In Elisha Fernandes Simpson posed the question: “Just what IS life for?”
In reply Scott Croft provided an answer upon which I would like to expand. Croft wrote:
“LIfe is worth living because it allows us to love, and be loved”.
In the book Looking in the Distance Richard Holloway comments: "The paradox is that, being gifted and afflicted with consciousness, we pay close attention to the universe, even though it is uninterested in us. We are creatures with a passion for discovering the meaning of things who find ourselves in a universe without any discernible purpose".
Terry Eagleton in his book The Meaning of Life makes the point that many educated people believe life is an evolutionary accident that has no intrinsic meaning. If our lives have meaning, it is something with which we manage to invest them, not something with which they come ready made. Eagleton probes this view of meaning as a kind of private enterprise, and concludes that it fails to hold up. He argues instead that the meaning of life is not a solution to a problem, but a matter of living in a certain way. It is not 'metaphysical' but rather 'ethical'. It is not something separate from life, but what makes it worth living--that is, a certain quality, depth, abundance and intensity of life.
Kant believed that life had 'purposiveness without purpose'. He argued that one's hand or foot can be described as having a 'purpose' - the foot's purpose is to walk and the hand's purpose is to grip things etc. So while the 'purpose' of a foot or a hand is clear one is left with the question: what is the 'meaning' of the foot or hand? This meaning can only be defined within the context of the whole body. That is the hand is meaningful to the body in that it performs several functions that the body as the 'whole' organism needs to have performed.
With these thoughts in mind for what purpose am I here? What IS the meaning of my life?
I hold to the view that MY life has no 'meaning' to ME but that it has a 'meaning' to others; that is, it has meaning only to the body of humanity as a whole. What I mean by this may be illustrated by asking the question:
"What is the meaning of a daffodil?"
The daffodil has no meaning as a non-conscious entity and a daffodil can certainly not ask itself "What is the meaning of my daffodil life?" However, the daffodil may have a meaning to me, as a conscious being, for its 'being' a daffodil. I might like its color, or it may bring particular associations to me associated with past events in my life. Thus the daffodil's 'meaning' is subjectively defined by me and may be subjectively defined quite differently by others. Indeed some people do not like the color 'yellow' and to them there would be no meaning or point to having daffodils around at all. I might define daffodils as 'beautiful flowers' while others might see them as 'weeds'.
How does one make life 'meaningful'? Is it through one’s relationship with others as we love one another? By loving someone that person becomes 'meaningful' in one’s life and if they love you in return then you become meaningful in their life. Thus two lives have one aspect of the 'meaning of their lives' defined through the act of giving and the act of receiving love. Eagleton asks: Is love then the meaning of life and if so what form of love provides that meaning. Is it 'agape' rather than 'eros', 'philia' or 'storge' as described by C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves.
In biblical literature, agape's meaning and usage is illustrated by self-sacrificing, giving love to all--both friend and enemy. It is used in Matthew 22:39, "Love your neighbor as yourself," and in John 15:12, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you," and in 1 John 4:8, "God is love."
Eagleton says: What we call love is the way we reconcile our search for individual fulfillment with the fact that we are social animals. For love means creating for another the space in which another person might flourish, at the same time as the other person does this for you. The fulfillment of each becomes the ground for the fulfillment of the other.
And thus as we realize our natures by taking care of each other's 'hearts' we are at our best.
This is the purpose and meaning of one's life.