Re: The Quest for the Purpose of Life

From: Robert Coyote (
Date: Wed Jan 23 2002 - 00:11:57 MST

Purpose is a human idea, it lies only within the questioner, or simply, it
is what you think it is

----- Original Message -----
From: "Chen Yixiong, Eric" <>
To: "Extropians" <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 10:05 PM
Subject: The Quest for the Purpose of Life

: Topic Question: "What is the meaning/purpose of life?"
: Unfortunately, due to the limitations of my finite knowledge and existence
I cannot answer this question adequately. I had yet to figure out fully what
the meaning of life.
: The quest for the meaning of life does not seek to discard or to preserve
older answers to this question.
: It transcends ethics for one must define this meaning to define ethics. It
goes beyond religions because it does not have any concept of monopoly. It
should not rest solely with science and mathematics because of Gödel's
Theorem, which tells us we cannot know everything. It can concern the soul,
but should not rely on it for its validity.
: It would not provide an excuse for inaction because it should motivate us
to do whatever we discovered we should do. It should not have to explain the
past (where we have ignorance) but to guide our actions in the present and
the future.
: Rather than live from day to day without meaning, it asks us to take time
to reflect and ask ourselves about the meta-goals and meta-purpose of our
lives. Asking this simple question seriously of "Why do I exist and what
should I do?" seems like the most neglected activity in modern society.
: To keep true to this quest, one should avoid unnecessary associations with
previous established schools of thought on this topic nor to assert one's
belief of the meaning of life over others.
: I have some candidates:
: - Knowledge: We exist to learn, both about our inner world and our outer
world, even if we could never achieve this goal. We should boldly go where
none has gone before. The theory of the Universe as a Computer Simulation
seems to imply this.
: - Self-actualization: We should strive to maximize our time in the "flow"
state where we achieve the optimum level and amount of challenges.
: - Subjective: Everyone has their own meaning in life, if they seek it.
: Questionable but probable:
: - Death: The meaning of life lies with death, for all things that exist
must eventually crease to exist. No entity can expect to live forever, and
so we should get on with our fear of death and do whatever we think we must
do. If so, voluntary dying would help achieve such a purpose.
: - Happiness: We have purpose when we have happiness. Taking an emotional
altering drug without side-effects might help (like "soma" in the "Brave New
: - Null: The question has no validity. Life has no meaning. We just exist.
This does not answer the question or perhaps it replaces this with another
: - Serving metaphysical entities: We have to serve certain entities or an
entity. Especially when such entities somehow do not directly communicate
with us, we might have to ask what the entity/entities want us to do. Even
more so, we may wonder why the entity wants us to do these things as we
would have to ask about the purpose of its existence (which we would have to
help attain). This certainly invites more questions than answers.
: - The Quest itself: What if God (if He exists) have a wield sense of
humor? We might well find such a question as its own answer!
: May the force be with you.
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