Motivational query

Motivational query
Dangerous_Dave
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Posted Nov 13, 2012 - 7:59 PM:
Subject: Motivational query
Lazy of me to post in this section but anyways:

I'm wondering what, if anything, is wrong with the following argument, motivating philosophical study:

The purpose of life is:

1) To find out the purpose of life;

2) To make the purpose of life, once found, one's own purpose.


Thoughts appreciated.
Dangerous_Dave
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Posted Nov 13, 2012 - 8:21 PM:

"I think the idea that there is a purpose of life implies that life has some sort of sentient creator."

It does? Can you elaborate?

"Purpose is subjective, psychological, it depends on the thinker"

Can you explain this a little more please?
BitterCrank
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Posted Nov 13, 2012 - 10:20 PM:

As far as we can tell, there is no agent who provides a universal purpose for life applicable to everyone.

This isn't a new situation, of course. Humankind has striven for ages to deal with the absence of that one great fortune cookie message: "The meaning of life is..."

You, me, and everybody else pretty much has to decide, each for ourselves, what the purpose of life is. Some find it ready-made in religion. Others seek it elsewhere, but still ready-made. Some come up with their own purpose, and some people don't bother with it at all. Life itself continues on, not having, not waiting for, not wanting for a purpose.

"Maximize life." "Make the most of being alive, enhance and encourage all lives." "You only live once." "Life is a once-around ride." ... All these suggest "just being alive" is a good purpose.
Dangerous_Dave
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Posted Nov 13, 2012 - 10:35 PM:

All of which may be true, but can you tell me what's wrong with the argument, in terms of some structural problem or something like that.
BitterCrank
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Posted Nov 13, 2012 - 11:49 PM:

Dangerous_Dave wrote:
All of which may be true, but can you tell me what's wrong with the argument, in terms of some structural problem or something like that.


It's circular, it's a tautology.

Dangerous_Dave wrote:
The purpose of life is:

1) To find out the purpose of life;

2) To make the purpose of life, once found, one's own purpose.


The purpose is to find out the purpose, the purpose is to make the purpose...

What you need to do is state what the purpose is, other than being the purpose.

For instance, "The purpose of life is to glorify God." or "The purpose of life is to have a perfect lawn." or "The purpose of life is to make as much money as one can."

Tautologies communicate nothing. The object of the predicate should not be the subject. (The purpose of life (subject) is to find (predicate) the purpose of life (object).

So, your situation is "I do not know what the purpose of life is." Your preferred situation is "I want to know what the purpose of life is."

Is it your belief that somewhere, out there, there is a "purpose of life"?

Suppose you are on your deathbed and you have not yet found the "purpose of life." Would that not be very unfortunate and an unnecessary misfortune at that?



Dangerous_Dave
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Posted Nov 14, 2012 - 12:18 PM:

I do not believe that it is circular, or at least not obviously so:

1) The purpose of life is a property that belongs to the universe in general, say (or at least is not a knowledge related property).

2) Knowledge of the purpose of life is a property that belongs to the (a) mind (or at least is a knowledge related property).

For the argument to be circular, property 1 would have to be identical to or at least include property 2, which it clearly isn't/doesn't.
unenlightened
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Posted Nov 14, 2012 - 12:33 PM:

It's not an argument, but a statement.

I tend to think that the purpose of life cannot be the object of knowledge; that is to say the purpose always is to go beyond the known, which is the past. Thus to have a fixed purpose is to deny the transformative process that is living.
Dangerous_Dave
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Posted Nov 14, 2012 - 12:37 PM:

Alright been thinking about this some more.

There is a whiff of something wrong about the argument, in the sense that 'finding something out' seems to imply that it is a pre-existing fact, and yet the supposed pre-existing fact turns out to be the finding out itself. Since the finding out cannot pre-date itself, the argument involves a contradiction (not a circularity).

But consider other situations in which it seems right to say that what one ought to do is find out what one ought to do. For example, survival experts often say that if you find yourself in a survival situation, the first thing that one should do is sit down and think about what one ought to do. But how can thinking about what one ought to do be part of what one ought to do? It seems to be caught in the same contradiction as the above. And yet there seems to be a clear and non-contradictory sense in which we understand this as the sensible - and indeed practically effective - course of action. How can this be the case?
Dangerous_Dave
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Posted Nov 14, 2012 - 12:51 PM:

I'm toying with the idea that one can alleviate the problem by saying: "what one ought to do (now) is think about what one ought to do (next)".

The object of what one ought to do now would not then be established by the self-same act of thinking about what one ought to do now, but rather can be a fact that one established in a previous episode of thinking about what one ought to do next (namely, to think about what one ought to do next).

I'm quickly getting a headache thinking about this, so maybe I'll give it a rest.

But it does occur that if we're able to establish a now/next sense to statements about survival situations etc, then a similar now/next sense could be applied to the statements contained in the meaning of life argument:

(In general) what one ought to do now is to think about what one ought to do next.
Dangerous_Dave
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Posted Nov 14, 2012 - 1:03 PM:

unenlightened wrote:
It's not an argument, but a statement.

I tend to think that the purpose of life cannot be the object of knowledge; that is to say the purpose always is to go beyond the known, which is the past. Thus to have a fixed purpose is to deny the transformative process that is living.



I'd be happy to call it a conceptual analysis.
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