The meaning of life / How did we get here

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IlliniDave
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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by IlliniDave »

That's why humans invented "faith" I guess. We tend to ascribe some unprovable meaning to existence. It's very important to a lot of people, and manifests itself in religion/ideology of various kinds.

SavingWithBabies
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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by SavingWithBabies »

A big part of me thinks there is no meaning so while it's fun to look for one, ultimately, it's a diversion from reality. I like a good diversion and there is no shame in that but if we reign back our thinking states to pure existence, the reason we seem to be here is pure luck and randomness. If you are the type to not believe in such things than things like faith and religion can add meaning on top of basic reality. But I worry they diverge more and more from reality and while I do follow a religion (not the one I grew up with but instead the one of my wife), it is a variant of Buddhism and doesn't seem as prescriptive as a Christian religion in terms of creation myths and so forth. And I honestly am not that strong an adherent of any religion at this point in time (although I could see that changing).

The smaller part of me finds the simple reality of luck and randomness somewhat anticlimactic and wants more meaning. So I understand seeking more meaning. But the reason it's the smaller part, instead of the bigger part of me, is that I think wanting meaning is human nature and we tend to invent meaning when reality doesn't match up to our expectations.
Last edited by SavingWithBabies on Wed Feb 05, 2020 2:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

chenda
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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by chenda »

This question has bothered me since I was a child, especially what I now know is called the hard problem of consciousness. Why am I me ? What's it like to be a bat ? Though I became a hard core atheist/materialist by about the age of 10, which continued till a few years ago when a crisis caused me to re-evaluate everything and I begun reading philosophies and religions.

Kantian philosophy was a gateway drug to religion, as it pointed the obvious but often overlooked point that our understanding of the world is entirely conditional on our senses and cognitive functions. As you can't teach a monkey quantum mechanics, it seems probable that there are concepts in existence which are beyond human comprehension. We are just moderately more advanced than the monkeys.

I saw some merit in all the world religions, but I lean more towards eastern religions as they are more philosophically based than the abrahamic faiths, and, to my western eyes, have more credibility (maybe as the west since the 18th century has sharply delineated between philosophy and religion, the former seen as a serious scholarly subject, the latter increasingly seen as redundant superstition, at least in academia)

Eastern philiosophies also seem to better provide a soteriological answer than western philosophy. So far I think Advaita Vedanta presents the most plausible, rational explanation, which could be argued to be at the core of all religion. Even Sam Harris has acknowledged it might be on to something.

Nice humourous summary by Alan Watts:
https://youtu.be/ckiNNgfMKcQ

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Lemur
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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by Lemur »

This doesn't bother me anymore. I've accepted that one day I'll die and I don't need the answers to why I am here. I remember reading this quote by Neil Tyson that helped me over that 'hump' :

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” “For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.”

So what I take from this...science doesn't have all the answers yet but it always gets us closer and closer. And I think the purpose / meaning in life is for humans to get closer to this answer. That should help satisfy the existential dread and anxiety right? At least, for me, that is enough to satisfy purpose. I'm not a scientist myself, but I still see my mind blown by new things I learn and read. Science just happens to be chock full of them.

bostonimproper
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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by bostonimproper »

I'm an incurious atheist-leaning agnostic, I guess. I don't know how reality came into existence, but I feel like I have a sense of what'll happen to me after I die (i.e. matter dispersed, become literally nothing forever). Even if I knew anything more about the origins of the universe, I don't see that as fundamentally changing how I live my day to day life.

I think over time humans (and other living beings) have evolved a sense of eusocial cooperation, which has been to our adaptive advantage. That cooperation is strengthened by tools built into us such as communication, language, and, importantly, narrative. Narrative drives us to seek the why's of existence and find meaning in things that are, ultimately, meaningless in themselves.

So, in the global sense I am an ethical relativist-- I believe morality is an emergent phenomena that comes from an individual, the capacity of an individual to evidence a morality, their social context, etc. Locally I act as a humanist, because the things that have informed my own life and my social context have led me to prefer a particular moral framework.

theanimal
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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by theanimal »

It bugs me a lot too and is probably the main driver of my personal anxiety and existential angst. I think for most people it takes a significant event for them to make a sudden change, which is unfortunate because such events are usually tragic or at least a significant amount of time where they can think and explore. I think most people are far too bogged down in distractions to pay much mind to these questions. There's the movement from school to job and all the focuses that go with it while trying to earn enough to pay the bills and have a fun time on the weekend.

It's sad that more people don't think about it because I think quality of life would improve drastically. I think there'd be less focus on careers and more on relationships with those you enjoy. But the reality is, people like us are few and far between and relationships often come secondary to jobs, school and many other things that aren't all that important. It often feels like just another scenario where you end up leaving the cave and yelling to the people still enchained, looking at the shadows.

sky
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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by sky »

Every morning is a miracle. What an amazing gift we have recieved that we exist. I just want to soak up the sunshine, love and happiness that each day brings. I don't know why I (we) were so lucky.

sid3
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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by sid3 »

A question I have been pondering recently is what are humans supposed to evolve into/are humans supposed to create the next evolution of intelligence?
Questioning the meaning of life is a known effect of mild depression and feelings of being disconnected.
If we did not question this, how would we know what to aim for? Maybe this is partly the purpose of humans.

daylen
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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by daylen »

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleology

Generally, as you get further from physics (dealing with near ideal systems), purposes become more relevant than causes.
Last edited by daylen on Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

daylen
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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by daylen »

Eventually, people either choose to ignore all purposes besides their own (likely innate and sub-conscious), or they choose to study all observable purposes. Turns out that the set of all observable purposes is quite small. Hence, my interest in a theory of personality that maps them out.
Last edited by daylen on Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

daylen
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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by daylen »

Also, see 4.4 and 5.0 in ERE book. Selected quote: "Creative synthesis occurs when you're able to see principles as an abstract model representation and apply the abstracted model elsewhere. With experience, you'll see that the number of such models in the world is actually quite limited."

steveo73
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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by steveo73 »

I think there are two separate questions here. The first one is how did we get here or come into being ? My take on this is that at some point there was a big bang and over a really long time (13.772 billion years) that makes our lives completely irrelevant the world developed and humans eventually came into being. This makes sense to me. I don't believe in the concept of an afterlife or heaven/hell etc. I can't explain how there was initially something (the big bang exploded a solidarity or something) however I think that initial something just being a ball or whatever of solid matter is much more likely than a God like figure.

The meaning of life is to me completely subjective. You get to determine this for yourself. Sure life tends to procreate but that doesn't make this your purpose. I also think once you've had kids (I have 3) then that purpose is over so why keep going. My subjective opinion on the meaning of life is to be happy. Happiness to me though isn't about pleasure. I'm a stoic/epicurean because I think happiness is more about the absence of pain rather than pleasure. Bizarrely I also think that in life you will have lots of pain and a lot of it is unavoidable.

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fiby41
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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by fiby41 »

Augustus wrote:
Wed Feb 05, 2020 1:21 pm
My general reasoning being that based on what I've seen something cannot come from nothing, but we're here, which means that at some point (if you go back far enough) something DID come from nothing, so how does that work?
Life comes from life. No exceptions available to the contrary. You can call it last universal common ancestor or LUCA for short if so inclined, I call it Kṣīrodakaśāyī-Viṣṇu.

chenda
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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by chenda »

'Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.' (Bhagavad-gita 2.12)

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Re: The meaning of life / How did we get here

Post by jacob »

@bigato - Things have advanced a bit since then. I was not aware of the latest break trough. The initial lifeforms created by Venter ten years ago were rather fragile. The newest one is not but still relies on using existing E. Coli to bootstrap the operation after introducing DNA that has been constructed from scratch in the lab.

Starting point: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic ... hetic_life

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