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The Meaning of Life

Posted by Rick · April 20th, 2004 · No Comments

I posted this over on Scalzi’s Whatever and then thought it would be a good conversation-starter (I hope) on my blog here. Since I’ve already used it as a comment to the conversation over there, I won’t do a trackback. (That seems like overkill.) So if you came here from Whatever, well…whatever!

The discussion concerned someone submitting a question to Scalzi asking, “What is the meaning of life?” His answer was a bit long, but parts of it were quite entertaining. And who am I to talk about long posts, nu? 😉

Without further ado…here was the post that, so far, constitutes my participation in that conversation:

The great sage and philosopher, Pedro Amaral, who was also a student of Wilfrid Sellars, used to say of that question (“What is the meaning of life?”) that it was akin to the question, “What is the meaning of 2+2=4?” (He probably still does.)

It seems to be a bit of a non-sensical question — which is not exactly the same as “stupid.” Nonsense can be very entertaining sometimes, as John’s answer reveals. 😉

Okay, okay…I’m kidding (about John’s answer).

What I’m not kidding about is that (as John skimmed over in one part of his note) one answer is that there is no meaning of life. Life just is. Personally, I happen to think that’s the most veridical answer.

Can you still making something wonderful of it? You betcha. Rocks and clay “just are”; pigments used for paint “just are.” This doesn’t stop us from making some really enjoyable statues and paintings or improving our living spaces with them!

Something doesn’t have to have a meaning — and you don’t have to even create a meaning for/with it — in order to make of it something worthwhile.

Incidentally, people periodically submit stories and links to me and say, “This is blogworthy.” (And it usually is.) I liked John’s idea of answering readers’ questions. Feel free to email suggestions or questions to (surprise!) either suggestions – at – unspun dot us or questions – at – unspun dot us. I don’t promise to answer them all (especially homework questions!), but on days when George Bush isn’t working, it’s hard to find comedy material. You might find your question answered then!

Categories: Philosophy


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