Life has no inherent value.

August 25, 2018

Observing other animals around us, we notice that a major chunk of their life is spent performing actions that ensure the survival of the individual and of the species, actions related to food and procreation. When these organisms die, they in turn become food for other life forms and so the cycle continues. Humans, too, spend a great deal of time in acts of basic survival, like sleeping and eating. More than any other species we also spend time in acquiring and cherishing comfort and leisure and often go out of our way to indulge in sensory pleasures.

In fact, we spend so much time and energy in the pursuit of these experiences that we begin to believe they are the very purpose of our existence. But since these sensory-emotional experiences come after the fact of being alive, they cannot logically be life’s purpose. According to this line of argument, life on earth inherently doesn’t have any meaning other than its own sustenance and continuity. In the realm of the known, at least. ‘God’ may have reserved some higher purpose for human or terrestrial existence, or aliens may be using our planet as a battery to power their technology. We as yet don’t know. It is not surprising that whenever we assign some meaning to our lives, we invent ideas outside earthly material existence, like religion, to justify it.

Why do we keep living from day to day, risking pain and suffering, knowingly or unknowingly inflicting it on other life forms? Most sensible people realise that living for experiences that come from being alive is not a good enough reason to continue. If the end is certain and there’s no real reason to live, why prolong life, why not just end it today? From here, there are two options — to forget this chain of reasoning, “like a bad dream,” and continue living as before, struggling to make ends meet and experiencing pleasures that reward these efforts at survival. And the second option — to realise the full consequences of the statement that life has no purpose, to know that we are now empowered to give our life a meaning, and to do good work.