The meaning of life
The meaning of life is hardly a suitable subject to define with ink and paper. To be able to simplify the concept of existence and put it in a form that others can understand is a difficult, almost impossible task. It hasn’t stopped people from trying. For millennia, it has been a question asked and answered in as many ways as years have passed, yet the question will always remain unanswered.
Plato stated that the meaning of life was to attain the highest form of knowledge; in Islam, life is merely a test before one is united with Allah. In Buddhism, this is achieving “Nirvana”; but realistically, these are all just theories. Nihilism as a theory states that “all life is meaningless”; whereas existentialism believes that each meaning is different, and that each person and their emotions, actions, responsibilities and thoughts moulds this.
The meaning of life is a difficult concept to explain because of course, it is a concept that has been created by the human psyche. There is no guarantee that life even has a meaning; broken down to its most primitive level, life is a period where an animal lives, gliding through space on a planet that is slowly dying.
To suggest that there is some kind of hidden narrative structure or essence to one’s life is an almost Hollywood-esque example of wishful thinking, and a shining example of the arrogance of humanity. Science has proved Darwin’s theory of evolution to be correct, that we are indeed evolved from primitive, single cell, ocean-dwelling creatures millions of years ago. The purpose of this existence could just have been to reproduce and form an even higher form of evolved being; meaning that surely, every animal created in the world, from the highest elephants to the lowliest ants, would all have a life of deep significance, which is not a theory easily subscribed to.
The sad irony is, that while many spend their time pondering on the meaning of life, there are those that instead employ this time whiling away their hours for no particular purpose, other than to create a feeling that is considered tantamount to “fun”.
In the final words of Monty Python’s film looking at the “meaning of life” of the same name, Michael Palin states; "Well, it's nothing very special. Uh, try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.". This simplified comedic view may be a “silly” look at the concept, but sums up very succinctly the view of most of the philosophies on the matter. To lead a good life; to have basic principles, be kind, and lead what is considered by each to be a “good life”.
In a world where a view of God has become distorted by natural disasters, war, plague and famine, we have now reached a point where the vast majority of the UK population is atheistic, surely the only judge of a life’s meaning can be each individual. A meaning is a subjective principle; that is to say that each person has a distinctly different impression of what constitutes a “good” life; there can, by definition, be no one answer to the question.