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wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A simple question like this lies at the end, not the beginning, of our inquiry into giving value to mental and emotional effort.  On the surface, this question is merely a grammatical construction, called an interrogative sentence; the words themselves as signifiers are vague—what do we “mean” by “meaning”?  The written definition of “life” is three inches long in the dictionary.  Even the word “what” is open to interpretation.  To the religious inquirer, the question can be rephrased: “Why did God create life, and especially, human life?”  In Catechism, this questioned is stated: “Who made you? God made you.  Why did God make you? To love, honor, and obey Him.”  The philosopher who wants to address this question has to begin with the assumption that “essence precedes existence,” that there is a “plan” in which life has a vital part.  Scientists (anthropologists, physicists, physiologists) can define "life" and “explain” how life began, but not “why.”  The very word “why” presumes a plan with a cause-effect mechanism, a goal.  The Existentialist claims there is no such plan, that “existence precedes essence.”  On the human, day-to-day level, you give your own life “meaning” by entering the complex “hubbub” of human society with a thought-out (and felt-out) set of principles and goals and values.  “What is the meaning of Life?”  Give it a meaning, your meaning.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As you can imagine, you will not get the same answer from everyone. Here is how I think about the situation. Ecclesiastes 3:11 states that eternity is in our heart. The idea is that there is something deep in our heart and nothing in the world can satisfy it. If you think about it, it does make some sense. No matter what you achieve, accomplish or have, you still want more. Often times, after some great achievement, you say to yourself, "is that all?" There is a gnawing feeling that there must be something more. I think that this is the point that the book of Ecclesiastes is talking about. This is why the book states that everything is meaningless.

In light of this point, it is important to look for meaning in other things. In my opinion, it should be something otherworldly, something transcendent, because human hearts are restless with the best of this world. The vast majority of people in this world find meaning in belief in God.



hi1954 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You could get as many answers about this as the number of people you ask.  A religious person would tell you the purpose of life is to know "god" of whatever type, gender or number he or she believes in; a hedonist would say to enjoy yourself to the utmost; a materialist would tell you to amass all you can.  The old saw "know thyself" is probably as good as anything.

iambarney155 | Student

to be all you can be and nothing short of that. if you have doen a diservice to yourself

(those were my grandfathers last words, someone may have said it but i dont think so)