Life Driven Purpose, pg 21

May 31, 2016

“‘What is the purpose of life?’ is a slippery question because purpose has more than one meaning. In its primary usage – the one relevant to living beings – purpose is striving for a goal, an intentional aiming at a target. There is no striving without a reason, and the reason always has something to do with surviving or enjoying your life. If you are not enjoying life – or striving to enjoy life – you are not living your life. Enjoyment doesn’t exist for its own sake; you exist for your own sake. Enjoyment results from successfully reaching or striving to reach a goal.”

–Dan Barker, Life Driven Purpose pg 21


Discuss!

15 comments on “Life Driven Purpose, pg 21

  • People are so obsessed with having a purpose, especially religious people in my experience. Here, the author and I agree: you can make your own purpose. The canvas is not meant to be painted a certain way. The canvas is blank, and you are the artist. You get to give your life a direction, meaning, purpose, etc. And you get to enjoy it too!

    Being happy, to me, is being able to set goals that you can enjoy reaching : )



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  • If you are not enjoying life – or striving to enjoy life – you are not living your life.

    This is something a preacher might say – deep and “meaningful” but empty of information. If you are not enjoying life, that’s sad, but it hardly allows you a release from living your life.

    Enjoyment doesn’t exist for its own sake; you exist for your own sake.

    This is even more cryptic. The personification of enjoyment is bizarre (does the moon exist for its own sake?), and the statement that I exist for my own sake is simply mysterious. What does it mean? If someone does something for my sake, they do it to benefit me. If I exist for my sake, I must presumably exist to benefit me.

    It’s great that Barker has lost his religion, but he needs now to lose its absurd language.



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  • Enjoyment doesn’t exist for its own sake; you exist for your own sake.

    This is indeed dreadful twaddle. This is Hallmark card philosophy.

    The general public were made aware 40 years ago that you exist for your gene’s sake.

    The Hallmark version of that leads us, in fact, to a shared-gene-instigated mutuality rather than this typically self-centred vision.



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  • @op – Enjoyment results from successfully reaching or striving to reach a goal.”

    Reaching a goal, surely is “satisfaction”! Not quite the same as enjoyment, which tends to be more “along-the-way”, rather than “at-the-end result”!



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  • The author has used a profound question (the purpose or meaning of life) to offer some self-help advice about being happy. Unfortunately he has used circular logic which fails to make his point, and leaves the meat of the question completely unmolested. His logic is that the purpose of life is to have goals that create purpose and this makes life enjoyable. I am certain that the purpose of life is not hedonism. Beyond that I am certain that if there were a legitimate answer to this question, there would no longer be war or religion. Maybe he should shy from the profundities and provide a more utilitarian route to his point.



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  • I think that the answer to the purpose of life question is that there is no purpose in life. Some religions have tried to tell us what our purpose in life is. But the theory of evolution liberates us from the given purpose and allow us to freely decide what our purpose should be.



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  • “…there is no purpose in life” is followed by “…allow[s] us to freely decide what our purpose should be.”

    How can anyone decide what one’s purpose “should be” if there is no purpose in life?

    I prefer to think that there are many (probably an infinite number of) purposes in life. We cannot avoid choosing from among them. The crucial and tricky question is, what is the basis for deciding? Where does the “should” come from?

    Do I exist for my gene[s’] sake? If so, then what’s the genes’ purpose? Do genes exist for the molecules’ sake? Do molecules exist for the atoms’ sake? Do atoms exist for the protons’ sake? Does each larger thing exist for the sake of its smaller constituent parts, ad infinitum?

    This strikes me as backwards. The smaller exist for the sake of the larger.



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  • I find a lot of wisdom in Barker’s topic as it is the same that I chose for my Philosophy final paper years ago, which ultimately changed my direction in life. In the interest of keeping this succinct, the deep exploration of a purpose in life was the final push for me to abandon my evangelical Christian beliefs with the realization that purpose is an independent pursuit, much like Plato had asserted. I also found that my philosophy paper is deeply personal and a living document, constantly evolving as I age.



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  • Though happiness is an important part of our life’s purpose, it is just a side-affect of what makes up our true purpose, and that is to encourage the evolution of the species and other inhabitants of this planet. In fact, it is not just our purpose, it is our obligation. It is part of the force of nature. The one thing that can stall it’s course is human intelligence. It all depends on how we think as a whole.

    And we must not delay. The superstitions, greed, poverty, poor parenting are just some of the conflicts that slow our evolution. We are in a race to evolve at a rate that is faster than our own course of self-destruction, i.e. Earth warming, insufficient food production, polluted air and water just to name a few. Will we make it?



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  • 11
    maria melo says:

    Once I have subscribed a medical magazine and latter gave up of the subscritition, and was insistently asked to mention the reason, which I did: depressed people were culprites for their own depression, it stated something like Mother Teresa of Calcutta doesn´t have such problem-depression- as far she is so busy doing good actions, and the resposible was really mad at me (besides the the high price for it´s few articles, ah, ah)
    Well, emotions like sadness play a role too, unfortunately? There´s too litlle of scientific here even philosophical or ethical, I rather prefer to read Damasio or Marc Bekoff about emotions for instance, or Kim Bard, or Darwin in his book about emotions which I bought but didn´t read the whole book, perhaps Heidegger, or Kant, well, even philosophically it doesn´t sound in the right tone, if not contradictory as it is for me, well we make the purpose of life and it´s meaning, what´s the use of this paragraph anyway.



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  • maria melo #11
    Jun 7, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Once I have subscribed a medical magazine and latter gave up of the subscritition, and was insistently asked to mention the reason, which I did: depressed people were culprites for their own depression,

    This sounds a bit more like quackery than medicine!

    it stated something like Mother Teresa of Calcutta doesn´t have such problem-depression- as far she is so busy doing good actions,

    Actually Mother Teresa of Calcutta was deluding herself that she was “doing good actions”, while often abusing those who trusted her, but she was promoting Catholicism, so has been given heroine status by the church, which shares her delusions that promoting Catholicism equals “doing good actions” – regardless of the actual effects causing suffering for real people!



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  • 13
    maria melo says:

    “This sounds a bit more like quackery than medicine!”

    Indeed, it does, so one of the reasons I gave was “quality”.
    I am well aware that this woman spent the Money raised for the poor not in medicines for poor patients, but to fund a religious order, then she liked to compare the suffering of the poor to Christ´s, but she didn´t follow the example herself, she received medical treatment in in USA clinics I guess.



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  • Purpose. Such a loaded word. Suits the notions of a Designer etc. Even “passing on our genes” when stated as a Purpose is getting it wrong.

    No purpose. But we are descended from a long line of Survivors, those who survived long enough to reproduce. Therefore enough of us are well enough equipped to do that, for our genes to be passed on.

    Part of the “being well enough equipped” is the mindset that views as a Good Thing surviving and having children and nurturing them to maturity. So that is what we do, those of us who succeed in extending the chain of life that carries our genes, be it as a parent, or an uncle, or even a cousin who helps enough of his relations to survive and breed.

    Purpose, then, would be the “will to survive”, and to propagate.

    Craig Domin said:

    “I am certain that the purpose of life is not hedonism”

    Well, I disagree. That’s like saying sex is for reproduction, it’s ok as long as you don’t enjoy it, like some of the weird puritan cults. No, for the individual organism, sex is what the organism wants to do. It’s not thinking, oh, better settle down and start a family, because it is my Purpose to pass on my genes, is it?

    Instead, part of our being “equipped” to survive is that we want to have sex, and when we do it’s enjoyable, else we’d not want any more. Nature tricking us, if you like, into getting pregnant, with all the demands that ensue. So, Hedonism could well be a successful individual’s entire purpose.

    With this big thinking brain we have, we can extrapolate from today’s hunger for food and sex and the need for shelter, and plan more of the same for tomorrow and the day after, and not just for ourselves but for our offspring, and for other creatures who will be useful to us or our offspring. If we’re smart enough – and that’s by no means assured – we’ll manage long range hedonism and establish a comfortable and pleasure filled world to live in far into the future, and bequeath it to our descendants.

    Hedonism is perhaps the highest purpose. Don’t underrate it.

    On the other hand, the last generation of every species that has become extinct was also descended from a long line of survivors. The last generation failed due to changed circumstances, loss of habitat, overwhelming competition, catastrophe, sheer bad luck, or any combination of these factors. Short sighted destruction of our own environment, that could put an end to us.



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  • 15
    maria melo says:

    “In fact, it is not just our purpose, it is our obligation. It is part of the force of nature.”

    (comment 10 by william Strech)

    In middles ages society was also thought to be organized in the way nature was -as an organism with hierarchy functioning- , let´s remind social darwinisn too?
    Every time a religious person says homosexualty is not”so natural” we are turning nature into ideology.

    Let´s be carefull.



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