The Meaning(s) of Life

Why are you read­ing this ar­ti­cle?

Per­haps you’re read­ing it be­cause you think the topic of the mean­ing of life is in­ter­est­ing and im­por­tant to ra­tio­nal­ity. Why do you care about ra­tio­nal­ity? Maybe be­cause it can help you de­ter­mine the odds of var­i­ous events in your life and, among other things, help you make money. Why do you want money? Be­cause you need it to buy food. Why do you want food? So you can sur­vive. Why do you want to sur­vive? Be­cause you want to help peo­ple in the world. Why do other peo­ple mat­ter?

We could go on and on. Every­thing you do has a rea­son. Every­thing is lead­ing up to one goal. The Mean­ing of Life. But what is that goal? What is the one thing that mat­ters most in the world, that our en­tire life should be spent try­ing to ac­com­plish?

Let’s look at some op­tions. Maybe the Mean­ing of Life is to be as happy as pos­si­ble. Where’s the proof of that? (Yes, I know this sounds like bot­tom-line ir­ra­tional­ity, but if some­thing can’t even be ra­tio­nal­ized, you know it’s wrong.) What is the ev­i­dence that hap­piness is im­por­tant? Well, hap­piness is im­por­tant be­cause it causes-

Stop. This is the ul­ti­mate cause, the Mean­ing of Life. It can’t be im­por­tant be­cause it causes some­thing, be­cause then that would be the Mean­ing of Life. So why else could hap­piness be im­por­tant, if it doesn’t mat­ter what it causes? It doesn’t mat­ter what hap­piness pro­duces, or leads to, or any­thing that comes from it. And it can’t be proven by the things that lead to it, by say­ing that hap­piness is im­por­tant be­cause choco­late causes hap­piness. Who says choco­late is good? And some of the things it pro­duces are bad, like obe­sity.

This all leads to one con­clu­sion. It is im­pos­si­ble to prove the Mean­ing of Life.

But why do we do any­thing? If there is no Mean­ing of Life, why don’t you just lie down and die? There is a Mean­ing of Life. There is a rea­son things should be done, some­thing that ev­ery­thing leads up to. The ul­ti­mate pur­pose of ev­ery­thing, the thing that we all live for, the fi­nal cause, has to ex­ist, or else we wouldn’t do any­thing. There’s some­thing that ev­ery­thing is lead­ing up to.

But if it can’t be proven, what is it?

The an­swer is that the Mean­ing of Life changes from per­son to per­son. If some­one thinks that their Mean­ing of Life is to build a tower out of LEGOs that is as pos­si­ble by the laws of physics, that is not a ridicu­lous state­ment. The Mean­ing of Life can­not be proven, so we can each choose what we want. We each have our own thing that seems right to us, and it is the defi­ni­tion of right.

If a Nazi says that the mur­der of Jews is good be­cause it leads to in­creased cel­ery pro­duc­tion, and he thinks cel­ery pro­duc­tion is the Mean­ing of Life, I will ar­gue be­cause kil­ling Jews does not in­crease cel­ery pro­duc­tion. But if they calls the mur­der of Jews the Mean­ing of Life, then I will not ar­gue be­cause it can­not be dis­proven. I will cer­tainly try to stop them, be­cause it con­flicts with my Mean­ing of Life. But I will not say he is in­cor­rect, for in this case there is no ul­ti­mate “cor­rect.”

I never con­sider any­one to be good or evil. There are only “in agree­ment with me about the Mean­ing of Life” and “in dis­agree­ment with me about the Mean­ing of Life.” The only time that I will ever con­demn some­one, or say that some­one should change what they do, is when they are stupid, when they kill Jews to in­crease cel­ery pro­duc­tion. There is no in­her­ent good or evil that is the same for ev­ery­one. We each can hold what­ever Mean­ing of Life we want.

Now, this doesn’t mean to let the Nazi kill the Jews. If your Mean­ing of Life is against Nazism, then by all means, stop them. But never say that any­one is more or less cor­rect about the Mean­ing of Life, be­cause they are not. The only things that are cor­rect or in­cor­rect is how to get to the Mean­ing of Life.

My Mean­ing of Life is to pre­serve life, to stop death when­ever pos­si­ble. That may not be yours. And I’m not go­ing to say you’re wrong, or that you’re evil. All I’ll say is that you’re in dis­agree­ment.