Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Another interesting article

In one of my interactions with a fellow blogger, the issue of purpose of life was raised. Not that I can allow someone else to define that purpose for myself, except for if it's through a form of coercion I can't thwart, but it's always interesting to note others' views on the issue. Someone else's purpose could definitely be more interesting than mine(!), and I'd uninhibitedly and shamelessly borrow that purpose for myself!

I've long concluded there's no external purpose to life--as in influencing some tangible indestructible entity on whom the act of our living would've an impact. But this sterile view begs many questions--like 'why do we then feel such an intense desire to live?', 'why should we live?', 'what should we do while live-ing?'.

To the above questions I do have some crude answers, which I can of course, not claim to be applicable to all. Greatest reason being there's no measurable endpoint to the act of living. Like endpoint of using energy efficient automobiles would be the reduction of green house gases in the atmosphere, which can be measured.

Well so as usual, as a quirky idea, I searched for 'purpose of life' on Wikipedia, and this is what turned up.

I've not yet read the article completely, may not even complete it myself, but thought others might enjoy it. Reading it won't take much time, but understanding it completely, which will require one to understand concepts right from molecular biology, thermodynamics, quantum physics to abstract philosophical and logical assertions, will certainly take much longer--maybe around a week.

One thing that struck me was how the ancient Greek philosophers born more than 2000 years ago had such clear and objective view of life. They were only limited by lack of scientific knowledge. And then, somehow the world's intellect regressed, and it took mankind almost two millenia to reach their level again and progress beyond that!

Maybe philosophy will always stay ahead of science. It requires only two tools--one harbored behind the two eyes and an armchair!

Which reminds me, maybe, I've been philosophizing a lot, the indicator being creaks of my armchair, which are nothing but groans because of the abuse I subject her (it's my armchair--I get to assign the gender ;) ) to. Time to stop philosophizing so much get a new armchair!

That's all!


  1. I've recently thought about this question myself a lot... I think I know what the purpose of my life should be but a lot of other unimportant considerations presently cloud my desire to fulfill it.

    You know, at times, your posts are like a philosophical orgasm! (Is this sounding gay?) Neverthless, what I mean is at times, your posts cause a flurry of very interesting thoughts in my mind!

  2. Hi Rakesh!

    It's good you've decided the purpose for your life. I've not really required to decide on a purpose. It's very simple--being happy! I fortunately, also know what makes and keeps me happy. The challenge (as of now), is in amassing resources (not in the least--'roti, kapda aur makan', and the like) to let me enjoy life without worry. ;) I just hope once I amass them in sufficient quantities/numbers, my sources of happiness won't change!

    Since I don't know what purpose you've chosen for yourself, and what obstacles you're talking of, I won't be able to comment upon it. Would I be able to find the answer on your blog?

    And thanks a lot for your compliment! That's one of the greatest compliments I've ever received in my blog life as well as otherwise!

    I didn't know you enjoyed my contemplative posts also, since except for 'moral brainteaser' and 'Communalism' you never commented on any other. And to think of it even on them, I *made* you comment! I'd love to have your comments on posts that make you think. For two reasons--I'd know one more reader read it, and second, I'd get one more perspective on the issue. Don't you think afterall, it should be two-way, and that philosophical sex is better than philosophical masturbation? ;) Okay, too much explicit content for my decent blog! :p

    Thanks a lot, and take care!

  3. Ketan,

    Agree, I don't read all your posts but I've read a few others but couldn't think of anything coherent to comment coz. suddenly I get so many thoughts in my mind. From now on, I'll drop a word saying "Read" if I can't think of anything.

    Sec. 377 has been revoked which means we 'can' but doesn't mean we 'should'! lol...

  4. LOL, Rakesh! And I always thought philosophy was a unisex endeavor! :(

  5. You may not believe but today i was also thinking in those lines and wanted to write about life and its meaning.

  6. Thanks Anju ma'am for dropping by!

    Yes, many people ponder over this question--some for personal/emotional reasons; some, religous; some, scientific; some, philosophical; many never think! I've stated at many places (by now!) that life is addictive. Just like nicotine or alcohol, we are dependent on it, whether it gives us pleasure or pain! And just like how every person dependent on alcohol or nicotine rationalizes their addiction in one one way or the other, so do we!

    Life's so addictive that almost no one thinks of why we live, before they turn 10 (this is the earliest estimate I can come up with). Some don't even think of it on their death bed! Basically, we just live our lives. We just do it!

    I look forward to your post!


  7. Hmm...the purpose of life?

    Isn't it different for everyone? Like for some crazed businessman, it would be to become the biggest company in the world and all.
    For a scientist, it would be to find the cure of some disease.

    Maybe I'm confusing 'Purpose of Life' or 'Aims in Life'. Aren't they the same thing? And yet so different.

    But for me, the purpose of life would be:
    1) To know that I loved the one I loved with all my heart and to be loved in return.

    2) Knowing that I did something in life and made my mark, my own special place in this world.

    3) And leading a happy and satisfactory life of course!

    Thought-provoking post.

  8. Srishti,

    Thanks for dropping by!

    We can talk of purpose at two levels--the individual level, what you've chosen to call 'aim', and which in formal philosophy is also known as 'intrinsic' purpose (I guess). And second is the point in existence of life on this Earth in the first place. Like, the purpose of bright, colorful petals of flowers is to attract insects for pollination, or purpose of grocery store is to make available items of daily use to people, and also earn profit, what's the purpose of life on this Earth?

    Like if insects would stop pollinating the plants, that particular species would go extinct. Or if grocery shop would close, people would be greatly inconvenienced, who would be harmed and in which way, if there were to be no life on this Earth? Well, that's what's meant by 'external' or 'extrinsic' purpose.

    And thanks, but I don't consider this particular post thought-provoking 'cuz I've actually not opined anything except for the Greek philosophers and my armchair.

    With regard to my personal purposes in life, point 1 used to be at some time, but not any more. If I find someone like that, I'd consider that a beautiful byproduct of my life, but not the central purpose of my life. You'll find the reason in my two-part-reply to Dr. S in my latest post--'Duel'.

    Point 2--I think you've already read my opinion on it in 'A journey called life'. I don't anymore (means, in the past, I used to) believe in making a mark on someone else; it's actually quite the opposite of living life for oneself, on one's own terms. Unknowingly, in attempt to make a mark, we end up doing what others want us to!

    Point 3--yay, same pinch! Hope it didn't hurt! Yes, that's what I do, and till now have been pretty successful.

    BTW, the post that inspired this one is on the blog--'Got the audacity to be yourself?'. You'll find the link in my sidebar in my blogroll. But a word of caution--you might find that post more cynical than anything you've found on my blog!


  9. *By 'life on this Earth' I meant having 'living organisms on this Earth'. As in other planets don't have living organisms on them, and they're pretty alright with it!

  10. By making a mark, I meant making a mark in this world. Something people would remember me for. That I won't just die and be forgotten. And okay, it ultimately comes down to making a mark on people because you obviously can't make a mark on THINGS.
    But whats wrong with doing that? Making a mark on people? Not doing what others want us to do, but doing something which we like to do which others come to appreciate.

    Well, okay enough of this stuff! Maybe I should go and DO something mark-worthy rather than arguing about it!

    And same pinch too!

  11. Yes Srishti, you're right. For me also it's important to make the right marks--but on paper! ;) Talking of the multiple-choice question-answer sheets where I've mark the correct circles. And some day if I do that really well on an examination day, I'll get a postgraduation seat of my choice. LOL.


  12. Yes Srishti, you're right. For me also it's important to make the right marks--but on paper! ;) Talking of the multiple-choice question-answer sheets where I've mark the correct circles. And some day if I do that really well on an examination day, I'll get a postgraduation seat of my choice. LOL.


  13. Well I've never actually thought about this kind of stuff. But theres a line in Pirates of the Caribbean: at world's end which goes, "Dying is the day worth living for". I like that line a lot and that answers a lot of questions for me.

  14. Truth and lies,

    Thanks for quoting 'Pirates of the Caribbean'.

    I'll have two problems with the beautiful-sounding quote, though.

    1. I don't think too many people can actually find incentive in thinking of the day they'd be dying famous/satisfied/happy/guilty/confused/fearful while living through their lives.

    2. Not many people know on the day they die that they'd be dying. :)

    But yes, if you find time, inclination and resources (which is only your brain and some kind of furniture), you must think of these questions, try to come to certain conclusions, and then rejoice in/rue the fact that all those conclusions were drawn way back in the past, are already established psychological/anthropological/sociological concept.



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