The Meaning of Life
At some point in our lives we will sit and ponder about what does it all mean. Is there a greater purpose or are we all inconsequential organisms that have managed to crawl out of a primordial soup and develop in to a relatively smart primate. History is littered with deep thinkers who have thought about this and have yet to formulate a response that sits perfectly with all of humanity.
One the one side there is the various religious beliefs that give large swathes of the human population some sense of why they are here and a faith that there may be something after this life has ended. The numerous religions of the world all differ though and so it would shallow to assume that religion is, or indeed, will ever have an answer that suits the masses. What religion does do though, is it allows people to not have to ponder the meaning of life and therefore get on with their own lives knowing that the big issues are taken care of. Now this is a little presumptions of me as there are philosophical thoughts in religion that do think of the bigger picture and look to rationalize it with a scripture or dogma.
At the other end of the spectrum are the philosophical thoughts that pertain to a more existential belief in that we won’t truly know why we are here so get on with living. That’s simplifying it a little but the context is the same. Philosophy can be described as the study of general and fundamental questions that relate to existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. These questions are then posed as problems that can be looked at and resolved. Now you could draw a line between religion and philosophy based on the questions being asked. The difference between the two though comes down to philosophy’s use of rational investigation where as religion can claim that these questions are answered through the belief in a deity and acts of faith.
The problem with philosophy though is that it keeps sprouting new trains of thought that result in never ending field of rational investigation that can appear to be irrational. Without naming every type of philosophical thought, a list in excess of a hundred, it can be quite confusing as to what and where ones own thoughts reside. If you are an outsider to philosophy and wish to look in the different types that may best represent how you see the world, you may end up feeling like you’ve read an astrology column as there are elements that resonate from so many disciplines.
A lot of the different types of philosophy are subsets of the bigger question posed above, still, it can be a very confusing path to take if you are looking for answers to these questions in your own mind. This does give religious dogma an upper hand as it takes away all of the work of self discovery and offers a nice packaged answer for some.
Don’t give up though if you are looking to find some answers to these questions in the philosophical schools of thought. Just as any research can lead to many different and varied rabbit holes, so to will this.The upside is the ability to understand how these great thinkers put together the rationale arguments that still exist many centuries after their deaths. That said, there are still mine fine philosophers of current and recent times. It all depends on how deep and far you want to explore.
So I urge you, if these big questions do come up in your life, or even if they have already. Look past the writings of a single religious doctrine and dive in to the world of rationale investigation. It can be a little daunting and often confusing but may let you figure out exactly why you are here.