Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I wonder who will do my questionnaire. It's on the left and might be there awhile. I had it on a purple background before but it was garish.

I ask what the 'purpose' of life is, as opposed to the 'meaning' of life. I do this because to me 'meaning' implies definition. Things are defined in relation to what they are not. We are not aware of that which is not life (ok, except death), so I do not see how we can define life in terms of something we know nothing about. I am supposing here that life encompasses God, if only with regard to our relationships to God.

Purpose relates to our motivations, be they ones we find ourselves necessarily driven by or those we consciously choose.

Obviously, there may be other options you might want to fill out but can't. But I tried to be as comprehensive as possible, without giving too many options.


Z said...

I voted for the second last one, though I dithered between the last two (it was the "liveliest" bit that put me off).

I believe, in my godless way, that we are here to live the best lives we can - not in any material sense, but just to enjoy ourselves in the most straightforward terms, to be grateful for what we have, and to be as decent people as we can be. That probably sounds impossibly childlike and ingenuous.

Jonathan said...

Thanks for the vote Z (so much for the offered protection of anonymity:))!

Would you prefer joy and ecstasies of the deathliest kind? I realise, that the natural association would probably be 'naughtiest' kind...

But I'm not that comfortable with the idea that sexual, for example, or other fleshly thrills should be considered both desirable and naughty, as there seems to be a conceptual contradition here; and the transgressive component seems a little, well, inauthentic, as if what is going on is as much a desire to offend, or break rules, as it is to actually enjoy the pleasure in itself? Does that make sense? Anywy, what's wrong with liveliest? IS it that it seems 'square'?

What do you think my answer would be? Clue: it's not the sixth one (he said heretically).

Z said...

I don't know. Yours might be the same as mine.

The "liveliest" put me off because it sounded too energetic: "lively" is not a word anyone would associate with me - "languid" pleasures might be more appropriate :) But despite what you might think, sexual pleasures are not my be all and end all: when I superstitiously make a wish, it's just for happiness.

Selena Dreamy said...

So I voted and got a whole lot of pop-ups - I also, it seems, scored 20%. What happens next?

Jonathan said...

Selena, I'm trying to guess how you voted. I'm guessing "To reproduce", as I suspect not "To worship my Creator"?. I'm thinking it can't be the other 3 because of when you voted -if you did so when you commented - because the others were chosen earlier. You don't have to tell me:).

I myself have not yet voted btw.

What next...a Questionnaire of your own perhaps?:)

No doubt I will comment on the results one day.

Z...ah I see. Languid is good. relaxed and mellow is good.

I hope you find happiness, or if not, that happiness finds you.


Selena Dreamy said...

Obviously, it would have to be "to reproduce", since without that precondition, none of the questions have either significance or application.

In a word, life has severe limitations...

Of course, once the question involves intelligent life we can with confidence vote for any of the others.

Jonathan said...

I see your reasoning Selena.

In asking about 'purpose', I was trying to appeal to people's subjectively felt sense of drive, or mission, or desire, or intentionality. What they get up each day for, if anything; their motivations. So less a meditation on an intellectual description of any 'Objective' purpose alleged to be out there for everyone, whether or not you personally subscribe to it.

While you could feel that the purpose of life is to keep life being life and not collapse into non-life and nullity(i.e to reproduce), you could also take that for granted and address a deeper question about what this thing life is for, for you, once its up and running.

So which of the others would you vote for then?

Right, I'm off to Great Portland Street for some beer(s).


Jonathan said...

'In a word, life has severe limitations...'

Well, yes you are right, but need it?