- Discover essay samples

Real Meaning of LIfe

4.9 of 5.0 (89 reviews)

1700 words

Real Meaning of LIfe Page 1
Real Meaning of LIfe Page 2
Real Meaning of LIfe Page 3
Real Meaning of LIfe Page 4
Real Meaning of LIfe Page 5
Real Meaning of LIfe Page 6
The above thumbnails are of reduced quality. To view the work in full quality, click download.

Real Meaning of LIfe

The primary focus of this essay is on adaptationism and the theory of evolution, which, of course, challenges fundamental religious beliefs. In fact, perhaps as a substitute for religion, some have adopted a distortion of Darwinism to explain the "purpose" of life: one depiction of human existence is that we're actually survival machines programmed to perpetuate our genes, according to "selfish gene" pursuits. From this POV, the purpose of life is survival for the sake of continued reproduction- each life then is a carrier, a brief repository of gene pool elements.

Because of this belief, some Darwinists seek to find adaptationist explanations for all aspects of the human physique and behavior. They do so because they believe that all traits must make rational, "selfish gene" sense somehow because that's their whole point; because natural selection wouldn't allow it otherwise. Some people even have a bizarre "faith" in evolution as if life can always be counted on to devise a way somehow (even miraculously) to survive, i.e., "life will find a way". The SF writer, Robert A. Heinlein, a Social Darwinist, once wrote, "there will always be survivors"; he meant only "survival of the fittest", of course, with the implication that the "non-fit" don't "deserve" to live. Nazism (blatant power fantasy) was an outgrowth of Social Darwinism with the implication that "natural order" dictates that human society should be patterned on this; that the "unfit", "weak and inferior" should be actively "weeded" out by society. However, it's a fallacy to infer morality from natural law. After all, the law of gravity doesn't mean human society should strive to promote falling down.

This essay has been another attempt to dispel these simplistic notions. Natural selection alone doesn't explain all aspects of ourselves: mere statistics (of distribution and variation) alone prevents that as previously explained. Adaptationism is a major factor, of course, but not all traits are the result of direct adaptations- and this is increasingly true with greater complexity. Where does one draw the line between direct adaptation, random drift and peripheral serendipity (unintended consequences)?

Again, it can't be emphasized enough that technically, genes have no purpose- nor are they "trying to survive" or enhance their reproductive success or do anything for that matter. It's just that the gene pool will obviously TEND to consist of genes that have happened to have done so- by default; i.e., the other genes that happened not to have done so will obviously not be around in as great numbers, if at all. Life will continue to perpetuate in the ways that it's possible to do so within the laws of nature. The so-called ingenious ways that species "devised" to survive were often the only feasible options left (no miracle was involved)- by default- given the current environment and the previous genetic lineage and the preexistence of requisite traits. But remember, most species- perhaps, all species- go extinct eventually.

Evolution is a constant "work in progress"; just because a particular species has existed for millions of years doesn't mean that a kind of "perfection" or optimization has been achieved. Sometimes, a species can exist for millennia IN SPITE of "bad" adaptations. And past reproductive success doesn't predict future success- just look at the dinosaurs. So there's no preordained "destiny" to evolution. Evolutionary biology provides a context for understanding HOW current behavior modes may've developed and why they persist. However, it doesn't directly explain WHY we are as we are. Saying that men seek power and status for sex and are violent to fight over women; and that women seek high status males; or that genes seek to maximize reproductive fitness is a useful model (stereotype)- a teleological explanation- but it's certainly not the "meaning of life".

The primary focus of natural selection has always been on the "winners" (life); but I think evolution can be extended to encompass non-life as well. In semiconductor physics, electrical current can be defined either as negative charge moving, say, in one direction or as positive charge moving in the opposite direction. Likewise, instead of saying that evolution is all about reproductive fitness, one could just as well say it's about death and extinction- the other side of the coin. Hell, death is the most likely outcome of natural selection after all.

When you get down to it, the only fundamental generalization that makes sense about both life and nonlife is that both aren't really about survival or reproductive fitness or "progress" or anything for that matter, but mere existence: life's "purpose" then isn't to survive- it's exactly the same as the purpose of everything else- to simply exist- as some form of matter and/or energy. Existence for the sake of existence. From this POV, rather than being "masters of the world", we're actually on "equal" footing with everything else in this universe. (I.e., there's no such thing as "inferior" or "superior".) Human existence has no more cosmic significance than, well, anything else. In that sense, everything's the same, and nothing's really "meant to be". This POV also automatically incorporates adaptationism's limitations. For ex., this essay has attempted to explain behavior that doesn't make gene-centric sense (like parents who murder their own children) as ex.s of adaptationism's statistical limitations or as subtle extreme-case adaptations. But if this POV is taken, then no other explanation is required- it's already taken into account; so it kind of makes "perfect sense" in a perverse sort of way. One doesn't have to get bogged down, devising adaptationist scenarios for everything.

One doesn't have to puzzle why a father may kill his estranged wife and his children before killing himself by resorting to agonized "just-so" stories. Nor does anyone have to devise adaptationist reasons for or find meaning in a million other oddities like abortion, adoption, albinoism, alcoholism, art, asthma, autism, auto racing, bad breath, baldness, bestiality, bigotry, birth control, boredom, bowling, boxing, bungee-cord jumping, cancer, child molesters, cricket, cults, curiosity, dancing, diabetes, dictatorships, domestic abuse, Down's syndrome, dowry, drug addiction, eyebrows, finger snapping, gambling, genius, genocide, golf, headaches, honor killings, house plants, humor, hymen, hype, hypnosis, hypocrisy, laughter, literature, love, lying, manic-depressive disorder, mathematics, money, mountain climbing, Munchausens, murder, music, narcolepsy, Nazism, necrophilia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, painting, paranoia, pets, pornography, profanity, purdah, racism, rape, religion, road rage, roller-coasters, sadism, serial killers, singing, sleep, smiling, snoring, sperm banks, stuttering, suicide, TV, Tourette's Syndrome, xenophobia, war, wife swapping, writing, yawning, whatever.

And one doesn't have to wonder why natural disasters that kill thousands of innocents happen and "why bad things happen to good people". If you ask why, well, WHY NOT? Anything goes. The joke is on us all then. I'm well aware that this is a form of nihilism, but maybe its time has come. Really, why should any of us worry so much about the seven or eight decades of life we'll have at most when an eternity of oblivion is our one true destiny? If there's no afterlife, and death is followed by eternal oblivion, then what's so bad about that? Some say only the "weak" commit suicide, but maybe, the truly smart people are the ones who just kill themselves and get it over with. Why should death be feared or avoided? (Well, obviously, an aversion to death is an adaptation.) In fact, one could argue suicide is a good thing. It may be bad for reproductive fitness and for society, but why should people give a damn about that or anything for that matter? Why should people struggle and suffer- when they can have quiet oblivion instead? I'm not advocating this, but it is a "valid" POV. In a way, nihilism represents the ultimate freedom...

I once saw a book in a bookstore that describes evolution as an entropic (increasing disorder) process. The general concept of entropy has come to be synonymous with the general decline of things, so this makes intuitive sense. From an energy POV, our greatest energy potential is as embryos; living is an inevitable progression towards death (and in the process, we consume so much). In fact, all of human progress and the ever increasing amount of energy our high-tech civilization consumes might be seen as promoting entropy. Maybe then, all of existence is simply an expression of entropy and we're the means (agents of entropy) by which the universe expends its energy. Perhaps, this is an equivalent view.

This POV also explains what religion can't- i.e., the basic fundamental unfairness of life and why there's no "justice" in the universe. Why no one gets what they "deserve"- things just happen to both good and bad people alike. I mean, religion flounders over stuff like that. Religious people may cite the book of "Job", for ex., but even so, their basic belief is that if they pray and they're god-fearing people, then they'll be protected and rewarded by God. It's simply superstition and even when bad things happen anyway, they fall back on "god works in mysterious ways" or that the "afterlife will be better". I'm sure it's occurred to them that maybe they're just kidding themselves; but perhaps, it's easier to believe that than the nihilist alternative.

And who can really blame them? It is a bleak point of view. Irregardless, we all want to believe that life should be fair or that we have a destiny of some sort or that there should be some guarantees. Who can really embrace the notion that life isn't quite a random accident, but that for all practical purposes, it might as well have been? Who wants to believe that all of us can die anytime and that anything (esp. all of the horrible possibilities out there) can happen? Who wants to believe that at anytime, a new plague or a meteorite from outer space could wipe out humanity; and that it could happen as meaninglessly as an anthill being stepped ...

You are currently seeing 50% of this paper.

You're seeing 1700 words of 3400.

Keywords: real meaning of life quotes, real meaning of life of pi, what is the meaning of life, what is the meaning of life the universe and everything, what is the meaning of life 42, what is the meaning of life for you, what is the meaning of life answer, what is the meaning of life essay

Similar essays

A Scope of Microsoft

There are many factors that must be considered when 'scoping' out a company for a potential merger or acquisition. I being the CEO of a major competitive software manufacturing company look for many things. Things such as strategic planning, financial performance, technological advances and marketing opportunities are just some of the factors...

154 reviews
The Orgin Of Comedy

Professor Jim Gray of Sonoma State University defines culture as a means of survival. Going by this definition of culture the evolution of black humor has definitely been a foundation in the survival of the comedy in America. This paper will be a discussion of how African American Humor has evolved and for centuries has changed and continues to cha...

189 reviews
Building a Help Desk

The first thing I want to talk about is managing a help desk, I think that managing a help desk can be like running an emergency medical center, in a rough neighborhood, with no supplies, during an epidemic. I believe for some time now, help desk workers and their bosses have been surviving under these conditions, performing triage for some in...

196 reviews

The first issue is to try and define what a miracle is. A miracle is hard to define, especially today. are a rarity in today's world. The technical definition of a miracle, is a kind of supernatural or extremely unusual event. In a biblical sense, a miracle is a special act of God in the world; a supernatural interference into natur...

186 reviews
Education and class a class a

Education and class- a class a Class theorists argue that class provides the basic structure of society and is also the chief cause of the inequality of modern societies. The hierarchy of the Australia class system consists of a "ruling" upper class, a "white-collar" middle class, and a "laboring" working class. There is enormous inequality be...

143 reviews
Atsisiųsti šį darbą