What is the meaning of life?
The question comes in many forms and is likely as old as humanity itself. To save you some time from reading a long dissertation, I have provided a quick short answer, followed by lengthy supporting arguments. 🙂
I believe the ultimate purpose in life is simply to survive indefinitely. My hypothesis holds that the single convergent belief held by every human being and possibly every living thing is to survive. It is my belief that every facet of our life surrounds this core concept, and to deny it, is to deny your own humanity.
At this moment you might be saying to yourself, “Of course our primary purpose is to survive! What is my higher purpose?! What about creativity and innovation?!”
First, let us define purpose (from dictionary.com). My use of the word is synonymous with:
an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.
When you are born, your purpose in life is obvious. Very basic needs such as eating and sleeping take precedence. As you grow older, your purpose at any given point in time may diverge from these basic necessities as your curiosity, creativity and senses expand. However, these original set of purposes does not go away, these primary purposes – the survival purposes – always exist, all the way until your death.
Additional purposes that you acquire with experience and knowledge I refer to as secondary purposes.
Your secondary purposes change constantly, and over time result in various periods of your life where a certain series of purposes can be grouped together to form what I refer to as higher order purposes.
The factors that drive you as an individual towards a particular higher order purpose, such as your career, a particular long term hobby or a relationship is a result of a series of influences on you as you have grown and developed. Since the variety of influences that can affect any one person are infinitely diverse, they will always be unique. In contrast, groups of people with similar external influences generally gravitate towards similar goals. This is a simplified explanation from macro and micro perspectives, and broadly accounts for distributions of varying ways of life throughout the world and their relative concentrations in particular regions.
You still might find yourself at this point considering that I am wrong, and you have a clear choice on your future that is independent of outside influence. This is only partially true. If a hand of cards is presented to you in a game of chance, and you are presented with a choice, then there will always be an algorithmic certainty to a particular selection you will make. If you are playing this game with many other people as one group of many groups, depending on levels of knowledge and psychological factors, probabilities can be assessed for decisions that will be similar among all the groups.
This game is a symbolic representation of your life. The only difference is in the scale of variables.
Over time, the complexity of the choices presented to you masks the simplicity that you must do these actions for your survival. Irregardless of whether you contribute to society, yourself or your family and the encompassing details, even if you choose nihilism, you will always be faced with the reality of certain death.
Wikipedia – Meaning of Life, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meaning_of_life