Saturday, March 23, 2013
Existence: What is the point?
It is the philosophical question of the ages. Yet in all this time, we have not arrived at a definitive answer, or even a consensus.
Our instincts are pretty basic:
These 3 things are the central motivations in most of the things we do. ..at least they are the first things we attend to. If we're hungry, wet, or cold, we tend to address those things, first. After that, we engage in other things that do not necessarily fit into the first two basic goals. We can call it play, or amusements, or hobbies.. some are physical things, some mental. Many of us have hobbies that are simply extensions of the base instincts. Hunting, fishing, & cooking are big hobbies for humans. We do not do them simply for survival, but for fun. Then there are the house hobbies.. decorating, setting up a 'nest', home remodeling.. i suppose clothes & fashion hobbies are in the same vein, though they also cross over into the other 'hobby' of reproduction.
Reproduction is the base instinct, but sex is also a hobby or pastime.. it also becomes something we do for play & amusement. Obviously, we do not procreate every time we pursue or engage in sex.. many times, if not most, we want to avoid that aspect of it. But interaction with the opposite sex is a major motivation for much of our lives.
Then there are the other things we do that do not directly relate to either survival or reproduction. Travel, games, reading, mental or physical challenges, sports & competition.. these kinds of things we do for fun.
But some times in our lives, we stop & ask ourselves: Is this it? Is that all there is?
That question usually brings up more philosophical reasons for our existence. And this usually includes the question of a supreme being. Is there a god? Is there something or someone beyond our sensory realm? It is very ironic that this most basic question for our existence remains in such dispute. But it brings up an observation that should be evident:
If there is a god, he has hidden himself so as to remain a mystery.
Humans have argued for millennia over his nature, traits, & even existence. The main reason we search for god is we want to know if our existence here is all there is, or is there an afterlife? The survival instinct is great, & the prospect of eternal death & non-existence is unsettling. We want to live. So then the question arises:
Is there a god, or have we 'created' him in response to our fear of death?
We cannot empirically prove there is a god, nor can we disprove him. Some people have claimed contact with god, but those are personal anecdotes & are not empirically verifiable by the rest of us. Logically, we do not know. Subjectively, based on our life experiences, background, & information we've received, we might have a belief. Many others will share & corroborate that belief. But it is a logical conclusion & simple observation that we do not know. There is not even a consensus, even if truth depended on that, which it does not.
Now, from their philosophical basis, people have concluded duties or purposes for their lives, beyond the basics. Some have concluded that helping other people.. giving of their labor to meet other's basic needs is something 'good'. Most people give from their abundance, if they have enough to share, but some give altruistically, even sacrificing their own basic needs to help others. Some have concluded that others can be exploited for personal ambition or their pursuit of 'more'. They don't mind taking advantage or others, or using them to meet or even exceed their basic needs. Generally, we call this 'bad'. While there are extremes, most people fall in the middle somewhere. They give & help others, but they will also take advantage at times. Few, if any, are all one or the other. Somewhere in the middle is also the instinct to coexist with others.. a herd instinct for mutual survival & preservation.
I hope no one is expecting me to answer this question, or to provide deep insight into the meaning of life. I'm only providing a perspective.. an overview of our existence. I also think our instincts AND beliefs motivate us more than we realize. I am a deist. I believe in God. But i cannot prove him to others.
Think about your life.. your thoughts & actions. What are your basic motivations for the things you do, say, & even think? Why do you believe the way you do, & how much do those beliefs provide the basis for your thoughts & actions?