On finding meaning

A nihilist, an optimist, a rationalist, a humanist. My biggest struggle? Finding meaning in life, which may not be the right word as I know there is no meaning to be had. I guess what I am trying to say is: ‘ what should I do?’. To this question, I do not believe there is an answer. There is, however, an innate desire to find one. Many books have been written on the subject of meaning; none of which answer the question as there isn’t one. Why do people try to better themselves if there is no meaning? Either, they believe in something – a deity usually – or they believe what the most charismatic person they happen to have come across has sold them.

I suspect there may be a biological answer to the question of meaning, hard-coded into our DNA. The better our standing in society, the more likely our genes are to be preserved. I am not convinced by that argument to be honest; In modern times, social standing does not seem to influence gene propagation. Then why do I have ambition? Has TV corrupted me? I don’t think this is the reason either, people have competed against one another since ancient times.

I come back to the same question; if there is no reason, why do I keep trying to find one? Perhaps if I had asked myself these questions earlier, I would have become a physicist, for searching for the origin of the universe seems like it is the ultimate search for meaning. I can see the comfort in partitioning my mind and accepting a deity; but doublethink is beyond me, especially when this question can be asked: ‘where did [deity] come from?’. ‘It was always there’, is not a satisfactory answer.

Author: ljphd

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

9 thoughts on “On finding meaning”

  1. I feel like Camus handled this question best. I was on the brink of nihilism before becoming more of an existentialist. Why am I here? To write poetry and keep bees. Simple pleasures.

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      1. His work predates the internet so he doesn’t have his own site or anything but his essays and fiction are still in print. Google Albert Camus and check out his novel The Stranger and his essay The Myth of Sisyphus. He’s a mild existentialist (even though he hated that label) and he explains how life is meaningless and how humans have an insatiable demand for meaning. He calls this the Absurd. He believes that you should realise that there is no meaning but find your own meaning and rebel against the Absurd. It’s his solution to replace suicide both physical and philosophical. (like finding meaning in religion or ideology)

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  2. I have ran that loop several times. In and out – oh, I’ve found it! – wait, nope…I am adding Albert Camus to my reading list too. Maybe he has some insight to sustain me for another week or two before it also gets old. Onward and upward? Each length of the journey calls for another stage of learning so that you can abandon the old and start new? Maybe Patrick had it right when he got his simple brain back (yes, I’m referencing Spongebob Squarepants). Maybe thinking too much is ruining any hope of finding meaning and the simple stuff is really where its at. Or maybe its finding it all, the excitement at discovery, the disappointment in failure, the hopelessness, everything that being human has to offer.

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