GameCritics.com Forums

GameCritics.com Forums (http://www.gamecritics.com/forums/index.php)
-   Everything Else (http://www.gamecritics.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=8)
-   -   Does life have a purpose? (http://www.gamecritics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10778)

Nicato 04-22-2006 11:05 PM

Does life have a purpose?
 
More specifically, does human life, in general, have a purpose relative other animals, plants, or microorganisms? What I'm asking is if we're all that special insofar as our ability to interpret the nature of nature and does this ability give us a predefined ultimate destination? If so, what is the purpose of these other lifeforms, planets, stars, etc. if they have a one?

Avptallarita 04-23-2006 05:15 AM

Re: Does life have a purpose?
 
To the astonishment of my past self, I've said yes. I'm busy now but hopefully I'll have the time to elaborate later.

beatbass 04-23-2006 07:33 AM

Re: Does life have a purpose?
 
What is the purpose of your question? it seems pointless to me....

Jet Black 04-23-2006 11:33 AM

Re: Does life have a purpose?
 
wow, I'm the only one to vote "no".

Avptallarita 04-23-2006 04:37 PM

Re: Does life have a purpose?
 
Right, now I've got some time and let's see if I can explain how an atheist can think life has a purpose. Let's go back in time for a second. A while ago, Nic, you opened a thread on scientism asking whether science was the only way to objective truth. My answer was "yes, but it should be noted that truth, whether objective or not, is not the only important thing we should learn."

This thread goes to show what I meant, because (for an atheist/existentialist as I am) the objective truth is that life has no purpose. We're just the result of a random and obscure chain of cause and consequence, the heavens are empty of their God and this emptiness is the state in which we exist. Man is thrown into the void, and there is nothing before him, behind him or around him to find sense and purpose. As if that weren't enough, you can pull down all the arguments on purpose & co. by proving that the questions that drive to their formulation in the first place are just linguistic constructions (which is what I was expecting Sajon to do, but it seems like beatbass/kant has taken the bother. Ah well).

The existentialist position used to be my own too, but I've come to distance myself from it in recent times (mainly as I finally got rid of that damn cosmic pessimism, which had flooded my circuits like cancer for something like three years), because it fails to account for moral truth, which goes over and beyond objective truth. By morality I don't mean just the study of what's right and wrong; that's ethics, I think. Morality is rather the code or balance or sense of measure by which human beings value themselves and others. This is something that all people seem to agree on. Everyone thinks that judging someone by his/her moral stature is more important than judging them for their talents, looks, social position, class, or whatever. (Interpretations of moral truth vary, yes; but that morality is more important than everything else is where everyone agrees).

I'm still in the process of trying to understand what morality is or how it works, so I can't be too exhaustive on the purpose of life. Objective truth, that I used to believe in, is that morality does not exist. It's just a particular course in our process of evolution, a biological result derived from our capacity for empathy, an outcome of social patterns and group behaviour. But that, to me, goes to show why objective truth is not appropriate as a humanistic torchlight; because the existence of such an intrinsic and universal kind of metre in us does differentiate us from all other animals, indeed from the nothingness that is matter, and I feel compelled to accept it even without recognising its existence in the material world, or the presence of some God that wrote its rules down. Morality may be an outcome of chance, yes - but it exists, and goes over and beyond chance, has greater value.

Morality is also what guides our "sense of purpose," that compels us to ask such questions in the first place and that everyone feels, even those who deny it or who claim such sense of purpose is delusional (that is, it has no correspondence in the material world - which I agree it doesn't, but I disagree it makes it irrelevant). Which is also why I think the "critical approach", that of deconstructing the question, is ultimately unsatisfying (as well as quite boring once you've understood how it works); because all it does is expose the assumptions behind a question, without bothering to reveal or explore the "matter" that allows us to judge whether those assumptions are justified or not.

My belief is not so much that life has a "purpose", but that, since all actions have a moral weight, denying the drive or moral truth behind the question "does life have a purpose" (which is what you're doing if you answer "no") means taking an action that has a negative moral weight. Morality is based on feeling and experience and as such it's resistant to actions that posit/preach/are-attracted-to nothingness, that is, that deny life. Negating the sense of purpose (regardless of the correspondence between empirical reality and such purpose) has to me a moral value that is a bit like that of suicide (if not nearly as heavy): True, the objective truth may be that you're doing no evil since you're only harming yourself (assuming there's no one that cares for you), but suicide remains an action with a negative moral weight, because it negates the fundaments of morality by denying life.

So, while morality may not exist and be a construction and an outcome of chance and all the rest, it remains enough of a universal guide and of a spontaneous feeling for me to say that yes, life has a purpose, and that purpose is morality. All human beings feel the moral weight, whether they like it or not. All that's being debated here is whether they decide to negate it or embrace it.

PS: It should be noted that morality, precisely by virtue of not existing in the material world, is not some universal thing that we should all be striving for. The "should" is already implicit in the object. Morality - and hence purpose - is unconscious, and it exists independently of the subjects of our actions, be they of nature social, religious, artistic, etc. Ergo morality/purpose is not the object towards which we're striving, it's the arrow that's hanging above our heads and that is pointing to the object (regardless of the fact that that object does not exist).

And that's all I've got to say about that. *collapses*

beatbass 04-23-2006 05:36 PM

Re: Does life have a purpose?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Avptallarita
Right, now I've got some time and let's see if I can explain how an atheist can think life has a purpose. Let's go back in time for a second. A while ago, Nic, you opened a thread on scientism asking whether science was the only way to objective truth. My answer was "yes, but it should be noted that truth, whether objective or not, is not the only important thing we should learn."

This thread goes to show what I meant, because (for an atheist/existentialist as I am) the objective truth is that life has no purpose. We're just the result of a random and obscure chain of cause and consequence, the heavens are empty of their God and this emptiness is the state in which we exist. Man is thrown into the void, and there is nothing before him, behind him or around him to find sense and purpose. As if that weren't enough, you can pull down all the arguments on purpose & co. by proving that the questions that drive to their formulation in the first place are just linguistic constructions (which is what I was expecting Sajon to do, but it seems like beatbass/kant has taken the bother. Ah well).

The existentialist position used to be my own too, but I've come to distance myself from it in recent times (mainly as I finally got rid of that damn cosmic pessimism, which had flooded my circuits like cancer for something like three years), because it fails to account for moral truth, which goes over and beyond objective truth. By morality I don't mean just the study of what's right and wrong; that's ethics, I think. Morality is rather the code or balance or sense of measure by which human beings value themselves and others. This is something that all people seem to agree on. Everyone thinks that judging someone by his/her moral stature is more important than judging them for their talents, looks, social position, class, or whatever. (Interpretations of moral truth vary, yes; but that morality is more important than everything else is where everyone agrees).

I'm still in the process of trying to understand what morality is or how it works, so I can't be too exhaustive on the purpose of life. Objective truth, that I used to believe in, is that morality does not exist. It's just a particular course in our process of evolution, a biological result derived from our capacity for empathy, an outcome of social patterns and group behaviour. But that, to me, goes to show why objective truth is not appropriate as a humanistic torchlight; because the existence of such an intrinsic and universal kind of metre in us does differentiate us from all other animals, indeed from the nothingness that is matter, and I feel compelled to accept it even without recognising its existence in the material world, or the presence of some God that wrote its rules down. Morality may be an outcome of chance, yes - but it exists, and goes over and beyond chance, has greater value.

Morality is also what guides our "sense of purpose," that compels us to ask such questions in the first place and that everyone feels, even those who deny it or who claim such sense of purpose is delusional (that is, it has no correspondence in the material world - which I agree it doesn't, but I disagree it makes it irrelevant). Which is also why I think the "critical approach", that of deconstructing the question, is ultimately unsatisfying (as well as quite boring once you've understood how it works); because all it does is expose the assumptions behind a question, without bothering to reveal or explore the "matter" that allows us to judge whether those assumptions are justified or not.

My belief is not so much that life has a "purpose", but that, since all actions have a moral weight, denying the drive or moral truth behind the question "does life have a purpose" (which is what you're doing if you answer "no") means taking an action that has a negative moral weight. Morality is based on feeling and experience and as such it's resistant to actions that posit/preach/are-attracted-to nothingness, that is, that deny life. Negating the sense of purpose (regardless of the correspondence between empirical reality and such purpose) has to me a moral value that is a bit like that of suicide (if not nearly as heavy): True, the objective truth may be that you're doing no evil since you're only harming yourself (assuming there's no one that cares for you), but suicide remains an action with a negative moral weight, because it negates the fundaments of morality by denying life.

So, while morality may not exist and be a construction and an outcome of chance and all the rest, it remains enough of a universal guide and of a spontaneous feeling for me to say that yes, life has a purpose, and that purpose is morality. All human beings feel the moral weight, whether they like it or not. All that's being debated here is whether they decide to negate it or embrace it.

PS: It should be noted that morality, precisely by virtue of not existing in the material world, is not some universal thing that we should all be striving for. The "should" is already implicit in the object. Morality - and hence purpose - is unconscious, and it exists independently of the subjects of our actions, be they of nature social, religious, artistic, etc. Ergo morality/purpose is not the object towards which we're striving, it's the arrow that's hanging above our heads and that is pointing to the object (regardless of the fact that that object does not exist).

And that's all I've got to say about that. *collapses*

http://www.sannerud.com/people/brad/...ngTail1986.jpg

Adelleda 04-23-2006 06:54 PM

Re: Does life have a purpose?
 
To be perfectly honest, i don't know how anyone can call themselves a scientist and not aknowlege the existence of some form of higher existence.

I'm not religious per se, however i do eleive there is something out there that played a helping hand in our devolpment. I don't know, or care what it is, it's just logical for it to be there.
There are far too many coincidences[SP?] regarding life.
Some random explosion creates everything, and we just happen to land in exactly the right spot, exactly the right distance from exactly the right kind of star. With exactly the right molecular structure to survive for however long and grow into the dominant species. Somehow, atoms, DNA and chords were thrown together in exactly the right way from a random explosion.

My friends tend to think of me as kind of neutral.
My personal beleif is that the big bang DID happen, however it may have been the method used by a higher being to spur on creation.
I refuse to beleive that the universe in all its complexity was thrown together by accident, it's just to complex.
And the existence of a creator also explains the gaps in the evolutionary chain. If we DID actually evolve, then perhaps this higher being, lets call him "Bob" had a helping hand. Perhaps bob nudged us along in the evolutionary chain from time to time to keep us on top of our game, hence the so called "missing links" in evolution.

To be perfectly honest though, i don't care if there is a meaning to life, i'm perfectly content to live, and die, and make the most of my short time here.

The simple answer to this entire thread is;
If you're a scientist, the meaning of life is beyond our comprehension, so you'll just have to settle for that good old perpetuating humanity jig.
If you're religious in any way, then "Bob" will tell you when the time arrives for it.
No matter what you beleive, the meaning of life is beyond your understanding.

Nicato 04-23-2006 08:31 PM

Re: Does life have a purpose?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Adelleda
To be perfectly honest, i don't know how anyone can call themselves a scientist and not aknowlege the existence of some form of higher existence.

Assuming the higher existence of which you speak plays the role of a creator or *cringe* designer, then I don't see how you've come to that conclusion. Science can't acknowledge what it can't observe or test; there is no way yet to falsify the existence of a designer; therefore, scientists are in no way obligated to accept the existence of a (*cringe*) designer.

Quote:

There are far too many coincidences[SP?] regarding life.
Some random explosion creates everything, and we just happen to land in exactly the right spot, exactly the right distance from exactly the right kind of star. With exactly the right molecular structure to survive for however long and grow into the dominant species. Somehow, atoms, DNA and chords were thrown together in exactly the right way from a random explosion.
Our local star is but one star in a galaxy of 100 billion stars. Assuming that ours is the only rock which habors life, the chances of a primitive lifeform (which would eventually evolve over billions of years to become our beautiful selves) occuring once every so many hundred billion times in so many hundred billion unique circumstances is probable. It's important to stress the fact that complexity in life is a recent phenomenon. There wasn't nothing one week and a biological utopia the next. If the objective of the universe was to create intelligence, then why did it labor so long to achieve so little?

Quote:

And the existence of a creator also explains the gaps in the evolutionary chain. If we DID actually evolve, then perhaps this higher being, lets call him "Bob" had a helping hand. Perhaps bob nudged us along in the evolutionary chain from time to time to keep us on top of our game, hence the so called "missing links" in evolution.
See God of the Gaps or Intellgent design ...*cringe.*

Nicato 04-23-2006 09:03 PM

Re: Does life have a purpose?
 
I voted no, tentatively, because there is yet no accounting for the excessive (if you believe that life has a purpose) or abundant (if you believe that it does not) amount of stuff. I mean, what is the purpose of the moon? The tide? Okay, but Mars has no water and it has two moons. Certainly one can argue that every entity in the universe has at least a minute effect on our tidal cycle, but to suggest that that is the only reason why all those entities exist is at best absurd and at worst arrogant.

We're a cosmic joke, so what. Slinkies were an accident (as was my conception) and the world is all the better for it.

technomancy 04-24-2006 09:24 AM

Re: Does life have a purpose?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Adelleda
Some random explosion creates everything, and we just happen to land in exactly the right spot, exactly the right distance from exactly the right kind of star. With exactly the right molecular structure to survive for however long and grow into the dominant species. Somehow, atoms, DNA and chords were thrown together in exactly the right way from a random explosion.

Fallacious reasoning. The whole premise that you have, that everything is too "perfect", only exists because you assume a perfect system and only that one system -- ours. You discount the, likely, billions and billions of systems where this has happened and failed.

It's like seeing one dice roll in your life -- let's say a two -- and then living your entire life thinking that dice only throw twos.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Adelleda
The simple answer to this entire thread is;
If you're a scientist, the meaning of life is beyond our comprehension, so you'll just have to settle for that good old perpetuating humanity jig.

Simple answer my ass. There are some scientists, like Dawkins, that would likely disagree with your generalization there.

Avptallarita 04-24-2006 11:38 AM

Re: Does life have a purpose?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nicato
We're a cosmic joke, so what. Slinkies were an accident (as was my conception) and the world is all the better for it.

Uhm, you seem to be reducing your own question to "Does God exist?", because you're assuming that if there's a purpose it must come from the external world. Isn't that oversimplifying the question?

I'd be interested in hearing other views on the subject that are not theocentric. Brad and Hommygfunk, what's your religious position if I may ask? (I don't seem to recall you believed in God).

Nicato 04-24-2006 04:16 PM

Re: Does life have a purpose?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Avptallarita
Uhm, you seem to be reducing your own question to "Does God exist?", because you're assuming that if there's a purpose it must come from the external world.

If you take issue with my reasoning, then I'd rather you debate the points rather than trying to read between the lines because I honestly don't know what the fuck you're talking about. There is noting explicitly theistic, let alone theocentric, about proclaiming that we're a cosmic joke (What kind of answer would that be to the question: "Does God Exist"). The point is that purpose is inevident and thus invalid.

Vince 04-24-2006 10:47 PM

Re: Does life have a purpose?
 
I'd say our ultimate destination is to have a timespan that is greater than that of the dinosaurs. Our personal accomplishments mean nothing, but as a whole our species should strive to overcome any obstacle. Once we have reached that goal, someone should ask this question again. Then we'll see what new goals can be set.

Mike Doolittle 04-25-2006 01:02 AM

Re: Does life have a purpose?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nicato
I voted no, tentatively, because there is yet no accounting for the excessive (if you believe that life has a purpose) or abundant (if you believe that it does not) amount of stuff. I mean, what is the purpose of the moon? The tide? Okay, but Mars has no water and it has two moons. Certainly one can argue that every entity in the universe has at least a minute effect on our tidal cycle, but to suggest that that is the only reason why all those entities exist is at best absurd and at worst arrogant.

We're a cosmic joke, so what. Slinkies were an accident (as was my conception) and the world is all the better for it.

You seem to adhere to a mindset that if something can't be observed or quantified, it's irrelevant. But "purpose" is by definition a qualitative concept, so you defeat the "purpose" of your own question with circular reasoning. Asking if life has a purpose requires first accepting that purpose is a possibility, which means accepting that qualitative aspects of our existance are relevant.


p.s. Not to mention that "relevance" is also a qualitative concept.

beatbass 04-25-2006 01:37 AM

Re: Does life have a purpose?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by littledoc
You seem to adhere to a mindset that if something can't be observed or quantified, it's irrelevant. But "purpose" is by definition a qualitative concept, so you defeat the "purpose" of your own question with circular reasoning. Asking if life has a purpose requires first accepting that purpose is a possibility, which means accepting that qualitative aspects of our existance are relevant.


p.s. Not to mention that "relevance" is also a qualitative concept.

http://www.mobilediscodirectory.co.u...humbs%20up.gif

In philosophical terms, it's called begging the question and ontological committments respectively (or how the quality of thought determines the quantity of thinking).


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:13 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 1999-2010 GameCritics.com. All rights reserved.