Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What Is Life?

The ways of the world are weird.

Walter Kaufmann
There have been great thinkers in the fields of Science. So why doesn't Science have all the answers? Our museums are filled with great works of art. So why are people still painting? We have been given inspired music. So why are people still composing? We have wonderful poetry to grace our lives. So why do poets still sing? The world is full of great books. So why do people still write?

While Science is still searching at the bottom of every cave or at the vast galaxies of the universe for a law that will explain everything, artists are looking into the same caves and at the same stars through the lens of imagination for the same law.

Why things are, is the big question. As irritating as it is the child will eventually get over the bad habit of peppering your life with the inane repetition of the word "why" but the question remains on the table nevertheless. That the answer to the question is "I don't know" is what sends people to the cave, the cosmos and the easel.

But there's another question lurking in the cave. A question with facets of wonder and dooubt: "What if?" What if there is no fundamental law of nature which explains everything? What if there is no ultimate achievement of wisdom from the exercise of rationality? What if there is no absolute beauty to be found by any artist? Does that mean there is no point to life, no meaning to our hopes, dreams, plans and actions, no value to anything we are or do? It's a question to be seriously considered by those who have the courage to think about it.

That brings me to another question. If it is true that life has fundamentally no meaning to it will that stop me from hoping, dreaming, planning and doing? Kaufmann also says "It does not follow that nothing is worthwhile if the world is not governed by a purpose."

It isn't enough to say that I do what I do because I want to. It's a step better to say I do what I do because I feel like it. The best answer is that I do what I do because I have to. A personal obligation, a personal duty, is the best justification for doing anything worthwhile. Think of the geologist who has a bit of moon rock under his microscope for the first time. Is there any doubt in his mind about the value of what he is doing? Or think of the ballet dancer who will undergo enormous physical effort to tell a mythic story of human legend by describing it in space with his own body.

Without negating anyone's perception and faith in deity, I keep returning to a humanistic philosophy in my thinking. We are capable of some of the most extremes forms of stupidity and destruction. But we are also capable of amazing beauty, greatness and genius.

Maybe there is no fundamental law of existence, but life is there to experience and to fashion for ourselves and others in the best way we can.

What is life? Who knows? I like this quote from Grandma Moses “Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.”

DB - The Vagabond
(This is not a contest.)

Who are the 2 (two) most important people alive today? Why?

Only 8 responses so far. Summer is about to close her gates. Get with it.


Thank you.


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

We have no idea what we do not know, nor do we have any inkling of our true possibility. It presents a range of possibility.

pacifica62 said...

I am with Grandma Moses on this one. My little brain cannot handle all the big questions anyways. Sometimes we just have to accept things for what they are. What if we found out the answers....would they change anything in our lives? Maybe we should not be looking into caves or into the vastness of space for the answers, we should be looking within ourselves. I would hate to become so all consumed with searching for answers that I missed living the life that I have.

Arlene (AJ) said...

To me life is making the most of it, learning, creating, helping others, allowing yourself to enjoy each day so that as the day ends you can stop and think about your day with hopefully a smile on your face and that even with some tough moments that each day can bring, you rose about it and feel at peace in your heart.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Socrates on this one.