An age old question, that drives so much human energy to explore and understand. From religion, to work, to family, to friends, to pleasure, to exploration, to discovery, to ambition... much of our lives are spent in search of a meaning for life itself. Is there a reason behind our being?
There is no purpose to lifeShow moreShow less
Life exists in indifference to any human interpretation of its purpose. For centuries, there have been attempts to explain the objectives of existence, but none have been successful or have been reduced to infinite regressions. Any proposed meanings to life are superficial, arbitrary, or temporary.
In Philosophy, ‘Essence’ is the set of properties that make an entity what it fundamentally is, the definable nature of the thing that exists. ‘Existence’ is the property of being.
According to Jean Baudrillard, our “existence precedes essence”. In this argument, ‘purpose’ can be considered part of ‘essence’. Here, Baudrillard explains that our existence itself has no fundamental purpose. Therefore, any person’s idea of the purpose of life is not inherently linked to the state of being alive, but something which comes to being after we “encounter” and “define” ourselves. Before this process of "making" something of ourselves, we are “nothing” and have no true purpose.
Similarly, Nietzche explains that nature is “indifferent without limit, without purposes and consideration”. Therefore, life, as something which belongs to nature, does not have any inherent rules or purposes to follow. In this argument, biological drives like survival and procreation cannot be defined as ‘purposes’. Our existence both as individuals and as a species relies on them, but this does not mean they are truly a ‘purpose.’ Biological drives are more of a side effect of life rather than a reason for living.
The question ‘what is the purpose of life’ may not be asking whether life has an intrinsic purpose, but questioning how a human should go about finding a purpose in life within the context of culture and society. Although there may be no preexisting purpose to being alive, humans can live meaningful lives through enriching experiences and achievements.