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What is the Meaning of Life? (NT)

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riverc0il
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Re: Meaning of life

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Would it be safe to say that all humans share certain situations in common? After all, we're all mortal, we're all consigned to death. So wouldn't that lead to the possibility of a certain universal meaning, relative to the fact of our mortality?death is a universal event but has different meanings for different people despite it being universal to all human beings. some of us believe death has no meaning at all, it just happens. humans assign meaning to an event. for some, death means transition to an afterlife or it might mean transition to a reincarnated self. to me, death means nothing other than the fact that my heart stops beating and brain ceases to function.i agree fully with chris on this topic: humans give things meaning. if humans did not exist, would natural events on earth have some sort of inherent "meaning" to them? for example, red sky in morning, sailor take warning. red sky at night sailors delight. that is an event that means something to certain people. not only that, but it means something completely different at different times. what does a red sky "mean" if no human is there to observe it? Edited by: riverc0il at: 12/9/05 10:39 pm
lanceman1971

Re: What is the Meaning of Life?

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I say again the purpose of our existence is to seek happiness. It seems like common sense, and western thinkers from Aristotle to William James have agreed with this idea. But isn't a life based on seeking personal happiness by nature self-centered? Not really, in fact, survey after survey has shown that it is unhappy people who tend to be most self-focused and are often socially withdrawn, brooding and even antagonistic. Happy people in contrast are generally found to be more sociable, flexible and creative and are able to tolerate life's daily frustrations more easily than unhappy people. Most important they are found to be more loving and forgiving than unhappy people.So the first step in seeking happiness is learning. We first have to learn how negative emotions and behaviors are harmful to us and how positive emotions are helpful. And we must realize how these negative emotions are not only very bad and harmful to one personally but harmful to society and the future of the world as well. That kind of realization enhances our determination to face and overcome them. Then there is the realization of the beneficial aspects of positive emotions and behaviors. Once we realize that, we become determined to cherish, develop and increase those positive emotions no matter how difficult it is. So through this process of learning, of analyzing which thoughts and emotions are beneficial and which are harmful we gradually develop a firm determination to change. Now the secret to my own happiness, my own good fortune is within my own hands, I must not miss that opportunity.Now for instance hatred, jealousy, anger, and so on are harmful to the human spirit. We consider them negative states of mind because they destroy our mental happiness, once you harbor feelings of hatred or ill feelings towards someone, once you yourself are filled by hatred or negative emotions, then other people appear to you as also hostile. So as a result there is more fear, greater inhibition and hesitation, a sense of insecurity which creates personal suffering. A person whom has made him/herself miserable may at some future point derive pleasure from other peoples pain in an effort to not feel alone or superior. But this is not happiness. Your argument of people being happy to harm another does not hold up Madguy. One can not be truely happy and harm someone at the same time without possessing a level of psychosis. I suggest some time spent reading on the topic of human psychology to add to your frame of reference. Edited by: lanceman1971 at: 3/16/06 6:31 am
MadArchitect

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Re: What is the Meaning of Life?

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lanceman1971: I say again the purpose of our existence is to seek happiness. It seems like common sense, and western thinkers from Aristotle to William James have agreed with this idea.Doesn't seem like it to me. Granted, I haven't read all that much of James, but I've read a good deal of Aristotle. What they say is that human conduct is dictated by happiness -- that doesn't mean that happiness is the purpose of our existence. James is a pragmatic kind of guy (get it?) and I think he'd find it rather presumptuous to speak of the "purpose of existence". It looks to me like he's talking more about the proximate cause of human behavior, as befits the father of psychology, rather than about the teleological end of being.Your argument of people being happy to harm another does not hold up Madguy. One can not be truely happy and harm someone at the same time without possessing a level of psychosis. I suggest some time spent reading on the topic of human psychology to add to your frame of reference.I'll save the ire for the next paragraph. You haven't disproven my point about masochism because you have so far failed to offer a critical definition of happiness. Your discussion of happiness is circular -- it assumes that certain forms of behavior produce happiness, and then justifies those forms of behavior by reference to a status quo view of happiness. You can claim that happier people are "more sociable, flexible and creative and are able to tolerate life's daily frustrations," but you fail to recognize the circularity in that "observation". How was it determined that those people were happy in the first place? Were they simply asked -- in which case, their honesty may be questioned. Or were they deemed happy because they were "more sociable, flexible and creative and are able to tolerate life's daily frustrations." See the circularity there?Now for the ire. You could stand to spend about an hour going through some of the older threads and finding out whether I know jack about psychology or religion before you come in here and start recommending that I hold my tongue. You've blazed a neat little trail through these forums, thinking you're some kind of higher learning hotshot. Don't underestimate the members of this community. They're an educated bunch, and the fact that they sometimes disagree with your seemingly unquestionable dictates does not serve as evidence that they've failed to read as broadly as you. So far I haven't really seen you produce any arguments that we haven't discussed a dozen times since I joined up a year and a half ago, and the only thing that's really distinguished you to this point is your "everyone else needs to catch up to my unbelievable velocity." You might actually make for a pretty interesting addition to BookTalk if you can settle into a less stand-offish tact. Keep up like this, though, and I give you about a month before you burn up on your own fumes.
mal4mac

Re: What is the Meaning of Life?

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Quote:Granted, I haven't read all that much of James, but I've read a good deal of Aristotle. What they say is that human conduct is dictated by happiness -- that doesn't mean that happiness is the purpose of our existence. I think I disagree, Aristotle appears to say that Happiness is the ultimate aim of life in Nicomachean Ethics. For instance:"Happiness, then, is obviously something complete and self sufficient, in that it is the end of what is done."Of course, happiness is very difficult to define, and therefore it is very difficult to know what to pursue to gain happiness. Is the gambler who wins a hundred pounds in an illegal dog fight happy? Is the man who volunteers to be tortured to save the life of a child happy? Should I continue to read this group or watch football on the TV? Aristotle suggests that contemplative study of philosophical texts is the best way to be happy. So are contributors to this forum happy?
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