The Meaning of Life
What is the Meaning of Life?

The Meaning of Life
What is the Meaning of Life?

The meaning of life constitutes a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of life or existence in general.

This concept can be expressed through a variety of related questions, such as "Why are we here?", "What is life all about?", and "What is the meaning of it all?"

It has been the subject of much philosophical, scientific, and theological speculation throughout history.

There have been a large number of theories to these questions from many different cultural and ideological backgrounds.

The meaning of life is deeply mixed with the philosophical and religious conceptions of existence, social ties, consciousness, and happiness, and touches many other issues, such as symbolic meaning, ontology, value, purpose, ethics, good and evil, free will, conceptions of God, the existence of God, the soul, and the afterlife.

Scientific contributions focus more on describing related empirical facts about the universe; they largely shift the question from "why?" to "how?" and provide context and parameters for meaningful conversations on such topics.

Science also provides its own recommendations for the pursuit of well-being and a related conception of morality. An alternative, humanistic (rather than religious) approach is the question "What is the meaning of my life?"

"Life is not a final.  It's daily pop quizzes."
–– Author Unknown

The value of the question pertaining to the purpose of life may coincide with the achievement of ultimate reality, or a feeling of oneness, or a feeling of sacredness.

Members of the scientific community and philosophy-of-science communities believe that science may be able to provide some context, and set some parameters for conversations on topics related to meaning in life.

This includes offering insights from the science of happiness or studies of death anxiety. This also means providing context for, and understanding of life itself through explorations of the theories related to the big bang, abiogenesis and evolution.

Science may or may not be able to tell us what is of essential value in life, but some studies definitely bear on aspects of the question: researchers in positive psychology study factors that lead to life satisfaction, full engagement in activities, making a fuller contribution by utilizing one's personal strengths, and meaning based on investing in something larger than the self.

"Human life is purely a matter of deciding what's important to you."
–– Anonymous

One value system suggested by social psychologists, broadly called Terror Management Theory, states that all human meaning is derived out of a fundamental fear of death, whereby values are selected when they allow us to escape the mental reminder of death.

Neuroscience has produced theories of reward, pleasure, and motivation in terms of physical entities such as neurotransmitter activity, especially in the limbic system and the ventral tegmental area in particular.

If one believes that the meaning of life is to maximize pleasure, then these theories give normative predictions about how to act to achieve this. Likewise, some ethical naturalists advocate a science of morality - the empirical pursuit of flourishing for all conscious creatures.

Sociology examines value at a social level using theoretical constructs such as value theory, norms, anomie, etc.

What is the meaning of life? Many people have asked this question and they wonder what really is the true meaning of life.

The human race came to be by reproducing in a progression of unguided evolution as an integral part of nature, which is self-existing.

Knowledge comes from human observation, experimentation, and rational analysis (the scientific method): the nature of the universe is what people discern it to be.

Likewise, "values and realities" are determined "by means of intelligent inquiry" and "are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience", that is, by critical intelligence.

"As far as we know, the total personality is [a function] of the biological organism transacting in a social and cultural context."

From a humanistic-psychotherapeutic point of view, the question of the meaning of life could also be reinterpreted as "What is the meaning of my life?"

Instead of becoming focused on cosmic or religious questions about overarching purpose, this approach suggests that the question is intensely personal.