Re: The Quest for the Purpose of Life

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Wed Jan 30 2002 - 10:02:34 MST

Robert Coyote wrote:
> Again IMHO the idea of 'purpose' is wholly human and nonsensical, as is the
> idea of 'why', we could remove the idea (and word) 'why from the language
> and it would not be missed much, it would be replaced by things like 'what
> causes'.
> Mommy why did that little bird die?
> The bird died because it flew into the window and smashed its head.
> Yes but whyyyyyy did it die??
> because it needs a healthy brain to be alive and its brain was broken.
> No mommy.. whyyyyy did it have to die.. it was a pretty bird!!
> Life stops when too much damage occurs.
> (I know I'd be a bad father yea yea)
> Do you think it would be helpful if the mom said 'its gods will, it was its
> time, its the will of Allah, its part of a divine plan, it gives meaning to
> life, it was a bad bird, so that other birds may live, it was unlucky,
> everything dies, it is the way of the Tao, just because'?

Well, there was an interesting bit on the most recent episode of "Law &
Order", where a child witnessing a heinous crime imagines that they
dreamt about it before it happened, the shrink analysing the kid says
that this "Omen formation" is a typical coping mechanism that kids have
to exert a semblance of solipsistic control over the world around them.
I'd posit that the need to have 'purpose' is a similar sort of coping
mechanism, where the brain manufactures a 'purpose' to explain why
things happen as they do and why the individual exists in this world.

Imagining ourselves as a simulation created by occupants of some other
universe could also be explained as such a 'purpose' coping mechanism,
tranferring responsibility for the bad things that happen to these
mysterious others (and simultaneously absolving ourselves of guilt for
our own sins, since we "don't really exist", it doesn't really matter
what we do, good or bad (as demonstrated by Dinofrio's character in The
13th Floor)).

This is a classic coping mechanism employed by statists throughout
history to absolve populations of their responsibility for the actions
of their leaders. Libertarians and Extropians should not fall prey to
this fallacy (as even I myself have done).

Accepting that the universe has no meaning, no purpose, other than to
tick along under the rule of physical law, is likely the hardest truth
for a person to accept in their lives, because it heaps on the
individual the total responsibility for their own worth, action, and
impact on the world around them.

Physical law remains the only objective truth of existense, and thus
truth only exists as it is derived and abstracted from physical law. We
serve no truth greater than the universe, no purpose outside what we
ourselves strive to be within the constraints of physical law.

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