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Sanket Gupta

Design Engineer, Marvell Semiconductor

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Man's Search for Meaning. Is there a meaning to our lives or is it all meaningless?

Having read Viktor Frankl's book "Man's Search for Meaning", I was struck by the fact that he repeatedly emphasizes the pursuit of meaning in our lives. He also says that for some of us who cant find meaning in our lives, we tend to substitute it by pursuing power or money.

On the other hand, proponents of genetics argue that humans have no meaning but to just propagate. Hence, we do things which are beneficial to us and our future generations. Hence, pursuing power or money is justified and is backed by science.

So, my questions are whether we have any meaning at all or we are here to just survive and propagate ourselves? If we do have a meaning in life, how do we find one? Furthermore, can altruism have any "natural" place in our actions?

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    Oct 5 2011: Look, wealthy and powerful (but often boring and brutal) men are not more succesful in attracting women than gentle, altruistic, artistic or simply handsome men.

    If there was a strict evolutionary advantage for power and wealth, and a disadvantage for kindness, artisticness or altruisism, then the latter would no longer be here. But they're here, and their number is growing.

    But I agree with the fundamental idea that there is no "humanistic" purpose for life, only a biological one. However, our big brains have become the main tool for our success as a species. And that brain produces "culture". So culture has become part of human biology: an artistic but poor man can be highly succesful amongst women, and spread his genes just as easily.
    • Oct 5 2011: I like your ideas Laurens, but I differ in thought a little. We are assuming that it is everyone's purpose to propagate. I understand that if no one were to breed, the existence of the species would fall. However, there are plenty of people in our current age that have no desire to propagate. That being said, aside from the continuance of our species, what is it that we desire with breeding? Is it a selfish purpose that we want to see more of ourselves in our offspring in the future?
      I would say that happiness is what is the purpose of life and what drives us to attain that is what we fill our lives with. I see that many people mentioned that creating a better life for all and a more sustainable happier environment could be a purpose of life, but the definition I am using to define "purpose of life" is something that everyone is born with. Everyone desires a better situation and to be happy. It is that drive for happiness or a better situation that lead us to desire wealth and power because it is what we perceive to be the method for reaching that better life/happiness.
      On one hand I agree that it is intrinsic in our biological structure to propagate, however as culture interferes, our situation changes and it no longer becomes a necessary feature of our current existence. It was once a purpose of life, but now is not. If we were to be in a situation in which our existence was wavering, it would reclaim its position as a purpose.
      I hope i made sense. I confused myself as I wrote this ;)

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