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Dealing with no purpose

Since we have no real purpose here in this Universe, what keeps you going every day?

anonymous 7 Feb 9

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Same thing that keeps every other living creature going.

skado Level 9 Feb 9, 2019

Yes but why?

OK, to talk about "why" we may have to reframe the question a bit. "Why", at the largest scale may be unanswerable. That would assume agency, and that would mean God. If a god did it, you would have to ask that god why, and, so far, that answer hasn't been forthcoming.

What we can talk about is "what" (evolution) and "how" (natural selection). Through natural selection, evolution created all living things with built-in "purpose". That "purpose", so to speak, is to survive long enough to reproduce, and is felt through biological mechanisms we call instincts.

The next level of scale at which we encounter an answerable "why" is "Why are humans apparently the only one of those creatures that concerns itself with questions of purpose?" And I think the answer to that question is two-fold. One, is that we developed a big brain that is capable of abstract thought, like questions of purpose, and Two, is that with the help of that big brain, we became so successful as a species that our instinctual longings, for the most part, are automatically satisfied through highly organized social systems.

We have obliterated our sense of purpose by satisfying it so thoroughly that we can't see it any more. The problem is, we have been designed to constantly think we need something we don't have, because in our ancestral environment, that was always the case. But we have modified our environment by building automated supply chains that keep our every need satisfied, except this need to constantly need, which remains extant in the form of thinking we are lacking purpose (we created religion to fill that last need but are now losing our "willing suspension of disbelief" ).

If that supply system (society) breaks down, our instinctual purpose will immediately return to sharp focus, and we will not have a minute in the day to think about much else other than surviving and caring for our young.


My purpose is apparently creation. I am destined to the wonderful OCD of writing songs, literature, photography.

I'm sure you have your own "callings". Call them what we may we each have those innate skills we enjoy immensely.

The universe CAN have a purpose. You just have to find what that can be to you.

VERY well-said!


That life exists, and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?

(Also ice cream.)

coffee ice cream?


Helping educate the public at the zoo. Helping women through abortions at Planned Parenthood. Helping to preserve history at the local historical society. Being kind to anyone I can help. My ''sweetie''...simple things are the most satisfying, aren't they?

Being "OF USE"....



i struggle with this a LOT! also bipolar and have discussed suicide openly with my psychiatrist who is fascinated and fascinating.

i told a new-ish, but already important, friend that i don't know if there is an importance in anything i do. i want to be important. But i can't even define what that is.

I used to think I'd do something remarkable with my life, in some way affecting a large segment of the population positively. But over the years I've realized that that's a Hollywood view of life. I'm not some hero. I'm not going to save humanity. I'm not going to contribute in significant ways that outlive me. But, what I can do is be involved in my community and be kind to others and help out when I can and where I am. When you help someone who truly needs a hand, to that person at that moment you're the most important person in the world. Do something helpful every day, and you're important every day of your life. ?


What was my purpose when I believed in my youth that there was a God? I couldn't read the mind of God. I didn't know the purported plan. I didn't have a roadmap for my life. Yet I felt listless and without direction for a time when I stopped believing. Why? Nothing actually changed in reality. I didn't lose some clear purpose and meaning I previously had. It was entirely emotional. So, I strive to find something real in my life to be passionate about. Close friends and family, volunteerism, creativity, learning… These are aspects of my life I value, these give me purpose/motivation, and these are where I find meaning.


Sometimes it definitely feels like I'm just spinning my wheels. But other times I figure I'm here so I might as well be part of the good in this world while I'm in it.


You make a purpose for yourself.


I don't give a shit about purpose. I just take care of my own and have a good time. What else matters?


Enjoying the journey, trying to live life to the max without compromising my spirit's balance in the process.

Friedrich Nietzsche:

  1. Whoever, like myself, prompted by some enigmatical desire, has long endeavoured to go to the bottom of the question of pessimism and free it from the half-Christian, half-German narrowness and stupidity in which it has finally presented itself to this century, namely, in the form of Schopenhauer's philosophy; whoever, with an Asiatic and super-Asiatic eye, has actually looked inside, and into the most world-renouncing of all possible modes of thought—beyond good and evil, and no longer like Buddha and Schopenhauer, under the dominion and delusion of morality,—whoever has done this, has perhaps just thereby, without really desiring it, opened his eyes to behold the opposite ideal: the ideal of the most world-approving, exuberant, and vivacious man, who has not only learnt to compromise and arrange with that which was and is, but wishes to have it again AS IT WAS AND IS, for all eternity, insatiably calling out da capo, not only to himself, but to the whole piece and play; and not only the play, but actually to him who requires the play—and makes it necessary; because he always requires himself anew—and makes himself necessary.—What? And this would not be—circulus vitiosus deus?
cava Level 7 Feb 9, 2019

I think we define our own purpose with goals and desired outcomes in how we allocate the limited time and resources we are allocated.


I hope that you do not consider found meaning and purpose to be unreal somehow, perhaps because it's not bestowed from on high.

Anyway, to answer your question, I find lots of purpose in my life and it suffices. I just got home from a business trip, which consisted of a meeting with about 25 colleagues who appreciate my contributions to their success, doing work I thoroughly enjoy and am well compensated for doing. I came home to a house full of people and animals who love and appreciate me just for me.

Of course ... none of that appreciation is perfect and it was all earned with a lot of hard work and, at times, despite unwanted losses and setbacks. But chosen hard work, done diligently and with excellence, has always been its own reward to me anyway.

To pass time on the plane on the way home, I worked on serialization / persistence logic for a b-tree class I've been fiddling with in my spare time, just for fun. That's meaningful too. Which goes to show you that one person's meaning is another person's torture.

The other thing I do is I don't overthink things or have excessive expectations. Meaning is found in small, mundane things, not in grandiose, transcendent things. Purpose is right under our nose, not some shining city on a distant hill.


“When a man lives with the wilderness he comes to an acceptance of death as a part of living, he sees the leaves fall and rot away to build the soil for other trees and plants to be born.
Treasure Mountain”

“To me the goal was to learn, to see, to know, to understand.”
The Walking Drum


The Human Project. We create our own meaning in the context that are our lives. The endeavour to run 100 yards in 9 seconds, to split the atom, go to Mars. For me...It is the existential moment of gut wrenching laughter or endorphin producing sex or sport. Unfortunately our lives are ruled by capitalism, politics and pain.

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