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ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

Tell me, what do you think the meaning of life is?

Asked by ABoyNamedBoobs03 (7538points) March 25th, 2009

this is completely up to your own interpitation.

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28 Answers

asmonet's avatar


wundayatta's avatar

Answering fluther questions, including those that have been asked a gajillion times before.

The meaning of life is whatever you think it is.

basp's avatar

There is no meaning… Life just is what it is.

ninjacolin's avatar

Well, the definition of “life,” i think, is: everything you (specifically) remember and believe to be true. (i hope to have blown your mind with that one, haha. For example: cars are a part of life, trees are a part of life, death, taxes, babies, guns, stealing, cheating, forgiveness, love, happiness, sadness, planets, physics.. everything you remember and believe to be true!)

So, using that definition the question becomes: What is the meaning of everything you remember and believe to be true?

Which i’m not sure is a valid question as I don’t know how to answer it. Maybe it should be phrased: What meaning do you find in everything you remember and believe to be true?

But again, I’m not sure that I’m suppose to find “meaning” in it at all. Am I suppose to find meaning in watching two ants fight on the sidewalk? Am I suppose to find meaning in my life? I’m not sure this is required.

Maybe define the word “meaning” then we can try this again.

sandystrachan's avatar

the meaning of life is death

Staalesen's avatar

Seriousky thou, I feel that the meaning of life is that it ends, so do the most of your life

ninjacolin's avatar

death is a part of life. i don’t see how it could possibly be thought of as what life “means.”

eckart tolle makes the point that Death is the Opposite of Birth. It is not the Opposite of life. Life itself goes on.

wundayatta's avatar

I think meaning is about the relationship of the-thing-you-seek-to-understand (say a human life) to it’s environment. This can include a notion of importance, which is subjective. It can also be with relation to some presumed overarching purpose of the type of thing (say, all living humanity).

Whether you believe in an objective purpose or subjective, it is still you that is making the meaning up. You can pretend that it comes from outside you, and lots of people maintain this fiction, but you are still the one deciding what is what. You can’t get around that, unless you become not-you, which is absurd.

I am prone to asking questions about the meaning of things. What is the meaning of a book? What does beauty mean? What is the meaning of relationships? What is the meaning of conversation. I don’t mean the ostensible, surface meaning, but the underlying meaning related to all books, relationships or conversations. What is bookishness? Beautyishness? Relationshipishness? Conversationishness? How do we employ these concepts in life?

Other examples that imply they are about meaning include: Can you deconstruct this form of respect for me?; What is it with compliments?; ”“Oh no you di’nt! What’s going on here?; Does an intention have to be involved for it to be art?; and more, I’m sure.

bythebay's avatar

I could espouse ad infinitum about what I perceive the meaning to be; but my perception is just my reality. Let it suffice to say that I really don’t know the meaning of life…but I love my life.

Bluefreedom's avatar

According to Morpheus (a la ‘The Matrix’), the meaning of life is power generation. You are living in a cocoon full of vaseline and powering the construct with your body heat. That’s deep.

ninjacolin's avatar

Okay cool, @daloon. Given all that, what i want is a be all and end all definition for “meaning” in these contexts.

So, is it fair to say: meaning = value?

Hence, “what is the meaning of my life?” = “what is the value of my life compared to another?” = “how does my life compare to another’s life?”

and hence, “What is the meaning of all life?” = “What is the value of it all?” = “How does life as we know it compare to any hypothetical alternative?”

wundayatta's avatar

@ninjacolin: value, inasmuch is the same as importance, is only a part of it. Value is a subset of meaning. It’s value or importance, and where it fits in the scheme of things (as perceived by the person who is attributing the meaning).

If I did a survey using a “value” scale, a “fit” scale, and a “meaning” scale, I could use that to test the idea that “value” and “fit” predict the “meaning” of something to someone. At least, that’s the theory. Other predictors would be personal history, exposure to philosophical systems of thought (perhaps broken out by type), place on the intrinsic to extrinsic meaning scale, and probably a number of other things, if I thought about it more.

May2689's avatar

@Staalesen : would you mind explaining that 42? A bunch of friends of mine are all aabout the number 42 andI have absolutely no idea whtat that means.
For me and my dad, the meaning of like is to enjoy it. Life’s too short to suffer.

ninjacolin's avatar

@daloon “Value is a subset of meaning. It’s value or importance, and where it fits in the scheme of things (as perceived by the person who is attributing the meaning).”

hmm.. see, I would say the perceived logical relevance of a thing as it fits into the scheme of things = the value that thing has to the perceiver.

curious what you think of that spin because you said: “If I did a survey using a “value” scale, a “fit” scale, and a “meaning” scale, I could use that to test the idea that “value” and “fit” predict the “meaning” of something to someone.”

but with this understanding of Fitness a part of a thing’s Value you’re down to only one variable: Value. So.. on that scale Value would correlate to Meaning directly.

Calendar's avatar

Although I’m agnostic, the “Meaning of Life” – pure and simple – can be found in the Book of Genesis: “Go forth and multiply!” That’s it. It applies to single-celled organisms as well as to the most advanced creatures and plants. Life exists only to propagate itself.
This might also explain why stones don’t have babies…

ninjacolin's avatar

but “to multiply” is not a “meaning.” grammatically/semantically this doesn’t answer the question.

ninjacolin's avatar

it answers the question what is the “purpose” or “direction” or “objective” of life.. but not the “meaning.”

Calendar's avatar

I understood “meaning” (in the original question) to equate with “reason for” – not “value of”.

Staalesen's avatar

@May2689 It is from the Hitchikers Guide to the galaxy, and is the answer to everything… But what the question is is the big issue :p

ninjacolin's avatar

well, even then i would say it isn’t complete since clearly, some lives go by without any propagation. it is even true that some people die the minute they are born. since some lives propagate and some do not.. propagation demonstrably is not the only “purpose” or “reason” for a life.

now, if you understood “life as a whole” rather than just any individual life.. then what i’m hearing you say is that the REASON that any-and-all life came into being was to multiply itself and the reason life still exists is to multiply itself. But i think this still fails to answer the question because who decided that “reason”? hmm… see, i guess this question is really the same sort of question as: Why does anything exist rather than nothing?

Calendar's avatar

Oh, I do go along with “42”...! ;-)

bobbyb_'s avatar

…to impact other people’s lives.

wundayatta's avatar

@ninjacolin: I’m not sure how you got the idea that fit is a part of value. Just to make it clear, I see it as a separate factor (although it would have to be confirmed by factor analysis). There might be a bit of colinearity, but hopefully they would be pretty separate.

I think your theory is interesting, too. I wish we could test them. Perhaps we can.

Ok, after a short search, I found that the psychologists tend to think of meaning in life instead of meaning of life. They do have a number of measures, and my suggested measures are actually included in some of the studies.

For example, in The Meaning in Life Questionnaire: Assessing the Presence of and Search for Meaning in Life, the authors use a number of measures, including: life satisfaction; emotional state (long term affect scale); a psychological distress instrument; the Intrinsic/Extrinsic Religiosity Scale (yay me); the Social Desirability Scale, which assesses the need to obtain social approval; and a values measure.

I think there are other measures that they use since the abstract says there are ten currently measurable components to meaning in life. Apparently, by using the MLQ (meaning in life questionnaire), they can pinpoint aspects of a person’s beliefs that a therapist can help with. They seem to assume that meaning is what you make it, but that the important thing is that the more you think there is a meaning, the less psychological problems you will have (on average).

Anyway, that study blows both of our theories out of the water. However, they do not use “fitness” as a component, and I wonder if an instrument could be developed to measure that, and if I could add to the theory on this issue.

hug_of_war's avatar

To give it meaning so when you look back on your life when you’re dying, regardless of your religious beliefs, you feel as if your life was worth something

VS's avatar

The meaning OF life is to put some meaning IN life.

Strauss's avatar

I once heard someone postulate that at the end of life (stick with me on this one) we judge ourselves by experiencing our life as it affected others.

ahankes's avatar

To have fun!

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