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The meaning of life and mortality is a question that remains a puzzle to many even today. Different philosophers and psychology experts have thrown their hands in the issue but they emerge without a conclusive answer why we are alive (Bryock, 1998). The biggest question is why we are in the universe and some answers have been given. Different people give different reasons for being alive.
Some of the answers for the purpose and meaning of life are to take care of the universe, to serve God, to make people conform to religion, to help each other, to be useful and honorable, to make things out of nothing, to bring forth something that nobody else would have created among other answers.
The significance of life and the general purpose for existence is expressed through various questions such as “why are we alive?”, “what is the meaning of life?”, “what is life about?” Throughout history, people have attempted to answer these questions from philosophical, theological and psychological points of views.
The scientific answers to the questions answer the “how?” part of the questions rather than addressing the “why?” part hence it leaves us more confused that before. The psychological and the philosophical answers are thus more reliable than the scientific ones, though they contradict in themselves (Kubler-Ross, 1973).
There are various perspectives that attempt to explain the meaning of life and mortality. Most of these perspectives were developed by Greek philosophers like Aristotle, Plato, Epicurus and other famous philosophers. The perspectives were named after the philosophers who developed the perspectives. Platonism is about the theory of forms and it states that universal exists as ghosts and not in physical form.
According to this perspective, the purpose of life is to attain knowledge that will help us to achieve good, from which all good things come from. Aristotelianism on the other hand proposed that the meaning of life can be understood by viewing life as a series of goals that must be achieved. Other perspectives include cynicism, Cyrenaicism and Stoicism among other perspectives (Marcellino, 1996).
Mortality and Meaning of Life
Philosophers agree that the meaning of the meaning of life is vague and lacks clarity.
The question increases confusion rather than bringing people to light about the issue. The most important thing to know is whether there is purpose for life, whether it is worth living and whether there is any other reason to live apart from the personal interests and circumstances in life.
One can search for the meaning of life by looking at his values, beliefs, reasons and purposes derived from external points of view (Dick, 1996). One can also limit himself or herself to the desires and goals that are dictated by the community.
Death is a relevant issue in somebody’s life since it marks the end of life. Philosophers have argued about the importance of mortality to give life a meaning.
They argue that if the fact that we will all die makes life lose meaning, then what would the assumption that we will live forever make on the meaning of life? Will it make the situation any better or worse? It is clear that the understanding that an individual will die at some point reduces his or her happiness. On the other hand, if one had to live forever, life would be full of boredom and lose meaning (Hamilton, 1964).
Before looking at the meaning of life, it will do some good to try to understand the meaning of ‘meaning of life’. It is universally agreed that some periods in life are more meaningful than others and that some lives are more purposeful than others. This is hard to accept given that human beings have equal moral standings.
Meaning of life is therefore evaluated as the function of the exercise of the view that people have some intrinsic value within themselves brought about by the choices they make in life.
There is no consensus on the meaning of meaning of life. To me, the meaning of the phrase ‘meaning of life’ is not precise and I take it as any analysis that gives life some concept (Christopher, 2005).
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To me, the meaning of life can be approached from the soul-centered point of view. I belief that there is a spiritual form that controls my body when am alive as well as when I will die.
I believe that a person without a soul or a person who relates his or her soul to the wrong way is doomed to lose the meaning of life. For life to be meaningful there must be a reason for everything we do. Everything we do should be aimed at making a permanent change in the universe; otherwise, it will not be worth doing (Bostrom, 2003).
Another meaning of life based on the soul-centered views is that existence of a soul is crucial for justice which gives life meaning. Life would not have meaning if the wicked seem to do better in life than the upright. I am alive or no apparent reason unless I invent one reason for being alive (Chardin, 1965).
The universe is made up of many things, which include the solar system, and other things. Among all those things, it is hard to define the importance of human life in the universe. Albert Einstein observed that “human beings are part of a whole, which is they are a part that is; they are part of the universe that is limited in time and space” (Stewart, 2001, p.43).
According to him, the human life of an individual is something distinct from the rest of the universe and it is a kind of illusion defined by ones’ consciousness. According to Albert, the meaning of life is working towards attaining omnipotence and omnipresence in life. The main reason for existence of the universe is to make us realize our goal in life.
When we were brought into this world, we did not have anything and when we die, we will not leave with anything. Is there need thus to acquire material possession? The only possession that we will take with us when we die is consciousness, which we will have achieved in life (Ruse, 1996).
When we were born, we were very ignorant but we achieve self- activation and consciousness in the course of life. It is therefore imperative that the only goal in life should be to acquire consciousness. The others should be secondary goals which are supposed to sustain one in life. I am alive therefore to acquire consciousness (Lewis, 2001).
Most people believe that their persona in their ‘self’. These people thus live in order to satisfy their personal desires and they believe that because you only live once, you should ensure that you acquire and accomplish all you can before you die. This approach is wrong because it does not make one to develop his or her consciousness.
These people lose focus in life and they become worn out because the progress is usually slow. It is good to appreciate the fact that each individual has a unique character and each has a unique set of experiences (Rudolph, 1981).
Life can be viewed as a series of scenarios and situations, which contribute to growth in our consciousness. According to this argument, life does not have a meaning and it is upon us to give it a meaning. And to give life a meaning, we have to take advantage of various scenarios and situations and ensure that we achieve the highest level of development in our consciousness.
We should not waste opportunities or waste out time with activities that do not contribute to development of our consciousness.
We should also avoid the emotionality of life because ‘now’ counts much than the past in our lives. Life itself is cyclic in nature and it involves a repetition of situations and experiences. The human beings are slow learners and they fail to take advantage of the repetition of situations in order to improve their consciousness.
This argument puts an eye opener to the meaning of life, and that life is aimed at achieving omniscience, omnipotence and liberation of the human beings. We all have the same goal in life and the paths we use are all the same, none are better than the others (Chardin, 1965).
First and foremost, I have to admit that the existence of mortality gives life meaning. Without mortality, life would be meaningless. Also, I have to admit from the outset that there is a supreme being why can be described as the mover of the universe. Another thing I will have to admit is that I believe there is a purpose for life even if the purpose is not inscribed in the divine plan.
After these admissions, I can thus explore the meaning of life and mortality to me. There are some challenges in understanding the meaning of life and that is why I will rely heavily on arguments by previous philosophers and psychologists.
According to me, life and mortality is meaningful when one dies after some time and at the time of death, manages to have contributed to the divine plan. I am not religious but I believe there is a supreme being who is behind the universe.
If one dies and his or her contributions to the higher scheme are not realized because the world comes to an end, then life does not have a meaning (Rudolph, 1981). This is because all will have come to nothing and it will not matter whether the person existed or not.
I think that life is simply LIFE, meaning that life is simply IS. Life itself is an event or a series of events, a process and not a definite thing.
It can be viewed as an arrangement in the universe that is different from what is not life. This means that we can know something that is in life-form and easily differentiate it from something else that is not in life-form. In life, there is evolution and reproduction which has brought forth me (Marcellino, 1986).
Drawing heavily from philosophers and psychologists in the past, I can say that I am alive because I evolved. The famous English Naturalist Charles Darwin answered the meaning of life in a simple sentence that we evolved and that is why we are alive (Stewart, 2001).
However, this argument does not provide the meaning and purpose of life to me. It simply tells me where I came from and not the reason why I am alive. I can answer the meaning of life to me based heavily on teleological explanations. These explanations are based on the purposes and future consequences of our actions. They say that we use the limbs and body parts that have been provided to us to propagate life.
However, Charles Darwin ruled out the explanation that we are alive to propagate genes and life in general. The future biological design is beyond our ability and we can do less to contribute to it. The teleological explanations for the meaning of life therefore lose the meaning and make us to look for alternative meaning of life. Although we have our own small purposes in life, we are not in the universe for any purpose.
I can however say that the conclusion that life is meaningless is a philosophical conclusion and it is very abstract in nature. The view that an individual’s own life is meaningless is a symptom of depression. Therefore, I view life as a joke without a joke teller, a strange kind of feeling and amusing in nature (Stewart, 2001).
The conclusion that life is meaningless can however be beaten by the argument that even if life does not have a meaning, we can give life meaning ourselves. We are thus free to choose the meaning of life from within ourselves, which is better than accepting externally imposed meanings of life.
The meaning of life that we choose for ourselves will leave us more liberated and in a good position to shape the way forward for our lives. An external meaning of life dictated by the universe would leave us cold and plain. I am therefore happy that life does not have a meaning, because I am free to come up with my own meaning of life and this will leave me more liberated (Kubler-Ross, 1973).
Life is in multiple forms but it is finite in any of its forms. I can then define my life as a wave in the deep sea, where the water is my body and the wave is some energy flowing in my body.
Without the energy in my body (water), there is no life (wave). Some energy lifts water up in the form of a wave which remains for some time and then subsidizes when the energy is withdrawn. According to me, this is the true explanation of life (Hamilton, 1964).
My body is meaningless unless it contains some energy from some source which is divine. This force drives us without a specific direction and is then withdrawn, at which point we die. After the wave subsidizes, the water just settles down and the energy moves on. Likewise in our lives, when we die, our bodies lie helpless and the energy that was driving us moves forward.
So I conclude this idea that human life is a combination of energy and the body that lasts for some time, and once the energy is withdrawn, then end o life (mortality) comes in. the energy moves on after the death of a person (Hamilton, 1964).
Therefore, life simply IS. I have discovered this through wide reading of philosophical and psychological works, listening to my ego, being rational and trusting my silence. People might think that I am too reductive and that I am not open to the wonders of God. However, they should understand that this is my feeling towards life and it feels right to me. I believe that life IS and not MEANS and this is intuitive and it leaves me liberated.
Every day in life, you must understand that life itself IS and does not have a meaning. It is upon us to give life a meaning. We have to draw meanings from the universe by making sense out of our surroundings (Dick, 1996). To me, there are a lot of meanings from my surroundings such as the trees, wonderful people and other things.
I have a feeling of association with other people who we are alive with, thus I don’t have the feeling of isolation and I don’t feel abandoned. In fact, I feel liberated and embraced because I am surrounded by many things which give life meaning in their own little ways. There are meanings in life but life itself does not have a meaning. Life simply is.
Mortality is very important in providing the meaning of life. To illustrate this, let us remember the prophesy that the world would come to an end on May 21st, 2011. These prophesy made people to lose meaning of life and most of them gave up everything. It is evident that doomsdays prophesy leaves people doomed and makes people lose the meaning of life.
This brings an important twist in the question of mortality. If people know very well they will die one day, why then do they lose the meaning of life when they know the exact time they will die? It is evident that the precariousness of death and its unpredictability helps to give life itself some meaning (Lewis, 2001).
Even the philosophers who were known for questioning everything have now come to a conclusion that death is very important to give life meaning. Most philosophers regarded death as an evil but his view has changed. I am glad that one day I will die since an unending life would be meaningless. Life without an end would be cold, full of indifference and a lot of boredom.
I have noted earlier in this discussion that life is a repetition of situations and scenarios. An unending life would therefore be devoid of joy and freshness since it will be revolving about the same situations and scenarios (Christopher, 2005).
Any discussions on the meaning of life are approached as a way of finding the place and role of human beings in the universe. This usually gives rise to the subjective and objective meaning of life. We should not restrict the accounts of meaning of life to purely subjective or objective arguments.
Life is given meaning by subjective points and circumstances that are judged from external forces. Whatever life means to an individual has a strong influence on the personality and life of that person (Ruse, 1996). A person who understands the meaning of life well is more successful than the one who does not. The biggest challenge is then how to discover the meaning of life.
Attempting to answer the question ‘what is the meaning of life?’ is hard. The better question would be ‘what is life? Or why are we in the universe?’ this can give rise to various answers depending on ones religious beliefs and background. Attempting to answer these questions gives us undue pressure and it leaves us with discontentment and more questions about life.
However, according to me, the life can be viewed as ‘being’ and not a ‘what’. This means that the big question about the meaning of life could be rewritten as ‘what in life means for you?’ (Chardin, 1965).
We were born, we live, and we die. This is the clinical point of view of looking at life. This is however more soul searching that philosophical and psychological. To understand the meaning of life, one has to look at the surroundings and view the sunrise, sunset, waxing, and growth of new trees, death of trees and other processes.
These are things that give life itself some meaning. To cap it all, life is given meaning by death, or mortality (Bryock, 1998). This is because death puts things in order and in perspective, gives us focus and limits us on time frames of life. Another meaning of life could be death.
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