Re: The Quest for the Purpose of Life

From: Simon McClenahan (
Date: Mon Jan 28 2002 - 10:25:52 MST

From: "Phil Osborn" <>
> This is so-oo depressing. Like, how many times do we have to keep
re-inventing the wheel?


> Ayn Rand covered this topic rather well, I thought, and I would have
assumed that as astute a group as extropians would surely have absorbed at
least the basics of Rand's thought with their mother's milk.

I haven't read anything yet, but since she seems to be referenced often in
this community and others, her books are on my wishlist now. From my
observations it seems that her writings about objectivism are literally
essential reading for Extropians?

> Briefly, the question "what is the purpose of life," contains an error of
category. Things only HAVE purposes TO living entities. Purpose to WHOM
and FOR WHAT???? Purpose only has meaning with regard to a living entity.
To ask then - what is the purpose of LIFE? - is meaningless. LIFE creates
and identifies purposes. (This does not mean, however, that all purposes
are equally valid. Life itself - and each living entity - has a specific

I also see at least three levels of "whom" we are talking about - your own
self, the community (Extropians in particular), and humanity as a whole. If
the self chooses to identify with a community such as Extropians,
Christians, atheists, lawyers, etc. then by definition they are abiding by
the principles that define the community. For Extropians it should be the
Extropian Principles as laid out in
. It is to fulfill these principles that the Extropian individual "gets up
in the morning" (or colloquially speaking, "get a life!"), so that the
Extropian community can exist and evolve with "life", and through these well
thought out principles this community hopes to positively affect humanity's
"life" so that it can exist and evolve.

> It is the lack of precision in terms such as "life," "process," "action,"
"value," "purpose," "moral," "ethical," and a host of similar or related
concepts (and include "concept," or course) which enables these endless
meandering, largely purposeless opinionfests. Rand by no means completed
the job of clarification of these issues, but I suggest that those who are
seriously interested in discovering useful knowledge take a look at what she
did accomplish. It can really help clear out some of the fog.

And it is this ambiguity inherent in the English language that concerns me.
Natural languages are hard enough to use for "native" users, and harder to
comprehend with incorrect grammar, spelling, unreadable fonts, bad line
spacing and formatting, etc. Humans are so text oriented in this day and
age, and these terms you listed are just a small set of examples that will
continue to cause confusion and people to continually ask these
categorically incorrect questions. Text is great, and having the ability to
read is practically essential in modern living, almost as much as being able
to speak. I have a dream that in the future we will have more deterministic
ways of communicating with each other, say with sight-oriented static
pictures and animated pictures, or audio-oriented speech and music, or
kinesthetic-oriented touchy-feely stuff (walk around with a lump of
play-doh!), and preferably a combination of all methods that involve the
current human senses that are contained in our brain's various cortexes. I
believe there is too much text, too much to read, too much to write for the
average brain to handle, and we need to evolve other sight-oriented
communication methods, such as pictures. But I digress, this is another
topic of conversation than I originally started with ...


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