“Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.” – Erich Fromm“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” – Carl Jung
“Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is.” – Carl Rogers
As our species throughout history attests, humans have pondered the fundamental philosophical question regarding the meaning of life since the ability to write and most likely the development of conscious self-awareness and a higher cognitive ability even before.
For a great number of people this question poses as a serious obstacle, one seemingly insurmountable, and one which is usually resolved through the most vacuous, superfluous and inept means possible, religion.
The principle aim of life, as far as I am aware and in the most rudimentary form, is to survive to the fullest efficacy possible and to replicate ones own genetic lineage. However, beyond these simple tasks – or difficult if you rather - the meaning of life is open to interpretation, it is to be discovered and affirmed by the individual for the individual. In an objective sense the meaning of life is as I described first, in a more subjective sense the meaning of life is infinitely open to interpretation. I would hardly expect two individuals’ specific interpretations of what the meaning of life is to be identical.
As a secular humanist I find the meaning of life to be, in a general sense, the pursuit of life in abundance, happiness, pleasure and love. In a more distilled sense I find the meaning of life to comprise a number of categories such as psychological, biological, social, political, scientific and philosophical. It begins, as I see it, with oneself, through discovering who one really is, and affirming this one develops a healthy and strong psychological awareness of ones own self and is then ready to pursue the other categories. One must realize and then develop the best of their abilities, which consists of cultivating in ones own personality, strength, lucidity, intelligence, a yearning for knowledge, skepticism, empathy and, as Carl Rogers phrased it, “unconditional positive regard.”
Built upon this, the meaning of life is now concerned with social aspects. I take it as the meaning of life to work towards the remediation and reconciling of social ills and conflicts, to help create a peaceful, cohesive and tranquil social environment and world-state. To help others realize and attain their highest potential possible. The meaning of life, socio-politically speaking, is to affirm universal human rights and decency and to work towards creating a citadel of peace and beauty, in this life, globally. It is to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideals of democracy, freedom and the open society. It is to work towards increasing educational standards, literacy and cultural enrichment.
Scientifically and philosophically, the meaning of life is to better understand it. It is to work towards a comprehensive description of the universe which we find ourselves in and the functioning thereof. With the growth of our scientific knowledge comes, inextricably bound, advances in virtually every aspect of our lives. Advances in scientific medicine such as antibiotics, vaccines, modern techniques of surgery, anesthesia, pharmacology and biogenetic engineering has tremendously improved our prospects for a happier, healthier, longer and more fulfilling life. Scientific research has and will continue to elucidate our knowledge of the universe and our place within it through such facets as astronomy, physics, biology, genetics, psychology, sociology, etc.
It is, to me, the meaning of life to pursue these ends. The meaning of life is to not only survive and replicate, but to derive pleasure and happiness while doing so. It is to love life in its abundance, to seek and work towards creating and instilling more abundance and to share this love and experience with others.