The Meaning of Life

Do you think life/your life has meaning? For me, of course, it’s avoiding being eaten by a crocodile. (Originally the subtitle of this blog was Happiness as a Spiritual Practice. I was surprised when some people actually read my posts and took the time to comment. Unlike the fellow who once asked, “What have you been smoking, Jean? That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard in my life!”)

Anyway, I took the Humanist Quiz and it says I’m 93% humanist. What about you?

Bad News: bikehikbabe’s husband phoned from the hospital last night — she fell and broke her patella. She was supposed to spend the night in the hospital and will be away from her computer and the internet for a while. I’ll let you now when I hear more. Let’s hope it’s not a complicated break — even a simple one will be bad enough.


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23 Responses to The Meaning of Life

  1. Rummuser says:

    That is very bad news about BHB. Please do tell her and her husband that I send my best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    I am a great believer in living a life of meaning/purpose. The trick is in finding that meaning/purpose. Once one finds that, the rest is easy. (A friens quipped once that the purpose/meaning of life could well be to find the purpose/meaning of life.)

    I am blessed in a way that being happy comes naturally to me and I very quickly bounce back to being happy from unhappy situations that do occur now and then.
    Rummuser´s last blog post ..Amadeus.

    • Jean says:

      I will pass on your best wishes.

      One of my main goals in high school was to find my life purpose. It wasn’t very glamorous, but as you say, once you find it the rest is easy.

  2. Alan G says:

    Sorry to hear about Bikehikebabe’s accident. Certainly hope things go well for her in the recovery and healing process.

    As to the subject of the quiz, I scored a 90% – whatever that means. Seems to me this philosophical supposition is a bit contradictory in a way, wanting me to be unencumbered by all the trappings that society and religious beliefs may burden me with, yet in the end if I meet their test they want to stick a label on me. They want to put me in a box. I don’t want to be put into a box.
    Alan G´s last blog post ..The Infamous Georgia Hedge Fly….

    • Jean says:

      I didn’t feel put unto into a box. I was more curious to see what the author considered to be humanism. I think we’re all a bunch of nuts and take ourselves too seriously — I’m not sure most humanists would agree.

      Man is the measure of all things.
      —Protagoras, the first humanist

  3. Mike says:

    93% — I agree with Alan about the quiz. Several of the questions had no answer that really fit for me, so I just picked the closest. I guess it’s the same with all such quizzes and surveys. …and I don’t particularly care for labels. I’m just a laid-back, mellow kind of guy.
    Mike´s last blog post ..Terrible End to a Trip — Where was Chevy Chase?

  4. Audra E says:

    Dear BHB, how tough. I’m sorry you’re having to go through all of that.

    I got 96% but agree that there was no easy way to pick some answers –and all too obvious ways to avoid others. Enjoyed the moment of fun, tho.

    I always go blank when someone asks me about the meaning of life. Life has no Meaning; it’s just the thing we start doing when we get born and spend the rest of our years trying to do right, a la Stephen Fry. Better to talk about avoiding crocodiles!

    • Jean says:

      Ah, but avoiding crocodiles is about enjoying the process.

      What brings you joy in life? How important is joy to you?

    • Jean says:

      What about,

      Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
      —Macbeth (Act V, Scene V).

      Not my style. Less strutting, more laughing I say.

  5. tammyj says:

    OH MONK.
    i hate to hear that about bhb. even when you just bang your knee hard on a piece of furniture it hurts so badly. i can’t even imagine the pain of breaking it!
    give her my best thoughts for a fast and TOTAL recovery! no complications.
    only wonderful healing.

    i’m not an ‘ist’ really. well. i say that. and my blog is called the cozy minimalist! LOLOL.
    i took the little quiz and only scored 86% humanist. and there i thought i was one!
    oh well. interesting!
    i agree completely with abe lincoln. people are as happy as they make up their minds to be.
    tammyj´s last blog post ..remember?

    • Jean says:

      I love that Lincoln quote too. I think you’ll like tomorrow’s post .

      I phoned Tom/bikehikebabe this afternoon, but no answer. I’ll try again later — I don’t want to pester but do want her to know that we care.

  6. KB says:

    Oh my. A broken patella must be agonizing. Does BHB have a blog? I don’t know her.

    I don’t know if my life has meaning aside from finding happiness for myself and others.
    KB´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday

  7. Cathy in NZ says:

    Best Wishes and speedy recovery to BHB

    It may take a while because it’s a difficult area to heal, my elderly 87 years/old sister broke hers late last year and still is having some difficulty. However, she isn’t as fit as BHB etc. Plus she has lost her confidence to go out on her own to the Mall, even to get outside on her own…

    As to the Meaning of Life, that for me depends on the mood I’m in; whether I’m happy and what ever else I need to be in tune with…I’m not sure we ever really find it; unless of course we are hardwired from the beginning of our adult life. It is at times rather amazing when I look back at where I’ve been, what I’m currently up to and of the future ????
    Cathy in NZ´s last blog post ..Let’s visit: Wellington

    • Jean says:

      It doesn’t always have to be one thing. It’s mainly about finding things outside of ourselves that we care about. It seems to me you’re doing a lot of that!

      I’m sorry about your sister, but healing takes a lot longer as we get older. I still haven’t heard any more from bikehikebabe’s husband. As I wrote in the next post, I phoned twice but no answer, so I left a message saying we’re all sending our best wishes.

    • Jean says:

      I just phoned again — Tom says she’s still in the hospital but is feeling better today. They’ll probably release her tomorrow. She didn’t want him to come down right now because she wanted to sleep. That’s good news.

  8. Evan says:

    Hope bhp is OK.

    Eudaemonism (human flourishing as the goal of life) isn’t confined to Humanism. Irenaus: The glory of god is man[-kind] fully alive!

    Viktor Frankl is the person who is gone to for an integration of meaning with psychotherapy. (In my view values can’t be made sense of in a materialist philosophy.)
    Evan´s last blog post ..A Bang and iMac is No More

    • Jean says:

      What exactly do you mean by a materialist philosophy? Does that include science?

      Yes, Viktor Frankl is well-known for his logotherapy. I was more interested in personal growth rather than psychotherapy. I figure people are given a rough draft by their parents and early influences, if that doesn’t work for them then make the necessary changes. There’s a wealth of ideas out there, take responsibility and do the creative work. It’s not a popular view, I agree, but it worked for me. And it was an exciting process.

  9. Evan says:

    Hi Jean, there are various interpretations of science.

    The common one among the ‘New Atheists’ is a common sense empiricism. Which there are a couple of major problems with.
    The unity of common sense and science suffered a divorce sometime around quantum mechanics and the double slit experiment.
    As Hume, the main originator of modern empiricism pointed out, it has a problem with ’cause’. If ‘true knowledge’ is that which comes from our senses (these days we’d have to add, ‘aided when necessary by appropriate instruments’), then we can only make inferences not deductions. The biggest problem for science is that ’cause’ is only an inference – no one has ever seen, smelt, touched, tasted or heard a cause. And yet science, as usually thought of, thinks there is reliable knowledge about causes. The popularisers of science tend not to go into philosophy – and rarely mention the problems with their philosophy (they are not alone in this).

    So, to stick to a positivist philosophy as preached, scientists wouldn’t say things like, “We now know that . . .”; they would say things like, “The current theory about this, which we are trying to disprove, is . . .”. It is not easy to know how we could live an everyday life like this.

    The general idea of science, and the usual idea promoted by science popularisers, is materialist. There are other versions – David Bohm’s being the most famous. The maths involved is several universes ahead of mine, and I’m told it is difficult to even conceive of an experiment that would be able to separate his view from that of others. This may be outdated by now.

    The philosophy usually understood as ‘science’ hasn’t dealt with the assault of phenomenology on western philosophy, it just ignores it. Which might be ok for science but I don’t think is for those wanting to do philosophy of science.
    Evan´s last blog post ..A Bang and iMac is No More

    • Jean says:

      The nice thing about modern science is it reminds us how little we know. I figure reality is a lot more complicated than our little minds can comprehend, but if people enjoy coming up with theories then it’s as good a hobby as any.

      I read a lot of philosophy in high school, starting with Plato’s Republic when I was in tenth grade (about 15 years old). It was a great choice because we were being taught that democracy/democratic republics were the best form of government. Plato, of course, hated the democrats and was trying to come up with something better. I realized I didn’t have nearly enough knowledge to decide between the two points of view. So I got interested in history and biographies instead — as a personal pursuit to learn about life, mankind, etc. And I majored in physics because (1) I liked the idea of checking out theories, even though science doesn’t deal with how to live a good life, (2) because I had a talent for doing the work, and (3) because I have chronic eyestrain and can’t read much at one time and in physics you can do well if you read a little and think a lot. It was a great choice because it was easy to find interesting jobs after I graduated.

      Another book that really influenced me was Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus. As I remember the first part asked if the universe doesn’t care about us is that any reason to commit suicide. No. The second part was then how do we build meaning lives for ourselves? I don’t remember what he wrote, but that was the question I had been asking for years, so the book resonated.

      Anyway, fun stuff.

  10. nick says:

    Well, my main objective in life has always been to avoid being eaten by a crocodile. Fortunately there are very few crocodiles in Northern Ireland. None in fact.

    I know I’m a humanist so I don’t feel the need to take a humanist quiz. I’ve never thought that religious doctrines are superior to human beings working things out for themselves.

    I’m glad I haven’t yet reached an age where accidental falls are a serious everyday risk. Sorry to hear about BHB.
    nick´s last blog post ..Under the influence

    • Jean says:

      Yes, BHB’s fall is scary. She was already dealing with her shoulder and hip replacements. The thing that breaks my heart is on the phone that morning she sounded so optimistic and upbeat. We’ll just have to see how it goes and if she can bounce back.

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