The holy grail of all philosophical questions is perhaps, what is the meaning of life? Today I want to look at what form an answer to this question might actually take. I also want to identify some of the avenues that may lead the human race closer to answering such a question. I’ve not done a lot of writing on this topic yet but have plenty of ideas and so this post will more or less be an unordered collection of notes pertaining to the subject.
Firstly, we must understand that it is entirely possible for life not to have any meaning at all. Indeed the word ‘meaning’ refers to a human concept we place on comparatively trifling matters when compared to something so fundamental as life itself. Perhaps, if life did have a meaning, it would appear to be an alien form of meaning, something that resembles no typical meaning we’re familiar with. And perhaps it wouldn’t be anything we could put into the form, ‘X is the meaning of life’.
Nothing about our current disposition indicates meaning. Life, the cosmos, existence – it’s all arbitrary. There is no cosmological rule book for life. We’re thrown into existence and forced to play the game of life essentially in the dark, and ‘figure it out’ as we go.
But there are possibly some clues that may lead us to further understanding.
- Survival & Gene Propagation – It would seem as though, at least from a purely biological/evolutionary perspective, we are preconfigured to survive. All of life strives to survive. We have an innate drive to continue our genes. But why? What is so important about the continuity of life? Could it play a role in some greater meaning of life itself, if we know one of its characteristics is the desire to be perpetuated? Does this biological desire to continue through time indicate the presence of an objective or goal at some undefined future time?
- Laws of Physics – Could the fact that the laws of physics appear constant play a role in our search for meaning? Of course it is an entirely inductive claim to suggest the laws of physics are consistent, but we’ve no evidence to suggest this would be an entirely fallacious assumption to make. It would seem that a universe with more volatile laws of physics would have less meaning. Our universe appears to have consistency in its physics and so could there be a meaning behind this? The idea that, despite my objection to the notion, our universe seems configured for human life may also play a role in simulation arguments.
- Dimethyltryptamine & Psilocybin – As I will discuss a bit later on, the expansion of consciousness is an incredibly crucial piece of the puzzle, for a myriad of reasons. Taking tryptamines and high dosages of hallucinogens is possibly the single best way to introspect the nature of one’s own consciousness. At the end of the day, consciousness is the vessel through with life is experienced and so it is perfectly logical to suggest that further exploration of consciousness could lead to revolutionary discoveries surrounding the nature of life and existence. DMT as well as high dosages of psilocybin have been reported on many occasions to transport people to transcendental dimensions unreachable through a state of sobriety.
I want to draw particular attention to the topic of consciousness. I firmly believe that consciousness is the master key to life’s mysteries. If we can make significant progress on the nature of consciousness, everything else follows: the juxtaposition of life and death, post-death experience, the significance of life itself, whether consciousness is singular in nature, the rebirth process, importance of humans in contrast with animals, non-human consciousness, etc. Consciousness is all there is. Without it, you’re not able to function as a person. If you look at the solipsistic view point, none of us have any proof of anything at all existing outside of our own subjective consciousnesses.
If we knew everything about consciousness (i.e. what happens after death, transcendental dimensions, etc), we’d be able to posit a notion of importance to human life. If we knew, based on consciousness research, that, for example, we each get an infinite number of iterations of life, we could say that a single lifetime is relatively unimportant. And we could then discern the best possible way of living a seemingly unimportant life. We’d have a set of guidelines we can use to give our lives meaning and could thus extrapolate the best possible way to live and then call it meaning.
The answer is somewhere in the mystery of consciousness.
Do we even want to know the meaning of life? If we learnt enough about the nature of consciousness and could one day say, with certainty, ‘X is the meaning of life’, and if this wasn’t esoteric knowledge, would life possibly become a drag? Does the mystery of it all maintain this sense of enthusiasm about living? Perhaps. But conversely, if we knew the meaning of life, perhaps a collaborative effort to live in abidance with life’s great meaning could end/reduce suffering in the world?
If you were to have a stab at the question, and had to answer in the form of, ‘X is the meaning of life’, what would your response be and why? My guess would be, ‘happiness is the meaning of life’. One could, however, argue that this doesn’t explain anything. It doesn’t explain the mystery of existing. And I think that’s really what the question is asking. We don’t care so much for the completed puzzle, but more for figuring out how to piece it together. The puzzle of life requires an explanation of the method one uses to complete it. Without that justification, there will always remain scepticism as to whether it has actually been completed at all. In a way, it is pointless for us to attempt to reverse engineer the meaning of life in the form of, ‘X is the meaning’, because we’re really just guessing.
In order to create a satisfactory response to the question, we must have arrived at the answer in a charitable, authentic manner for anyone to believe it as the truth. We simply don’t have enough data yet to do anything more than jump to conclusions. Researching the nature of consciousness is, I suggest, the best possible place to start.