I find it absolutely fascinating that we can use deep, rational thinking to discover truths about the world. We don’t need any other external source other than our minds to provide answers to some of life’s biggest questions. One in particular is the question of purpose.
What exactly is our purpose in life, on this earth? Do we all have one? Is it the same for everyone or does it differ? I think we all have different talents and abilities that we exercise and become purposes in our lives. And I think we have many.
But I believe that every single human being alive today has the same ultimate, objective purpose. This is the precursor to everything else in life – it is the road that leads to all other roads. And that ultimate, objective purpose is to discover truth using human reasoning. And then to take action in accordance with that truth.
Ok, it’s time to get really deep here. You may get a little lost with this one. I certainly did the first 10 times I tried to digest this line of thinking. But we are all about going deep and stretching our minds. So let’s take a deep dive into a philosophical argument for purpose.
Our Ultimate Purpose
Let me make the statement that there exists purposes or goals in the nature of things… and that the ultimate purpose of human beings is to discover truth… to know things… to utilize logic and rationality that is unique to us.
Aristotle referred to goals in nature as final causality. He, along with many philosophers in history, believe that human beings, being part of the natural world, have inherent goals “built in to them”. These goals pertain to our unique characteristics of consciousness, free will, intellect and reasoning.
Our purpose in life is to use our rational faculties to discover things about the world. To discover truth and act in accordance with that truth. Purpose is equal to final cause. It is built in the nature of things. It is a quality of reality.
Purpose and Truth
And now let me explain why this is idea is true. Or why it makes no sense to deny this idea or claim it’s untrue. This argument comes from the brilliant philosopher Edward Feser:
We human beings are part of the natural world. We are a part of nature. So it follows that our brains and minds are also a part of nature. If there is no purpose in nature, that means that human reason itself has no aim or ultimate goal. It doesn’t point to any kind of ultimate or objective purpose.
And if that’s the case, if attaining truth is not our final cause or goal (because there are no final causes or goals in nature) then that means there is no difference between fundamental good arguments or bad arguments. There’s no difference between good reasoning or bad reasoning. Because a good argument strives to ascertain truth.
So, if somebody wants to deny the argument that there is ultimate purpose in nature, that there is an ultimate goal to human thinking, they have to presuppose that the rationality behind their argument is good rationality. Or that their argument is pointed toward truth, and that is self-defeating.
Purpose and Health
This is a little deep but extremely important to understand – objective purpose exists and our ultimate purpose is to attain truth. For anyone looking for greater meaning and purpose in life, start with thinking deeply about existence and those big questions: who we are, why we are here, what we are to do. Become more philosophical.
For anyone who hasn’t really thought about purpose all that much, I’d encourage you to start today, because it has excellent health benefits!
Research shows that when we have a sense of purpose, we tend to take better care of ourselves. We have fewer symptoms of depression, lower functional disability, better cognitive abilities and live longer. It is good for heart health and protects the brain against diseases like Alzheimers. Also, it appears that having a life purpose has more effect on decreasing your risk of death than exercising regularly or drinking or smoking less. Pretty incredible findings!
Purpose and truth in life can ultimately lead you to greater love, beauty, goodness, better relationships and greater opportunities for contribution, which also improve health and well-being. The science is pretty remarkable. So take some time to think about truth, your purpose and how you can bring it to life. It is a powerful tool in the fight against stress and it leads to a better life.
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