The purpose of life

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Re: The purpose of life

Postby charon on April 13th, 2012, 5:44 am 

BadgerJelly

Oh, well done, you've answered the whole thing! I hope it won't be too long.

The methods we live by are from a single person and that person is ourselves


Whether the method comes from ourselves or somewhere else it's still a method! But all methods are fundamentally the wrong way to do things. A method might be all right for practical purposes like in an office but not for living, surely? If you follow any method then the whole thing becomes mechanical, doesn't it?

Yes it is living. It is what happens in the lives of everyone


What, the mess? I agree, it does, but is that living? Surely living means energy, happiness, not a series of unhappinesses, problems, living in fear, and so on?

Obviously this is a grey area as the actions and thoughts of others are influential on us but if we are allowed to think and do what we want to do rather than being told repeatedly or given unwanted advice then its better


Yes, but look. There are two things there, either doing what we want, which we subtly do anyway, or being told what to do. Are those the only two choices? Either be a free agent or be instructed. What about our own intelligence? That intelligence may not do either. It may not simply do whatever the body demands or yield to the demands of others. Nor is it a middle way between the two.

We live by base instincts in combination with the influence of our environment on our genetic make up


Absolutely, but is that all? That's what I'm asking.

Considering we are practically told how to live in independent and confined conditions from a very young age how to live I see no harm in questioning it?
Considering humans have an innate tribal mentality I see good reason for people to ask why they have this behaviour rather than just being dragged along by social conditioning like sheep


But that's what I'm saying! Question it! Absolutely. The point is that by questioning it intelligence comes about. But we don't question it a lot of the time and that's also the point. We accept everything, go along with it, and suffer from it as well.

You can but you won't? Your choice ...


The how question? Of course I won't! It's a dangerous question, a completely wrong question because it invokes following.

No to all of the above for me except to some degree I am free and joyful. We are empathetic and optimistic creatures though so always have the hope of happiness and the instinct to empathise


Ah, then you're different :)

This authority exists already through social conditioning


Absolutely, because we have accepted that conditioning. Don't kid yourself, we're not conditioned despite ourselves, we become conditioned because it's easier, less troublesome, doesn't rock the boat. We can fit in with the conditions around us, however awful, and be accepted. It's our own uncertainty and fear that makes us accept conditioning otherwise we wouldn't. If you could question everything your family says, your religion and culture says, your school says, without impunity then we'd soon be very free human beings. But we want to feel accepted and safe, we're a bit lost in life, we don't know what to do, so we accept it. There are millions and millions like that.

'My point is that a wrong or misguided question will produce the wrong answer, won't it?'

Only if we cannot think for ourselves freely and without too strong an imposition against our force of will


No, it's got nothing to do with will. It's a matter of realising that the question is inherently completely wrong. If we could seriously think for ourselves freely we'd never ask it in the first place. If you come to the edge of a cliff only an unbalanced person asks if they should throw themselves off!

it depends on how you regard "loneliness"? Is loneliness ignoring yourself and the environment or just the environment? The former is ignorance of life itself from my perspective


No, loneliness is just that, the feeling of void, emptiness, being isolated and alone in life. That feeling is only a reaction, it's what happens when all the comfort we've accepted previously disappears. If one stays with it then it too disappears, then there's a completely different frame of mind. That is freedom.

Are we getting somewhere or are you thinking I am asking how we should TELL people to live when in fact I am for the exact opposite


I think we're getting somewhere. Well, hopefully!

You see, many people have told us how to live. The churches do it, the books do it, the schools do it, the culture does it, the adverts do it, everything is doing it! And we, not knowing, follow blindly. But the moment one stops, turns around, and looks at all this one is out of it. It's as simple as that, then one is thinking for oneself.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby BadgerJelly on April 13th, 2012, 6:08 am 

sponge wrote:
BadgerJelly wrote:Anyway that is my personal waffle out of the way unless you want to ask about or question any of this more?


Thanks for answering my queries so fully and honestly.

No questions, but I think your idea of writing a novel is a good one and probably the best way for communicating your ideas.

Good luck – and stay happy.


I am doing. I have had an idea in my head for about 15 years and a pile of notes that I stopped accumulating about 13 years ago. I have tried to find a starting point for what is an epic undertaking and found myself writing a purely philosophical hypothesis instead! :P

I'll probably do both.

I would like you to answer some questions too please maybe through PM if you are not comfortable doing o here?
1- What is your general impression of what little I have said up to now?
2- What parts do you disagree with or find too speculative?
3- What parts do you find more concrete?

Thank you
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby edy420 on April 13th, 2012, 6:30 am 

Whut wrote:What is the purpose of human life?


Hi Whut :)

(I joined the discussion late, don't have time to read over just yet, but here's my 2 cents anyway :P )

Whut wrote:The purpose of life is to strive for your ultimate potential. Guided by your capacity for understanding and feeling, one should act towards a fulfilling life. To experience satisfying fulfilment and sustained well-being, and to create that: which best reflects your ultimate potential.


Seems to be a common goal and at first it makes sense to aim for something that adds meaning to our existence.
But does it really add meaning to life, if we have such a goal?

We are all born the same way and we all die the same way.
We don't get to choose whether we can be born or not, but if we could choose, then what reason should we choose to exist in the first place?

Could you better define "ultimate potential".
I could become a famous wealthy rock star, a man of medicine who helps millions or a president of a country..

Imo you can experience a satisfying and fulfilled life/sustained well being, without striving for the ultimate potential.
So what is the important link between ultimate potential and a good life, if they don't need to be tied in with each other at all?
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby Whut on April 13th, 2012, 8:07 am 

Hey edy :)

edy420 wrote:
Whut wrote:The purpose of life is to strive for your ultimate potential. Guided by your capacity for understanding and feeling, one should act towards a fulfilling life. To experience satisfying fulfilment and sustained well-being, and to create that: which best reflects your ultimate potential.


Could you better define "ultimate potential".
I could become a famous wealthy rock star, a man of medicine who helps millions or a president of a country..

Imo you can experience a satisfying and fulfilled life/sustained well being, without striving for the ultimate potential.
So what is the important link between ultimate potential and a good life, if they don't need to be tied in with each other at all?


Yeah, you have a good point, and it's something I have considered since starting the thread. I actually scrapped that paragraph and idea now, mainly because by refering to "ultimate potential" it sort of implies that our potential is somewhat static... and there is a fixed goal to aim for; which I know isn't the case.

A more recent version of that paragraph is as follows:

That thing is called good, which fulfils an aim, purpose, intention or expectation—and for life, the purpose is to live. This is to say, that the purpose of human life is to flourish, to grow, and to be fulfilled. To take feelings, ideas and understandings of our higher potential and to embody them. Simply put, it is the highest human good; the axiomatic ought from which all oughts may be derived. And so, that thing which leads us to flourish shall be called good, and the innate potential of each individual should be fulfilled.

This one is highly influenced, or basically copied from Aristotle's idea of "eudimonia." And basically what I'm saying is that: "we should flourish." And that anything which helps us to flourish is good, and anything that hinders that goal is bad. That's the basic framework, or premise, that I'm building the rest of my ethics on. So I'm still working with the idea of fulfilling potential, but no longer a static "ultimate potential."

I personally think the whole "deontology vs consequentialism" thing in ethics misses the point. I believe the "evolutionary need" for morality arised from complex goal oriented behavior. In fact, without a goal oriented framework, morality makes absolutely no sense. So then, as I see meta-ethics, it's not a question of "what is good?" but rather, "what goal should we aim for?".

This of course presents the problem that one is basically asking "what is the good goal?" and some will certainly believe this is a fundemental flaw... but just like every single form of understanding or model of the world, it must all rest on some key intuitional, or perhaps pragmatic, assumtion. And human flourishing is the best framework to build from I have come across. Justifying that assumtion is something I need to work more on, but atm, I'm working on the best ways to define, or handle, the concept of human flourishing itself.

I talked about that a little earlyer in the thread, but I'm not sure how to link individual posts, I'll quote the main parts as it relates:

...That which exactly constitutes human flourishing is hard, if not impossible, to put a finger on - human beings are the most biologically complex thing we know of, after all. So first, what counts as a plant or animal to flourish? to thrive? A flower is a fitting example in this case.

If a seed is planted with the capacity to flower, and it begins to grow, yet, some problem hinders it's growth and thus subsequently it doesn't flower, it can be noted that the plant didn't 'flourish' - the plant did not fulfill it's potential....

...Now, since humans are so complex, we simply can't put a finger on one thing and say "that's flourishing" like we can with the flower. The limits on human flourishing and capability, infact, seem somewhat 'limitless' which is unlike any other creature due to the level of intelligence/flexibility that we have evolved.

However, while we might not be able to simply point to the human "flower", there is another angle we can take here. What does it take a plant to flower? The plant has needs that must be met. Sufficient water, sunlight etc.

And so, what we can put a finger on, are the human needs. There are many universal human needs fundamental to life fulfillment/flourishing. Base needs such as food, clothing, shelter, health. Social needs such as a sense of belonging, feeling that one relates with those around oneself, to love and to be loved. Mental needs such as feeling certain about one's surrounding or situation - a need for understanding. And higher needs such as having a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby neuro on April 13th, 2012, 9:44 am 

Whut wrote:So then, as I see meta-ethics, it's not a question of "what is good?" but rather, "what goal should we aim for?".

This of course presents the problem that one is basically asking "what is the good goal?"


I am tempted to repeat here what I just wrote in another thread about education: "what about considering the question to be more about attitudes than about objects / targets?"

But I won't.

oooops! I did
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby Whut on April 13th, 2012, 10:03 am 

Hey neuro,

neuro wrote: "what about considering the question to be more about attitudes than about objects / targets?"


I'm not sure what you mean exactly. How would you describe an attitude in this sense? and in which ways does it contrast with targets? They are probably related in some ways aswell.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby neuro on April 13th, 2012, 10:21 am 

Hi Whut.

Let me say I fully agree on all you wrote here.

This is why - in considering how the human being "flourishes", to use your words - I tend to focus on attitude:
in simple words, I feel it is more important to be curious (intellectually and emotionally greedy of knowledge, surprise and wonder) rather than what you are curious of; similarly, it is more important to be capable of enjoying social interaction (per se) rather than what kind of social interaction might be more rewarding; it is more important to get involved in challenging and demanding projects rather than what kind of projects or targets; and it is more important to get committed to something you value rather than what in particular you value.

However, I admit this is quite generic, and may not contribute much to the discussion.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby Whut on April 13th, 2012, 11:06 am 

neuro wrote:However, I admit this is quite generic, and may not contribute much to the discussion.


Actually, I think you've touched on a great point here, one that is very relevant to virtue ethics.

The whole point, and utility, regarding the concept of “eudimonia,” is that it gives us a framework to determine virtues; characteristics that are conducive to the axiomatic target (flourishing in this case). So, at the bottom line, it's the virtues that matter most, rather than the end itself.

And what is a characteristic if not synonymous with an attitude? At the very least, it's our inner attitudes that literally determine our outer characteristics. So personal virtue ethics is essentially about actively cultivating virtuous attitudes and thus subsequently virtuous characteristics; that's the important part. “Eudimonia” is only relevant in so far that it provides a rational framework -a reason and guide- to make that possible.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby sponge on April 13th, 2012, 1:02 pm 

BadgerJelly wrote:I would like you to answer some questions too please


Hi, Tentatively here goes;
1. I think your arguments are tremendously heartfelt and have obviously been filling your thoughts for quite some time.

2. I don't argue with the basic ideas that you seem to put forward though I do find some of it a bit convoluted and hard to follow. The fact that your system gives you tremendous happiness and a sense of fulfilment comes through very strongly.

3. I guess you are asking for a detailed critique of your ideas but I'm sorry you asked for my opinion actually because, although it’s OK to argue points and put forward personal ideas that might differ from yours, to judge the value of your opinions ‘as a whole’ is a bit like asking someone to judge the value of your life.

I think you should write your book with honest reference to your own beliefs and, if you do this, the judgement will come soon enough from those who read it. But, importantly, it will already have been written and so too late for dilution by self-doubt.

Got a suggestion as to format though, why not a modern quest story of a hero searching for answers or for perfection – as in Don Quixote or Pilgrims Progress? But that’s just an idea that might give you a starting point :) Some of the answers to your posts on these forums will supply plenty of ‘obstacles’ for your hero to overcome.

I will say this much - from what you have said about your struggle towards these ideas, you have obviously found your personal key to happiness and self-fulfilment. If this route does not work for others, perhaps they need to find their own key.

Sorry if this is too vague for you but, truth is, you know your theory better than anybody so you are best placed to judge it.

Good luck in whatever you do.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby BadgerJelly on April 13th, 2012, 1:30 pm 

If this route does not work for others, perhaps they need to find their own key.


It will not work for others because they are not me. That is the "key" so to speak. I pretend to have an "answer" just more intriguing questions (refer to link : http://www.sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=54&t=21651).

@ charon - Bit annoyed that I wrote out a reply and then lost half of it :(
Will return later. Need to take a bit of down time though as it took me some time to write out.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby charon on April 13th, 2012, 2:39 pm 

BadgerJelly

charon - Bit annoyed that I wrote out a reply and then lost half of it :(
Will return later. Need to take a bit of down time though as it took me some time to write out


Damn, sorry about that, it's awful when that happens. Leave it for a goodly while and do it fresh. I'll wait :)

PS. Do it in Notepad or something then paste it in. I do long posts like that and haven't lost any yet.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby BadgerJelly on April 13th, 2012, 7:39 pm 

That thing is called good, which fulfils an aim, purpose, intention or expectation—and for life, the purpose is to live. This is to say, that the purpose of human life is to flourish, to grow, and to be fulfilled. To take feelings, ideas and understandings of our higher potential and to embody them. Simply put, it is the highest human good; the axiomatic ought from which all oughts may be derived. And so, that thing which leads us to flourish shall be called good, and the innate potential of each individual should be fulfilled.


Is rape and murder included in your sense of "good"?

If yes then this makes sense.

As for potential you are assuming free will for this to even matter and if so why "should" it be fulfilled?

"we should flourish."


And so, what we can put a finger on, are the human needs. There are many universal human needs fundamental to life fulfillment/flourishing. Base needs such as food, clothing, shelter, health. Social needs such as a sense of belonging, feeling that one relates with those around oneself, to love and to be loved. Mental needs such as feeling certain about one's surrounding or situation - a need for understanding. And higher needs such as having a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.


I am curious to hear how we would achieve all this without a reason to fight and without moral obstacles such as war and murder? Are the "bad" things not part of what drives us to be more and to strive to reach our "potential"? Or are they not an intrinsic part of our "potential"?

Is a plant that doesn't flower not reaching its potential by not flowering? Did Hitler not reach his potential by starting WWII? Did the allies not reach their potential by defeating the axis?

Basically are human morals not shaped by our so called flaws? We are certainly empathetic beings but we are not 100% empathetic and because of this I believe it gives us the ability to strive for more than we are and to exceed our potential not be bounded by it.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby Whut on April 13th, 2012, 10:24 pm 

BadgerJelly wrote:As for potential you are assuming free will for this to even matter


I believe in free-will. I also believe that moral responsibility is not absolved even if free-will were an illusion; e.g one's intention would still be subject to effect through moral value causes - the concept still has clear utility. Likewise, an intention to fulfill a higher potential would still effect the outcome of one's life. But further discussion on these points would be for another thread.

and if so why "should" it be fulfilled?


Premise 1: We should do that which is good.
Premise 2: Something is good if it fulfils a purpose, intention or expectation.
Premise 3: The purpose of human life is to flourish.
Conclusion: We should fulfil our capacity to flourish.

If you reject any of my premises there is no reason that you should fulfill your life, unless you want to for some other reason. If you accept them then it follows that you should.

Is rape and murder included in your sense of "good"?

If yes then this makes sense.


I havn't developed the "theory" to a point where it can be properly applied yet; but you can rest assured that murder won't be a virtue...

I suppose what you're getting at here, is if a murderer has the goal to murder, the paragraph provided would imply that murder is a good thing. And that if I deem murder as wrong my paragraph is thus inconsistent. But this would be a misunderstanding. However, I do understand why that definition of good, if stood alone, is cause for concern.

Unfortunately, it's most likely that the murderer in question would indeed honestly describe anything that helps him fulfil his goal, or fulfiling the goal itself, as good. Moreover, the reason I would call it bad is because it conflicts with a goal or expectation that I personally hold. And so, any disagreements regarding whether something is good or bad, can be understood in terms of conflicting goals or expectations.

Now, I did include a human purpose in that paragraph: flourishing. That's the axiomatic goal I propose we should be aiming for. And even if, somehow, one were to construe some detached argument, about how murder is helping the individual murderer to flourish, the amount of potential fulfilled would still, in no way, make up for all the potential that has been denied the murdered victim. Consistency principle ETC.

I am curious to hear how we would achieve all this without a reason to fight and without moral obstacles such as war and murder?


I have no idea. Nor do I know how we could achieve utopia. But, for what it's worth, we do seem to be moving in the right direction: Steven Pinker has written a great book about the decline of human violence; and how we're probably living in the most peaceful time in human history. So I would guess it's a slow trial and error process; we're getting there - provided we don't "blow ourselves up" before hand.

Did Hitler not reach his potential by starting WWII?


How many people's potential to flourish was completely denied in that war?

Are the "bad" things not part of what drives us to be more and to strive to reach our "potential"? [...] Basically are human morals not shaped by our so called flaws?


You mean that "bad" things provide a need for us to become better? Do I follow?

In this sense, "bad" is only useful if it reminds us why we need the "good," so it's not like we should be preserving the "bad" if we are able to achieve the "good" in the first place...

Reminds me of something Manly Hall said regarding this, he concluded along the lines of: "Evil is the servent of Good." Not sure what his exact words were though. He put it quite well.

I believe it gives us the ability to strive for more than we are and to exceed our potential not be bounded by it.


If you're able to exceed your potential, you clearly don't understand your potential. :P

I don't see how striving for good would limit our understanding.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby BadgerJelly on April 13th, 2012, 10:46 pm 

Not so sure about the "we're getting less violent" theory. Yes the world is safer now than a few thousand years ago. Maybe there are other factors involved other than our hard wired empathy though? I think a HUGE factor you may be overlooking is the distribution of resources and communications. With less to go around we'll resort to violence to survive much like rats in a cage. Survival will drive us to do anything in most cases.

It is human nature to generally think beyond what we are told and neurological studies have shown this. We are hard wired to be overly optimistic. I think without this human creativity would not exist.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby Whut on April 13th, 2012, 11:15 pm 

BadgerJelly wrote:Not so sure about the "we're getting less violent" theory.


I'm not suprised. People generally seem to have a relatively pessimistic worldview. You should check out the book...

He does theorize about why we are generally getting less violent. But we are getting less violent, this is an observed fact - not a theory.

It is human nature to generally think beyond what we are told and neurological studies have shown this. We are hard wired to be overly optimistic. I think without this human creativity would not exist.


Could you link some of those studies please?

I was under the impression that the primary goal for any organism is survival: and so we evolved to prioritize information that appears to threaten us. Thus, we tend to focus more on negative information. Moreover, our brain's rely on heuristics. When they fail we call them cognitive biases. They can keep us pessimistic. The negativity bias is a tendency to give more weight to negative information, and experiences, than positive ones. Confirmation bias is a tendency to search for, or interpret, information in ways that confirms our preconceptions. Furthermore, if we are hard wired to be overly optimistic, why does negative news thrive so much more than positive news?
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby BadgerJelly on April 13th, 2012, 11:54 pm 

why does negative news thrive so much more than positive news?


Propaganda and fear mongering maybe? Control of the masses etc.. People will remember watching Avatar more than something about some BS war for for such and such a resource or to repress the oppressors I would assume.

I can be a titch cynical when it comes to governments and political agendas though :P
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby neuro on April 14th, 2012, 2:19 am 

Whut wrote:
BadgerJelly wrote:Is rape and murder included in your sense of "good"?

If yes then this makes sense.


...

I suppose what you're getting at here, is if a murderer has the goal to murder, the paragraph provided would imply that murder is a good thing.


If I may, one should distinguish between the immediate aim of an action and its goal.

Most human actions have an object which is external to them. We do not drive the car, usually, just to drive it, but to get somewhere.

Actually we only play for the sake of playing, study sometimes, and investigate, for the sake of it, occasionaly are able to love, for the sake of it, and getting committed. This is properly flourishing and is included in "good" (if I correctly get Whut's line of thought).

Conversely, if one murders for the sake of murdering, we would all agree that they need some psychiatric help. Generally, murderers murder because they have an objective that is external to the murdering action per se, and which may be defending their property, letting out their hatred for somebody or feeling super-powered. These are the objects that should be considered, not the murdering itself, and it would be hard to claim that defending one's property or hating somebody is a way of 'flourishing'.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby BadgerJelly on April 14th, 2012, 7:14 am 

and it would be hard to claim that defending one's property or hating somebody is a way of 'flourishing'.


Disagree strongly. Through negativity we grasp for positiveness. Maybe the murderer doesn't see the gain in this because it is classed as an "extreme" and uncontrollable emotion so it is hard to interpret. Maybe like an artist trying to use all the colours at once and destroying the canvas by his/her over enthusiasm? The "paint" that comes forth reduces the canvas to mush and it breaks (unless we are talking about a serial killer who performs this task as a true Artistic expression of being human and in some sense of the word gains "joy" in the action of their artistry).

Our understanding effectively seems to be driven by our optimism in the face of the so called "negative" ie. sadness, depression, distress, fear etc.. as opposed to joy, happiness, love etc. It could almost be looked at as though the only human emotions (or rather the prime emotions) are negative and the optimism we naturally possess gives rise to the positive. So happiness, love and joy as not "real" but mere consequences of the process of understanding.

I do believe this theory to be closest to a better understanding and hopefully as our understanding of human and animal "emotions" develops with neurological studies I expect to see this backed up every step of the way.

If you see a flaw in this please let me know because I am in fear of absolute belief in this theory in opposition to any others ... which frankly is not got for furthering my personal understanding of other things in the future.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby Whut on April 16th, 2012, 2:52 pm 

Living the good life. Monday, Apr 16, 2012

A.C. Grayling explains how goals make life worthwhile and why organized religion hinders moral progress...

...In your latest book, “The Good Book: A [Humanist] Bible,” you write “to determine what the good is is to truly the master art of living.” What do you mean by that, and to help us frame this conversation, what do we mean when we think about notions of goodness?

It’s Aristotle’s idea that the master art of living is the quest for the good life, and I phrase it that way – that the quest is for the good and well lived life. The life that feels good to live, which feels worthwhile, because it moves towards goals that one recognizes as truly valuable, and which also have a good impact on lives around one’s own life, because we are essentially social animals, and we cannot be oblivious to the fact that our choices and actions have impacts on other people. So the good life, the well lived and worthwhile life, is one which has this inner and outer perspective. The inner perspective is that it really does feel worthwhile living it, and the outer perspective is that its impacts on people around one are constructive, positive ones.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby BadgerJelly on April 16th, 2012, 4:39 pm 

@ Charon -

Oh, well done, you've answered the whole thing!


I'm here to communicate not to preach. I want people who disagree with me and discuss what I am saying or I may as well just talk to myself about this subject ... been doing that since I was VERY young though and I now I'm ready to talk about it because I am not as afraid of ridicule and I have to in my search of understanding of everything I may be able to get a handle on.

If I don't respond to anything then assume I am dead or dead busy, and if I reappear after sometime PLEASE point me back to whatever I have not responded too :)

Whether the method comes from ourselves or somewhere else it's still a method! But all methods are fundamentally the wrong way to do things. A method might be all right for practical purposes like in an office but not for living, surely? If you follow any method then the whole thing becomes mechanical, doesn't it?


I am trying to say the "method" I am referring to is the mechanism of human life. It has many paths to go down such as hate, rage, love, understanding etc ... I am not talking about a system for everyone but a system we can identify in human behaviour overall. We are not ALL self obsessed selfish murders nor are we ALL selfless humanitarians. We are all capable of either though if pushed I believe and this is what interests me. I see everyone as being right because if they were not they would not do what they did and we would homogenise and lose a sense of self. We need diversity to be human and to be "self".

We have systems in place in society and instinctively. Most people over the human history in one way or another grow up and are told they "need" to do this or that. ie. Pass a test of "skill" to prove worthness, get a job, a home, a partner and have children then tell them the same thing you were told with your own tilt on it then die. This has been the mechanism for humanity for a long time. What I am trying to uncover is what benefits are gained by those who "buck the system" so to speak. The homogeneous nature of humanity seems in direct opposition to our diversity but also the driving force for diversity itself which seems contradictory but essential for variation.

Understand that I find this fascinating?


What, the mess? I agree, it does, but is that living? Surely living means energy, happiness, not a series of unhappinesses, problems, living in fear, and so on?


(damn it! have to open up two threads to see what you are referring to now! :P)

The "mess" of life begs us to have curiosity and ask why. This to me is what living is ... I can back this up with a well reasoned rhetoric but that is what I was eluding too by trying to answer sponge and at first it seems simple to write down but it takes a VERY long time ... I'm working on it and ALL of these discussions on this forum have been and are being EXTREMELY helpful to me ordering my thoughts and reassess them through other peoples personal perspectives.

Why does it have to include just positive emotions? Because its comfortable to assume that? As I think you have mentioned happiness is meaningless without unhappiness and that is another contradictory problem of the human condition. Fear seems to be a gift.

Lost my train of thought here but have tried my best to pick it up again

Absolutely, but is that all? That's what I'm asking.


I reckon so.

Absolutely, because we have accepted that conditioning. Don't kid yourself, we're not conditioned despite ourselves, we become conditioned because it's easier, less troublesome, doesn't rock the boat. We can fit in with the conditions around us, however awful, and be accepted. It's our own uncertainty and fear that makes us accept conditioning otherwise we wouldn't. If you could question everything your family says, your religion and culture says, your school says, without impunity then we'd soon be very free human beings. But we want to feel accepted and safe, we're a bit lost in life, we don't know what to do, so we accept it. There are millions and millions like that.

'My point is that a wrong or misguided question will produce the wrong answer, won't it?'

Only if we cannot think for ourselves freely and without too strong an imposition against our force of will



No, it's got nothing to do with will. It's a matter of realising that the question is inherently completely wrong. If we could seriously think for ourselves freely we'd never ask it in the first place. If you come to the edge of a cliff only an unbalanced person asks if they should throw themselves off!


We certainly don't try to rock the boat but we should. For too long I have opposed myself without knowing it and I always will to a degree be I feel I personally have a better handle on who/what/if I am.

Fear is SO SO SO important. Pushing ourselves brings fear and overcoming fear brings realisation and eventually joy. We fear out of shame because of ego and how others will look at us. I say grab hold of fear and rock it gently to sleep like a child. Don't fight it just accept its beauty and enjoy its delights.

The thing is I am almost completely convinced we DO know what to do if only we would listen to ourselves and love ourselves and believe in ourselves. I do and it works ... not easy at first but it works.

'My point is that a wrong or misguided question will produce the wrong answer, won't it?'

Only if we cannot think for ourselves freely and without too strong an imposition against our force of will

No, it's got nothing to do with will. It's a matter of realising that the question is inherently completely wrong. If we could seriously think for ourselves freely we'd never ask it in the first place. If you come to the edge of a cliff only an unbalanced person asks if they should throw themselves off!


NO question is wrong. Why not throw yourself off a cliff? It might be a good idea? Death might be wonderful!! (I'm in no hurry to find out having too much fin :P). Also who is to say who is unbalanced? I've been called crazy and insane by some but I can tell they are just scared of what I say in relation to themselves not who I am.

it depends on how you regard "loneliness"? Is loneliness ignoring yourself and the environment or just the environment? The former is ignorance of life itself from my perspective


No, loneliness is just that, the feeling of void, emptiness, being isolated and alone in life. That feeling is only a reaction, it's what happens when all the comfort we've accepted previously disappears. If one stays with it then it too disappears, then there's a completely different frame of mind. That is freedom.


I hate to burst your bubble(or not really!) but we are all alone when it comes to the concept of "self" ie. ego. Without the ego we are nothing within everything, but somewhere close we are at close to being at one with everyone and everything
I think I have that different frame of mind then. Obviously I don't think I can let go of that comfort ... LITTLE bit too scaring to dig that deep ... maybe I'll try one day? I must be freer than most people according to your analysis and I actually do feel that way the vast majority of the time :D

I have been lucky with my upbringing I think. Religion was very in our home EVER! I did grow up wondering what all the fuss was about and that did spark an interest in religion as I grew up and I could see how it was of benefit to others. I knew I could NEVER feel that way though because I know I can never truly believe in literally anything and maybe that realisation at a very young age helped me. Did take me some time to realise I didn't have to socialise and do what my friends were doing to have fun (In fact it made me miserable for a long time). Once I just decided there was nothing wrong with staying in and just thinking about existence things slowly started to fall into place and all that thinking led me to be here loving myself, life and others and still wanting to find out more and more the more questions I uncover ... that is not even considering the questions I have left behind in the past!! :D

I don't really fear death but I do fear thinking too much and making my head explode with joy and missing out on other things in life.

Ah, then you're different :)


If I am I am glad I am. I honestly see no reason why anyone else cannot search themselves for understanding though. Obviously being completely introverted with no outside input is damaging just as is ignoring yourself. That said though we all start "in here" so we should follow ourselves first and foremost before listening to others.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby charon on April 16th, 2012, 8:21 pm 

BadgerJelly

What I am trying to uncover is what benefits are gained by those who "buck the system" so to speak


What do you mean by buck the system? Not pay your tax? You'll be in trouble, which would be foolish.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby BadgerJelly on April 17th, 2012, 4:11 am 

NO

Buck MY system that has been imposed on me my conditioning so I can be ME and not feel ashamed to say cry when watching a sad film or dancing however I want to without caring about people laughing at me or saying to some hot girl I want to sleep with her or asking a stranger what hey think about something and why?

Take any of the discussions on here and imagine just walking up to someone in the street and asking them, for example, what consciousness is? THEY FREAK OUT!!

Sick of the BS Where you from? Whats your job? How old are you?

My first question to people is usually this > What are you interested in? Surely that is a better way to communicate than to ask some dumb trivial questions which we are socially conditioned to ask.

For the record when I meet people and they ask these I respond like this :

Where you from? - Earth somewhere in the universe ... I think? I was born in England though but that tells you nothing much about me.

Whats your job? - Being alive is not a job its a holiday.

How old are you? - 34 and/or as old as the universe.

I don't know if you've seen An Idiot Abroad? VERY interesting program ... basically I like the idea of Captain Bullshit :)
I refuse to "play the game" in life because I want to live it for real.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby charon on April 17th, 2012, 7:09 am 

BadgerJelly

Buck MY system that has been imposed on me my conditioning so I can be ME and not feel ashamed to say cry when watching a sad film or dancing however I want to without caring about people laughing at me or saying to some hot girl I want to sleep with her or asking a stranger what hey think about something and why?


Ok, I've got it.

I'm sorry that you were apparently so repressed and that you've had to fight against it. But I'm glad you are fighting against it.

Mind you, you can't spend the rest of your life fighting. Really you're not fighting with outward things, you're fighting yourself, right?

If you see something's wrong then do you need to fight it? You disown it, you throw it away, you don't need to struggle endlessly. It's when we don't really see things clearly that we struggle.

Life's not about endless struggle and strife, fighting, fighting, fighting, all the time. See if you can't find a way of life that doesn't struggle, that isn't one endless battle. If you don't want to do something, don't do it. If you do want to do something, do it. If others object, too bad. It's your life, not theirs. Just tell them to go away :)
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby NeoTheseus on April 17th, 2012, 8:35 am 

sponge wrote:To get back to the original question…

Could it be that the purpose of human life lays with the individual only as a component part of humanity as a whole? Much like the individual bee or ant exists essentially as a constituent of a whole being (the hive or swarm).

If so, then all our actions – physical, emotional and mental – could be considered virtuous if directed at the well-being and growth of humanity and non-virtuous if directed towards simple personal benefit.

Could this argument be reinforced by the fact that the most fulfilling and rewarding results seem to come from actions, emotions and thoughts that are directed outwards, towards others, regardless of any return? Some examples that come to mind; falling in love, unconditional love for a baby, charity work, in fact the giving of any gift because we are simply moved to do so.

Even then, I suppose, I’m leaving the question open – what’s the purpose of humanity?


I want to jump in to this discussion. I am still reading the first page of this topic but am very interested in this point. I see Sponge's point of view & agree with it mostly. I take issue with the concept that one is to serve the swarm/hive/community in sacrifice of self interests.

I too like Aristotle's Ethics. The point I got out of it was that pleasure was the magnifying glass of the soul. Whatever we found pleasure in revealed our soul's true desire. If we found pleasure in evil/destructive things, like killing small animals, abusing people, murder, etc..., that soul showed a proclivity towards evil. If the soul on the other hand found pleasure in working out, nutrition, art, philosophy, and other things of self improvement, that soul showed proclities towards goodness or improvement.

Maybe I'm jumping the gun a bit, I hope not. I agree that thought, emotion and action are the principle of this system. In the action aspect, I believe that virtuous action is achieved by way of love. First, one must love, or seek to improve self. Once one improves self, then s/he is better positioned to love/improve others. This starts, of course, with those closest around you; friends & family. It then moves to neighborhood/community. Then perhaps country & world. I believe that love starts with self then moves towards others. How can one optimize others when said person has glaring defects & deficits? How can one feed others when they are starving?
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby NeoTheseus on April 17th, 2012, 8:44 am 

If a seed is planted with the capacity to flower, and it begins to grow, yet, some problem hinders it's growth and thus subsequently it doesn't flower, it can be noted that the plant didn't 'flourish' - the plant did not fulfill it's potential.

I like this concept Whut. Reading Plato's Symposium, I believe that the potential of man is reproduction or procreation. As stated in the Symposium, the easiest way to achieve this goal is physically by birthing children. The more difficult way, and more excellent way, is by birthing ideas & concepts as propetual progeny. By reaching this point of reproduction, the community as a whole benefits. If you don't agree, we can discuss Edison, Bell, Plato, Luther, etc...
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby BadgerJelly on April 17th, 2012, 11:20 am 

@ Charon You don't get it. I'm not fighting anything I am just being what I am and so is everyone else.

This is my point about the purpose of life.

Everyone wants to be happy so maybe they should listen to themselves and be as fully self aware as possible to be happy? Is this not what we do anyway until things go wrong and then we reassess because we get stuck in contentment without the extreme downs or ups, or realise our views were wrong in some way and so have to change?

Anyway I generally like Whuts take on this subject.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby charon on April 17th, 2012, 2:22 pm 

BadgerJelly

BadgerJelly


I'm not fighting anything


In that case there's no system to buck, is there?

I am just being what I am


You said before you were bucking the system of conditioning that had been imposed on you:

'Buck MY system that has been imposed on me my conditioning so I can be ME'


Now you say you're just being what you are and not fighting anything. In that case you just accept being conditioned and aren't bucking it.

Which is it? It's not making sense.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby BadgerJelly on April 18th, 2012, 6:29 am 

I tend to come at topics with an egotistical and a universal (detached) one.

Egotistically I suppose I am "fighting" to be me or more human than human. We all "buck the system" and this is what causes conflicts of interest. We are all correct from our individual perspectives. Someone born to kill kills and someone born to help helps. Then the question here is how much is social conditioning and how much is "us"? Or in a broader universal sense it is nature or nurture?

Universally though I am just being what I am and is everything. I don't believe there is a difference between nature and nurture at all. Our environment conditions us and we condition it probably without choice ... I guess it really comes down to your own personal take on free will and whether or not you are looking at this from a universal, humanitarian or a egotistical perspective.
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Re: The purpose of life

Postby charon on April 18th, 2012, 9:25 am 

BadgerJelly

I suppose I am "fighting" to be me


In what sense? What exactly are you fighting? In what way are you fighting it?

There's another question too which is: is the fighter any different from the thing he is fighting?
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