Life is an absurd, existential dilemma: part 4

You can look at life like a game by using game theory. A game doesn’t have to be a pointless way to idle away the time. Game theory looks at any conflict between an individual and an opponent (which can be yourself, another person [or people] or the environment) like a game. Thus, you can look at life as a game, but unlike most games, the game of life (and thus the rules) aren’t defined and can’t be empirically proven.

However, even if you can’t figure out what you’re supposed do with your life (philosophically speaking), you still need figure out what you want to do with you life. Even if this doesn’t fulfill any cosmically defined- meaning of life it will give your life personal meaning. It will give you a reason to live, and you’ll feel fulfilled. And as long as you’ve chosen what gives your life personal meaning then who is to say you haven’t given your life real meaning and in doing so validated your existence?

Unfortunately, the social systems built by our predecessors don’t actively, systematically, diligently or universally teach most people to understand and define themselves in a way that will allow them to accurately choose paths that suit them or successfully pursue their paths. In fact, many of the social systems in place actively, systematically, diligently and universally act to hinder the people within their sphere of influence from achieving self-actualization. Thus, while those systems may put food on the table they create an existential vacuum that hinders people from leading lives that are personally meaningful.

As a result many people will find existential crutches to lean on throughout their lives. Some of the most common crutches are religion, marriage, children, work and social status.

Next to religion, the second most commonly used crutch is the triad of love, marriage and children. The countlessly echoed phrase, “All you need is love.” sums up this popular philosophy. And of course, love leads to marriage, which more often than not leads to children, and we all know how proud and defensive parents are about their children.

My own father summed up a sentiment that I believe many parents feel to varying degrees even if they’ve never articulated the concept this clearly to themselves. He said that when his first son was born the universe finally made sense to him. He said at that moment he realized he was a link between his father and his son, and someday his son would be a link between him and his grandson. And that’s how the circle of life works. We’re all links in a cosmic chain of life; that’s our role and our purpose.

How can you argue with that? It’s got love, fucking, family, selflessness, immediate personal reward and vicarious immortality. Falling in love gives you the most selfishly rewarding and selfless purpose in life, and once you have children that purpose transcends into an even more selfishly rewarding and yet even more selfless purpose in life. And you can die knowing that you played your part in the immortal circle of life. And the best part is, it takes absolutely zero intelligent thought to come to this conclusion, and it’s safely backed up by the approval of mainstream consumer society.

Here’s the rub though. First of all, animals fall in love and have children…except when animals do it we call it “being in heat.” Well, we’re animals, and all humans are born with the involuntary instinct to “fall in love.” We admit that love is an emotion. Well, an emotion is a chemical reaction in your brain that occurs in response to stimulus. Love is a chemical reaction in our body designed to make us reproduce to ensure the survival of our species. Falling in love is being in heat. It’s about as transcendental as taking a shit. Oh, it’s a wonderful feeling, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve taken some pretty wonderful shits in my day as well.

Now let’s get philosophical about children. Okay, so you have children, and your children have children, and you children’s children have children and so on and so forth until the stars die. If your purpose in life is to give someone else life and their purpose is to give someone else life, and that person’s purpose is to give someone else life then you just delay any real purpose indefinitely. There is no purpose to the whole chain of events.

I’m not saying there’s absolutely no good reason or purpose to enjoy the thrills of being in heat, fucking like wild animals and raising children. But if that’s the end-all purpose of life then we need to quit pretending like we’re some kind of higher form of life and accept that we’re nothing but eating, shiting, fucking animals. We’re bipedal organic robots set to auto-repeat for no reason other than to go though the motions of survival until we wear out and fall over.

That might even be true. However, there just might be a more immediate, personal purpose for each and every individual’s existence regardless of whether or not they ever find a mate to copulate with when they’re in the throws of heat or if they ever have a children. Even if life is meaningless then god’s be damned, doesn’t your own existence have meaning to you right now regardless of your relationship with other people?

Everyone’s life has some level of value for no other reason than its rarity. So valueing other people is right and good, but there’s a line you can cross where you come to value other people over yourself, and that devalues you. Not only that but it enables the people you serve to become codependent on you, which ironically makes you codependent on them since you lose all meaning in your life outside of serving them. Then your relationship devolves into two (or more) parasites sucking the life out of each other. Think about it. If you need someone else to complete you…that makes you a parasite. Is that really what we should strive for, as every romantic Hollywood movie claims? Is that the highest potential human beings have?

Consider this. Imagine you were a king or queen who was disposed and sentenced to solitary confinement on an island, but the island had a lavish estate where all your needs were met, and once a year a boat would bring you a human-sized box full of whatever you wanted. Would your life cease to have philosophical or personal meaning? No, because you would actually be free to fulfill your own personal potential. The only catch is that you would have to define what that is and actively seek to fulfill your potential, but most people never do that, and the reason many people fail to ever do that is because they spend their entire lives chasing the opposite sex and using their children as a crutch so they don’t ever have to think for themselves or accept the responsibility for growing up and fulfilling their own personal potential outside of animalistic breeding.

The worst and most ironic part of this whole codependent cycle of love is that if you don’t grow up, fulfill your potential and become the best human being you can be then you can’t raise your children to fulfill their potential. I know so many young parents who had children right after high school and have spent the rest of their lives with their noses stuck in the air thinking they were the masters of the universe because they were parents, but their kids are snotty little brats with no discipline or direction because their parents had children before they understood their place in the world themselves. And at the end of those parents’ lives they’ll say, “I did the best I could.” But they didn’t do the best they could. They did the bear minimum and have doomed their children to never fulfill their potential and thus to live and suffer in vain.

Part 1: Accept that you’re lost

Part 2: The need for self actualization

Part 3: Religion as a crutch

However you felt about this post, you’ll probably feel the same way about these:

11 ways mainstream academic philosophy has come to resemble religion

Deep thoughts by the wise janitor

Biker Philosophy

Ethics

Thinking

Atheism and Agnosticism


8 responses to “Life is an absurd, existential dilemma: part 4

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant.

    Like

  • The Overseer

    @ David and Brutus, buy the book. It’s only $3 and it’s an excellent read.

    Like

  • Brutus

    I’m having the same issue as David.

    It seems like you simply ‘decided’ that fulfilling one’s potential is the meaning of life.
    Why? I don’t see the thinking steps that lead to that conlcusion.

    It’s as if you simply made an assumption because you would otherwise have no direction. You made up a goal for yourself.

    Is this perhaps the theory of your entry: ‘It all comes down to this’ applied in practice?
    This is what you wrote:

    “Now, if you were lost in the wilderness with no compass, no reference point and no sense of direction then every possible path before you would equally valid. What you would have to do is pick a direction at random and start walking until you found some sort of piece of evidence you could use to logically deduce which direction to go next. You might find evidence that you need to be going in the exact opposite direction of your current trajectory, but would have never known that had you not gone in the wrong direction to begin with.”

    Are you applying this here? Picking a relatively random direction to start moving in?

    Like

  • David

    This is good stuff, the ideas you’re talking about, I agree with. Here’s my question though, it springs out of my confusion with life. Your encouraging people to find their own purpose and self actualization, breaking free from the norms of the “machine” of society’s expectations. This individualistic purpose will give their life fullfilling meaning and satisfaction. I agree with this, but it seems to be too vague.

    I’ve head the phrase “self actualization” mentioned a lot, but what does this mean? I mean let’s say i feel like my life purpose is to go to Ecaudore and feed the malnourished youth. At first this seems really fullfilling because i’m doing some positive shit for humanity. But, after awhile it get’s old as I realize that no matter how many kids I serve bread and soup to, there will always be millions more out there starving. Now to get a little nihilistic, does it even matter that I’m feeding these particular kids? We’ll all be dead anyway. Help humanity or hurt humanity, what does it really matter in the end? For that matter, why don’t I just feed malnourished cockroaches instead, because at least they’ll live the longest? But what does that even matter, even if the cockroaches are the last ones left, why does preserving life any actual value?
    I mean, preserving life or destroying life, does either hold any greater value outside our own intellectually constructed values? I’d love to hear back from you,

    David

    Like

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