A Purpose in Three Parts
Well, to look at purpose, one must first understand the denefition of purpose. According to the dictionary, purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” Well, if that is the case, then it should be fairly easy to discern what our purpose is, or will it? No, the question is of the purpose of what, us? Is it a question of us as writers, us as biological humans, or us as philosophers? To answer this question, allow me to break it down into little segments.
Firstly, we are biologically humans, and thus, according to instinct, our purpose is to eat, breathe, sleep, drink, reproduce, exercise, and repeat. This is, of course, according to the laws of biology. The only goal in life, according to these laws, is to avoid harm and stay alive until we die. Utilitarianism in its most vulgar form. But everything has its own laws. This may be the answer for biology, for instance, but it could never be the case for philosophy. To make this easier, and to narrow it down, I shall address the three segments of our little definition of purpose.
The previous paragraph does justice for the first part. It answers the question: “why is something done?” We can pursue goals that are not in correlation with the laws of basic survival as long as we maintain that survival. For instance, as long as we eat and drink and sleep regularly, we can perhaps learn to paint, or to drive, or go on an expedition somewhere, and so forth. So in the context of humans, things are done because we prioritize: we do what we need to survive first, and then work out from there. When building a civilization, one would first need a water source, then a food source, then a central structure, then a city, then a military, and on and on and on. The bigger they get, the more they need. Similarly, each individual human, as they grow, will require different things, but the basic essence of survival still lingers. We are done, so to speak, by surviving, and we may pursue other goals from there.
Now for the second part of the definition. Allow me to elaborate on the question: “why is something created?” Specifically, why are we created? Simply put, we evolved. Over millions and millions of years, life forms adapted and changed in accordance with their environment in ways that best suited their survival, and now we have reached the shape and mentality of the common Homosapien. We are probably not done evolving, but as of now, we are as we are. So, because evolution follows the trend that a species evolves in whatever manner benefits survival, that must be the reason for which we were created, survival (anyone else seeing a pattern here?).
But something came before the first life forms roamed the Earth, and those are the elements. All elements are made up of atoms, and all atoms contain electrons. All elements react according to their electron count. All elements become stable when they reach pairs of electrons that add up to eight, and that is why anything reacts at all. We are made up of elements, and we are made up of atoms, and thus, we are made up of electrons. From a scientific perspective, life is nothing more than a tool that electrons use to become stable. As we eat, chemical reactions take place, and so forth. If we died, these reactions could not take place and stability would be that much further from reach for these elements, so thus, it is suitable for the elements that we strive to stay alive. Once again, we come back to survival as our main purpose.
But now we have the last part of the definition of purpose, that of existence. Why does anything exist? But, more importantly, why do we exist? Now, I have explained the natural and scientific reasons for our existence, but what about the philosophical? This is where things become very interesting. As we have seen before, there is no purpose to live other than to simply survive, as almost all other animals do without a second thought. But humans, humans are curious. We pursue things that may not necessarily benefit strictly survival. We have desires, pleasures, and longings that are not required by nearly all other life forms. So why, for what reason, do we exist?
Now things become controversial, because, simply speaking, everyone has their own reason or purpose, in their own eyes. In this case, purpose must mean the meaning of life. There is no single purpose of life that all life forms must adhere to in the philosophical sense (except, of course, simple survival). To believe that life has only one meaning or purpose is, in my opinion, foolish. Everybody alive has different values and no one can dictate what those values should be. I, for example, have mixed views of religion. But what right do I have to judge religion if I am not religious, and what right has a religious person to force their religion upon anyone else? No one has the right to make assertions for others. So, in a simple sense, there is no wider meaning of life, as far as can be discerned. Everyone has their own little meanings.
The way I see it, life has no meaning. All empires fall, all will at some point die and return to dust, everybody will eventually be forgotten, all legacies at some point die, and so on and so forth. For some reason, most people seem to believe that a life without meaning is not one worth living. I say, “who cares?” I feel freer without any purpose to adhere to. I follow my desires, and I try not to hurt others along the way, but ultimately, I couldn’t care less what I or anybody else does with their life. My life is my own, and their lives are their own. But that is only in the grander scheme of life. Objectively, life, according to my nihilistic beliefs, has no meaning, but what about relative to society?
We are still speaking philosophically, of course (so the answer of basic survival is already acknowledged). Relative to society, there are a series of little purposes which we may follow that, though they may not mean anything in the grand sense, do carry a little weight in the small moments in which we live them. Every day I peruse little purposes. I got out of bed this morning, for instance. My next purpose was to brush my teeth, and then wash my face, and then comb my hair, and then eat breakfast…My purpose now is to write an essay that tries to answers the question, “what is our purpose?” There are many that we will pursue throughout our lives. Some are small, and some are larger. Regardless, if you, the reader, believes that any of these purposes mean anything objectively or not, you must admit that one will pursue a lot of purposes over the course of your life. And frankly, that is one of the reasons that life is so interesting.
And lastly, anyone could be right, and anyone could be wrong. I am no exception. I think I am right, but that is because I am me. I could just as easily be wrong about anything. So, in the grand scheme of things, I would just like to say that, no matter what my purpose really is, I am glad to be alive right now. I am glad to have all of you to accompany me on my journey through life. And, as always, may the eyes of fortune forever gaze in your direction. Fare ye well, and cheerio!