The Meaning of Your Life
And it’s not 42.
The meaning of life is that life has meaning. And this makes it entirely subjective. Hence the meaning of your life.
That’s it. That’s all I really have to say in this one.
But in case you’re still here, let me assure you that there is so universally common meaning to life. There is no universally common purpose to live. There isn’t. You decide to give yours, meaning and purpose. Isn’t that beautiful in and of itself?
I remember listening to a podcast in which Naval Ravikant was speaking. He puts forward this beautiful idea that if there was a single equivalent meaning to life for every human being, we would all be like machines, competing with one another to see who’s ahead of whom. A sole meaning to life would take away all meaning itself. That would be a terrible life to live.
Like Naval says, the meaning of life is “because”. To him, the pursuit of solving such complex questions is what makes it meaningful. Not whether one finds the right answer or not. Because there is no ‘right’ answer.
Through him, I’ve come to realize that answers to questions like ‘what is the meaning of life’ or ‘what/who is God’, don’t end with one iteration. To any answer someone gives you, you can potentially pose the rebuttal ‘why’ infinitely many times. This situation is called the Münchhausen trilemma or Agrippa’s trilemma.
In essence, what Agrippa’s trilemma says is that when you find yourself in an infinite loop of questioning the answer to a previous question, you arrive at one of the 3 situations:
- The circular argument: why X? Because of Z. Why Z? Because of X.
- The regressive argument: an infinite loop of questioning the validity or proof of the answers to all questions.
- The dogmatic argument: for example, to answer the question ‘who created the planet’, some might answer ‘God’. Hence an axiom. An answer that is socially accepted without apparently needing further questioning. Its validity is taken at face value.
If you are looking for answers, these thought experiments are futile. But the act of pursuing such gargantuan questions can be fruitful. Because then it forces you to think. And in this process, however long it might take, you might come out of the other end with your answer. That’s all that matters.
The first sentence of this piece is my answer that I arrived at after conversing with this question for 23 years. It might not be yours. I would be contradicting myself if I said that’s the universal answer. At least now you know, I hope, that you can find your answer, whatever that might be.