Siri - "Personally, I would say: to never stop asking. But that’s just me."
Me - "You are not alone! The unexamined life is not worth living, so I heard."
The question of the meaning of life has been pondered by philosophers, theologians, and thinkers throughout history. From the ancient Greeks to contemporary thinkers, the search for understanding the purpose and significance of our existence has been a central theme in human inquiry. Ultimately, life's purpose is as subjective as it can be! Some people find it in their relationships, others in their work, and still others in their personal beliefs and spirituality.
To deeply discuss that, let's look first at Socrates!
For the Greek philosopher, the key to understanding the meaning of life is to understand oneself and one's place in the world. This requires self-knowledge and self-awareness. Only by understanding oneself can one begin to understand the world and its place in it. And to achieve this state of wisdom, one must engage in the process of self-examination and introspection.
"Only by understanding oneself can one begin to understand the world and its place in it."
This process may involve questioning one's own beliefs and assumptions, as well as examining one's own actions and motivations. It is also essential to engage in the pursuit of knowledge and truth. This means understanding the world around us and the nature of reality.
Talk about living a virtuous life!
Socrates believed that knowledge and understanding were the keys to a virtuous life. He also thought that the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge was a necessary step in the quest for understanding its meaning.
As the philosopher would state, pursuing wisdom and knowledge takes work. And it may require one to recognize that one's understanding of the world and oneself is always incomplete and subject to change.
Be ready for the plot twist...
What if I told you that, MAYBE, just MAYBE, Socrates' focus on knowledge and understanding was misguided and that it is impossible to find any inherent meaning in life? (GASP)
Okay, now I am giving you the impression that I know the real deal! Not really, no. But suppose you are like me, an existentialist. In that case, you probably feel that life has no inherent meaning and that it is up to each individual to give their own life meaning through their choices and actions — and of that, Socrates would disapprove. And we would probably go on and on with his method of questioning until I would agree that I know nothing — okay, it would take 1 minute for that to happen… I am as clueless as John Snow.
For me, the universe can be an absurd place. Think for one minute that you will find something that makes no sense whatsoever. Right? We live in a place where many things happen without reason or purpose — essentially given purpose, inherent purpose — bear with me. And I know this can be a complex reality to accept. Still, it is a necessary step in understanding the human condition.
"One of the key concepts in existentialism is freedom."
As individuals, we are free to make our own choices and determine our destinies. One of the key concepts in existentialism is freedom. But this freedom comes with a great deal of responsibility. We are responsible for our choices and actions, and we must also accept the consequences of those choices and actions. I know that there are times that I feel like I am not living to my potential or that I am waiting for time to pass. And here is where the French existentialist philosopher, Sartre, comes to mind.
He wrote about this fantastic concept, which he called "bad faith," in his work "Being and Nothingness." According to him, bad faith is a state of self-deception in which an individual denies their own freedom and the responsibility that comes with it. You probably know someone like that, or a few… Sartre believed that individuals act in bad faith by trying to avoid the reality of their own existence and the responsibility that comes with it. This can be by denying their own freedom, pretending to be something they are not, or trying to hide behind social roles or societal expectations.
"Bad faith is a state of self-deception in which an individual denies their own freedom and the responsibility that comes with it."
Now, once I notice that I am in a state of bad faith, I remember that it is through embracing my freedom and taking responsibility for my own life that I can give my existence meaning. See? It's not that we have to live a life without meaning, can you imagine? But instead, we should find our own unique purpose and live in accordance with it.
Existentialism allows me to live a life of authenticity, where I am true to myself and my own values.
I know that one of the key criticisms of existentialism is that it can lead to feelings of despair and hopelessness. Some argue that the emphasis on individual freedom and personal responsibility can make people feel overwhelmed and powerless. However, this is a necessary part of the human condition. We must face the reality of our existence and the fact that life may not have an inherent meaning. This can be a difficult and painful process, but it is also a necessary one. And I know it can be hard to own our shit, but it is essential to living an authentic life. TAKE THE RED PILL!
"We must remember that we are not alone in our struggle to find meaning."
Nevertheless, in the face of an absurd and meaningless world, we must remember that we are not alone in our struggle to find meaning. We are all in this together, and it is through our shared humanity that we can find a sense of purpose and connection.
So, what's the meaning of life? I don't know. But let's embrace our freedom and personal responsibility. It's okay — I am with you. Let's find moments of transcendence and beauty in the world. Let's find grace in life's small, everyday moments and appreciate the simple pleasures.