TED Conversations

Farrukh Yakubov

Student, Purdue University


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How would you describe the purpose of life in one sentence?

What is the purpose of life? This is kind of a question where there is no exact answer, and it differers from one person to another. What is the purpose of life in your own understanding, from your own point of view? The answer might be a complicated and long, or concise and short. But how would you state it in one single sentence?


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  • Feb 25 2011: Farrukh, I'm enjoying the responses to your question. Each answer gives me cause for reflection and enriches my own perspective on this important timeless question. Well done :-)

    If I were to take your question literally, I'd probably respond objectively with what I observe: Once I factor out subjectivity and inconsistencies among answers, what's left for me is a single empirical fact that separates life from non-life: To grow... In every sense of that word.

    However I assume that you're open to a broader, more subjective, interpretation of your question which leads me to speculate that perhaps the purpose of life might ultimately be to use our best capabilities to define for ourselves our own answer to that very question, and then to try our best to live with our answer recognizing, of course, that as we continue this journey, that our own answer will continue to evolve.

    I love James Taylor's answer: 'The Secret to Life is Enjoying the Passage of Time', and for the longest time my own response to this question was to 'Live, Love, Laugh, and Learn' (a phrase which I had engraved and still carry around).

    For awhile, Robert Heinlein's fictional character Lazarus Long inspired me with his quote that 'a human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet...Specialization is for insects'. This led me to the conclusion that the Leonardo da Vinci Renaissance Man approach to ultimate adaptability best reflected the purpose of our/my journey through life.

    My current life compass, and personal one sentence contribution to your query?

    The purpose of (my) life in one sentence is to 'Live life to the fullest, and to help others to do the same'



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