As someone who subscribes to absurdism, this is something that has always fascinated me. This isn’t so much an essay so much as just a question: what do you live for? Why do you live? I’d love to hear your thoughts, and you can email me at yu (at) benyu (dot) org. I may publish some responses anonymously if there is enough interest.
My thoughts on the matter can essentially be summed up as I see objective meaning in life to be highly improbable. If evolution is true, as it overwhelmingly seems it is, the long path to our creation was sparked without intention.
Something happened, the universe came to be, some dust gathered together and formed the sun and the planets, and somewhere on earth, somehow, abiogenesis occurred, and a couple billion years later eukaryotes came about, and another billion years after that fish and stuff emerged, and then eventually apes had lots of sex and we emerged as the result.
No reason behind it. So, taking that as a starting point, why do we choose to live? What is the end that makes the means (life and everything that comes with it) worthwhile?
Life is a hard thing. It’s a lot of work, and at the end of it, we die*. After we die, there is presumably nothing, and so at face value there seems to be little difference in the end whether we die today or a thousand years from now, and also what we accomplish in that time.
Is it for the legacy we leave behind? The children that continue our story? But what matter is it to us now, now that we’re dead and everything is beyond irrelevant? And what happens after humans are all gone from this earth? What is the point then?
Is it hope? Hope for humanity’s future, hope for the truth of meaning, hope for an afterlife, hope that our lives are not in vain after all?
Is it sheer curiosity? The desire to see what comes next in humanity’s ever-changing course?
Is it hedonistic desire? Our desire to maximize our happiness and pleasure? Evolution has gifted us emotions in the hard battle against extinction, and perhaps they are working as well now as ever.
Is it fear of death?
Or is it simply because we are alive now, and if we try not to think about it too hard, it’s easier to just go along with the motions of life in the absence of any great impediment?
Something else? Please let me know; I’d love to hear it.
*Perhaps a tad ironic that this post comes immediately after a post on immortality, but hey, if we want to live forever, it’d probably be good to figure out why :).