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What is the reason to live? What are we living for?

NR92 6 July 19
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I'm living for the weekend.

I always liked this exchange in the movie Equilibrium about why we're alive, highlighting that many of the things we value — "productive" things — might be necessary but are woefully insufficient in providing meaning in our lives:

resserts Level 8 Dec 18, 2019

I realize that I didn't really answer you question, but there's really so many facets to what you've asked that it's difficult to narrow down a response. Here's my best shot, though:

  • Is there an inherent meaning or purpose to life? I think not. The question itself lacks meaning. What's the inherent meaning of a tree, or a cloud, or magma? Theists would disagree, but I see no evidence of preordained purpose or intrinsic meaning or a divine plan.
  • What motivates us to continue living? Biology, mostly. I wish it were something more noble, but we're animals and our biological drives are what keep us going. We (as a species) have the desire to reproduce, we get hungry, we have a preservation instinct.
  • Are there values that we hold that make life worth living? Maybe. We're all alive, so we tend to be somewhat biased in favor of life. I'm an anti-natalist, though, as I don't think I have the right to rend life out of the void of nothingness. All people will experience some pain and misery, and some people will experience it to the point of breaking — and no one can consent to life before having it foisted upon them. But for many of us, we can make the best of life in a variety of ways.
  • What values do we hold that make life worthwhile? Philosophy is full of contemplations about what constitutes a good life, from pleasures of the flesh to enrichment of the mind to a dedication to duty and honor and integrity. For me, because I tend to have a subdued personality without a lot of excitement, there's not a lot that really gets me motivated. I want to learn, to know more about the world. I want to understand people better. I take care and pride in whatever I do, wanting to perform well. I like to help other people, and I volunteer to that end. These are the things that bring me some measure of satisfaction, but someone else might be more appetitive or spirited than I am, reveling in carnal delights or fierce competition in ways that mean very little to me.

The reason to live & asking what we are living for seems to imply there is a purpose to our life, & then we must ask if this is an individual purpose or one that applies to humanity as a whole, which means purpose would come from outside & not inside.

If purpose is individual to us, then we must decide for ourselves what our purpose is. If purpose comes from outside, whoever is in charge of it is doing a hell of a bad job, because nobody seems to know what it is.

But it seems arbitrary to assume life has a purpose other than the one we give our individual existence for ourselves.

Remiforce Level 7 Sep 29, 2019

Who knows? We can make up answers to that questions.

At the end of the day probably won’t make any difference apart from creating our own narrative to the meaning of life.

Geoffrey51 Level 8 Aug 25, 2019

Ask instead, what you are living for.

yvilletom Level 8 Aug 19, 2019

Freud and Betty Friedan came up with similar answers, a century apart. Freud asked the question, "What does man want/" He answered by saying man wants "Arbeit," or work. I believe he meant this in terms of what gives purpose to us, what defines us, and, especially in his time men (remember that he lived in a very paternalistic time and culture) defined them selves by what sort of work they did. If you asked a fellow "Wat are you?" he'd not answer that he was an uncle, father, husband, etc. He would say that he was a laborer, a doctor, a shoemaker. Betty Friedan did a very long, rather immersive study, and published her answer in 1993. The book was called "The Fountain of Age," and her answer was that people want something to look forward to, that that gave them purpose. It could be anything that resonated with the person, from being involved with grandchildren, to wanting to be the best origami expert on one's side of the Mississippi, but something to want to wake up for.

BirdMan1 Level 8 July 31, 2019

The purpose of life is to experience life.

Heraclitus Level 8 July 22, 2019

We are living on a big rock that is spinning at approximately 1,000MPH orbiting a sun at more than 66,000 miles per hour in an outer spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. Most of the galaxies appear to be flying apart in no discernible direction.

You do not beat your heart, breathe or operate the rods and cones in your eyes as it is all regulated by the autonomic nervous system. Imagine if you had to make decisions with regard to the functioning of your body you would probably never make it out of bed let alone raise or ponder reason(s) to live.

ASTRALMAX Level 8 July 20, 2019

That’s a philosophical question that has dogged thinkers since thinking began! Here’s a selection of conclusions.

Plato - attaining the highest form of knowledge,

Aristotle - Achieving the Highest Good

Kant- the idea of “the will of every rational being as a universally legislating will” - Metaphysics of Morals

Humanist Manifesto - the nature of the universe is what people discern it to be.

Existentialism- action, freedom, and personal decision

Mohism - universal, impartial love

Confucius-achieving virtue through strong relationships and reasoning

Legalism (Shan Yang, Chinese philosophy) - finding the purpose of life is a meaningless effort

Hinduism - progression of the ātman over many lifetimes, and its ultimate movement towards liberation from karma.

Buddhism- Achieving Nirvana by your own experience, critical investigation, and reasoning instead of by blind faith

Taoism- return to the Oneness of the Universe by self-reflection and self-realisation

Shinto - individual human life is to be prolonged forever on earth as a victory of the divine spirit

Zoroastrianism- people must take an active role in the universal conflict, with good thoughts, good words and good deeds to ensure happiness and to keep chaos at bay

Geoffrey51 Level 8 July 19, 2019

Welp, looks like I’m a Buddhist.

go Zoroastra, but we should try to prevent the conflict


We make our own reasons - nothing is supplied from anywhere else.

CeliaVL Level 7 July 19, 2019

As far as I can tell, there is no reason.
Random chance put us here and we each decide how we want to live our lives.
My goal is to be as content (hopefully even happy) each day and to spread happiness, love, hope and joy to as many as I can wherever and whenever I can. (some days are more successful than others)
It's all pretty futile, so I try to muddle through with as cheery a disposition and I can muster.

scurry Level 9 July 19, 2019

Buggered if I know right now.


That is something that each one of us has to decide for ourself. Maybe there is no reason but I am here so I try to enjoy life and get through it with as little harm to others as I possibly can.


We decide.

I do the Socrates' idea of the examined life.

Then there's the Maslow hierarchy. Or having a family.

Each to their own.

brentan Level 8 July 19, 2019

Family and love

bobwjr Level 10 July 19, 2019

Your reason to live is to be with your family, or your family be with you?

@NR92 either or


Happiness and joy... There's really nothing else and I'm fine with that 😊

What makes you happy?

@NR92 running in nature, swimming, talking to my girlfriends... Taking care of my newborn daughter...

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