Jump to content

Do we have a purpose?

Recommended Posts

Hi guys, it's me again. I have a topic which I hope is going to make some of you interested.

So, lately I've been thinking about human existence. As far as we know, there is not a single reason or purpose for us humans to exist. We don't have to do anything, we have free will (more or less), and we do what we want.

But why?

I mean, why us? Out of all species, it had to be us. We are the most intelligent specimen we know of, and we are self aware. Is it a good thing? We are able to do literally anything we want, yet we are stuck because of technology and laws and whatnot. What's the point in living? The more I think about it the less life seems appealing to me. Family, friends, coworkers etc. - they're all going to die too. And their existence will end too. And they will never find out their greater purpose. But is there even one? Or are we just a biological mystery which has to deal with its own self awareness and agree with the fact that our sole purpose is to survive and, in most cases, reporduce.

I have a set number of days left. I might go to uni, get a great job, live a great life, but then I die. And it's over. Nothing. I had no purpose, I won't have a purpose after I die either. Why bother then? Why not just end it now? How can one petty existence somehow influence this huge world and the society? Even if I discovered something, the question of existence still remains.

I don't mean to come across as negative. I'm just curious and am frustrated that there's no clear answer.

I can't wait to read what you guys think! :)

Edited by mac117

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Evolution brought us this far, not for any purpose but due the principle of biology that each organism has the strive for survival, if not they will extinguish.

I think the purpose is up to an individual. "We" have no purpose besides advancing contunuation of our species, but "I" make the purpose for myself. For me its to gain knowledge to satisfy my curiosity.

Ps. my phone died. Really sorry

Edited by Emilia1320

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Evolution brought us this far, not for any purpose but due the principle of biology that each organism has the strive for survival, if not they will extinguish.

I think the purpose is up to an individual. "We" have no purpose besides advancing contunuation of our species, but "I" make the purpose for myself. For me its to gain knowledge to satisfy my curiosity.

Ps. my phone died. Really sorry

And so you agree with the idea of nihilism? Or are you more optimistic?

(It's ok, just PM me if you want to ^^).

Edited by mac117

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Evolution brought us this far, not for any purpose but due the principle of biology that each organism has the strive for survival, if not they will extinguish.

I think the purpose is up to an individual. "We" have no purpose besides advancing contunuation of our species, but "I" make the purpose for myself. For me its to gain knowledge to satisfy my curiosity.

Ps. my phone died. Really sorry

And so you agree with the idea of nihilism? Or are you more optimistic?

(It's ok, just PM me if you want to ^^).

Nihilism states that nothing can be known, and I said my purpose is to strive for knowledge. So nope, I don't agree with idea of nihilism.

I don't see life as positive or negative, life just is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel as if our existence exemplifies Murphy's Law - anything that can happen will happen. There was a chance of life (however small it was), and so we came to be. I think the universe itself has no purpose, except to exist. 

 

I guess that's why we have things like religion: we feel as if we must have a purpose because our human minds love to see patterns and reasoning behind what happens. We think there must have been a reason why we exist, and so we have created a God to give us purpose and fulfillment. Whilst we have no actual purpose in the universe - just as I guess all the stars and planets and what nots - we have a purpose to ourselves. We might as well make our existence meaningful, or what's the point? 

 

But why do we exist? Luck? Probably. But do we really need a reason? Perhaps we could accept our existence as something that is, something that we are extremely lucky to have, and learn to appreciate it :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Humans just got really lucky that a particular set of circumstances turned us into what we are today.  Had vast forests not been replaced by plains, we would never have walked upright...had we never walked upright we would never have evolved hands like we have...had we never got those hands we would never have used tools, etc etc.  Those circumstances meant that developing our brains just so happened to be the best survival strategy - so we did.  I don't think there's any special reason it happened other than nature just taking its course.  

 

As for a purpose, I don't think we have one more than any other animals.  We make our own purposes!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, are you alive?

On what level? On a biological level, yes, of course. But it sure about the spiritual level. I wouldn't say that I'm "dead inside" but I feel like I'm doing much towards the improvement of our society and that I might not make an impact on the world. So in that aspect I would go as far as saying that I'm "suffocating".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

         To me, and to many others I'm sure, this is a negative topic.  That being said, I don't want you to feel that it's a bad question to ask, this very same question has always been with us since the beginning.  Whether we find purpose in religion, science, or still search for it, nobody will ever know for sure, in this life, what we are meant to do.  But imagine this, what would happen if we did learn our purpose?  If some divine being came down to Earth and gave us our divine purpose, what would come next.  I suppose we'd probably work forever to achieve this goal, working endlessly and tirelessly against our limited time on this planet to complete our mission.  Now let's say we achieved this goal, then what?  Would we then truly be meaningless, or would we simply return to how we are now, wondering what to do.  The fact is that our own self awareness is what gives us our sense of insignificance about our own race.  Only when we have a goal, and work so hard at it that we develop a type of tunnel vision, does the emptiness left by this question begin to be filled.  

 

       When you claim that the accomplishments of those who died now mean nothing, or at least become forgotten, I must disagree.  It is a depressing thought to say the least, but I feel you're seeing it from the wrong angle.  Anybody who does something only for the purpose of being remembered would likely be disappointed if they were still with us today.  The way I see it, there are two main categories of people, those who seek a purpose externally, and those who seek it within themselves.  If any of you IB students have a TOK class, then you know that, even though I say I am real, and you say you are real, really all I can be sure of is that I am here, and I am aware.  It certainly is bold to say that everything outside of my own mind is only constructed to help me understand the reality within my own mind, but still, it is possible.  People who see this way may find purpose in their life better.  They can create something, and appreciate it for themselves, instead of seeking approval by some external consciousness.  Don't interpret this idea as the difference between confident and insecure individuals.  I've met many very confident people who still value others' judgement, which everyone should to a degree, and I've seen very insecure people who are only insecure because of the way they see themselves.

 

        To summarize, my main point is that we give ourselves purpose.  If you wait for a purpose, you'll turn to dust before one ever reaches you.  If you completely submit yourself to anything beyond your own interests, it is the wrong purpose.  It is wrong because it is not your purpose, but instead somebody else's projected onto you.  Simply by saying, "this is what I am meant to do," makes it your purpose, and nobody can contest it, though they may try.  You think, therefore you are, now go out and be! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel like the purpose of human existence is whatever we make it. Throughout history people have tried to better society. To do right by their own standards. Our purpose becomes trying to identify and correct problems. It is, to some extent, the reason why we desire to live. 

As someone who is currently trying to figure out what happens after IB is over, I find myself wondering what my purpose is. IB has been my (temporary) purpose for the last 2 years.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Believe it or not I have been thinking about this question for a while, and I got no answer that I decided to minor in Philosophy to find an answer (as well as answers to other philosophical questions that remain unanswered), and this is because I believed that questions that cannot be answered using "normal" methods can be answered by Philosophy.

As a consequence I went to speak with my TOK teacher, which has a Master's in Philosophy and, unfortunately, he told me that even philosophy does not have an answer for the question of "What is the purpose behind the existence of man?". He also told me that there are different "answers" to the question that are not full and each one has its limitations, so when you know all of them and their limitations you just agree with one of them intuitively, the one that makes sense to you the most. After that, he told me that the answer for this question is in religion for those who seek the answer (he once told us that he was not a believer anyway).

Another question that I asked myself after this one (after I lost hope) was why do I even want to know if humans have a purpose behind their existence? Is the answer vital to MY existence? Will it change my life? If there was a greater purpose, would it enlighten our minds and change our lives?

On a side note, I hate humans as a species anyway. Not trying to sound negative, but I would abolish our existence if I had the power, because I believe that our "advanced" species has been the worst species to ever live in this universe. I mean just imagine the world without humans. It would be all forests and animals living in peace. There would not be corruption and bureaucracy and greenhouse effects. I guess what I am trying to say is that our existence only made the universe worse, and it is just our mind that makes us feel like the world needs us. It really does not. We do not matter to the universe. I also guess I was not born with the defense of survival mechanism :D.

Finally, the question of the purpose behind the existence of man led me, like many others, to thinking about the purpose of my life. I am an IB student that takes harsh courses and I work a lot to get into a classy university and study engineering and be awesome and bla bla bla. Now what? Is this something that I should be striving for? Is it even worth it? What is a strong motivation to make me continue and become successful, other than the fact that I am just going with the flow?

Thank you for starting this topic. I always wanted the opportunity to discuss it, but I could not find intellectual people to speak with.

Edited by MarcoED

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, MarcoED said:

On a side note, I hate humans as a species anyway. Not trying to sound negative, but I would abolish our existence if I had the power, because I believe that our "advanced" species has been the worst species to ever live in this universe. I mean just imagine the world without humans. It would be all forests and animals living in peace. There would not be corruption and bureaucracy and greenhouse effects. I guess what I am trying to say is that our existence only made the universe worse, and it is just our mind that makes us feel like the world needs us. It really does not. We do not matter to the universe. I also guess I was not born with the defense of survival mechanism :D.

I just want to point out here that it might be wrong to assume that "all forests and animals would live in peace" if humans didn't exist. I mean one can't possibly call all the hunting, all the violence, and all the battles for survival as "living in peace". If there weren't human species, there would just be another species dominating Earth, and we would be left with exactly the same problem.

It's true that there is corruption and bureaucracy in the world, and I'm aware that global warming is caused by the human species, but if you look on the bright side, we are actively fixing these problems right now. And I believe that in the end we will gain much more than we lose. I mean the use of fossil fuels gave us trains, and means of transportation that no horses can possibly match. Without fossil fuels, there would certainly be no electricity in the first place, which would mean that there would be no light, computers, iphones, facebook, etc. And yes, fossil fuels also cause global warming. But we are not going to fix this problem by stopping using all these cool things that we have, or trying to roll the civilizations back to the stone age where we would live peacefully with all animals in an environment without any electricity. No! To fix this problem we need to invent new things (like safe nuclear energy, cheap solar power, etc). And that's exactly what I believe what the human species is like. When we meet a challenge, we sit down, discuss among ourselves, and overcome the challenge with new innovations and inventions. No problem would ever get fixed if we just sit there, blaming ourselves for what we did, and wishing that we didn't exist.

Anyway, regarding the original question, then I believe that the universe has absolutely no purpose for us. We exist because of chance, and nothing else. However, as a human being, I also have many goals/purposes for myself. Emilia seems to have summed up all my thoughts pretty well relating to this question. Purposes are up to the individuals!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 0:05 AM, Vioh said:

I just want to point out here that it might be wrong to assume that "all forests and animals would live in peace" if humans didn't exist. I mean one can't possibly call all the hunting, all the violence, and all the battles for survival as "living in peace". If there weren't human species, there would just be another species dominating Earth, and we would be left with exactly the same problem.

It's true that there is corruption and bureaucracy in the world, and I'm aware that global warming is caused by the human species, but if you look on the bright side, we are actively fixing these problems right now. And I believe that in the end we will gain much more than we lose. I mean the use of fossil fuels gave us trains, and means of transportation that no horses can possibly match. Without fossil fuels, there would certainly be no electricity in the first place, which would mean that there would be no light, computers, iphones, facebook, etc. And yes, fossil fuels also cause global warming. But we are not going to fix this problem by stopping using all these cool things that we have, or trying to roll the civilizations back to the stone age where we would live peacefully with all animals in an environment without any electricity. No! To fix this problem we need to invent new things (like safe nuclear energy, cheap solar power, etc). And that's exactly what I believe what the human species is like. When we meet a challenge, we sit down, discuss among ourselves, and overcome the challenge with new innovations and inventions. No problem would ever get fixed if we just sit there, blaming ourselves for what we did, and wishing that we didn't exist.

Anyway, regarding the original question, then I believe that the universe has absolutely no purpose for us. We exist because of chance, and nothing else. However, as a human being, I also have many goals/purposes for myself. Emilia seems to have summed up all my thoughts pretty well relating to this question. Purposes are up to the individuals!

I understand what you are saying, but my point is that electricity, trains, iphones, and all the cool stuff is created for us and they only benefit us. The presence of human socieities in the whole world does not contribute to the universe positively in anyway possible. The problems of bureaucracy etc are caused by us and they will not end easily at all. Even if they do, the universe would not be happier.

Even if there was another dominant species (say lions), their intelligence would not reach the level of humans, which limits them from creating weapons and conquering places. All what they know is surival of the fittest. They are not as greedy as humans, so they will not always want more, and this is why the world would be peaceful. Yes, the world is a sad place because of our intelligence. All in all, another species would eventually emerge due to evolution that is going to be advanced.

Another way to think about it is whether our species is going to evolve in the future, eliminating the obnoxious characteristics, such as greed. 

But does it even matter..?

Edited by MarcoED

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This thought is very existentialist of you. The concept of Life's purpose is based on your belief system. If you are Christian, Jewish,Mormon, etc. The purpose of your life is to spread the message that your belief system classifies as right in order to find favor in your creator and go on to the heavens or whatever good place you are supposed to go. If you look at the Buddhist faith, they believe that we are reborn into something else and put back on this Earth. With this belief system you have to follow their morals in order to be reborn into something of favor is what I assume. I can see that if you have no ties to a creator or anything like that, then you can be stuck in this moral paralysis. What is the point? My question to you is, why does it need to have a point. Why not just live and not worry about it all and just go with the flow. Be adventurous and follow the path you yourself deem awesome and right to follow. Their is this big debate on the mysteries of life and all these questions.When it can all just be here for no reason. We get so caught up with questioning everything. But why do we have to question everything all the time and not just live life to the fullest and then when our little light flickers out, we leave a lasting impression on the world around us!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think we don't have purpose, but like some others asked previously, "Do we really need a purpose to live?" and if you do need a purpose to live then everybody should find their own, nobody else should tell you what your purpose is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like many of you, I have short-term and long-term goals in this life. Getting the IB diploma with the high score and applying to LSE or maybe a Canadian University, (this one is a bit strange :D ) riding a bike from campus to the University and etc. are my short-term goals. Examples of my long-term goals include giving to charity, being successful on my job, being really a good person and beneficial to the society/to the world and improve myself continuously. Studying and learning a lot about Religion and being able to racially analyse stuff are also part of my goals. 

 

Overall, I think there are some goals that should be common for all the human beings, such as being beneficial to the world, serving for humanity and etc. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think this is a very interesting topic, which I personally contemplate about from time to time. I don't think there is a reason that humans exist, and even if there was, we can't seem to find it. I think we just happened to have evolved into a species with a substantial level of intelligence and self-awareness. However, I do think we as individuals have a purpose, or at least we can find and determine a purpose in our lives. Because we exist, we can develop a purpose, but we don't exist because of a purpose(not that we know of).

I think over the ages different groups help determine this purpose, but they all start of with a bedrock belief. In my TOK class I did a project in the topic of Faith and discovered that reasoning, questioning things, eventually lead to bedrock beliefs : fundamental beliefs without any proof behind them. If you are religious then you first and fore-most believe that the things written in the Quran, Bible, Taurah, etc. is completely true, or that there is a God and he made us because of a said purpose. Others, like me, might believe that we came to existence by chance and we determine our purpose. Or you may live to pursue knowledge about this mysterious universe we live in - you are a believer of Science - then you have the bedrock beliefs that we actually live in a universe where things happen for a reason, that it's logical, there's a pattern- and that WE can actually decipher this pattern and make sense of things.

But then, you may ask what's the point in trying to understand the universe, when we don't even know if it follows a pattern. Or what's the point in believing in a religion and worshiping a God that I don't even know exist. Regardless of whatever we do, we'll die anyway so why even do anything? Some even hate humans as one person mentioned above - my good friend also has a similar view: that humans kill animals, pollute the environment and cause chaos, and so they wish that humans never existed. There are schools of history that believe that things happen in a circle, that we have wars and chaos and then peace for a while, but then things go back to being bad. But, I personally find both these ideas unappealing and quite sad.

I think humans evolve over time, not just physically and mentally but as a society. We get better at doing things, we discover new things in science, we learn more about the world we live in and the creates that inhabit it; we learn more about ourselves, about why we feel a certain way, why we do certain things etc; And we learn more about the universe. And personally the more I learn about things, the more I feel as though the universe that we live in is a beautiful place. And I honestly am so happy that I am a human, that I have the ability to appreciate this beauty. There was a poem I read once I think it was about how a horse looking at the night sky understands nothing, but to a human it seems so beautiful with all the stars.

I'm sure we humans were like that horse once - we didn't understand things, and our only "purpose" or "goal" was to survive by hunting and reproducing. But, we've come so far, and evolved so much, that we not only noticed those stars but studied them and found out what they really are, and all this evolution, it didn't happen in one lifetime. It happened over thousands of them. People slowly discovered things, and through the contribution of millions of individuals we were able to get to the point that we are right now. Yet, our world is still not perfect, and I don't think it will be, at least not in the near future. So, I think we should try to improve our world as much as possible, either through discovering new things to further our knowledge, actively fighting for a cause you believe in to change our society, or even simply trying to be a better person so you set a good example for others. I don't think we all have the same abilities, so I don't think we all should try to be the next Einstein, but I think we should try to know more, appreciate the beauty of this universe, and try to make this world a better place.

I still do think that we can't find out the reason we exist. But we can, and I think should, choose to follow something that gives purpose to our life, may that be religion or pursuing knowledge, having fun in life etc. I personally, want to think that I have the purpose to make the world a better place, even if it's only a small contribution.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nope... basically we are worthless individuals who thrive on a false sense of "hope"...that we "have a purpose", but honestly we don't. We exist because of luck, the universe just so happened to create us, not for some divine reason. Everything that humanity creates is useless because of death. We all contribute to society, but a society that will eventually crumble into a useless piece of garbage, because of humanity, or nature. Honestly I don't get people doing things from a utilitarian perspective, because you only get one chance at making life great. So I think our generation should use up the worlds resources, make our lives great, because honestly the problems with the next era of humanity won't matter to us, because we would all be dead so we won't need to deal with it. Everyone lives for a good life, so we should be more selfish in using our resources. So lets get this problem around the world, for us to live in world where we live like kings. The future is full of dark ages, but that is not our problem. Let us thrive, and make our generation the best generation in humanity. Who cares about the future, so lets get this message out, COME ON PEOPLE...lets MAKE OUR LIVES GREAT!!! the future is dark, but our time on earth will be bliss....a better world for us, #ABWFU.

Lets get this viral....GO TEAM GENERATION NOW!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/13/2016 at 10:53 AM, ibnewB said:

Nope... basically we are worthless individuals who thrive on a false sense of "hope"...that we "have a purpose", but honestly we don't. We exist because of luck, the universe just so happened to create us, not for some divine reason. Everything that humanity creates is useless because of death. We all contribute to society, but a society that will eventually crumble into a useless piece of garbage, because of humanity, or nature. Honestly I don't get people doing things from a utilitarian perspective, because you only get one chance at making life great. So I think our generation should use up the worlds resources, make our lives great, because honestly the problems with the next era of humanity won't matter to us, because we would all be dead so we won't need to deal with it. Everyone lives for a good life, so we should be more selfish in using our resources. So lets get this problem around the world, for us to live in world where we live like kings. The future is full of dark ages, but that is not our problem. Let us thrive, and make our generation the best generation in humanity. Who cares about the future, so lets get this message out, COME ON PEOPLE...lets MAKE OUR LIVES GREAT!!! the future is dark, but our time on earth will be bliss....a better world for us, #ABWFU.

Lets get this viral....GO TEAM GENERATION NOW!!!

I sort of have the a similar (but different) view. I agree, that we exist for no purpose other than luck, and our existance is just that... we exist. But I think that that means we should look beyond our own lives, and try and make other's existances better, not just our own. Because when it comes down to it, even if it doesn't mean anything, even if it ends and thats it, we are alive now. and people will be alive after we aren't. And if we have to exist, may as well make it good, but for everyone.

I want to make it better for the people who exist after me, because I can't just let my excuse to be selfish 'oh well it doesn't matter because there isn't any punishment or anything after'.

I figured that since my life means nothing, I may as well give it meaning, and my meaning is to make it possible for the next idiots to be able to have a slightly nicer existance. I've got one life, and if I can use it to make 10 others' lives better, then I sort of get to exist there too.

But first, gotta pass the damn IB and let them attempt to define my entire future with a number.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...