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The Restriction's Placed On Us Because of a "Search For Meaning"

aybala50's picture
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It is such an empowering feeling to have a purpose in life. From an early age humans need a purpose to go on. At a younger age children don’t have to come up with a purpose in life because, this information is provided to them by the adults in their lives or even society. A typical child grows up being told their purpose at that point is going to school, getting good grades, being nice and so on. Once they are at the point in their lives when they are on their own, for example after graduating from college, they have to figure out their new purpose in life. Typically there is no one telling them what their purpose in life is, so there is a void in their lives that has to be filled. Most people fill this void by getting a job, going on a search to find their purpose in life or just giving up and living a life with no purpose. The focus of this paper is on those people who feel that they need a purpose in life and tries to figure out what their specific purpose is in this life. I would argue that Darwin’s story of evolution angers many people because it takes away from this idea of a purpose in life. If a random mixture of genes creates us, what is to say that we have a purpose in life? What is to say that we are not on this planet randomly, without reason, just as a part of nature?

            As a college student I feel closer to an end and a new beginning. I don’t know what my life will be like after I graduate from this setting of comfort where everything is provided for me. I understand what I am meant to do, which is get good grades and after college either go to graduate school or find a job that will help support me. What is my purpose for being here? It is nice to think that I have an important reason for being on this planet besides running the course of my life as I am meant to. Was I born to cure an illness? Save lives? Change the course of other’s lives in a better direction? Or am I here because of a freak accident that introduced my mother and father and somehow encouraged them to reproduce? On the humid day that my mother entered my father’s restaurant in Turkey, was there a higher plan that encouraged this? Or was it mere coincidence that they reproduced producing me? Was it destiny?

            The idea of evolution is that a mixture of genes, purely biological, creates a new being. I was created this way, we all were. Evolution also suggests that we are created, to some extent, randomly. It is not as if a higher being hand picked everyone and their destiny, or purpose in life. At least, this is what I think of when I think of the story of evolution. I can see how this idea can be troublesome to some people. Without a purpose in life, life itself would be hard to fulfill. Psychologically speaking without a superior goal in life or a purpose, a person can become depressed. A person very successful in their personal lives, but is working at a job not satisfying to them can be depressed in this way. In this course of life, they have everything they need to survive, including healthy relationships and a good income. Still, there seems to be something missing. In this way, one’s purpose in life may not be so obvious, but there could a void that needs to be filled.

            Why would it be so bad to be on this planet with no specific purpose or destiny to fulfill? Whether there is a purpose or not does this really affect a person? When thought about it, the most important effect I can think of is a psychological loss. But, in this case, if we weren’t raised being told that we have a purpose for being on this planet, would this still affect us? From an evolutionary perspective, if we want people to “adapt” to the idea of life without a specific purpose, we shouldn’t be giving children so many speeches about “there is an important reason why you are here”.

            Is it possible that not having a specific purpose in life could be a more productive or even fulfilling way of living? As someone who wonders from time to time what I’m doing on this planet and whether I even matter, I think there’s a chance that I might be happier without a purpose. If I have no purpose in life is this not a positive thing? With no specific purpose in life, I will be able to avoid the ultimate failure. Though I could still fail in my endeavors in life, if there is no ultimate endeavor that gives my whole life reason then there would be no ultimate reason for me to get depressed in any way. I believe this to be the case for most people. Another aspect of this “no purpose” theory is that it could actually lead to a more fulfilling life. Without wasting time searching for meaning a person can actually get more done in their lifetime. If I knew that ultimately I had no reason, I could act more adventurous in my decisions. Aren’t the best ideas that people come up with the most creative one’s? Could I not be more creative and useful for this world if I didn’t have a mental restriction telling me that I should focus all of my energy searching for meaning in my life? 


Paul Grobstein's picture

Lives and purposes

"Could I not be more creative and useful for this world if I didn’t have a mental restriction telling me that I should focus all of my energy searching for meaning in my life?" 

That seems to me indeed a thought worth thinking more about.  From which it follows as well that parents "shouldn’t be giving children so many speeches about 'there is an important reason why you are here'."  Maybe the speech should say instead "your purpose is to create for yourself a life that is meaningful to you"?