (and hopeless) attempt to stay alive. But nothing stays alive. Everything dies, no matter how healthy or young it is now. So it seems at the very least a requirement of sanity to have things to believe in that are more valuable than your own life.
But now a new question arises: Which things, in particular, are important enough to die for? Admitedly, not everything is more valuable than life itself. If that were the case I'd eat a stick of dynamite to know the taste. Things more important than life, often given by people, include Love, Faith, Honor, and a series of abstract political ideologies that vary based on time period and location.
Knowing beyond doubt why I was here would solve a lot of problems. If I knew and I had already accomplished it, then dying now would not bother me. But if I had not yet accomplished it, and death were starring me down, I would fall into despair knowing that my job had not yet been completed.
Unfortunately, people of all ages and stages of personal development are cut down every day without warning. To preserve the postulate of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God who bestows existence of intrinsic-meaning on all things, it is necessary to take as an axiom that everyone has already sufficiently fufilled his purpose prior to his death. Then death is excusable.
Another option is to descard the functionalist framework entirely and operate in the vast emptiness of existentialism: There is no reason but what you choose. Then everyone ought to, at the moment prior to death, convince himself that there is no more reason to exist, and thus he may excuse himself to the approaching inevitability.
2006-05-15 06:22 pm (UTC)
Questions like these are what drive people to insanity. The concept of life (not just in the biological sense) is greater than the human mind's capacity for perception. We are merely humans, not gods, and not meant to understand life and all of its intricacies. However, inquisitive nature and need for answers brings us a simple, but non-factual solution. Religion, idealism...the belief in something with importance and power greater than our own. The belief in one or many gods gives people purpose. It gives them both security and a place in the universe, whether it is fact or fiction. Apart from the religious, there are ideals to believe in. The belief in (if not pursuit of) true love, absolute truth, freedom, beauty, and dreams. These ideals pronounce fewer, though equally devout followers as the religions of the world.
My point is this. As a human race, we will never know the "meaning of life," and even if we did, I am not sure I'd care. To me, life is exactly what we make it. People like you and I and our friends have been born into privilege, and are lucky enough to get to choose our priorities, and what we do with our lives. For us, I believe the purpose is in the living, not in the life itself. To an extent, we get to choose our purpose. For other people with different stories in different places, things may not be so. I hope you know who this is by now. Peace.
Who the hell are you, friend? Are you a friend of John's, a friend of mine, a friend of both, or a friend of neither? I would love to know. You write well.