Why was I born? Why are we here? These are arguably the most common questions asked throughout history by children and scholars alike. The answers to these types of questions about the true meaning of life are virtually endless and may come from any discipline such as philosophy, psychology, spirituality, science, and religion.
The true meaning of life is religious devotion.
Many people in the world feel that their true purpose is one of devotion to their religion. Nearly all religions have a supernatural being. The followers are supposed to connect with the higher power and do good works in the name of the deity or creator that will benefit humankind. Atheism holds the opposite stance; that there is no supernatural being or Creator. Atheist views usually express that life is evolved and look for non-religious meanings to explain life’s true purpose. The Golden Rule that holds that humans should treat others as they would themselves is a strong purpose in many religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Muslim and Jainism as well as Buddhism.
The real meaning of life is mostly a biological one.
Some people feel that the purpose of life is to continue humankind through reproduction. Since the end of life is death, they argue that the creation of more humans is the most important thing. Otherwise humanity would cease to exist.
The humanist approach to the question of life is that it is mainly about reproduction and the expansion of humankind. There are different types and stances of those who call themselves humanists, but most humanist views see one’s individual purpose as being able to fit in with the needs of humanity as a whole.
Many humanists express the view that the true meaning of life is our connection to others: biologically, socially and culturally. It’s important to note that many humanists that view humans as constantly evolving beings see the true purpose of life as one that could possibly change.
Life’s true meaning is to make the most of life on a personal level.
One answer to the question of the meaning of life is that humans are here simply to just enjoy life and strive for a happy existence. Sigmund Freud, the Viennese doctor who invented the psychological therapy method known as psychoanalysis, called this view the pleasure principle. The main idea behind this stance is that humanity is meant to experience maximum pleasure and minimum pain.
The humanistic branch of psychology, most associated with Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, grew out of a need for more personal meaning than Freud’s psychoanalysis was thought to offer. Humanistic psychologists concentrate on individual potential and purpose in life. Many people do see personal achievement and the purpose of their own place in the greater world to hold the basic meaning of their lives.
Existentialists hold the philosophical viewpoint that humans make individual choices in this existence known as life. French existentialist Jean Paul Sartre said "Man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself." In this view, personal freedom may be seen as having the potential of both positive and negative outcomes depending on the choices one makes.
Life’s true purpose is to advance or help humankind.
Many people feel that the true point of life is to be forgiving, grateful and help others. This outlook often contains views that humankind should help end suffering and strive for equality and human rights for all people. Life’s meaningful purpose in this view includes the desire to devote at least a part of one’s life to meaningful pursuits that benefit those in need.
There can be many variations on what it actually means to help others. Many people may feel the answer to what their life’s meaning is about is to contribute to society through their work. Others may feel that it’s important to help discover technological or other types of advances to aid in the positive progress of humankind. Some people may see following their principles as their most important purpose in life.
Transhumanism is a school of thought that suggests the meaning of life is to improve the human body by extending that life. Transhumanists seek mental and physical improvements in humankind such as through technological advances concerned with stopping the aging process. Transhumanist views hold that since life began through evolution, it is up to evolved humans to control and extend the quality of life.
The question itself is meaningless.
Some people answer that there is no point in even trying to find the true point of life because the question is just so deep. This viewpoint holds that humankind will never be able to discover the answer(s), so the question itself becomes meaningless. Others deem the question of what life’s true purpose is as meaningless because they view life as an existence with no deep meaning attached to it.
The logical positivist view of philosophy, also called the logical empiricism, involves both empiricism and rationalism. Empiricism holds that knowledge can be gained through observational evidence. Rationalism stresses that empiricism alone is not enough to provide complete knowledge, so verification is needed.
The logical positivist approach to the verification of something considered to be meaningful is that something must be able to be logically or cognitively determined to be true. Since the logical positivist verifiability criterion cannot prove the answer to the question what is the true meaning of life? positivists tend to view the question as meaningless. This view has been criticized by philosophers such as Karl Popper who thought falsifying criterion should be used to test true statements rather than relying on verifiability criterion alone.
There is no meaning to why we are here.
German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche’s view of nihilism voids human existence of having any meaning. Nihilism is named for the word nihil which is Latin for nothing. Nietzsche considered Christianity’s concern with the afterlife stronger than its occupation with life on Earth, so he considered the meaning of life empty.
French philosopher and scientist, Rene Descartes, asserts that life may not even be real, but rather may only be a dream. He questions the reality of our physical bodies. Some people hold the view that the true meaning of why humankind is here is the result of either accident or coincidence.
Even just some of the many answers to the questions about the true meaning of human existence can start our minds thinking up interesting questions. For example, we can think of how our answers would change depending on our current view of destiny. Is our destiny already decided when we are born and do we let it happen somehow? Or, do we choose our destiny as we grow from our experiences? One way to grow in our search for meaning is to be open to the perspectives and viewpoints of others in their quest for true meaning – this can only bring humanity closer together.