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    • blake

      Plato, Kant, Sartre, Marx, Carl Sagan, Alan Watts, ... Countless minds have offered countless ways to justify your existence. What reasons work for you? ... I think existence is complicated, so I’m interested in forming a critical understanding of why the heck we’re here. There is no right or wrong reason. We just have reasons! State your reason, hopefully within the context of others. Through a constant push/pull conversation, perhaps we can form a serious understanding of how we exist.

    • Chris

      Hi blake, great question and welcome!

      I have had many viewpoints about this question during my life and for me, I haven't been able to get satisfaction from the philosophers. Man is that he might have joy is too vague for me.

      The three times I really felt a connection from other people about how I feel came from comments Jeff Bezos, Katie Couric, and Steve Jobs made. Jeff, after taking some time off of Amazon in the early days, said he came back because he wanted to feel needed. Katie said she loves to work and tell stories about fascinating people. She wants to be liked. And Steve said you have to find what you love to do.

      I don't know why we're specks in the universe, here for a blink of time. But I do like to feel needed, that I'm doing something significant, and I love to hear and tell stories about fascinating things.

    • yaypie

      Interesting. I guess it's never really occurred to me to justify my existence.

      I'm here. I didn't ask to be here, but my parents made me and here I am. If anyone should have to justify my existence, shouldn't it be them? 🤔

      Once I existed, I guess it just seemed natural to continue existing, so I've done that ever since. Most of the time it's not too hard. Sometimes it takes some extra effort. I guess if existing became really difficult, then maybe I'd start to think about justifications.

      Justifying what I do while existing is a whole other can of worms.

    • blake

      Your comment brings up a good question "Why justify existence?" And I think you had a pretty good answer: "if existing became really difficult, then maybe I'd start to think about justifications."

      Justifications seem like life insurance. As I get to know my reasons for living, I seem to better deal with whatever comes up. The more grand the inquiry ("What's the meaning of my life?") the more I feel rooted to a purpose. For this reason, I'm always trying to expand the context of a conversation. (Maybe my question should be "Why exist?")

    • VR

      Hard question and, perhaps, without an actual answer. Thinking about it forces us to consider why we do what we do and why we should care about our existence. We had a related conversation about Stoicism and a Philosophy of Life earlier which pondered questions of overcoming obstacles in life and how to keep going when it gets too hard.

      One of the greatest books I've ever read about the "Meaning of Life" question is by Viktor Frankl - Man's Search for Meaning. The unimaginable horror he had to go through along with millions of others truly explores this question.

    • blake

      The thought of Bezos sitting in the same ring of Dante's Inferno as Socrates and Virgil scared me a little, but I like the idea of humility Bezos proposes. Any justification seems to be an ultimate desire for humility. Whether your meaning is to be liked or passionate, I see anyone who has great meaning as humble and true. The hard part, for me at least, is finding a meaning to hold onto. There are so many great reasons for living!

      Somewhat unrelated, your reply brought to mind this poem by A.R. Ammons.

    • Chris

      I know, it sounds insane to quote Bezos and Couric in a discussion of Socrates. 😁

      It reminds me of when Steve Jobs went to India in search of enlightenment and came back with his famous quote: "Thomas Edison did a lot more to improve the world than Karl Marx and Neem Karoli Baba (the guru he was seeking, who died before they could meet) put together."

      I don't mean to diminish the philosophers, I love to read what they write, but I always come back to "Let's build something, take some photos, climb a mountain and enjoy the view."

    • Richard

      Simple answer, I don't and I don't see any reason to. I'm just a cosmic accident and IMO, so is everyone else. But I don't consider that a reason to despair. I value my connection with other people, my enjoyment of the arts and humor, and the rare and fleeting feeling that some things make sense somehow. I just don't really understand why anyone would need to justify their existence. Justify to whom?

    • Tavius

      In college I studied these people. I was a philosophy major. I had an ineluctable void within myself which I could not identify. I studied world religions in hopes to gain a better understanding of myself. When is got to the social sciences I realized a psychological need for the concept of God to balance the mind, in a way.

      In my early twenties. I realized existence was selfish. I had to take water and food to stay alive. What was I giving back? I had merely been doing what I wanted. I was motivated by my own desires and will. I had achieved everything I wanted to achieve in life. I felt fulfilled, but I kept on living. My life got very dark and I struggled to survive. Then came existence outside and beyond myself.

      I prefer poetry to philosophy. So much more truth can be conveyed in so few words. That being said, mental health issues and addiction drove me into self-destruction. In recovery I have learned to be of service to others, to give back. After losing my son, I realized, my life was better lived the best I could live it. Observing all of the people my son had positively and profoundly effected in his short life gave me an example to live by and motivation to do more and be more.

      I have learned, I am responsible for myself, my experience, my motives and actions. I am also responsible for my attitude or approach to life, the way I think, what I chose to believe and how I am in the world. These are the only real things I have any power over. And that power is limited on my own accord.

      To the original point, what makes my existence valuable or justified is my constant progress in becoming more helpful to the people in my life and the world at large. I believe I am spirit having a human experience. I need to learn and grow my spirit and what I do with it. This is practiced through mindfulness, for me.

      When I am to serivice for others my existence becomes valuable beyond myself. I think the measure of my existnebce is the measure of positive impact my actions have had on others and the world as a whole. My existence is the net result of the effect I have had on others. If I have more positive impact than negative then that’s a start. Otherwise, it is a constant process of becoming more of my true self so I can be more of who I am meant to be in the world. I find my greatest purpose is in being my greatest self.

    • Dracula

      My thought is that to ask why we exist is irrelevant, it may only serve as a biology lesson. What we enjoy and whom and what we are passionate about and what we do with our existence is relevant and makes it worthwhile, at least in my opinion - to each of us, and loved ones, and to a greater extent the surrounding world of people many of whom we may never meet or know about. To me the question should be - what have I done today that made my life worth while. And the perfectly reasonable answer for each person would be so diverse as to make the humanity "painting" look like a milliard of stars in the sky. Looking at the world, it is as much the mirror of our mind as it's own reality, and we can and do change a little of it.

    • Dracula

      You do know and I also certainly hope you feel awesome forever about it, because every moment those on ADV could not have connected the way we did, without it being what you made it. It's a gift to the world, and like most precious ones, they aren't ever valued in currency.

    • Chris

      Thank you, Dracula. 😁 I shake my head in wonder about it sometimes. I often ask myself why does it exist and why such an important thing in so many lives? And yet it is and so I keep it going.

      That little piece of software has hundreds of us going to Wisconsin in August to camp and ride together, and to stay up late in the night talking. 2 million people a month come to read the posts.

      Few of my friends irl know about it and I don’t list it on LinkedIn. It’s just this strange love we all have and I can’t explain for Adventure motorcycling and each other.

    • lidja

      Hi Blake.

      You pose an interesting question.

      Two things I’ve recently read come to mind—

      Midlife: A Philosophical Guide (written by a philosophy professor at MIT) ponders your question from the perspective of one who has lived past the age most people who are going to change the world have done the bulk of their work. He uses plain talk along with occasional references to various philosophers to explore questions of personal meaning that people in midlife tend to get all wrapped up about. (This has also brought up recollections from Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, another thought-provoking look at mortality...)

      And the second item: a recent article in the LA Times that profiles a woman who was caught in a hostage situation last month, and how her life’s work and self-discipline (if that’s the right word) had an incredible impact on the outcome of that situation. Unlike the SWAT team that responded to the situation with militant efforts to resolve it in a textbook way, she mediated it very differently—in a way that reveals how she had developed a type of justification for her existence over many years.

      http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-abcarian-hostage-20180803-story.html

    • blake

      I recently found great meaning in the birth of a new cousin: THE POWER OF LIFE! I kept writing friends. The moment the new baby emerged, I was struck with awe. “This is our only reason,” I thought. PROCREATION!

      Then I had to clean the baby’s diaper and rock it for hours while it yelled at me. Procreation might be a meaning for others, but I don’t know if it’s for me ...

    • ma

      1. All life is a manifesting of an unfolding Reality, called by many names: God, Tao, Allah, Nature, Brahman etc.

      2. Human beings have an innate capacity to know this Reality. Methods of access include meditation, swimming, cooking, washing, touching, watching, listening. More likely to occur in the silence at the end of a conversation, than in the heat of discourse.

      3. If recognition of this Reality does not induce compassion, humility, and a desire for
      connection, then it is possible that you have been playing an intellectual mind
      game. Maybe you have mistaken Reality for the nose which sticks to the front of
      your vision.

      4. The recognition of Reality, and the action which unfolds, unwilled, from that recognition, is the highest human calling.







    • ma

      via the action which unfolds from a recognition of Reality.

      meaning cannot be known via articulation, theory or visual expression.

      That said philosophy, art and conversation can certainly be useful ways to dislodge fixed internal assumptions, clear the way for the contemplation which necessitates action. Laxatives, if you will.

      When we recognise Reality, we act accordingly.

      I have found the writing of Simone Weil to be useful when thinking about the type of action which is necessitated -- when a free action is comparatively liberated from the vacillations of choice.

    • al

      What if the answer/reason is simply "an accident"? We exist due to an accident, and so does everything else.

    • coffee
      Coffee

      What are you looking for? Justification for existence or are you looking to form a serious understanding of existence?

      Justification is a form of conclusion, which is a dead.

      Understanding is active and living.

    • blake

      coffee- Hopefully an understanding(ever evolving as it is) will come through different peoples' justifications. 🤞

      How do you justify your existence?

    • VR

      What do you mean by:

      Justification is a form of conclusion, which is a dead.

      Justification is your belief of why you are living. But it changes through time and circumstances. For example if you had a life changing event such as an accident or fortune, it will change your justification. You might find a completely different reason for living and maybe even a new calling to help others.

    • DanSolarMan

      I wrote a post a few days ago and deleted it. My view on existence might be considered to personal or abnormal. I let fear delete it. I’ll see if this one survives the posting. I don’t justify my existence because I don’t care about it. I look at my existence as such a blink in time that it does not matter. This seems contradictory to what I am about to write because from the earliest of age I thought there was reason and purpose for my being here and believed I was put here to make a difference. I believed this feeling came from a higher power and was not driven by an inflated sense of self.

      So while I don’t care that I am here and have a realistic view of my mortality I have no fear of it and could really care less if the end were tomorrow or fifty years in the future. So there is no justification for it. It kinda seems foreign to justify it. Like how is that blade of grass justified? How is a flea justified? Really not in my realm of care.

      What I do have is a curiousity for a reason that I exist and energy to pursue that curiousity which I am very thankful for. I also have pursued and found what I love to do so I simply must love harder in my work my relationships and my pursuit of purpose. The curiosity for what each day brings drives what you might say is a justification. This feeling that my direction comes from a higher power and that I am here to make a difference also drives my interactions with my fellow humans. I want them to achieve their purpose and want to contribute so I try to stay out of their way and try to contribute if even for a smile. Maybe another justification?

      Certainly from the time we struck that first flint and rolled that first wheel we wondered why we are here. It seems we have steadily improved our collective with this curiousity.

      I’m going with faith, hope and love. With the greatest of these being love.

      Below is Betty kissing her husband at their recent 52 wedding anniversary. On left and right are their two sons with their wives at their sides. I zoomed in real close to the sons eyes. I see love. Betty died today. She was amazing. Her curiousity for each day was motivating and inspiring.

      So was her love.

    You've been invited!