What's the reason to live?

TheUltraDeino

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What the hell is this thread. This is something you talk to your therapist about, not post on a forum about.
 

Sehnsucht

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I'm not sure this question is makes much sense.

At a glance, the state of being alive doesn't seem to suggest that a reason for living is implied or necessary. What is it about being alive suggests that there is a reason for living, or that one needs such a reason? And why should we kill ourselves if there is no such reason (supposing there ever was such a reason to begin with)?

The first question ("Is there a reason for living?") doesn't appear to follow from the second one ("If there is no reason for living, should we kill ourselves?"). The former doesn't imply the latter.

In order to make any headway on this question, you'd have to:

A) Define what you mean by "living";
B) Define what you mean by "reason" for "living";
C) Determine what "reasons" there might be for "living", if any;
D) If there are "reasons", determine if any of them are necessary to follow, and if so, which is the one (or more) we should follow;
E) If there are no "reasons", determine what course of action is necessary in the absence of "reasons" for "living" (which would include suicide, among other possible courses of action).

Also, what does God have to do with being alive, having a reason to live, and/or pursuing suicide in the absence of the existence of reasons to live? You'd have to first define "God", then show how "God's" non-existence warrants, or necessitates, the pursuit of suicide.

I'm just responding to the framing of the question, so I haven't given any thought to any solutions to the question. Perhaps at a later time, I might offer some thoughts on whether there are reasons for living, and whether we should pursue them if any exist.

What the hell is this thread. This is something you talk to your therapist about, not post on a forum about.
Are you suggesting that the OP is entertaining notions of suicide, hence why they forwarded this particular thread topic? Nothing about the question (i.e. whether we should kill ourselves in the absence of reasons for living) implies that the person asking the question is suicidal, or depressed, or whatever else.

Besides, even if the OP were suicidal and/or depressed, it wouldn't change that the question itself is a perfectly valid topic of philosophical inquiry and investigation.
 

Holder of the Heel

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One of the most unhealthy and pointless questions a human being could ask and an unfortunate tendency derived from our brain's greater capacity for thought over the other animals that needn't give pause to ponder such divorced and misleading concepts.

A preference for life over nonexistence is the only reason there is and the only reason you need. Although I'd prefer to say there is no answer to that question because it's not a valid inquiry. It's simply a waste of time.

Life has no meaning, no plot, no main characters, no writer, and we would be better off not lingering on that fact and instead living ironically, accepting the Absurd for what it is. But not embracing it, lest you not be the daimonic's master but rather the daimonic's thrall.
 
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ShyGuy16

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The reason to live? In the literal sense, I can't see why not. You're already here, and there's a lot of cool stuff to see and learn and be.
In the romantic, raison d'etre sense? I guess that's part of the journey, if you feel like you gotta find a purpose. Today you are, tomorrow you may not be. How you choose to act on that concept, be it to leave a legacy or party hard and drop a pretty corpse, is really on you.
Personally, I just want to create. It's not the reason that I'm here to begin with (I was an accident, like a lot of people), and not the reason that I'm here now, but making something from nothing but myself and a medium is what makes me happiest. I guess a lot of people are like that, especially when you consider creating and raising a child into the world as an abstract of that...

Probably not as articulated and verbose as what everyone else is saying, but that's all I've got.
 

_Keno_

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The purpose of life is to find a purpose in life.

Pursuits of love and discovery are my own personal reasons, but if I had nothing else to live for, I could literally live for certain books, tv shows, and delicious food.
 

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I find there are multiple answers to this question, as to be expected.

From a biological perspective, as is the case with other life on earth, the purpose of life is to survive long enough so that your genes are perpetuated into future generations. However, as self-aware beings, this answer is far too rigid to be considered the end-all response. We experience the world as individuals, and so the reasoning behind living must be adjusted as such. For countless years, people have asked this question and I don't believe we're any closer to getting a satisfactory answer, as one wouldn't exist. We entertain ourselves with stories that have definitive plots and expect our universe to follow suit. It just doesn't work like that. All in all, the "purpose" in life is very much a human construct and so the only person that can answer that for you is yourself.
 

Sehnsucht

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I find there are multiple answers to this question, as to be expected.

From a biological perspective, as is the case with other life on earth, the purpose of life is to survive long enough so that your genes are perpetuated into future generations. However, as self-aware beings, this answer is far too rigid to be considered the end-all response. We experience the world as individuals, and so the reasoning behind living must be adjusted as such. For countless years, people have asked this question and I don't believe we're any closer to getting a satisfactory answer, as one wouldn't exist. We entertain ourselves with stories that have definitive plots and expect our universe to follow suit. It just doesn't work like that. All in all, the "purpose" in life is very much a human construct and so the only person that can answer that for you is yourself.
I'm basically in agreement with your post, but to elaborate further, I think one should differentiate between "purpose" and "function".

The former implies intention, or a goal, but evolution (via natural selection) has no real goal. At least, not an intentional one. It's an unguided process. It would perhaps be more accurate, then, to say that the function of life is to reproduce and perpetuate genetic material. Invoking "purpose" has connotations of a teleology, and if organic life has a purpose, it would need to be demonstrated (whether that purpose is indeed mere replication or something else).

If "purpose" concerns goals and intentions, then you need to have subjects, or agents, to posses and/or formulate those goals and intentions. We, as self-aware humans, qualify as agents. As such. we can determine the purpose of our lived experience by examining our goals and intents. But goals and intents are motivated, or catalyzed, by desires and/or values (what you want, and/or what you care about). Desire and value are the catalyst for action, so these would serve as the "compass of purpose" (or its rudder).

So indeed, the "purpose" of one's life is contingent on what one wants, and what one cares about.

For instance, happiness feels good. So why should I pursue it?

That happiness feels good implies nothing about whether I should pursue it. And this, because the question depends on whether I care about feeling happy or not. It all becomes conditional, then. IF I want to experience happiness (or feel good because of happiness), THEN I should pursue happiness. IF I don't want to be happy, THEN I should not pursue happiness (or don't have to pursue it).

So it would go with the lived experience. If all choice is contingent on one's desires, values, principles, and so on, then there can be no objective purpose to human experience. And even if there were, you could nonetheless choose to pursue that objective purpose or not, so in the end, it all returns to the agent and their desires and values.

So the answer, if there is one, is that the purpose of living, which is self-imposed, is conditional relative to what you want, and what you care about. IF you want X, THEN you should do Y. "X" can be anything you wish it to be, and Y will by extension become your self-imposed purpose. Family, wealth, fame, innovation, expression, sensory satisfaction, adventure, knowledge, social justice, environmental work; consider what you want, or what you care about, in the short and the long term, and use these to serve the foundation of your life.

Your purpose can change many times over the course of your life, since your desires and values may change and evolve. And there's no obligation to have concrete, clearly-defined purpose, either. Maybe you don't know what exactly you want or value, which is fine. Or maybe you do, but you don't care to think about it all too much in these terms of agency and self-directed purpose, which is also fine. All that remains is that you are the captain of your ship.

As an aside, the above framework makes no judgement on which purposes you should seek out. So there's nothing stopping you from making your self-imposed purpose about criminal enterprise, or engaging in serial killings, or being an asshole to other people. But all actions have their consequences, and anti-social acts and behaviours like those mentioned run against the grain of the pro-social construct that is society, so you have higher chances of ultimately experiencing negative repercussions toward your person (imprisonment, criminal penalties, shunning and disdain from the community, etc. etc.) if you choose to pursue these kinds of activities and behaviors.
 

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EDIT: I should know better than to get roped into these kinds of conversations.

Carry on.
 
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Meta_Ridley

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Since pretty much everyone seems to be throwing out naturalistic answers, I guess I'll be the guy to mention the other side, though the OP doesn't seem to believe in God anyway.

The Christian viewpoint is that one's purpose can only be found in God--not that God necessarily gives each individual a unique destiny, but that one's purpose in life is God. All other things are ultimately pointless, as everyone will eventually return to dust and be forgotten. With Christianity, there is not only life after death, but the actions in this life can have eternal weight.

Even the great acts of Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great will be lost to history, but acts done by and for God will be remembered for all eternity. At one point the Bible even encourages seeking glory, honor, and immortality by persisting in doing good. Immediately afterwards, however, it condemns self-seeking, so you have this strange situation where you're seeking glory, honor, and immortality in a non-selfish way.

The Bible also hypothetically states that if there is no God (or more specifically, no resurrection of Christ), "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."
 
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JoBee

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I believe that we choose to continue to live and not off ourselves because we want some sort of happiness. I believe that happiness is the purpose for our lives, and that happiness is the main reason we do everything we do. No sane person would ask why we would want to be happy; we just simply are. Regarding the comment about there being no God, I feel that even though you believe there is no God that is not a legitimate reason to end your life. Just because there is no higher power in this world doesn't change the fact that we all still have lives that are short and should be valued to our last breaths.
 

Sehnsucht

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I believe that we choose to continue to live and not off ourselves because we want some sort of happiness. I believe that happiness is the purpose for our lives, and that happiness is the main reason we do everything we do. No sane person would ask why we would want to be happy; we just simply are (A). Regarding the comment about there being no God, I feel that even though you believe there is no God that is not a legitimate reason to end your life. Just because there is no higher power in this world doesn't change the fact that we all still have lives that are short and should be valued to our last breaths (B).
A good first post.

Though I'd offer some commentary on the bolded lines, if I might (collapsed for organization):

[collapse=A) On Happiness]
You say that we "simply are" happy, and desire happiness; ergo, one should pursue happiness, and to questioning the merit of this pursuit is baseless, if not irrational.

I'd like to clarify that, at least in an naturalist context, the mechanism for happiness can be explained. And furthermore, that there is a distinction to be made between describing the state or cause of happiness, and the reason for pursuing this state.

My current sense is that all positive emotion (happiness, joy, relief, excitement, etc.) is rooted in "pleasure", and all negative emotion (sadness, anguish, fear) are rooted in "pain". Positive emotion offers rewards (pleasure) to reinforce beneficial behaviours to the organism (i.e. behaviours that contribute to their survival, in the short and/or long term); negative emotion alerts the organism to behaviours or situation that are deleterious to them, and thus compels the organism to avoid such things (i.e. situations or behaviours that risk hampering survival in the short and/or long term).

But these are simple descriptions of the mechanism of happiness. As self-aware agents, we can choose (or have the experience of being capable to choose) whether to pursue happiness, even if it rewards us with pleasure (i.e. I can decide that I don't want to experience pleasure, for whatever reason(s) rational or irrational).

With all this said, though, I agree that in so-termed "sane" people***, they will be inclined to want to pursue happiness -- mostly because they're inclined to desire the feeling of happiness (i.e. "IF I want to feel good, THEN I should pursue happiness"). However, an agent is nonetheless free to reject the pursuit of happiness (or their definition of "happiness") for whatever reason(s) they wish, rational or irrational.

***I would define "sane" as a mind which is not compromised by states (diseases, disorders, etc.) that are inhibiting the otherwise "normal" functioning of a human mind, as it would be in a state where there are no diseases, disorders, etc.

[/collapse]

[collapse=B) On Living Life, and Legitimate Reasons for Living]
I've always been curious as to this commonplace equivocation between life being finite, and the consequential imperative to cherish or value that life. In what way is my eventual death, or this being my "only" life, means that I must cherish or value this life?

I'm not sure how the latter follows from the former. Perhaps you could demonstrate how these two notions are related. They clearly can be related -- a given person can, when recognizing the finitude of their life, decide that this makes their lived experience valuable -- but does this mean they must be related?

If a person is of sane mind (as per the definition I offer in the previous section), they could decide that their life should be "lived to the fullest"; they could decide that their life need not be lived that way; they could even decide that suicide is the desired course of action. The non-existence of God, for instance, could certainly be a legitimate reason to end one's life -- if the agent decides that this reason is legitimate, or serves as sufficient justification for suicide.

What of compromised judgement? A person who has the condition of depression, for instance, may have suicidal impulses, but their judgement is being affected by their depression. The desire for suicide would thus not (likely) be a rational one, or one uninhibited by deleterious mental or physiological states (i.e. disorders and diseases).

You may then say that as a result, this depressed individual should seek aid for their depression (psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, etc.). But why should that person seek out professional help? Why should they heed your advice, if you are the one suggesting the pursuit of professional help?

I'd be interested in your answer. Myself, I would seek to help such a person in whichever way I can, because of desires and values. Through empathy and the valuing pro-social behaviours and actions, it follows that a world in which this person is alive is more beneficial to myself and others -- or potentially more beneficial -- than a world in which they are gone. And I value this global (potential) benefit, if not for my own immediate or future gain derived through their survival, then for the gain of others (since I recognize that I value the benefiting of other people).

However, I also recognize that there is no imperative for me to reach out to such a person. I do it purely because I choose to, for my own reasons. If one were to say that existed a so-called societal or moral "responsibility" or "duty" to reach out to persons considering suicide, then this "responsibility" only means as much as the value I invest it with. The duty only matters if I care about it, or if we all agree that we should care about it (and we agree that we individually should care what others care about). And if I'm being immoral by not fulfilling my "duty", then that only matters if I care that I'm being immoral. And so on and so forth.
[/collapse]

[collapse=C) On Future Well Wishes]
Finally, welcome to Smashboards! Enjoy your stay. 8D
[/collapse]
 

Overtaken

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What's the reason to live?
I think the better question would be, "what is the ultimate point of living?", granted it is probably what you meant. I've always found that people (especially in this kind of discussion) like to use "purpose", "point", and "meaning", even sometimes "reason", interchangeably when they each have very distinct definitions. Purpose would imply that some being has an intent for some thing. So it's only relative when you ask, "what is this thing's purpose?" (depending on who you ask, one single thing might simultaneously have one purpose, multiple and mutually-exclusive purposes, or no purpose at all, and it would all be equally valid). Life itself, nor the act of living, has no purpose in-so-far-as there is no over-seer, demiurge, God, etc., for whom to assign it a purpose. As beings of will, we can assign things purpose. For instance, a pair of scissors can have a purpose, to cut things, to a being that can imagine and will and end to which it can use the scissors to achieve. Life as a broad concept and entity is not something we can use or manipulate (even if we can use and manipulate particular living things) and so I would say that the idea that humans can assign purpose to 'life' is a bit vacuous. Meaning is just somethings indexical value, i.e. a symbol or observation that indicates or implies something to the observer. The meaning of life is simply its definition, or whatever the observation of life indicates (i.e. Life is here, meaning liquid-water must be near-by) Point is identification of an end. So you could say, things have purposes in order to achieve points. So now, keep in mind that, for example, "what is the point of drinking water?" could be answered the same way as "What is the purpose of drinking water?", answer: "to survive", and that is because survival could be both a means and an end. This is why I say that the best way of asking this question is, "What is the ultimate point of living".

Ok, to get to the point (har har) of the topic, I would answer that there isn't one, but that we are naturally and biologically inclined (if not compelled) to behave as though the point of life/living is exactly as the existentialists claim: To pursuit the naturally amalgamated goals of one's will. I can accept this as a descriptive truth about humanity, but I reject it as a prescriptive or teleological truth. It's useful and acceptable for establishing a framework for ethics, but it is of no sound meta-physical structure. There is only utility in this observation, not knowledge.

Should we just kill ourselves because there's no god?
No, there is as little a point in dying as there is in living. You should only kill yourself if it is truly what you desire. Don't do it just because you think it rationally entails from the pointlessness of life or the absence of God, because it doesn't.
 

Claire Diviner

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I choose to live simply to spectate the growth (or lack thereof) of humanity and society. So far, I'm not impressed.

Lex Luthor's speech to A.M.A.Z.O. in the "Justice League Unlimited" episode, "The Return", just about sums up my answer for you:

 

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I don't know but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with sex.

"... And each mind that I peered into was stuffed with the same single object of obsession. That selfish and atavistic desire to pass on one's seed... it was enough to make me sick. Every living thing on this planet exists to mindlessly pass on their DNA. We're designed that way. And that's why there is war."

- Psycho Mantis, MGS
 

Sucumbio

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Not to derail the thread But i find the closer smash wiiU release date comes the less I'm interested in it... Could be I'm just engrossed in ffxiii but part of me is just thinking it's like yeah whatever. Meh
 

tebby

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being alive is great

today i ate a doughnut and played video games and listened to cool music

i couldnt do any of those things if i was dead
 

tebby

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and if you dont believe in afterlife should that not just be more reason for you to try to have as great a life as possible? you only have one of them
 

AfungusAmongus

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Atheism can make you value life even more, since it is your only one and therefore it is precious. Carl Sagan was thinking along these lines when he called the Earth (viewed from a Voyager space probe) a Pale Blue Dot. He mused:

Carl Sagan said:
To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
 

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Both out of fear of hell being on the other side, or nothing at all, and because there's so much still left to be done in this world.

There's play vidya garmz, talk about vidya garmz, read books, learn stuff, have a spouse and kids, eating food...

Don't count on that first one though. I hear they've been getting expensive as hell as of late.

2deep4marvel

 
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N.T.A.O ChangeOfHeart 死の剣

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There is nothing worth in this life that will last forever or bring you peace. Everything will die (and eventually so will the Earth).

In a blink of an eye everything will be taken away from you if you don't pay attention towards what's happening or it just happened (there's a purpose but it's too vague for anyone to understand).

There is nothing to live for that will last forever, only the Aftermath.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=e1EiUWQxzwI
 
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#HBC | Red Ryu

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Atheism can make you value life even more, since it is your only one and therefore it is precious. Carl Sagan was thinking along these lines when he called the Earth (viewed from a Voyager space probe) a Pale Blue Dot. He mused:
That isn't entirely true since a lot of religions value that your life here determines what happens after.

Still the concept of, you have your life now it is a gift so use it well, is the same regardless if you are religious or not.
 

Raido

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That isn't entirely true since a lot of religions value that your life here determines what happens after.

Still the concept of, you have your life now it is a gift so use it well, is the same regardless if you are religious or not.
But as he said, most people will value their life more without religion. Not only do a lot of religions see death as the gateway to eternal happiness, most religions tell you that you have to obey, suffer, etc. in order to achieve this. And this is not living life to the fullest! Even if you just go to church once a week, pray every once in a while and wait for Sex until you are married, you are not free to spent your time like you want. You don't even have to be an Atheist to be "completely free", a non-religious believer can do it as well.
 

#HBC | Red Ryu

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But as he said, most people will value their life more without religion. Not only do a lot of religions see death as the gateway to eternal happiness, most religions tell you that you have to obey, suffer, etc. in order to achieve this. And this is not living life to the fullest! Even if you just go to church once a week, pray every once in a while and wait for Sex until you are married, you are not free to spent your time like you want. You don't even have to be an Atheist to be "completely free", a non-religious believer can do it as well.
That's subjective on if they will value it more or less.

Religion doesn't force you to do anything, you choose to do as you wish.

The difference is that you seem to think religion inhibits if not toxic to ones life. That really is up to the person themselves. Due some people it makes them more free and adds more meaning.
 

Raido

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That's subjective on if they will value it more or less.

Religion doesn't force you to do anything, you choose to do as you wish.

The difference is that you seem to think religion inhibits if not toxic to ones life. That really is up to the person themselves. Due some people it makes them more free and adds more meaning.
If a religion tells you to do A but you don't, then you are not really following the religion. Of course it doesn't force you, it can't, it's not a physical thing. But religions demand a lot of things. You either obey them or not. If you don't, then you live your life more like an atheist.
 

#HBC | Red Ryu

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If a religion tells you to do A but you don't, then you are not really following the religion. Of course it doesn't force you, it can't, it's not a physical thing. But religions demand a lot of things. You either obey them or not. If you don't, then you live your life more like an atheist.
That is is true, but religion in itself can add more reason and will to live for some people.

I mean by the same idea, I could choose to kill millions of people ignoring what the laws are of my own country but I still choose to follow them because I agree with such a notion.

Humans naturally will restrict their own freedom with or without religion. Religion in itself might bring benefits to that person and is worth giving it up. It will always depend on what an individual is willing to restrict themselves on.
 

AfungusAmongus

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That isn't entirely true since a lot of religions value that your life here determines what happens after.

Still the concept of, you have your life now it is a gift so use it well, is the same regardless if you are religious or not.
Sure, but (as Raido said) religions require sacrifices in (sometimes of) this life for the sake of the next. At their worst they use hope for the afterlife as incentive to kill yourself and maim innocent people. At best they reinforce that love of life which comes naturally to most people most of the time.
 

Claire Diviner

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If a religion tells you to do A but you don't, then you are not really following the religion. Of course it doesn't force you, it can't, it's not a physical thing. But religions demand a lot of things. You either obey them or not. If you don't, then you live your life more like an atheist.
The main thing religions tell people is to live peacefully and to love one another. It was the corrupt religious leaders of the past who warped the views to hell to the stereotyped hatred and intolerance (especially towards atheists, LGBT people, and those of other religions) many associate religion with today. But that's for a different debate.
 

Stun✓

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I believe the point of human life is our unique ability to realize and understand our connection with every part of existence.
 

FalKoopa

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I believe that the fact you were born into this world is reason enough to live. Really, you don't need much more of a reason, unless you are suffering from a fate worse than death.

As for the 2nd part of the question... suffice to say that atheists do exist. Unless you are a very religiously driven person who devotes most of his/her time to God, the presence or absence of God won't make a very notable difference in your daily life.
 
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